Do You Have A Good Business Idea?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Starting any business takes a huge leap of faith. You’re jumping off of a cliff and hoping your parachute will open and lead you and your business to success. So how do you decide what’s really a great idea? Sure, you can rely on your gut instinct, but that isn’t the only good measure. Identifying the difference between a good business idea and a good business opportunity will serve you well on your entrepreneurial journey.

Recognizing that passion for your concept is important but will only get you so far. It is important to be both realistic and well informed as you approach the process. Successful business opportunities should fill an ongoing need. They provide a new or different product or service that also allows you to make a profit and grow your business. But just how will you translate your idea into a viable business?


Here are some key questions to ask yourself:


Why are you doing this? What’s your mission?

Your business needs a sense of purpose that sets it apart from the competition. If your business improves people’s lives in some way, that should drive your mission.


What problem are you solving?

You need to be solving some sort of real problem that exists for your customers. If not, how will you motivate people to buy your product or service?


Who is your customer?

Knowing who your ideal customer is and how you can find them is critical to starting a successful business.


How are your potential customers solving their problem today?

Identify the choices your potential customers currently have and how your solution is better.


What will potential customers be willing to pay for your solution?   Do you think you can make money?

You want to make sure your idea can be profitable, and that your planning and hard work will result in success.


While there’s no definitive way to tell if a company will be successful, if you put forth a quality offering that solves a problem and reflects your passions, you’ve greatly increased your odds.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA.

2019 Veteran Owned Small Business Regulation Updates

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By Debbie Gregory.

As the new year was ushered in, so were two major rules and three proposed rules that may have an effect on how government contractors and other veteran owned companies operate in 2019.

The first rule is the DFARS Deviation 2019-O0003 – Limitations on Subcontracting. This rule was signed by the Department of Defense (DoD) on December 3, 2018 and effectively implements the SBA’s Limitations on Subcontracting regulations for DoD procurements. The updated small business regulations allow small prime contractors to include work subcontracted to “similarly situated entities” when calculating their compliance with limitations on subcontracting.  

The second rule is the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018, passed on December 17, 2018, adjusted the previous measure of a company’s size by using the average annual receipts from the previous five years, up from three years. The change was designed to reduce the impact of rapid-growth years and resulting spikes in revenue that could prematurely eject a small business out of a size standard. It was also designed to allow small businesses to have more time to grow and develop their competitiveness and infrastructure.

In previous regulatory iterations, the percentage of work that small business contractors could subcontract on contracts set aside for small businesses was limited to essentially 50% for supplies and services, 85% for general construction and 75% for specialty construction. These limitations have created a hardship for many small businesses. The class deviation addressed the nonmanufacturer rule and clarifies that those small businesses who are in a joint venture may aggregate work performed by all members of the joint venture to reach the minimum percentage.

The three proposed rules are the End to Self-Certification for SDVOSB, the FAR Rule, and the HUBZone Program Changes.

The Proposed End to Self-Certification for SDVOSB- The purpose of this new legislation is to facilitate the transfer of responsibility for verifying small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans to the Small Business Administration (SBA). While this proposed legislation will serve to consolidate the separate SBA and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) certification standards, it will also put an end to the current SBA policy of self-certification and will require many small and large businesses to revise policies, procedures, and certification programs.

The FAR Rule – Limitations on Subcontracting proposes to update the FAR to match the SBA regulations on limitations on subcontracting.  This again includes language to include a prime’s subcontracted work to “similarly situated entities” in its calculations towards its limitations on subcontracting.    

Proposed HUBZone Program Changes- The SBA recently proposed new regulations to make it easier for small businesses to understand and comply with the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program’s requirements. These proposed changes will make the program a more attractive avenue for procuring agencies.  While the 8(a) Business Development Program has been an integral part of SBA’s history, the HUBZone Program has the potential to be just as popular. The problem with existing HUBZone rules and regulations is that compliance is often difficult to achieve and maintain and can change almost without warning, thereby rendering a company ineligible due to no fault of the business owner.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,



Businesses You Can Start Tomorrow

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By Debbie Gregory.

Having a great business idea usually begins with filling a need. Whether you are going to sell a product or provide a service, your status as a veteran owned business or service disabled veteran owned business gives you a leg-up on the competition. The general public, corporations and the government all want to do business with you.

So what type of business should you start? The obvious first choice is something that is related to the things you enjoy. Many hobbyists go on to elevate their interests into thriving businesses at little to no cost.

Here are some examples:

Gear-heads who have a love of cars and motorcycles could launch a swap-meet style business that offers fellow enthusiasts the chance to meet up and buy, sell and trade parts.

If you love being on your computer, perhaps an online researching company would be up your ally. All you need is a phone, a computer, and internet access.

