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VAMBOA TipsOwning and operating a small business is one of the most demanding career choices that Veterans can make. Starting a new business is not a get rich quick scheme. Most newly-minted small business owners may have to put in a lot of hours and hard work in the beginning, but it pays off in the long run. Here are some tips provided by Veteran business owners that new small business owners might find useful:

Set the standard: As the owner, your employees will do as you do. Therefore, you need to lead by example. Whether its customer service, personal grooming, keeping your business clean or any other function specific to your company, hold yourself to the highest standard, one your employees can proudly emulate.

Put customer satisfaction before profits: When your customers are thrilled with the products and service that your company provides, they will return again and again, giving you repeat business. If, as an owner, you are more concerned with profits than your customers, it will show, and customers may not do business with you in the future. Customers are what generate profits.

Don’t neglect to pay yourself. You and none of your employees should ever go without pay. If your personal finances are a mess, it will distract you from what you need to do to help your business grow.

Learn from your mistakes: Small business ownership is not an exact science. There is not one book with all of the definitive answers containing the hidden secrets that your business can use to guarantee success. Small business ownership is all about learning your customer base, the community, and how to bring your business to them. Be aware of the risks, make bold decisions, and then learn from them.

Employees are your business’ most effective resource: Learn how to delegate, and don’t micromanage. Start by hiring the right individuals to work for you, and then, let them do their jobs with you as their confident, but not stifling leader. This ties in with customer satisfaction; customers who want good service know when they are dealing with employees who truly understand their job and do it to the best of their ability, and when an employee is handcuffed by micromanagement. No customer wants to repeat business with a firm whose employees aren’t capable of providing good service.

Show up: There will be days when you won’t feel like going to work. And as the boss, it would be easy to just take the day off. But don’t let the temptation to slack off a little ruin your business… because it will, if you let it.

Keep your integrity intact: At the toughest times, it may seem conceivable to shortchange a customer or employee, or hide a receipt from the taxman. But taking ethical shortcuts will always cost you in the long run. Besides, would you do business with someone who acted unscrupulously? Others might feel the same way.

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: Tips from Veteran Small Biz Owners: By Debbie Gregory

VAMBOA NVSBEVeterans who are interested in starting or expanding their small businesses should save the date and register today for the largest and most comprehensive Veteran Small Business Expo of the year.

Each year, for the last four years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and several other government agencies have collaborated to put on the largest event for Veteran entrepreneurs in the country, called the National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE).

The theme of NVSBE 2014 is “ACCESS” which is an acronym for “Advocate, Create, Commit, Expand, Strengthen, Sustain.” The event is designed to connect Veteran-owned Small Businesses and Veteran entrepreneurs with exclusive access to networking opportunities and learning sessions.

With 3,000 attendees expected, as well as more than 400 exhibitors and 25 government agencies, the NVSBE is a must-attend event for Veteran-owned small businesses.

The NVSBE is chalk full of activities designed to aid in the success of Veteran business ventures. Each day of the event has an Agenda that includes networking functions and breakout learning sessions.The learning sessions consist of dozens of topics that attendees can register for, according to their needs. Topics include creating a small business, business expansion, financing, government contracts, Veterans assistance, procurements, sustaining a small business, leadership, service-disabled Veteran-owned business resources and many more. The last day of the event includes an awards ceremony and one-on-one follow-up meetings with procurement decision makers and program professionals.

One of the most advantageous reasons to attend the NVSBE is the direct access to procurement decision makers, program specialists and acquisition staff from government agencies and large corporations.

The three day event will be held on December 9, 10 and 11, 2014, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. To register for the 2014 NVSBE in Atlanta, please visit the Registration Information Page.

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: Veterans Small Business Expo: By Debbie Gregory

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

sharktankABC’s “Shark Tank” will air all-Veterans episode.

“Shark Tank” is a reality television show that captures the dramatic experience of entrepreneurs making a sales pitch to would-be investors. For this show, the would-be financiers are “sharks,” and they can be as ruthless as their namesakes.

