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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3

 

There are many challenges with any business, including a home-based business.  To help ensure your success, establish your brand, get the word out, and build your reputation Below are some tips for Branding and Marketing your Home-Based Business:

 

Identify your target market:

You are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. You need to research potential customers and determine who may be interested in your product or service, identify the specific demographic you want to reach, review your existing industry competitors, and identify the characteristics that you want to highlight about your products and services.

 

Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it. Determine how you will fulfill the promises you make to your customers and how you will you make them connect personally with your business. When you are able to help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.

 

Create an awesome website:

In our technologically advanced world, your business will need a unique URL (web site address) and user-friendly website that is mobile friendly. If you are web savvy you can certainly create your site yourself but hiring a professional to get it up and going is usually your best bet. A professional will know exactly what your site needs, help you write the site’s content, and make sure it is optimized for search engines.

 

Whether you hire a pro or you decide to go it alone you will need:

A domain name or URL name:

This is your site’s address on the Internet (i.e. google.com or amazon.com). Write out a list of 5 or 6 URLs you would like for your business, as your first choice may be already taken. It is best to select a domain name that is short, easy to remember and ties in with your branding. Avoid hyphens, special characters, or numbers.

 

A website host:

Your website will need to be located on a server or “host” in order to be viewed on the web. There are plenty of reputable web hosting companies out there. Do your research and choose the one you feel is right for you and your business.  If you plan to grow your business with online sales, make sure you select a company that has the capacity you will need as you grow. Try to avoid the cheapest options, they are cheap for a reason.

 

Put together your design:

The look and feel of your website should match your business and align with its goals. Choose colors that represent your company. Keep it consistent with any other marketing materials you have already created. Make sure to incorporate a compelling home page or landing page that captures your customers’ attention right away; use concise messages and make sure all photographs and visuals are of the highest quality; make sure that you are easy to find and use a navigational menu that helps your visitors move through your site with ease; avoid visual clutter and keep your content up to date; also make sure that you place strategic calls to action throughout your website (“sign up” or “subscribe” buttons placed in notable locations).

 

Set up your store and any online payment options (if necessary).

If you are selling products or services directly on your website, you will need to setup online payment options and connect them to your new website.

 

Last checks before launch:

Before you finalize and publish your website you will want to make sure that it loads as quickly as possible. You will also need to check and be sure that it’s mobile friendly as smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. You want your website to be easy to use, accessible, and convenient for all your customers.

 

Create a matching blog and post regularly:

The blog ideally should be housed underneath your main website. Blogs are a great marketing tool for businesses as they help you enhance your social media presence, they help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, they help increase your customer base, they increase your company’s visibility on the web, they help develop your brand, they help your brand build trust with your customers, they help you grow your email list, and they can be valuable for gaining better and more frequent customer feedback. Blogging can also help improve your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing your back linking, adding more frequent new content to your site, and increasing overall traffic to your website.

 

Create and regularly post to social media platforms:

Social media is a great way to market your business, website, and offerings to customers. Setting up an account is totally free and allows you to directly connect with you customers’ interests, opinions, preferences, and changing needs. Social media helps you increase your brand’s awareness, helps build your reputation, creates loyal followers, improves your SEO, and increases click-through traffic to your small business’s website (just make sure that all of your social media platforms link back to your website).

 

Collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.

Newsletters are an awesome marketing tool to help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. They establish a regular communication channel that can lead to stronger business relationships. Use newsletters to showcase your expertise in your industry; share new products, services, or promotions; highlight your company, your employees, and your clients; you can also toss in a bit of humor or appropriate holiday posts to keep it interesting and not so focused on selling.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 2 of 3

 

Below are some Census statistics related to which industries, job functions, business types, state concentrations are more likely to be filled with veterans as well as some information on the characteristics veterans starting and running these businesses.

 

Veteran Owned Employer Establishment Numbers:

The 442,485 veteran-owned employer firms in 2012 operated 501,003 separate establishments. Those operating in only one industry (by two-digit NAICS code) represented 99.3 percent of all firms and 91.8 percent of all establishments. Veteran owned employers operating in multiple industries represented only 0.7 percent of firms but had 8.2 percent of establishment’s sales and receipts.

  • More than half of all veteran-owned firms (55.8 percent) had annual sales of less than $25,000, and over one-third (34.9 percent) had annual sales of less than $10,000. These shares mirrored those for all firms, and they include all firms that reported business income of $1,000 or more in 2012. Accordingly, many part-time business activities were included.
  • 6 percent of veteran-owned employer firms had sales of $100,000 or more, and 37.6 percent had sales of $500,000 or more.
  • Among veteran non-employers, 10.1 percent had sales of $100,000 or more, while only 0.9 percent had sales of $500,000 or more.

