AMGEN
BMS-center-logo
 

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.


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.” http://vets.syr.edu/about/role-impact.

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

EVB-Dr. Mike Haynie

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

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), is a program executed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA).  This year, EBV proudly celebrates its 10-Year Anniversary, and is delivered at ten universities nationwide.  It’s more than 1,300 graduates have revenues totaling over $196 million and hire on average four employees (many of whom are fellow veterans). Of these graduates, 68% of the businesses started are still in operation today.

Although EBV didn’t start that way, it began as a social venture of Dr. J. Michael Haynie, an Air Force veteran of 14 years (1992-2006), who in 2006 joined the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University as a professor of entrepreneurship.  Dr. Haynie knew through his research that veterans were starting businesses at a much higher rate than civilians.  For example, after WWII, over 48% started business, and individuals with a disability were twice as likely to start a businesses (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/misc/entrepre.htm) .  He realized the faculty of Whitman were teaching, training and inspiring entrepreneurs every day, so why not bring this opportunity of business ownership to the community that most deserved to live the American dream — veterans and their families.

Dr. Haynie developed the curriculum to include an online portion, followed by a nine-day residency on campus, with follow up resources and support. He wanted the EBV program to be offered at no cost to post 9/11 service connected disabled veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship. He presented his proposal to the Dean of the Whitman School. Dean Melvin T. Stith, a Vietnam veteran himself, immediately gave Dr. Haynie the approval to launch this program at Syracuse University.  Now came the difficult part — raising the funds needed to support the effort, as well as recruiting veterans to participate. Dr. Haynie found supporters among Whitman alumni, who financially supported EBV; the Whitman faculty, who volunteered to teach; and business students, who helped to execute the program.

The recruitment was more difficult; Dr. Haynie found himself traveling to wounded warrior units to present the program and encountered many challenging naysayers who felt that veterans should not become business owners.  Dr. Haynie would later find research proving the opposite.  He noted this in The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran, Beyond the Clique’, March 2015, stating many veterans possess the same characteristics as those who are high performing entrepreneurs. “Individuals who are drawn to military service, who then have military training and socialization have a common strong self-efficacy, a high need for achievement, are comfortable with autonomy and uncertainty, and make effective decisions in the face of dynamic environments. These attributes, as they are linked to entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset among military veterans, have been consistently demonstrated in practice.” (http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The-Business-Case-for-Hiring-a-Veteran-3-6-124.pdf)

vamboaa

Owning your own business, being your own boss – it’s the American dream. You can see it every Friday night on Shark Tank, or in commercials for Small Business Saturdays. It’s no surprise that military veterans make excellent entrepreneurs because of the skills they gained while serving. And in a challenging economy when jobs for military veterans may be scarce, a great option for veterans is to start their own business.

Entrepreneurs can be at the helm of a mom & pop corner store, or a major corporation like Enterprise Rental Car or Starbucks. But just because you have many of the required skills to be an entrepreneur, that doesn’t guarantee success.

A military veteran benefit for entrepreneurs comes in the form of a boost from the VA when starting or growing a business. While everyone knows that a major veteran benefit is education for veterans, many may not know that the VA will pay for other programs. Education for veterans offered by Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States, is one such program.

Entrepreneurship training through the SBDC allows eligible service members and veterans to use VA education benefits to take courses they offer. SBDCs can help you plan your veteran finances with business plan development, procurement, market research, lending assistance and more.

Those who are eligible to receive reimbursement for approved entrepreneurship courses include those eligible for any of the following VA Education Programs:

  • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
  • Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
  • Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill

For additional information on using your military veteran benefits with SBDCs, visit the VA Entrepreneurship Training Web page.

To locate course offerings near you, or view training opportunities on the web, contact the Small Business Development Center directly athttp://www.sba.gov/sbdc/ or by phone at 800-8 ASK SBA.

ibmpos_blurgb