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By Debbie Gregory.

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Veteran-owned small businesses have a lot to offer, to their customers, their communities, and to prospective employees. Despite the focus and push for veteran employment through diversity and inclusion, there needs to be greater focus on supplier diversity for veteran owned businesses.  I also believe that corporations need to integrate their Supplier Diversity, Inclusion and Diversity and Veteran Affinity and mentorship groups for real success.

 

Some interesting stats according to the Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • Veterans are a key part of any supplier diversity program.
  • Veterans are one of the most successful groups of business owners in America.
  • 1 in 10 businesses are veteran-owned.
  • Veterans are 30% more likely to hire other veterans.
  • 5% of VOSB’s operate in the professional, scientific, technical services industries, and the construction industry.
  • 1 % are in wholesale and retail trade.

 

Don’t Just Hire Veterans – Do Business with Them! There are many good reasons to work with veteran-owned businesses.

 

Know the Rules

The federal government requires 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards go to Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs).

 

Finding Veteran-Owned Businesses

The very best ways to find a veteran-owned business is to search connect with and sponsor trade associations such as VAMBOA with huge memberships of Veteran Business Owners.   VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association can connect the RFIs and RFPs of your corporation with our network of over 7,000 members.

I believe that time is at a premium for small Veteran and Service-Disabled Businesses as it is for the corporations that are required to have a diverse supplier network.  Instead of spending the time of staff and the expense of attending conference, become a VAMBOA sponsor and we will place your message online to our large membership and on social media with almost a quarter of a million fans and followers.

 

 

 

-Do Your Research
There are good vendors and bad ones. Simply having a federal VOSB/SDVOSB certification does not mean that the vendor is experienced or any good at their job. Always ask for work examples or references as you would with any vendor, supplier, or potential employee.

Any company can slap a “veteran-owned” sticker on their location or product but some may not be honest, and fraud is a concern. Most states will certify a business as VOSB/SDVOSB if they have their federal VA certification. Before doing business make sure that you request a copy of that certification.

 

-Get Management on Board

You will need to gain the support of your senior management in order to add veteran-owned businesses to your approved supplier lists. Veteran-owned businesses now provide almost every type of product or service you can think of.  Make sure the entire company is on the same page about including VOSB/SDVOSBs. Veterans hit all the boxes as they are diverse group including minorities, women and disabled.

 

-Educate Your Purchasing and Contract Departments
Once you are sure that you have clearly outlined your goals for including veterans in your diversity supplier efforts, provide well researched lists to your key personnel of veteran-owned businesses to help jump-start the process. The most common internal pushback is lack of access to known veteran-owned businesses. If you cannot find them – it is hard to work with them. Make it as easy as possible for your employees to include VOSB/SDVOSBs when your company is looking for a vendor or supplier.  The very best way is to become a VAMBOA sponsor.  Contact us at info@vamboa.org.

 

-Tipping the Bidding Scales in Your Favor
Sometimes working with veteran-owned businesses can bring you a competitive edge when bidding a job. Certain agencies will give preference to companies that utilize VOSB/SDVOSBs. Each federal agency sets participation goals for small businesses in procurement contracts. Regulations require Federal purchases over $10,000, but less than $250,000 to automatically reserve, or set-aside, a portion of the contract monies for small businesses.

 

Working with VOSB/SDVOSB can help you, the VOSB/SDVOSB you work with, and our economy in general. Next time you need a new supplier, vendor, or partner it may be in your best interest to find one being run by a vet.   Contact VAMBOA – info@vamboa.org

 

Branding Your Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Branding your business is vital to your success. Branding offers consistency across   your promotional channels including social media, ads, newsletters, and more.  It    generates your unique identity and can increase your perceived professionalism.

 

What is Branding?

Branding is the entire visual representation of your small business. It includes:

  • Your business name
  • Your logo
  • Your color scheme
  • The fonts you use
  • More….

 

Branding is much more than just a cool logo.   Branding encompasses how your business is perceived by your customers or potential customers, how you conduct your business, and what your business stands for. It is not too complicated to brand your business.

