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business ownerBy Debbie Gregory.

Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. But for many Veterans, transitioning from service member to CEO may be a more natural path than they might have imagined.

Most experts agree that the two biggest components for Veterans preparing to start their own businesses are choosing the right kind of business for them, and securing capital. They also recommended that aspiring business owners take time to think about where their passion lies.

VetFran Manager George Eldridge encourages Veterans interested in business ownership to do their research and examine all possibilities.

“In the military you think, ‘I can’t fail,’ but sometimes you have to think about the risks you’re getting into and have a balanced expectation when getting into something like this,” he said.

Veterans who are considering franchise ownership may want to start by surfing VetFran’s website. With more than 100 different franchise industries to peruse, there is something for every interest. The most popular franchises are in the food industry, followed by hospitality, home-based businesses, child care and pet care.

Although VetFran does not offer funding, it connects Veterans with funding assistance by working closely with the SBA and lenders within its supplier group.

The SBA offers a checklist for Veterans interested in starting a business. It suggests starting with a business plan, which is like a roadmap to determine your starting point, where you are going, and how to arrive at success through proper planning, preparation and management. The checklist also covers things like licenses, tax ID numbers, taxes, finance, location, etc.

Financing opportunities are plentiful for Veterans. The SBA, through its 68 field offices around the U.S. and 1,000 resource partners, has Veterans Business Outreach Centers around the country offering information on how to gain access to capital.

For Veteran-specific programs, the SBA helps businesses obtain reduced loan fees for any loan under $350,000.

Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) is an online tool that connects loan seekers and lenders. By answering just a few questions, applicants can reach out to lenders all over the country.

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: Ready to Start Your Own Business?: By Debbie Gregory

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!

leader

By Debbie Gregory.

It seems that you can’t watch an hour-long news program without the mention of at least one of many hardships Veterans are facing. Along with VA scandals, there are struggles with PTSD, unemployment, homelessness, and underemployment. These societal ills have scourged all generations of Veterans, and are taking an extreme toll on the Post-9/11 generation. But from pain and discomfort, the strong usually seek ways to improve their situation. It is for these reasons that Veterans are 45% more likely to seek self-employment through entrepreneurial ventures that their non-Veteran peers.

But Veterans aren’t just shucking off their uniforms and conforming to life in business suits. They are taking their military experience with them into entrepreneurship, and getting positive results. Many in the business world are now looking to Veteran business owners as examples of the ideal business owner. Here are a few examples of why:

  • Efficiency– It is commonly joked about that the most effective military leaders are the ones who are free to goof around on their computer all day. While we know that this isn’t true, the culture of military leadership is to prioritize tasks and delegate work as needed. Veteran business owners are more likely to heighten efficiency by delegating tasks, freeing them up for more critical tasks.
  • Leadership– Everyone in the military answers to somebody else, and at some point in their career, most enlisted personnel have others below them. Taking and giving orders is a skill, just like anything else, and Veterans have had some of the best training around. Those with military leadership experience have the conditioning to make important decisions and assign tasks in a manner that can instill confidence from their employees.
  • Team Building– Veterans know that the key to accomplishing any mission is to have all members of their team working together, as one unit. It doesn’t matter if that mission is securing a building, cleaning the workspace, or meeting a sales quota, the principles are all the same, and Veterans have been conditioned with the mentality to apply that principle to any task.
  • Selling Commitment– Most living things instinctivelydo whatever they can to preserve their lives. Service members rush towards danger. That’s not by accident, that’s by mental conditioning and by being sold on a commitment to your comrades, to your unit, and to your country. There are no better cheerleaders and brand sellers than military personnel and Veterans.
  • Gathering Intel– This is an attribute that is often overlooked. But because of the thought process involved with immersing one’s self into battle, Veterans have been conditioned to study the field, know the rules of engagement, and keep a constant tally on their assets. This type of thinking is second-nature to those who have served, and comes in handy when developing and carrying out a business plan.

Veteran business owners apply these same skills to their businesses. There are numerous other skills and attributes that Veterans picked up through their military experience that contribute to their success as business owners. With the right resources and the right mindset, Veterans know that they can accomplish anything.

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: Five Examples Why Veteran Are Successful Business Owners: By Debbie Gregory

Key factors of BusinessBy Debbie Gregory.

Bottom line, it takes hard work, know-how, and tremendous determination for owners of small firms to be successful. Small business ownership is not about avoiding a forty hour work week, as many business owners put in closer to eighty hours a week to get their businesses up and running.

Close to 40 million businesses are started each year. Of these, approximately 350,000 survive and make money. So how can small business owners overcome the odds and make their company one of the success stories? Some of the keys to success depend on luck and timing. But many successful people and companies have sworn by a few key factors of success that they rely on, again and again.

Have a plan: Everyone in the business world agrees that having a plan is important. But plans don’t have to be big undertakings. Nor should they be a bar that you must always measure your current situation up against. Plans should start small, and expand over time. Initial plans should include identifying your target customers/clients, figuring out what their needs are, and how your business is going to meet those needs. Internal plans include establishing responsibilities, setting realistic short and long term goals, and devising ways to track your company’s performance.

Build a Dream Team: Just like in sports, one player cannot win championships. Yes, superstars make winning easier. But teams win when everyone knows their roles and plays their positions well. You may be a superstar worker at your company, but you can only do so much. Surround yourself with great players who are willing to follow your lead and play within your system. And don’t be afraid to add a few other superstars to your team, they can only add to your team’s talent level.

Consider your product: Is there demand for your product? Does it solve a customer’s problem? Are there products similar to yours in your market? How can you improve upon or out-do your competitions’ product or product delivery method? While running a successful business does require a lot passion, it must also fill a need (or serious want). And once you decide on a product, be sure to use your passion for your product to ensure that it is the best product of its kind in the market.

Constantly re-evaluate your process: Once you have the right product, people, and plan in place, it is important to generate and constantly improve upon your company’s process of creating, selling and distributing your product. Most business fail to do so, and as a result, fail to meet customers’ expectations. These expectations fluctuate, so it is important to stay on top of consumer trends.

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!

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

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