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Increasing Your Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

 

To grow your Small Veteran Owned Business, you must get out the word and grow your business to new potential customers.   This means you need to focus on marketing and more marketing.   This article will help you evaluate ways to attract new customers to your business and retain and engage your current customers.   There are a multitude of marketing channels available today and one or all of them might be a good fit for your business.

Email Marketing:

Email marketing is both effective and an inexpensive way to reach new and existing clients.   It requires a solid list of contacts and engaging content.   The content can tell your story and include special discounts, coupons, tips, and important information that concerns your market.

Work on building a list of contacts by capturing the email addresses of your clients, referrals, and business colleagues.   You can build this list from asking customers to fill out or register on your website or blog, live and industry event and subscriptions.   It makes sense to offer those that register value too.  Keep those on your list engaged by sending them emails regularly with a concise and strong subject line or call to action that tells those receiving your email your message.   Always include something of value in your message such as valuable information or discounts.

There are excellent email services available that are fairly cost effective to assist you.   These services will help you design, compose with content, and deploy your emails.  Additionally, they will help you manage your contact lists and view the results of your emails to learn what works best. Some of most popular services include iContact, Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber and GetResponse to name a few.

Direct Mail:

Direct Mail should be included on the list although it can be much more costly than email marketing.  Direct mail includes catalogs, postcards, flyers and can help build the identity of your brand and business.  Printed materials are something more tangible and will get attention since as they are mailed.  You will need the snail mail addresses of your customers and potential customers.  You can use your own list and/or supplement it by renting a list from a direct mail vendor.

Social Media:

Social media is an excellent way to truly engage your customers and potential customers as well as learn their preferences. There are five major social media platform and they include:

  • Facebook that has over one billion users and allows you to post, invite and use targeted ads. Many feel that Facebook can provide the biggest bang or return on investment.
  • Twitter is a huge platform that allows you to share ideas, information, and insights concisely with a limit of 140 characters.
  • LinkedIn is a professional networking site that enables you to connect with other businesspeople and post insights and join like-minded professional online groups that will increase the reach of your business.
  • Instagram is visual and you can share images, photos, and videos to showcase your product line and/or service.
  • Blogging is an effective way to tell the story of your business and share your products and expertise.

It does not matter if you use one or all of them.  It is important to post regularly, respond to comments, complaints, and inquiries and really listen to what prospects are telling you online.

Advertising:

This is one of the most effective methods to let potential customers know about your business.   It can be expensive, so it is imperative to plan carefully and identify your target market to time and place ads in the best venues for your needs.  Place ads where your customers go for information on the products and services that you offer.  Print ads are very expensive, and you may wish to consider digital ads that are much less costly and reach a larger audience.  Some options for digital advertising include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and pay-per-click ads.

Some free advertising to consider and claim are online directories including Yelp and Google Plus. These reach a huge audience and the best part is they are free so be sure to complete your business profile and ask satisfied clients to post positive reviews.

COVID-19 Impact & USERRA

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SHARING FROM THE U.S. Department of Labor / Published April 21, 2020

During these challenging times, our nation’s Guardsmen and Reservists are answering the call to duty to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. We owe a duty to them to ensure full compliance with the employment and reemployment rights of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)

The Veteran’s Employment and Training Service (VETS) interprets and provides guidance on USERRA and investigates complaints filed under this law. VETS offers the following frequently asked questions and answers:

Does this fact sheet create new USERRA rights and obligations in light of COVID-19?

No. The statute and regulations still govern USERRA rights and obligations. This factsheet addresses some scenarios that might arise from the application of USERRA in the context of this pandemic.

