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By Debbie Gregory.

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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.

 

Veterans Take the Initiative to Explore Entrepreneurship

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Past military experience helps “veteran entrepreneurs” find success especially when they team up.  Working in teams is part of the military culture. Veterans tend to have a greater desire to create their own destiny, which is why starting a business is so appealing.  Veterans tend to have a unique point of view based on their past military experience.   They come up with different solutions to problems than non-military personnel do and are more creative and focused on crafting solutions.

 

Veterans have unique experiences and inner strengths that include:  

  • Initiative
  • Dependability
  • Commitment to a greater cause than self
  • Love for fellow comrades in arms regardless of their ethnicity or background
  • A drive to succeed against the odds
  • Focusing on the end goal and achieving the mission
  • Working in teams to get the job done

 

All of these attributes benefit veteran entrepreneurs.  This is one of the reasos that veterans tend to lean more towards starting their own businesses.  These same traits lead a lot of veteran business owners to want to help others pursue entrepreneurship as well.  They also become mentors and are leaders.

 

In the last few years there has been a surge of businesses, organizations, lenders, and programs that have been formed to provide veterans ways to explore entrepreneurship with the direct support of their colleagues.

 

Some of them include:

 

All of these organizations have one thing in common, they were created by a veteran, a group of veterans or those who support veterans to help veteran brothers and sisters in arms achieve their business dreams.

 

Military life has prepared many for the challenges that are unique to military service and those will also greatly benefit business life as a civilian. Veterans also face unique challenges when they return home from active duty. Seeking assistance from other veterans will help boost success as a civilian entrepreneur.

 

In today’s ever-changing economy, global climate, and interpersonal relationships, it is best to find programs and funding sources that focus on bringing together veterans and like-minded business owners who can help each other flourish.

 

We encourage all military and veteran business owners to join VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association.  VAMBOA does not charge any fees or dues.  Here is a link to register:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Illegal Interview Practices to Avoid

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By Debbie Gregory.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to protect job candidates and employees from discrimination. When interviewing, it is best to avoid any line of questioning that could potentially be viewed as discriminatory.

 

You cannot ask a candidate or employee about:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Gender identity
  • Where they live
  • Sexual orientation
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Having children, pregnancy, or plans to start a family
  • Arrest record
  • Financial status

 

When interviewing a pool of candidates for a job, make sure that you only use one set of interview questions for every potential employee. If you ask each person a different set of questions, that can be viewed as discriminatory and create liability for you.

 

Make sure to avoid these topics when preparing your list or asking interview questions:

  • Asking about their arrest record. You can ask if someone has previously been disciplined by a past employer for violating policy but asking about arrests or other legal problems is a huge no-no.
  • Asking about their current salary. Most states currently have a salary history ban in place; it is a good idea to avoid this question. You might ask them what about their compensation expectations with your company.
  • Asking where they live. This could be construed as discrimination
  • Asking if they are comfortable working under someone younger than the candidate. Asking a question like this can be viewed as age discrimination.
  • Asking about drug usage. This one seems like a valid question yet businesses are not allowed to discriminate against recovering addicts or people who take prescription drugs for a health condition. If drug use/abuse is a concern then stick with pre-employment drug screenings instead.
  • Asking about their accent or country of origin. If fluency is a concern, you can ask what languages they are fluent in but avoid asking if English is their first language or if they are a native speaker.
  • Asking what class they graduated with at any school they attended. This is another question that can be viewed as age discrimination.
  • Asking about their family or plans to have a family. This is one of the topics that generally comes up when interviewers stray into small talk and is a huge no-no. Someone’s family planning is not relevant to the job they are being interviewed for and asking any questions related to this topic will land you in trouble with the EEOC.

 

There are a few cases where you may need to know certain sensitive items such as physical health, education, legal convictions, or availability. When you do need to touch on these topics you must be careful about how to discuss them. Any of these types of questions (or really any questions you ask) need to be clearly related to the job in question and the fitness of the person to perform the tasks and responsibilities if hired.

 

Generally stay away from:

  • Any questions not directly related to the job.
  • Don’t ask anything that you cannot learn by looking at their social media or other public websites.
  • Be very clear about what qualities, skills, or traits a person will need for the role they are applying for.
  • Avoid personal conversations.

