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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Who knew? Labor and supply shortages are creating havoc and cursing small businesses now more than ever, especially in the wake of reopening. Behemoths such as Amazon and Walmart have their safety nets. Smaller establishments must struggle with what they have. As a result, gaps in service plague the reputations and growth of their smaller counterparts.

Unfortunately for Veteran Business Owners, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.1 million job openings at the end of March, a new record. The pandemic only exacerbated a preexisting trend, and the reasons vary. 

Suggestions have included a lack of training opportunities, supercharged unemployment benefits, a mismatched skill set, and fear due to the pandemic for many. Whatever the cause, a shortage of qualified workers has left employers in the lurch despite a continuously shrinking workforce.

Gaps in service are a result, often leaving angry customers. This anger often shows up online. These days, an online presence can make or break a company. Angry reviews can pose real threats to a struggling business.

The trend nowadays is for buyers overwhelmingly to check their business’ online presence. How can business owners minimize angry diatribes on forums such as Yelp, Bing, Google My Business, and Facebook? Small employers are finding themselves trapped between the rock of the labor shortage and the hard place of customer satisfaction. The best short-term fix is better communication.

Business owners should build trust with their client base. Patrons should understand that they can work with the management of a company. These kinds of positive working relationships best protect smaller businesses from online reputational issues, which may leave business owners feeling helpless in their marketing efforts. Good working relationships often rest on a foundation of good communication, one of the variables that managers may control in this economic environment.

Methods of communication may vary. Updating profiles on relevant online business platforms is an easy first step. The business’s profiles on the above online platforms should provide up-to-date hours and terms of service. When possible, these sites should also include explanations for any changes in these terms. Additionally, a business owner should address any negative reviews directly as soon as possible.

Some verbal strategies can improve the outcome of discussions with a dissatisfied customer. For example, first, the person in charge should remain calm during a confrontation. Second, active listening can demonstrate that the manager understands the grievance.  Active listening methods generally emphasize engagement in the discussion. In other words, managers should not remain passive targets in these matters. One such technique may involve rephrasing the complaints in a manner that demonstrates a genuine understanding of the customer’s issues with their service. 

Finally, management should demonstrate their understanding of the weight of the problem and if possible, let the customer know the relevant steps for resolving such issues in the future.

Early communication with dissatisfied customers may prevent escalation or even an angry Yelp review. Overall, the goal is a synergy between the needs of the client and the capacities of the owner. During these novel times, business owners should engage any necessary communication techniques to achieve a meeting of the minds that leaves all parties satisfied and at peace.

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:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business

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Many Americans are evaluating their lives and how they make their livings. Driven by factors such as safety, job security, life purpose, future goals, and work-life balance, the COVID-19 pandemic has led a lot more people to question whether now is the right time to start their own business.

Do you dream of creating your own product line? Setting your own hours? Being your own boss? Starting your own business can really help you take control of your life and work, take charge, add flexibility, learn new experiences, connect better with peers, and broaden yourself as a person.

Business owners are not special super humans.   They are normal people who have big ideas and work very hard to turn their ideas into reality. Every business owner is different but there are a few key traits that they all seem to have in common. To help you decide if starting a business is right for you, below are some basic questions to ask yourself before making the leap.

1.) Can you make important decisions quickly?

Problems arise all the time in business, and it is very important that the business owner can respond to them quickly, decisively, and with a clear head. You will also need to be able to handle any consequences that may occur after the problem has been resolved. Being a business owner, requires you to have confidence under pressure but not arrogance. You need to be able to be part of the team you build, have confidence in each other’s skills, accept that mistakes will happen, and be able to learn from those mistakes to move forward. If you struggle to make effective decisions quickly, owning a business will be more difficult for you.

2.) Do you have energy? 

Running a business is a lot of work. You need to have a high level of energy and excited to grow your brand. If you are the type of person who is constantly seeking after-work hobbies, weekend projects, and other activities, you may have the energy to start a new business.

3.) Are you creative?

Creativity is a key aspect of owning a business.  It is important to have the ability to think out of the box. As the owner, you will be required to constantly come up with new ideas.   These new ideas may include but not be limited to new product ideas, lead generating strategies, marketing thoughts, revenue boosting activities, improving the company culture, and more. If you are usually bursting with new ideas, a business is a great way for you to share those ideas with the rest of the world.

4.) Do you like to solve problems?