 

Key Areas for Successful Branding:

  • Your Key Business Goals: Make sure that your business goals are clearly defined so that you start your branding from a solid foundation. Any ideas that do not fit your goals should be discarded.
  • Define Your Brand: The more time you dedicate to developing your look and feel, the better you will be received in the market. You need to select your website’s domain name, your email addresses, your logo, your color scheme, the tone you will use when writing any communications, typography, etc. Additionally, make sure that your business name is consistent across all of the platforms you use; you do not want to make it difficult or confusing for a potential customer to find you.
  • Who Is Your Target Audience? Though it would be nice if you could target everyone with your product and service, you are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it.  How will you fulfill the promises you make to your customers? How will you make them connect personally with your business? When you can help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.
  • Consistent Marketing: With clear goals in hand, a defined brand, and a solid picture of your target audience you can more effectively market your business. Make sure your marketing efforts are consistent with your business goals and establish your brand in the market. Most people today rely upon social media for recommendations and to connect with brands that they identify. Your website alone is not enough in today’s market. Make sure you are where your customers are and make sure it is all consistent! Your website, social media channels, ads (both online and offline), brochures, flyers, posters, business cards, and the like all need to have the same look and feel so that at a quick glance your customers know they are in the right place.

 

Branding your business will have a direct impact on your success.

Take the time to clearly define who you want to be in the market and make sure you stick to it.

Relationships are Key to Winning at the Contracting Game

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By Debbie Gregory.

In order to build a successful business, you need to have a solid foundation. Part of that foundation includes relationships with your clientele, vendors, etc.

When dealing with the U.S. Federal Government, you probably already know that you have competition—a lot of competition. The government is the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, spending over $500 billion per year. So how do you make your business stand out and become noticeable to contracting officers, small business specialists, and program offices?

Relationships! In friendships or business, human nature dictates that people want to be with and work with those they know and like. Be committed to consistently reaching out and making the effort to keep you and your business at the forefront of the minds of the people with whom you want to work.

Be sure that you leave a positive impression with each contact you have, be it in person, on the phone or through email. Always be courteous, even if you are feeling rejected. Let them see how easy it is to work with you. Make sure you have done your homework and are prepared, so that you know they’re buying what you’re selling.

Make sure that your end-user knows you can do the job by showing them completed projects of similar complexity, size and scope. Additionally, respond to their inquiries and correspondence in a most timely manner.

And last, but not least, share information and technical expertise as part of your commitment to building or fortifying your relationships with current and potential customers.

Military Creates Entrepreneurial Mind Set

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By Debbie Gregory.

Whether at the helm of a two-person company or a bigger player, strong leadership skills can mean the difference between a successful business and a failing one. Leadership is almost 100% about managing people.

Having great ideas and a strategic vision won’t get you far if your employees aren’t willing to follow you. And too many entrepreneurs take leadership skills for granted.

This is usually not a problem for veterans in an entrepreneurial role. But just what is it about the military that has created individuals with such a strong sense of leadership? What values do veterans leave their military service with that that makes operationalizing a team so easy?

A business’s success really boils down to the way the team works together. Here are some pointers that will serve all businesses well:

  • You’re one team, despite your position. Lead by example. And never be afraid to ask for advice.
  • Listen throughout the chain of command. Communication is key! Share successes and failures. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
  • Embrace diversity. Hire and retain the best of the best. Often times, these employees will be your fellow veterans.
  • Have a strategic vision. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. Leaders can be found at all levels in an organization. Giving your employees more responsibility will help you to identify which ones have what it takes, allowing you the opportunity to help them develop their leadership skills.

Successful CEOs must build a team that are prepared to pitch in and move out of their comfort zones. This is something fundamental in the military, where the teamwork ethic is so strong that they never leave a man behind.

VAMBOA: California Business Portal

Those who own a small business — or want to start one — now have a one-stop source of information about the how-tos.

California’s Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development this month set up a website dedicated to answering basic questions about starting, running or relocating a business.

Users also can use the portal to obtain licenses and permits, as well as to learn about state and local regulations and find links to additional information on government incentives.

The site is at www.businessportal.ca.gov and is accessible on both iOS and Android cell phones and other devices.

Reach Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee

source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28482650/website-set-up-help-small-businesses?source=rss

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