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Steps to Create a Workable Online Store

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Unused talent broils at the edges of the economy these days. With the labor participation rate at an all-time low, who might we find excluded from the labor market now? Examples may include all manner of artists, craftspeople, and even talented scavengers. Any number of people who can’t reach the right people in their marketing efforts.

Online marketing presents a solution. However, even the best merchants and craftspeople may feel intimidated in the process of developing an online marketing strategy for what may seem like niche enterprises. 

The first step may be an online presence. However, an actual “online checkout site” drastically increases user-friendliness, and certainly builds confidence on the part of any customer. Many online tools can facilitate the creation of an online store. Web creation tools such as WordPress, Etsy, and Godaddy can make all the difference.

The initial process of mastering the basics of web creation can be challenging. For example, remember that your “online store” will look different on tablets, phones, and even different browsers on desktop computers. Selecting and mastering proper themes on web-creation applications can make the difference between a navigable “online store” and one that looks messy and unprofessional.

Also, remember that behind these web-building applications are programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Web building applications allow modification of the underlying code as an option, but these modifications are sometimes not recommended. These applications update their plugins from time to time, which updates the code while, sometimes, overwriting any changes you have made.

As for the design of a checkout website, several considerations can optimize engagement with customers. 

First, business owners should keep their checkout sites simple and easy. Simplicity facilitates engagement directly with your product and builds confidence and trust in your capabilities. The internet abounds with “rogues’ galleries” of terrible web pages that could make you go blind. Such websites tend to be gaudy, busy, and overwhelming. Don’t be “that person.”

Second, carefully research the payment process, and ensure the checkout page accommodates each likely option. These options may include fingerprints, QR codes, and paperless checks, as well as any of a variety of credit card options. Increased payment choices make for more satisfied customers, provided the site remains pristine and uncluttered.

Third, progress bars help the checkout process. Especially mobile customers may appreciate this user-friendly feature to ensure the progress of their purchase.

Fourth, the best checkout sites feature popup and autofill features to ensure seamless transactions. “Popup” in this case does not mean “popup ads.” “Popup” means the fields should populate as the transaction progresses. 

Fifth, ensure wise messaging procedures. Once a customer proceeds with a transaction, the messaging ensures trust and provides the customer with documentation. A customer should get a receipt in their inbox immediately.

Many talented professionals lose their place in the economy simply because they don’t know how to market their products online. Even professionals who do have a website sometimes haven’t established an “online marketplace”. Creating such a website may present a challenge but can easily change the game. 

Never underestimate the investment with the time and energy to learn to use website-building applications. Such a project can cement your status as a professional and help launch your aspirations.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.



Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

Inventory Backlogs: Prevention Part One of Two

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Vast deposits of excess stock can leave small business owners bewildered or perplexed in the wake of a “failed” marketing attempt. Remember, excess inventory generally has some value to someone. However, prevention generally spares entrepreneurs storage expenses and manufacturing costs. 

Whatever happened to the Avon Lady? Multilevel marketing schemes are back with a vengeance. These companies can famously leave a garage full of excess merchandise. But what about the tribulations of small business owners who manufacture their own products?

As a general principle, unused products are a liability for small businesses. Such products gain the moniker of “deadstock” after collecting cobwebs in the back shelves of warehouses.

The Pandemic has brought fluxes in inventory to all sectors of the economy. Supply chain disruptions have plagued the worldwide economy since March of 2020. Skeleton crews on all fronts have left companies alternately oversupplied or undersupplied, even as demand has mushroomed since the early part of this year.

Inventory shortages are nothing new. First, demand fluctuates naturally due to a variety of market forces. Fashions move forward, circumstances change, and consumer needs oscillate accordingly. 

Second, businesses sometimes rush to meet demand. In the process, quality may suffer, leading consumers to search elsewhere. Over-eager business owners sometimes churn out subpar products to meet demand. The result leaves the owner in the lurch for storage and disposal. No one wants a trove of shoddy “skinny jeans” manufactured in 2008, especially in 2021.

Third, some businesses may lack effective inventory management systems. Internal operations may well disrupt a good balance between different types of products. Good online inventory management programs may include Fishbowl, Netsuite, and Quickbooks, although options for businesses are vast, and may include proprietary options as well. Also, consider the everyday operations of a company outside the computer system.

Fourth, the business may be marketing one product at the expense of another. Marketing resources may gravitate in one direction, based upon the expertise or biases of the company staff. Leadership on hand may know more about one product than another. Sometimes leadership and staff simply prefer one product over another. Such cases may simply present a human resources challenge.  Enthusiasts of one type of product on the marketing front may compensate for an oversupply of fans of another.

Finally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Remember that disastrous ET video game from the early eighties? Most ended up in a landfill. The landfill was excavated, and some collectors of vintage arcade games paid over $1000 for cartridges of a terrible but historically significant video game. Even in most cases of overstock, hope remains.

Best practice avoids excess supplies of unmarketable products from the outset. However, as with most of life’s problems, excess inventory is often unavoidable. With the resurgence of multilevel marketing, overstock has reached new levels in some quarters. However, certain business practices have long resulted in inventory imbalances, even before the Pandemic. 

In Part I of this two-part series, we examined strategies to prevent excess deadstock, to begin with. In Part 2, we will examine strategies to dispose of excess inventory, online and otherwise once such stock inevitably accumulates.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article of this two-part series has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.



Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: 


Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

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By Debbie Gregory.

When considering small business marketing ideas, the first thing you should think about is your audience. Who are they? What do they do? How can you help them do it better? Having adequate knowledge of your target audience helps make your marketing more effective and cost-efficient.

Establishing a buyer/user “persona” is vital to understanding your current customers and identifying potential future customers. This information allows you to produce what you need to meet the specific needs of your audience, be it products, services or content. Clickbait and countless sales pitches aren’t the way to gain trust from your network. Instead, make it your goal to reach your audience on a more personal level. Show them you understand them and care about their wants and needs.

To develop a good idea of who your customers/users are, you need to conduct market research. The best place to start is with your existing customers/users, and can be garnered from surveys, questionnaires and interviews. If you’re sending these requests out by email, make sure your emails are coming from a recognizable sender name, make sure the subject line tells the reader what’s in the email, and make sure the content is visually appealing with a clear call to action.

You can also utilize social media and in-person interviews. Offering a coupon or discount for their participation is a good incentive.

Be sure to analyze the data you collect to understand your ideal customer/user so that you’re in a better position to target your advertising campaigns effectively.

Additionally, use your website analytics to see where your visitors come from, the keywords they are using to find you, and what they’re doing on the site. This will give you further insights into your buyer/user persona.

Knowing your customer/user persona enables you to communicate with them more effectively, which should help you to grow your customer/user base, which in turn will grow your business.

Funding for Veteran Business Owners

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According to the most recent census data, there are 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. Veteran entrepreneurs contribute to the economy through their businesses and their willingness to hire veterans.
There are a number of funding resources available to veterans in order to get their business off the ground, or expand an existing business.
• The Office of Veterans Business Development, through the Small Business Administration (SBA) supports new and existing veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses. The program offers a variety of training and financial services. The SBA Veterans Advantage Guaranteed Loans program offers loans of $150,000 or less with no guaranty fee. Larger loans carry a low guarantee fee. SBA Express Loans have no upfront borrower fee for eligible veterans and military spouses on loans up to $35,000. Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital matches businesses with SBA-approved non-profit lenders. The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA’s most common loan program, and includes financial help for businesses with special requirements.
• The Department of Veteran Affairs is a great starting point when looking for financing, and has created the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP), which can help you quickly identify financing resources for your business.
• The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan provide funds to eligible small businesses to meet necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to meet, because an owner/essential employee was “called-up” to active duty.
• The USDA Veteran and Minority Farmer Grant, run by the Department of Agriculture, aims to bring traditionally underserved people into farming through training and technical and financial assistance.
• The VetFran(R) program is designed to help veterans start their own business. While these aren’t traditional business loans for veterans, the program offers financial incentive for veterans to launch a franchise.
In addition to lending resources, don’t discount the value of networking resources. Who better to share advice than those who have walked the path before you?
• American Corporate Partners links veteran entrepreneurs with successful businesspeople for training and mentorship.
• National Veteran-Owned Business Association presents you with a great networking opportunity and the chance to learn much more about running a business.
• SCORE Foundation Veteran Fast Launch Initiative offers advertising, marketing and business mentoring, all at no cost.

• Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families provides entrepreneurial training. Their Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans program is free for post-9/11 veterans.
• Veterans Business Resource Center provides business consulting and mentoring.
• Veterans Business Services can assist in obtaining capital for your business.

EBV10 part2

By Tina M Kapral | Senior Director of  Education and Training
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University

In July of 2007,  Dr. J. Michael Haynie held the first Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) class of seventeen students. These individuals were from across the U.S., from different service branches and ages, but all had the dream of owning their own businesses. The business ideas ranged from construction firms to non-profit organizations helping other veterans. The EBV residency phase was and still is intense — long days of classes, taught from a very practical standpoint, and late nights working on venture pitches to present at the end of the week. This was a purposeful approach.  Servicemembers know what to expect in “bootcamp” and that is exactly what they received, classes delivered on opportunity recognition, marketing, operations, supply chain, government contracts, legal and human resource management to name a few.  It was a great success; all seventeen students graduated at the end of week with pride and a new “mission” in life.

As it is often said, good news travels fast. As other schools heard of EBV and its success, many more schools wanted to have their own EBV programs.  This led Dr. Haynie to create the EBV consortium. First to join, Florida State University, then UCLA, Purdue, UCONN, Texas A&M, to today, where the EBV’s 10-university consortium also includes Cornell, LSU, Saint Joseph’s University, and University of Missouri, with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University continuing to serve as the national hub. EBV has since helped Dr. Haynie launch other veteran and military family entrepreneurship training programs to include EBV-F, VWISE, Boots to Business, and Boots to Business Reboot


Dr. Haynie never envisioned EBV to grow to ten schools, nor did he anticipate the launch of the IVMF in 2011. Yet, through these programs and services dedicated to advancing the post-service lives of America’s servicemembers, veterans and their families, the Institute and current Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud are bringing Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans and their families full circle.

In 1940, “The University promised programs that would address individual needs of veterans, whether they wished to complete job training, their high school diploma, or an advanced degree.”  Post-World War II, Chancellor William Pearson Tolley recognized the role that higher education can play in advancing our nation’s returning veterans. He announced Syracuse University’s “uniform admissions program,” which ensured all military personnel admission to Syracuse upon return from war.”

History repeats itself, but this time in a positive, impactful way for our aspiring vetrepreneurs.