Does a member of the National Guard or Reserves who is called to active duty in response to the COVID-19 emergency have employment and reemployment protections under USERRA?
  • Yes, if called to duty under federal authority. National Guard or Reserve duty under federal authority (such as Title 10 or Title 32) is covered by USERRA.
    • National Guard duty under state authority, commonly referred to as State Active Duty, is not covered under USERRA. However, members of the National Guard serving on State Active Duty may have similar employment protections under state law and should contact the appropriate state office for assistance.
    • Note that the authority under which orders are issued can change, even in the course of a service member’s performance of service.
Can a service member be furloughed or laid off upon return from uniformed service?
  • Yes, if it is reasonably certain that he or she would have been furloughed or laid off had he or she not been absent for uniformed service.
May an employer delay a service member’s reemployment out of concern that the service member’s service in a COVID-19 affected area may have exposed him or her to COVID-19?
  • No. If the employee satisfies the prerequisites to reemployment, the employee should be promptly reemployed in the job position that he or she would have attained with reasonable certainty if not for the absence due to uniformed service.
    • Promptness generally depends on the length of time an individual was away, ranging from the next day after returning from duty, if the deployment was relatively short, to up to fourteen days in the case of a multi-year deployment.
    • When reemploying a service member who might have been exposed to COVID-19, an employer must make reasonable efforts in order to qualify the returning employee for his or her proper reemployment position. This can include temporarily providing paid leave, remote work, or another position during a period of quarantine for an exposed reemployed service member or COVID-19 infected reemployed service member, before reemploying the individual into his or her proper reemployment position.
Where to Obtain Additional Information:

Important USERRA-related resources and compliance assistance materials for employees and employers are available through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service website at www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/userra, which contains a USERRA elaws Advisor, FAQs, fact sheets, and links to the statute and implementing regulations. Our toll-free information and helpline, available 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, is 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). The Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve also provides resources available at www.esgr.mil.

U.S. Department of Labor                             1-866-4-USA-DOL
200 Constitution Ave NW                              TTY: 1-877-TTY-5627
Washington, DC 20210

/Portals/13/USERRA-COVID-19-Impact.pdf

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA and our team hopes that you have enjoyed Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series on Business Grants for Veterans and found it to be valuable.   Please let us know what you think because we value your input.  You can email us at info@vamboa.org.

 

Once you have your funding secured, either by grant or loan, you may still need some other business assistance. Below you can find some excellent resources for your Small Veteran Owned Business to utilize to start, learn, nurture, and grow your small business:

  • Boots to Business is a two-step program offered by the Small Business Administration (the SBA) offered on military installations around the world to introduce service members to entrepreneurship and the foundations needed to begin a business when they return home.
  • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)is a free program for post-9/11 vets and their spouses.
  • Patriot Boot Camp is a branch of the startup incubator: TechStars and is specifically for active duty military members and their spouses who want to gain entrepreneurial skills.
  • Service-Disabled Entrepreneurship Development Training Program offers between $50,000 and $150,000 as a grant to support organizations that deliver entrepreneurship training program(s) to service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs who want to become small business owners or who currently own a small business.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several veteran entrepreneurship training programs.
  • Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is an SBA-funded program that offers online training, a conference and mentorship specifically to female veterans.
  • Veterans Business Services helps veterans acquire or start small business. Veteran Business Services offers assistance with franchising, marketing and with connecting you with financial services.
  • Veterans Business Resource Center offers business training for Veterans including help with understanding business plans, financials, marketing, sales, human resource management, and more. They also offer webinars and professional counseling.
  • Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP)is an accelerator program with three specific offerings specifically designed for owners, principals, and C‐level executives of Veteran Owned Small Businesses and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses SDVOSB).  Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) Grow helps companies develop overall strategies to operate and expand within the federal marketplace. VIP Start helps companies that want to get into the federal market and become procurement-ready. VIP International is for companies that want to enter or expand their federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas.
  • VetsInTechis a private sector training program that offers tech related education opportunities, connections with tech jobs and workshops and bootcamps to help veteran startup founders boost and grow their businesses.

 

A Little About VAMBOA

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association is your non-profit trade association.  There are other associations out there for Veterans and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) that also address some of the needs of population.  We are a little different than other associations.

As the CEO of VAMBOA, I’d like to explain how we are different and some of what we offer so that Veteran and Military Business Owners may gain the most benefit from VAMBOA.

VAMBOA’s focus is to provide those we serve with as much valuable information and as many resources as possible.  We also want to make it easy for you to access it. We are highly cognizant of the fact that small business owners have limited time and must use it wisely.

It is not possible to attend all the conferences that will yield helpful and provide you valuable resources and also be away from your business.  Additionally, it can be very expensive and not only in the time away from your business, but the cost of travel, hotels, meals, conference fees.  More importantly, you can lose or compromise business by not being there to work with clients, prospects and your team.  Small business owners wear many hats and operating a successful business requires you to be engaged and there more often than not.

VAMBOA has evolved and in a few words has become the “Go To Place” for Veterans, Service Disabled and Military Business Owners to obtain resources and do so online.  We work hard to provide you significant value on a regular basis.