A business owner is basically a full-time problem solver. As we touched on in point #1, problems constantly arise in business. These problems should be viewed as opportunities and challenges rather than setbacks. As the owner, you cannot afford to be easily discouraged by setbacks or bad news. You need to be able to push forward and continue working hard. So, if you love solving problems and are not easily discouraged, business ownership could be for you.  VAMBOA wishes you great success.

Regardless of how you answered the above questions, we hope that you can see that business ownership is not out of your reach if it is something you are interested in. If you are even slightly creative, energetic, and love to solve problems plus you have a great idea for a business, now is one of the best times to get started.

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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

 

Advantages of Older Entrepreneurs

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Age, Veteran Status, and Entrepreneurship

These days, veterans come in all shapes and sizes. From the oldest to the youngest, veterans bring necessary skills to their communities, including countless niche specialties necessary to keep our economy flourishing. Many such veterans are older, and age is a strong asset to entrepreneurship.

Network of Connections

Older people know more people. Successful entrepreneurs have expansive tendrils of connections at their disposal. These tendrils often reach deep into their life experience, and draw upon wide expanses of interests, hobbies, and life experiences. In this sense, older entrepreneurs can mine a far richer substrate of expertise, advice, and enthusiasm. Reconnecting with that old friend with shared interests may provide the spark, even after decades.

Financial Advantages

Often, a few more years allows that much time to strengthen your credit and savings. New businesses require capital. With a few decades under your belt, you may over have accumulated the capital to bring that great idea to life.

Obviously, do not lose your nest egg in the process. Especially in this new age of “working from home,” there are numerous strategies to carefully stream your capital into your life’s dream. If you have money on-hand and your idea is feasible, go for it. Loans may be another story. While friends and family may provide another resource, trouble may brew later. In short, consider your future, your company’s scope, and plans for your company.

Older entrepreneurs do tend to have more financial resources, whether savings or credit. These resources provide an advantage when used wisely.

Experience and Perspective

Inevitably, for all of us, the older you are, the more you have failed, and the more you have learned as a result. Your experience has taught what mistakes you can and cannot make.

Age brings perspective. Some problems are small, and some are big. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy repeatedly uses the aphorism “don’t panic.” Never panic. However, you should know your priorities. Maturity often brings an understanding of when to calm down, and when a dangerous situation may loom ahead.

Trust of Clients and Creditors

Your past connections may help in the acquisition of loans and small business grants. Such connections may also conjure up more active clientele. Older people can often summon more expansive resources to back up claims of quality, ingenuity, and trustworthiness.

The same goes for marketing. Your connections may help bring clients. Satisfied clients write good online recommendations. They also bring new business. Older business-starters likely have more to draw upon and should use these resources extensively, within reason.

Resources for Older Entrepreneurs – below are some valuable resources for older entrepreneurs:

Conclusion

“Older” workers are often the best-situated to earn money independently.  Many have income streams to carry them too.  A mid or late-career professional may think they find themselves “marooned,” without further paths in their desired trajectory. However, the skills they have developed and the talents they have discovered may be staring them in the face. Military veterans especially have gone through training and development that left them with invaluable skills. Long story short, go-for-it, but be cautious, and consider your resources and the context beforehand.

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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Thanks to the Internet, people can make a steady income from wherever they are utilizing a variety of skills. All you really need is an Internet connection, a computer, and an idea. Below are even more small business ideas for you to consider if you are looking to start a business or need a second income stream.

21.) Freelance Writer or Editor

Do you love to write? Content creation is a huge part of marketing in today’s world and companies are always looking to add good writers to their teams. You simply need good writing and editing skills.

22.) Professional Blogger or Social Media Influencer

Blogs and being a social media influencer are both great ways to make money. The pros make money selling advertising and affiliate marketing on their own blogs or social channels. They also get paid to blog for other companies and travel or use products to promote them. Popular topics include travel, cooking, health, technology, finance and more.

23.) Proofreading Services 

Similar to writing services, a good proof reader is worth their weight in gold! If you love grammar and punctuation, consider offering your services to others. You can even promote your service on websites like Upwork, LinkedIn, and other places where prospective clients may look.

24.) Social Media Manager

If you are a social media expert, managing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social channels for others can be a lot of fun. You will need to help the company keep up with the latest trends and tricks for building and engaging their audience, but if you have the skills and desire, this can be a very lucrative side business.

25.) Photographer

This is another great side job for someone already in the field or even an aspiring hobbyist. This is not an easy one to start unless you already have the correct equipment and knowledge. If you aren’t a pro yourself yet, you can team up with professionals at a lower rate to learn the trade. It is also best to select a photography niche and focus on it such as sporting events, weddings, family portraits, pet portraits, etc.  Instead of trying to do all of them, select one as each niche has its own challenges and special equipment.

