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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.

 

Business Grants for Veterans : Part 1 of 3

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Looking for a business grant? Are you a Veteran Owned Small Business? There are quite a few grants out there that are offered by a variety of institutions.   Grants are time sensitive and are open for a specific period and then they are no longer available.  It does not make sense to list grants in this article because by the time you read this article, they may no longer be available.  However, you certainly can find them!

 

This is a three part series on Business Grants for Veterans and Part 1 will detail a few good places to find grants and other financial assistance for your Veteran Owned Small Business. Please keep in mind that just because you don’t see a specific grant or site listed within this article, there are many other grants that you can locate by performing a comprehensive search with specific criteria that applies to you.  It may take some energy, research and time to locate the right grants and financing options but consider it a treasure hunt that will always be worth it to your Veteran Owned Business.

 

The best place to begin your search for grants is the Federal Government’s database for small business grants at.Grants.gov. You should check the site often as grant opportunities begin and end frequently. Once you have found a grant (or two) that will work for your needs, you need to determine your next steps.  Grants.gov provides a very clear and specific process for applying for grants.   Below are some specific areas that will assist you on their website:

  1. Learn about grants: Their learning page includes a brief instructional video to help guide you.
  2. Check eligibility: This page will help you determine whether or not your business is eligible to apply for a federal grant.
  3. Search grants: You can search for grants by keyword, opportunity number, as well as other criteria.
  4. Register: If you find a grant you would like to apply for you will need to register for an account.
  5. Apply for a grant: The apply page includes helpful videos on how to use the system to properly apply for your chosen grant.
  6. Track your application: This page gives you the ability to keep an eye on how your application is progressing.

 

If you are looking specifically for Research and Development (R&D) grants from the Federal Government, there are two other programs that you may wish to consider:

 

Even though Grants.gov is an outstanding resource to locate grants, the Federal Government is not the only place to look for grants for your Veteran Owned Small Business. Our next article in this series will cover specific state offered business grants that you should explore as well.   Stay tuned!

Veteran Business Owners’ New Year’s List

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Happy New Year to our Veteran and Military Business Owners.   There are always many tasks for entrepreneurs to do and not always enough time to do them.   This is an excellent time to start with a fresh prospective, plan and focus.   You may want to reflect on the prior year and refocus your energy.   Below is a list to begin 2020:

 

  1. Recap & Forecast: Now is a good time to look at where you are and where you want to go with your business.   Review your return on investment, ROI on major projects, your finances and your goals.   Make sure you and your team understands your goals for the coming year.   This will make any changes easier.  It is a also an excellent time to  gain valuable input on what works, what can be improved and what has not worked.

 

If you have a team, you need to talk with them and develop an understanding of their roles and how they feel about them.   The New Year is an excellent tine for an annual review.    This is the time to perform your due diligence and be proactive to place you ahead of your competition.    Consider this to be your plan for success in 2020.

 

  1. ROI Marketing Focus: Your focus in determining your 2020 marketing initiatives must be what is the ROI (Return on Investment) on each initiative.  These include social media, advertising, blogs,brand building and more.  Not every marketing initiative is measurable but you should evaluate those you can.   You want to direct your money and resources to those initiatives that pay off for you.
  1. Look At Industry Trends: You need to take the temperature of what is going on within your own industry as well a industries that impact yours such as your suppliers.  This will enable you to react to changes and be proactive.   If the Trade Wars with China or oil prices affect your business, you need to take all of this into consideration and be prepared for a worst case scenario.
  1. Realistic Financial Goals: It makes a great deal of sense to put your financial goals in writing at the beginning of a New Year to achieve them.  You may want to check out SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) and OKRs (objectives and key results) formats.   This can include creating a list of objectives and key results for each area of your business (such as sales, finance, marketing, manufacturing and product development, etc.).   Each member of your team needs to have a keen understanding of their goals for the new year and how they are going to achieve them.

 

You might want look into affordable financing options for your business too.   This can make sense even for thriving businesses because the best time to look for financing is when your business is doing well.   Don’t take out loans unless you need one to grow your business and take it to the next level.

 

  1. Look at Automating Your Business: You might want to look into automated software solutions that will enable you to automate accounting, customer management and time tracking  to allow you to focus on accomplishing the real work.  Automating your finances will also provide you valuable input into better managing your cash flow and ROI and to forecast properly.
  1. Working Remotely: This is a good time to determine if some or all of your business can be done remotely.  Remote work is a trend and many believe that almost three-quarters of all  departments will have remote workers by 2028.   You may want to look at whether hiring remote workers and freelancers can benefit your business.   This is not viable for every business such as a retail store.   However, for some businesses, it can reduce the cost of office space and enable you to draw from a larger pool of talent.   We recommend that if you are considering a remote staff that you look into collaborative and communication tools.
  1. Mentors: Mentors are one of the most valuable resources for any business at any level.  Mentors provide objective advise, experience and access to a larger network of resources and people.   Almost all small business owners believe that mentors have had a direct impact on the growth and success of their business.   Those who don’t have a mentor, wish that they did.   If you don’t have mentors, the new year is a a good time to find them and start the year right.

Turning Construction Contacts into Contracts

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Don’t Miss This – December 13, 2018

Over 60 exhibitors looking for business with small certified firms DVBE’s, DBE’s, WBE’s, and SBE’s.

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veterans transition out of the military with the skills and attributes necessary to succeed as veteran business owners. Often times, the main roadblock for these entrepreneurs is financing their new mission: to become a veteran business owner or a service disabled veteran business owner.

Investing in your business operations doesn’t always have to come with a big price tag, as there are some cost-efficient ways to invest in your small business to get it going and growing.

Begin by identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Invest in personal growth, so that you can turn those weaknesses into strengths. Take classes. Do your research on the web. Seek out tutorials. Don’t overlook the value of a digital marketing platform. Make sure you have a website.  Utilize Facebook, LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Instagram, etc. There are plenty of free resources available to help you navigate these waters.

If there are skills that you can’t or don’t want to do, and you don’t have the staff to do them, outsource! Perhaps tax returns, web design and the like are best left in the hands of the experts. You might even be able to barter services. And for those occasions when the work load is on an upswing, don’t rule out freelancers or temporary workers.

But when it comes time to assemble a staff, your hiring strategy should be based on talent, not functions. If your team is versatile with diverse talents, they will be better positioned to grow with the business.

Identify your business’s core values and build a team aligned with them. Having your values in place will give your business purpose and direction, and will in turn provide a culture for your employees to be proud of. Along with values, don’t underestimate the value of a corporate identity. You want to be your own company, not just a “light’ version of another company.

Have a rainy-day reserve account. As a business owner you’re probably thinking, “How in the world can I save for this?” The key is to start small and build up. This safety net will get you through rough times, which are inevitable.

Invest the time in writing Standing Operating Procedures, a set of step-by-step instructions to make sure there is a “Bible” for routine operations. Answer what tasks need to done? Who needs to do them? What are the best ways to approach these tasks?

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