 

Number of Employees:

Most veteran-owned employer firms are very small.

  • 5 percent of all veteran-owned employer firms have one to four employees;
  • 3 percent have from one to nine employees;
  • 6 percent have from one to nineteen; • 9.0 percent have twenty or more; and
  • 2 percent have more than fifty.

 

Veteran Owned Firms by Gender, Ethnicity & Race:  

The majority ownership of veteran-owned firms was overwhelmingly male (84.3 percent), non-Hispanic (92.9 percent) and white (85.1 percent). Women owned 15.2 percent of all veteran-owned businesses, and self-identified minorities owned 20.6 percent.

 

Majority Ownership Shares by Ethnicity & Race:

  • African American (10.7 percent);
  • Hispanic (7.0 percent);
  • Asian American (2.1 percent);
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (1.3 percent)
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (0.3 percent); and
  • Some other race (2.2 percent).

 

States with the Most Veteran Owned Firms in Order:

  • California (252,377),
  • Texas (213,590),
  • Florida (185,756),
  • New York (137,532) and
  • Pennsylvania (97,969).

 

States with Highest Veteran Owned Sales:

  • California ($135.1 billion),
  • Texas ($109.9 billion),
  • Florida ($57.7 billion),
  • New York ($55.8 billion), and
  • Pennsylvania ($50.3 billion).

 

States By Percentage:

Ranking states by their percentage of veteran-owned firms controls for differences in state population size. The states with the highest percentages of veteran-owned firms were:

  • South Carolina (13.0 percent),
  • New Hampshire (12.2 percent),
  • Virginia (11.7 percent),
  • Alaska (11.7 percent), and
  • Mississippi (11.4 percent).

 

States with Highest Percentages of Sales by Veteran Owned Firms:

  • New Hampshire (6.2 percent),
  • Nevada (4.8 percent),
  • South Carolina (4.7 percent),
  • Mississippi (4.7 percent), and
  • Tennessee (4.6 percent).

 

Veteran Owned Firms Contribute to the economies of many states and our nation.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

Veteran-owned small businesses have a lot to offer, to their customers, their communities, and to prospective employees. Despite the focus and push for veteran employment through diversity and inclusion, there needs to be greater focus on supplier diversity for veteran owned businesses.  I also believe that corporations need to integrate their Supplier Diversity, Inclusion and Diversity and Veteran Affinity and mentorship groups for real success.

 

Some interesting stats according to the Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • Veterans are a key part of any supplier diversity program.
  • Veterans are one of the most successful groups of business owners in America.
  • 1 in 10 businesses are veteran-owned.
  • Veterans are 30% more likely to hire other veterans.
  • 5% of VOSB’s operate in the professional, scientific, technical services industries, and the construction industry.
  • 1 % are in wholesale and retail trade.

 

Don’t Just Hire Veterans – Do Business with Them! There are many good reasons to work with veteran-owned businesses.

 

Know the Rules

The federal government requires 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards go to Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs).

 

Finding Veteran-Owned Businesses

The very best ways to find a veteran-owned business is to search connect with and sponsor trade associations such as VAMBOA with huge memberships of Veteran Business Owners.   VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association can connect the RFIs and RFPs of your corporation with our network of over 7,000 members.

I believe that time is at a premium for small Veteran and Service-Disabled Businesses as it is for the corporations that are required to have a diverse supplier network.  Instead of spending the time of staff and the expense of attending conference, become a VAMBOA sponsor and we will place your message online to our large membership and on social media with almost a quarter of a million fans and followers.

 

 

 

-Do Your Research
There are good vendors and bad ones. Simply having a federal VOSB/SDVOSB certification does not mean that the vendor is experienced or any good at their job. Always ask for work examples or references as you would with any vendor, supplier, or potential employee.

Any company can slap a “veteran-owned” sticker on their location or product but some may not be honest, and fraud is a concern. Most states will certify a business as VOSB/SDVOSB if they have their federal VA certification. Before doing business make sure that you request a copy of that certification.

 

-Get Management on Board

You will need to gain the support of your senior management in order to add veteran-owned businesses to your approved supplier lists. Veteran-owned businesses now provide almost every type of product or service you can think of.  Make sure the entire company is on the same page about including VOSB/SDVOSBs. Veterans hit all the boxes as they are diverse group including minorities, women and disabled.