VAMBOA’s team performs extensive research in all areas of business that are important to you.  We write, edit, and post online on our blog a minimum of three important articles weekly to keep you informed without you having to leave your seat or your office.

VAMBOA has over 7,200 registered members and an extensive database of other Veteran, Service Disabled and Military Business Owners.  We are approaching a quarter of a million combined fans and followers on social media.  We regularly use various social medium platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to put forth important information for you.

VAMBOA also connects our members with corporations that are seeking a diverse network of suppliers that includes Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans and Military business owners.   We put forth their needs to our membership and contact individual members in the areas they seek for their Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Requests for Information (RFIs), to work with them and more.  We follow up and help you gain their business.

VAMBOA does not charge our members and all of services and connections are free of charge to you without dues or fees.  We also do not send you endless emails trying to sell you products or services.  VAMBOA relies solely on corporate sponsorship.   Corporations that sponsor us can easily connect to our huge audience.   They too don’t have to leave their offices and work to accomplish this goal nor do we go back to them over and over to sponsor various events.   We keep it simple and provide considerable value.

We place their corporate outreach to our members front and center in a variety of ways and repeat their message to engage and accomplish their goals.  We use the power of our huge database and the Internet including direct outreach, exposure on the VAMBOA website, emails, newsletters, social media posts and articles.  VAMBOA has impressive traffic with an outstanding US Alexa Traffic ranking of under 17,000 of all the billions of websites on the Internet (with Alexa the lower the number the better with Google being #1).

VAMBOA invites Veteran, Service-Disabled and Military Business Owners to join our association so your business can connect to companies that seek your skills and diversity.

You can register here: https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

VAMBOA also invites corporations that recognize the Veteran Business Owners are awesome and want to connect with them in an easy, efficient and cost-effective way to become sponsors.  Please send us an EMAIL!

Veterans Day 2019

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

This Monday, November 11th we celebrate Veteran’s Day.  I am the proud daughter of a Veteran who made the ultimate sacrifice and served with seven of his brothers.

 

I believe that the word “Veteran” needs to be expanded to celebrate all the men and women who serve, past and present, every day of the year in all the uniformed services.  They make incredible sacrifices so that the rest of us can live and prosper.   They are true patriots and write a blank check up to and including their lives.

 

Those that sacrifice so much include every man and woman who has served or is serving in our Armed Forces and Uniformed Services.  These include members of the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps.  Our United States military men and women operate in more than 10 countries too.

 

We must also honor our citizen soldiers who serve in the United States National Guard and Reserves and deserve to be honored as much as our active duty and Veterans.

 

Many people don’t know that those who serve in the National Guard and Reserves can and do dual duty.  They usually work in a civilian job and can be called upon in their home states, but they are also activated and deployed overseas to the Middle East and other countries.

 

A huge percentage of our currently deployed military are members of the National Guard and Reserves.   These citizen soldiers and their loved ones don’t have the full support system that is provided to regular military stationed on military bases.   Being citizen soldiers, they also face huge financial challenges to serve and are often underemployed.

 

On this Veterans’ Day, we need to include everyone and think of ways we can do better by them.   Many are not receiving proper healthcare or must wait too long for it.  Wellness, especially mental wellness, must be a priority especially with so many Veterans committing suicide.  One size does not fit all when it comes to solutions.  We need to work together to find solutions for everyone and dedicate ourselves to those doing more for who have sacrificed so much for us.

 

On Monday, November 11th and every day, think of doing a small random act of kindness that can make a huge difference.  It can be as simple as volunteering at a Veterans home or doing some “honey do” things for the spouses of deployed Veterans or helping coach or tutor their kids.  It might involve donating money or goods to a Veteran charity, driving a Veteran, or just telling a cashier that you want to pick up a Veteran’s tab.    We are losing almost 2,000 Veterans a day from “the Greatest Generation” and preserving and listening to their stories and memories is part of our history.  You might find that supporting those who serve enriches your life too.

 

Be there for those who serve and have served because they are and have been there for all of us.  Never forget them and remember, there is more that unites us as Americans than divides us.

 

Debbie Gregory

CEO – VAMBOA, Veteran and Military Business Owners Association

Vice-President & Producer, “America Salutes You”, a nationally televised annual concert

Director of Employer Engagement, California ESGR

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