 

Many of these questions not to ask are obvious but often asked anyway.  It is not only illegal interview questions that can get you into trouble. Never promise or hint to any candidate that you think they may get the job because if they do not, it can create liability.  Additionally, promising long-term job security, implying a specific career path, or hinting that they could quickly advance in the company should be avoided.  You can say state general opportunity terms for all employees but avoid anything that can be construed as promises.

 

Always be sure that you are conducting your interviews in the most fair and legal manner possible. If you need assistance or have questions please visit the EEOC website at https://www.eeoc.gov/.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

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Part 1 of 3

 

Starting a business isn’t easy – it involves very careful planning, evaluation, and a bit of cash to get started. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 30% of all businesses fail within their first year, approximately 1/2 close their doors within 5 years, and only 1/3 will make it to their 10th anniversary.

 

The reasons the businesses fail vary but often they revolve around lack of funding or lack of profits. Before starting a new business, you must spend the time and energy to build a solid foundation in order to survive and thrive.

 

Necessary Essentials:

 

1.) Evaluate yourself and your business idea

Before you start a business, it is an excellent idea to take stock of all of your own personal strengths and weaknesses. What are your skills? Where is your expertise? What are you passionate about? Why do you want to start a business?   Then look at ideas for the type of business you want to start. Are you improving on something that already exists or providing a new product or service?

 

2.) Do your market research

Once you know what you want to do, it makes sense to spend the time doing some in-depth exploration and analysis of your target market. You don’t want to launch a business blindly. Conducting research will help you determine whether or not your idea will be viable in the marketplace.

 

3.) Write out your business plan and make it official

After you have conducted your market research and you find that your offering will potentially be successful, you want to write out the blueprint for starting the business. Your business plan should detail the purpose of your business, your target customers, your long-term goals, and how you plan to finance the business until you are successful and profitable.  You will need to determine the right legal business structure  (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc), register your business with your local government, obtain any necessary permits/certificates/licenses, as well as trademarks/copyrights/patents (if applicable), you will need to open a bank account, and setup your legal team and plan (just in case).

 

4.) Get your business rolling

Once all of that is in place, select the location for your business, setup your location, and staff it. Make sure that you choose a location that is convenient for your target customers and not too close to your competition. Train your staff properly and make sure that you give them the tools they need to make your customers happy.

 

Regardless of how successful you become, never get too complacent. Your market and target audience will change over the lifetime of your business. Make sure that you devote the time and energy into regular evaluations of your offerings, your market, and your customers to see where you can improve.  Often you will need to hire specialists to help you and this is money well spent.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 3 Part Series.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

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A memo from Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan appears to have preserved $310 million in California military construction funds that were in danger of being diverted to border wall construction.

 

Shanahan directed the Pentagon to provide a list of $3.6 billion in military construction projects that could be used to fund the border wall by early May. Shanahan’s memo exempted projects awarded in fiscal 2019.   The majority of the new construction planned for military bases at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Camp Pendleton and Fort Irwin have fiscal 2019 award dates.

 

The projects include a $118 million reconstruction of the docking facilities at the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, which includes the overhaul of the Anaheim Bay depot. This project will allow the station to load munitions onto larger ships and onto more ships simultaneously. It also will help accommodate the current shift of ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Work could begin as early as the end of this year.

 

The Navy’s preferred plan includes a 1,100-foot pier, a new breakwater to protect the pier, a causeway for trucks and a channel dedicated to public boats, which now travel through the same area used by Navy.

 

Camp Pendleton is slated for a $49-million amphibious-vehicle maintenance and warehouse building that is needed to properly maintain and repair the existing fleet of AAVs and new ACVs, that support the main combat focus of the Marine Corps amphibious operations.  There is also a $47-million upgrade to the base’s potable water system. The base still stands to lose $26 million awarded last year for a replacement medical care center.

 

Fort Irwin, a major training center in the Mojave Desert, is scheduled to receive $29 million in 2019 awards for a multipurpose training range complex. The National Training Center (NTC) is part of the United States Army Forces Command. The opposing force at the NTC is the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse Cavalry, who are stationed at the base to provide an opposing force to units on a training rotation at Fort Irwin.

 

Tell us what you think and bring any new updates to this information to our attention.

 

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA.

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