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VAMBOA: Why Veterans Become Business Owners

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WebBanners336x280By Debbie Gregory.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  the unemployment rate in America has dropped to 5.5%, the lowest that it has been since 2008. The unemployment rate among the Post-9/11 era generation of Veterans is at 6.5%, among the highest in the nation. Many government and private initiatives have started to hire more Veterans. But the answer to eliminating Veteran unemployment may not be solved by finding jobs for Vets, but rather by allowing them to create jobs themselves.

Veterans are 44% more likely than their non-veteran peers to start their own business, according to the BLS. Many have speculated that years spent following orders drives Veterans to want to call their own shots in their second careers. Others have guessed that after years of deployments and frequent PCS moves, Veterans want to create their own businesses in order to lay down roots for themselves and their families in a particular region. While there may be some substance to these hypotheses, the truth of the matter is that Veterans become entrepreneurs because it utilizes their knowledge and skills that were enhanced through their military experience.

Service members, especially those in leadership positions, wear many hats, much like business owners do. And much like successful military leadership, successful business ownership requires the ability to delegate, the discipline to stick to a strategy, and the fortitude to inspire yourself and others to continue in the face of death or failure.The willingness to work hard doesn’t hurt.

But in battle and in business, guts and glory aren’t always enough to accomplish your mission. Successful campaigns and successful business require proper training and knowledge of the tactics that will be used. That is why programs such as the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) are a necessary first step for Veterans wishing to start their own companies.

The EBV program is a partnership between several of the country’s top business schools and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The schools offer free courses in entrepreneurship and business management to selected Veterans and military spouses. The aim of the EBV program is to open the door to economic opportunity for Veterans and their families by developing their competencies in creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture.

No one should go into battle unprepared, and they shouldn’t enter into an entrepreneurial venture unprepared either. Make sure that you have the training that you need to start your business and then utilize VAMBOA to continue learning and growing as a Veteran business owner.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: What Boots to Business Does for Veterans

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BootsBusiness

By Debbie Gregory.

It is expected that over the next three to five years, more than 250, 000 service members are expected to separate from the service each year. These Veterans will face stiff competition in the job market, as well as a consistently higher unemployment rate than their non-veteran peers. With unique work and leadership experiences and a tradition of hard work and resiliency, these Veterans will look for alternative options to provide for their families. Economists contend that self-employment will help stimulate our struggling economy. With an abundance of opportunities provided to them by federal, state and local programs, combined with the desire to work for themselves after their service, many Veterans will seek out entrepreneurial ventures. For these Veteran Entrepreneurs to be successful, in addition to the leadership skills and drive that they developed in the military, they will need to acquire the knowledge necessary to run a business. One of the most effective programs for Veterans launching their own businesses is the Boots to Business program. Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This program is an elective track within the Defense Department’s revised Transition Assistance Program called Transition Goals, Plans, Success (Transition GPS).  The course is offered in three parts. The first part, the Entrepreneurship Track Overview, is an introductory video shown during the mandatory five day Transition GPS course. The second part is a two day classroom course called Introduction to Entrepreneurship. The third part is an eight week instructor led, online course called Foundations of Entrepreneurship. This section offers detailed instruction on the elements of a business plan, and tips and techniques for starting a business.

The Boots to Business curriculum provides indispensable knowledge to transitioning service members who are interested in exploring self-employment opportunities. The program guides soon-to-be Veteran Entrepreneurs through the stages of business ownership, including evaluating business concepts and developing a business plan. Participants in the Boots to Business program are also introduced to the SBA resources that they can use to access startup capital and much more.

Having a sound business plan is critical to getting the startup capital and other lending approved. The Boots to Business program will help Veteran entrepreneurs develop and implement a business plan that will raise their chances of obtaining the funding to get their businesses off the ground.

The best part of the Boots to Business program is that it is available free of charge at participating military installations to service members who are retiring or otherwise transitioning from the service, as well as their spouses.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: What Boots to Business Does for Veterans: By Debbie Gregory

Franchising

Many of the articles we write address the fact that Veterans are 45% more likely to go into business for themselves than their civilian counterparts. But many Veterans don’t have the business or marketing backgrounds that are advantageous to create, grow and maintain a thriving company from the ground up. That’s why, more and more, Veteran entrepreneurs are turning to franchising opportunities in order to be their own boss.

Franchising is not for everyone, or even every Veteran. But those who have military experience have found great success, working within established systems, using established brands, and other corporations’ established practices to run successful businesses.

To simplify the process, franchising utilizes the method of distributing products or services with at least two levels of people involved. The first level is the franchisor (corporation) that sells memberships for use of their trademark or brand name and their established business system. The other is the franchisee (entrepreneur), who often pays fees and royalties for the right to do business under the franchisor’s name and system. The contract binding the two parties is the “franchise,” but we often hear that term used to mean the actual business that the franchisee operates.

Whether Veteran entrepreneurs decide to buy into a franchise or start their own brand from scratch, there are a number of important questions they should consider, including:

What type of business do you want to own? Depending on the industry that you want to break into and the saturation of that industry in your area, a franchise could either be the less costly or more costly choice. It’s better to narrow down the business type first, and then look at franchises available to you in that industry. Research each franchisor thoroughly, and see the initial fee and royalties that they will charge, and what they require from you to be a franchisee. Also, take a careful look at what support they are offering you in return. Click here to see franchisors approved for SBA loans.