26.) Sell Photographs

If you have the equipment and a passion for photography, but do not wish to be a photographer, you can also sell the photos you take to stock photography companies. Sites like Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images will allow you to sell photos for money.

27.) Graphic Designer 

If you already work as a designer, consider offering your services on the side. You can network through business networking groups and in places where businesses look for graphic designers, such as Upwork and LinkedIn to start building your side clientele. If you have other related skills, such as animation and web development, you can further broaden your offerings and generate more business.

28.) Web Designer

Every company needs a good quality website. If you have the skills to build it – offer those skills!

29.) Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) 

As a web designer, you should have experience with SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  SEO is complex and challenging to get right and this is particularly true because the major search engines are constantly changing how they rank and display sites in searches. If you have good SEO skills, you can make quite a good amount of money offering those skills to companies.

30.) Shoot or Edit Video

Video is an incredibly popular marketing tool today. It is one of the best, most engaging, ways for companies to communicate their messages to consumers. If you have the skills and equipment to shoot or edit video, this is a great way to make some extra cash.

We at VAMBOA, hope you have enjoyed this mini-series. Today’s digital environment makes it so easy to monetize your existing skills and passions. Whether you are looking to create a full-time business or simply want to make some cash on the side, there is never a bad time to begin.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Even if you have a full-time job, a second income stream can come in handy and provide you and your family more opportunities and options.  Below are more ten more ideas that may help you find a side-business that would be perfect for your life.

11.) Make & Sell Handmade Products Online

This one is excellent for anyone who has a fun craft they like to do. Do you create jewelry, clothing, toys, craft supplies, home décor, or more? List them for sale on places like Etsy.

12.) Online Tutor

There is always a need for a good, patient tutor in many subjects and for almost every age group.  Especially with so many students learning remotely with parents working, the demand is greater. The most popular needs are usually in math, science, and English. This is a great side job for those who are already working in education or a professional in a field that is complex. You can start a tutoring business on your own or sign up for online services such as Aim-for-A or Chegg Tutors.

13.) Survey Filler

This one isn’t a well paid opportunity but it is fun and incredibly easy. You can sign up with companies like Survey Junkie who will pay you to take surveys on a variety of topics.

14.) Virtual Assistant

Working as a Virtual Assistant can be very profitable but can also be incredibly time-consuming and challenging.  More than ever with remote working, companies, and individual need Virtual Assistants.  A Virtual Assistant takes care of tasks that other people are too busy to take care of yet need to have done. Tasks such as sorting emails by importance, proofreading, formatting email newsletters, or responding to customer questions and comments online are just a few examples and there are many more.

15.) Furniture Maker

If you have wood working skills, this is a great way to make some money. People love high-end, uniquely designed, hand-made furniture that is made in the USA.  You can sell these items through online channels, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and more.  This is the type of business that embraces referrals and word can spread like wildfire.

16.) Real Estate Investing

Investing in real estate is a great way to bring in passive income. You can rent out whole homes if you have the ability to do so, you can list spare rooms in your home for rent online on places like Airbnb, or you can invest in commercial properties through investment companies.  This requires some capital and good credit, but it can be very lucrative.  Real estate is in high demand.

17.) Jewelry Repair

This is another business that requires training and certification. However, if it is a passion of yours, it would make a great home business. Customers simply drop their pieces to you, you fix them, they pick them back up.  You might even design a few pieces for sale too.

18.) Daycare or Baby Sitting

Providing daycare services in your home is a great side business to run if you love children and have a home that would be a safe and fun environment for kids. Babysitting doesn’t require any special training, though having at least a CPR certificate is encouraged. Setting up a full daycare facility will require licensing as well as home inspections, background checks, and following specific regulations (that differ by state).   Now with the vaccines, people are going out again and

According to Care.com 2019 Babysitter Survey, the average babysitting rate in 2018 in California was $16.25 per hour and some babysitters in areas such as San Francisco, received as much as $22.50 per hour.  If there are multiple kids, the rate can go up and then many parents also tip.

19.) Pet Sitter

Pet sitting, like babysitting, does not require any special certification, only a safe environment and a love of animals. The rates vary depending on the services and whether you are just feeding and walking the pets or staying over with them.

20.) Podcast Producer or Editor

Podcasts are very popular these days as marketing tools for a wide variety of companies. If you have any experience writing content of any sort, you may want to look at writing content for podcasts.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this mini-series and more Money-Making Small Business Ideas.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

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