If your talents run more to the social media side of the web, social media management is an up-and- coming area that many companies are looking to outsource. Scaling up and hiring others will allow you to focus on getting new clients.

If you enjoy painting, you’re not just restricted to residential properties. A graffiti removal company is an unfortunate necessity in most cities nowadays.

Like working from home? You can become a virtual assistant. Once you are established, you can scale your business as you secure more clients.

If you’d rather be out and about, consider an errand running service. Again, as your business grows, you can hire employees. And since most people know how to do this already, your employees won’t require a lot of training.

If you love animals, there are numerous opportunities available, including pet walking, pet waste clean-up, pet day care, pet-sitting and pet transportation. You have the choice to either stick to one specific service, or choose a number of them. It’s your business, so it’s up to you.

If you know enough about a subject to advise others, start a consulting business. This could include IT consulting, fund-raising for non-profits, advertising consulting, public relations, writing services, and many more.

Gifted in math? Start a tutoring company or a tax return service. Interior design your thing? Start a design business or staging company.

If you’re willing to invest a bit more money in your business, you might consider the following:

A mobile paper-shredding service- Again, an unfortunate necessity in today’s identity theft climate.

A residence for the elderly- Turning a private home into a home for older people who do not wish to or cannot live alone can be a very profitable business. Keep in mind that who you employ to take care of the residents is probably the most important element.

Corporate health/fitness centers- Develop and manage fitness centers for corporations since higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking make it difficult for employees to find the time to act on wellness goals. Creating an on-site wellness program works due to the amount of time spent at the workplace.

These are just a few suggestions, and with a little leg-work, you can find your niche.

By Debbie Gregory.

Former Marine Cody Nichols is the owner/operator of Our Troops Services. The Tulsa, OK resident is also an employer whose company hires veterans for landscaping, fencing and construction jobs.

But unfortunately, on May 20th, Nichols was the victim of a theft that left him without any of his equipment, despite the fact that the equipment was stored in a yard with a barbed wire fence. Working with just of a couple of donated push mowers, the company was facing hard times and falling behind.

Just when it seemed the darkest of times for this veteran and his employees, a shining light in the form of non-profit Soldier’s Wish surprised Nichols with $15,000 worth of new lawn equipment!

Soldier’s Wish identifies and fulfills the unmet needs of military veterans, regardless of branch or rank. The 501(c) 3 organization provides support directly to veteran service members and/or their families to help them lead normal, productive lives.

“We’re going to survive. I really thought our company was going to die,” said Nichols.

As a veteran-owned business, Our Troops Services is one of the approximately 2.4 million veteran-owned small businesses that drive the U.S. economy and employ about 5.8 million individuals.

The company is mostly focusing on lawn care now to get back up and running. According to a GoFundMe campaign set up to help this seven-month-old start-up, the company is looking to move operations out of a private home and in to a safe area.

So far, they have raised over $7,500 of their $25,000 goal. But these veterans have the fortitude they learned during their military service, and they will keep moving forward.

VAMBOA would like to give a big shout out to both Our Troops Services and Soldier’s Wish. We applaud the great non-profits who are assisting those who serve, past and present, as well as their families and supporters.

Taking Advantage of Subcontractor Opportunities

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By Debbie Gregory.

Just because your company does not contract directly with the government does not mean you lose out on the opportunity. Large companies who are hired as the prime contractors more often than not use smaller companies as subcontractors to provide the services they don’t already have in place.

In order to make sure you are in a position to accept a subcontractor opportunities, here are some thing you should prepare in advance:

Have knowledge of your business’s processes, resources, staff and capital. The government is notorious for requiring a lot of paperwork, so having this information at the ready will give you the opportunity to jump in to the process quickly.

The companies working on government contracts also have diversity requirements to fulfill, so if you are a veteran owned business, a woman owned business, a minority owned business, etc., make sure you have the appropriate certification.

Keep current on what contracting/subcontracting opportunities are available. In addition to online sites that specialize in these searches, sign up for VAMBOA membership and you will receive emails whenever we receive requests for proposals from our corporate sponsors.

Reach out to the person in charge of the project to see if you can pre-qualify your services. There’s no point in filling out the paperwork and going through the application process if they require something you can’t comply with.

Speaking of paperwork, it is imperative to provide all information requested, whether it makes sense to you or not. Try to keep all information concise and to the point, and submit it as early as you can. This will give you some leeway to correct any errors or answer any questions prior to the deadline.

Hopefully, you have already reached out to the project manager before submitting your application, so a quick communication to check on the status of your bid helps to further build that relationship. It will also help you receive a status update.

If you don’t win the bid, your contact can possibly help you understand why. Rather than focusing on the defeat, think of it as an opportunity to better prepare for the next opportunity.

If you won, now’s the time to get busy and ramp up. Make sure everything is in place for you to deliver on your promise of performance.