 

-Educate Your Purchasing and Contract Departments
Once you are sure that you have clearly outlined your goals for including veterans in your diversity supplier efforts, provide well researched lists to your key personnel of veteran-owned businesses to help jump-start the process. The most common internal pushback is lack of access to known veteran-owned businesses. If you cannot find them – it is hard to work with them. Make it as easy as possible for your employees to include VOSB/SDVOSBs when your company is looking for a vendor or supplier.  The very best way is to become a VAMBOA sponsor.  Contact us at info@vamboa.org.

 

-Tipping the Bidding Scales in Your Favor
Sometimes working with veteran-owned businesses can bring you a competitive edge when bidding a job. Certain agencies will give preference to companies that utilize VOSB/SDVOSBs. Each federal agency sets participation goals for small businesses in procurement contracts. Regulations require Federal purchases over $10,000, but less than $250,000 to automatically reserve, or set-aside, a portion of the contract monies for small businesses.

 

Working with VOSB/SDVOSB can help you, the VOSB/SDVOSB you work with, and our economy in general. Next time you need a new supplier, vendor, or partner it may be in your best interest to find one being run by a vet.   Contact VAMBOA – info@vamboa.org

 

New Tax Info for Veteran Owned Businesses

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By Debbie Gregory.

You may be wondering how the latest tax bill will affect your veteran-owned small business.

For starters, the new small business tax laws allow you to take the full deduction in one year for most purchases that are intended to last for less than 20 years, rather than depreciating them over time. As a result, this just might be the year to upgrade your equipment or machinery.

While small businesses don’t get as hefty a tax break as corporations do, they do get a 20% reduction of taxable business income. S-Corporations, sole proprietorships and partnerships are pass-through entities, which mean they don’t pay income taxes. Instead, the individual owner is directly taxed. So, a sole proprietor generating $200,000 of business income would be able to deduct $40,000 on his Schedule C. Instead of adding $200,000 to his adjusted gross income, he would add $160,000.

Starting in tax year 2018, all businesses with less than $25 million in receipts in the three prior tax years, even if they have inventory, will be able to make use of the cash method. For tax purposes, there are definite advantages to the cash accounting basis for accounting. Cash accounting ensures that taxes are not paid on monies that have not yet been received; this improves cash flow and ensures that funds are available for tax expenditures.

On the downside, you might not be able to deduct the full interest on your veteran business loans. In 2017, you could deduct the full interest from your loans, but now, any net interest expense over 30% of your company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization will be disallowed. This only applies to businesses with average gross receipts over $25 million, so most small businesses won’t have this problem.

You will no longer be able to carry back your business losses, and the net operating loss carry forward is limited to 80% of taxable income.

EBV SuccessBack in 2007, Syracuse University played home to the inaugural class of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program. The EBV program is designed to open the doors of economic opportunities for Disabled Veterans and their families by helping them develop professional networks, and learn how to create and sustain their own businesses.

The EBV program has grown into a national movement, helping over 700 disabled Veterans. Several university campuses across the country now hold entrepreneurship boot camp sessions for Veterans.  Joining Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in offering the EBV program to Veterans are Cornell University, Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business, the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.

The entrepreneurship training is offered, to qualified Veterans who are accepted into the program, at no charge to the Veterans, and without using any of their GI Bill. For the last seven years, 70% of EBV graduates have gone on to start their own companies.

One EBV success story comes from the very first session at Syracuse in 2007. Marine Corps Veteran John Raftery was preparing to start a contracting firm in Dallas when he read an article about a small business training program for Veterans with disabilities.  The former Marine immediately applied and was accepted into the EBV program.

Raftery credits the program with helping him take the critically important first steps as a small business owner. In 2012, Raftery’s company, Patriot Contractors, Inc., was on a list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the country.

“I don’t think the business would have grown as quickly if not for the EBV program,” Raftery said.

Many Veterans served to preserve the American dream for their countrymen. Thousands of Veterans fulfill their own American dreams when their service to our country has ended. Already proven to have the winning spirit, Veterans make great entrepreneurs.

There are numerous resources available to help Veteran entrepreneurs succeed in their business ventures. The EBV program is just one of many. Please be sure to visit www.VAMBOA.org, as well as VAMBOA’s Resource Page to find out more information on the EBV program and many other state, federal and local programs for Veteran entrepreneurs.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: Entrepreneur Bootcamp Success Story: By Debbie Gregory

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