How are your business and marketing skills? If they are strong, and you have an interesting idea for a unique product or brand, then you might want the freedom to operate your business your way. If you have less business experience, you might find comfort knowing that you have the backing and know-how of a larger corporation behind you. It is important to remember that in franchising, the franchise brand is more important than anything else. While providing a quality service and product are important, the customer’s loyalty is to the brand, not the individual franchisee.

What brand, product, service can be your life? If you own a business, you will need to live, breathe, eat, sleep and be that business. You should consider industries that you have experience in, as well as a passion for, and an extreme desire to succeed in.

Do you have the necessary support system to start a company or franchise? If your family doesn’t support the decision, the business could fail before your grand opening. You also need a banker, investors, an accountant, and even a lawyer to help you get your business contracts signed to start and maintain your business or franchise. Also, make sure that the franchise owner requirements listed by the franchisor fit in to your skill set and lifestyle.

Your success as a franchisee is based on your willingness to work within a pre-existing system, and help build the value inherent in the brand. This should not be a problem for Veterans, especially those with leadership experience. Still, franchising is not for everyone, so you have to be honest with your ego, and make an informed decision.

For more information or advice, you can also seek assistance from the SBA.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching,Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: Veteran Entrepreneurs Should Consider Franchise Opportunities: By Debbie Gregory

VAMBOA TipsOwning and operating a small business is one of the most demanding career choices that Veterans can make. Starting a new business is not a get rich quick scheme. Most newly-minted small business owners may have to put in a lot of hours and hard work in the beginning, but it pays off in the long run. Here are some tips provided by Veteran business owners that new small business owners might find useful:

Set the standard: As the owner, your employees will do as you do. Therefore, you need to lead by example. Whether its customer service, personal grooming, keeping your business clean or any other function specific to your company, hold yourself to the highest standard, one your employees can proudly emulate.

Put customer satisfaction before profits: When your customers are thrilled with the products and service that your company provides, they will return again and again, giving you repeat business. If, as an owner, you are more concerned with profits than your customers, it will show, and customers may not do business with you in the future. Customers are what generate profits.

Don’t neglect to pay yourself. You and none of your employees should ever go without pay. If your personal finances are a mess, it will distract you from what you need to do to help your business grow.

Learn from your mistakes: Small business ownership is not an exact science. There is not one book with all of the definitive answers containing the hidden secrets that your business can use to guarantee success. Small business ownership is all about learning your customer base, the community, and how to bring your business to them. Be aware of the risks, make bold decisions, and then learn from them.

Employees are your business’ most effective resource: Learn how to delegate, and don’t micromanage. Start by hiring the right individuals to work for you, and then, let them do their jobs with you as their confident, but not stifling leader. This ties in with customer satisfaction; customers who want good service know when they are dealing with employees who truly understand their job and do it to the best of their ability, and when an employee is handcuffed by micromanagement. No customer wants to repeat business with a firm whose employees aren’t capable of providing good service.

Show up: There will be days when you won’t feel like going to work. And as the boss, it would be easy to just take the day off. But don’t let the temptation to slack off a little ruin your business… because it will, if you let it.

Keep your integrity intact: At the toughest times, it may seem conceivable to shortchange a customer or employee, or hide a receipt from the taxman. But taking ethical shortcuts will always cost you in the long run. Besides, would you do business with someone who acted unscrupulously? Others might feel the same way.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: Tips from Veteran Small Biz Owners: By Debbie Gregory

EBV SuccessBack in 2007, Syracuse University played home to the inaugural class of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program. The EBV program is designed to open the doors of economic opportunities for Disabled Veterans and their families by helping them develop professional networks, and learn how to create and sustain their own businesses.

The EBV program has grown into a national movement, helping over 700 disabled Veterans. Several university campuses across the country now hold entrepreneurship boot camp sessions for Veterans.  Joining Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in offering the EBV program to Veterans are Cornell University, Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business, the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.

The entrepreneurship training is offered, to qualified Veterans who are accepted into the program, at no charge to the Veterans, and without using any of their GI Bill. For the last seven years, 70% of EBV graduates have gone on to start their own companies.

One EBV success story comes from the very first session at Syracuse in 2007. Marine Corps Veteran John Raftery was preparing to start a contracting firm in Dallas when he read an article about a small business training program for Veterans with disabilities.  The former Marine immediately applied and was accepted into the EBV program.

Raftery credits the program with helping him take the critically important first steps as a small business owner. In 2012, Raftery’s company, Patriot Contractors, Inc., was on a list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the country.

“I don’t think the business would have grown as quickly if not for the EBV program,” Raftery said.

Many Veterans served to preserve the American dream for their countrymen. Thousands of Veterans fulfill their own American dreams when their service to our country has ended. Already proven to have the winning spirit, Veterans make great entrepreneurs.

There are numerous resources available to help Veteran entrepreneurs succeed in their business ventures. The EBV program is just one of many. Please be sure to visit www.VAMBOA.org, as well as VAMBOA’s Resource Page to find out more information on the EBV program and many other state, federal and local programs for Veteran entrepreneurs.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: Entrepreneur Bootcamp Success Story: By Debbie Gregory

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