Entrepreneurs  make their pitch to a panel of sharks, with the hope that one or more of them will make an investment in their business or product. The sharks can participate by giving capital in exchange for equity or royalties, or opt out. Most contestants are at the mercy of the sharks, but a select few have been creative or savvy enough turn the sharks against each other, sparking a feeding frenzy. Dozens of entrepreneurs have survived the tank to earn huge investments and financial backing.

The current list of sharks include: Barbara Corcoran, a real estate mogul from New York; Kevin O’Leary, a financial investor who made it big after selling his software company; Daymond John, founder of the FUBU clothing brand; Lori Greiner, the “Queen of QVC;” Robert Herjavec, who founded two successful internet security companies; and Mark Cuban, arguably the most recognizable shark as owner of the  Dallas Mavericks.

Since 2009, hundreds of entrepreneurs have braved the waters of ABC’s “Shark Tank” for a chance to convince the sharks to invest in their business or product. Just in time for Veterans Day 2014, the reality show will be airing an all-Veterans episode.

The special episode will air on Friday, November 7. This episode will feature a Navy SEAL from Tucson, AZ, an Army Captain from Louisville, KY, a Marine from Columbus, OH, and an Army Veteran from Front Royal, VA.

This episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” is a great opportunity for transitioning service members and Veterans to see that entrepreneurship is a real path for them after service. The all-Veterans episode also gives the show’s viewers further insight to the struggles that Veterans have transitioning when their service to their country is through.

Be sure to check your local listings for ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

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: “Shark Tank” Airs All Veterans Episode: By Debbie Gregory

Oklahoma District Office

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“Military veterans make great small business owners and Oklahoma counts on small business to drive our economy,” said Dottie Overall, Small Business Administration (SBA) Oklahoma District Director. “There is no better time than Veteran’s Small Business Week to encourage veterans to start a small business. Our Tulsa Boots to Business: Reboot workshop will provide two days of intense business training for veterans interested in starting a small business.”

The SBA Oklahoma District office will offer Boots to Business: Reboot, an entrepreneurship training course for veterans in Tulsa November 4-5. The two-day class will be held from 8:30 am – 4 pm at the Tulsa Tech Training Center, Lemley Memorial Campus, 3638 S Memorial Drive, Tulsa, OK 74145 in Training Room #3. There is no cost to veterans and their spouses.

“Graduates of the two-day course in Tulsa will be eligible for an eight-week online course to further develop their business,” Overal said. “We are proud that Oklahoma is one of the first states to offer this program locally from our District office. We appreciate the support of the Tulsa Technology Center and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers in delivering this curriculum”

Boots to Business: Reboot, will introduce veterans to the fundamentals of business ownership, and lead participants through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and developing a business plan. The program will also introduce participating Veterans to a network of lifetime business support available locally across the U.S. by introducing them to SBA’s network of Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE Counselors.

Boots to Business: Reboot adapts the curriculum from the SBA-sponsored Boots to Business: From Service to Startup, a worldwide program offered as a component of the Department of Defense’s redesigned Transition Assistance Program (TAP) renamed Transition GPS. SBA currently provides Boots to Business: From Service to Startup at Tinker AFB, Ft. Sill and Vance AFB for transitioning military members.

Following the two-day training, participants will also be eligible to register for “Foundations of Entrepreneurship” an eight-week, online course that offers in-depth instruction on the elements of a business plan and techniques and tips for starting a business. After completing Boots to Business: Reboot, participants will have the tools and knowledge they need to identify a business opportunity, draft a business plan, connect with local resources and launch their small businesses.

Online registration for veterans is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boots-to-business-reboot-tickets-13737724905. For more information contact Larry Weatherford, SBA Veterans Business Development Officer, at 405/609-8012 or Larry.Weatherford@sba.gov.

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The Oklahoma District Office of the SBA is responsible for providing businesses with tools for enhancing and growing their businesses. It also oversees the delivery of SBA’s programs throughout the states such as:

  • Free counseling, advice and information on starting a business through SCORE, the Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers, and the Women’s Business Center.  These organizations also conduct training events throughout the district.
  • Financial assistance for new or existing businesses through guaranteed loans made by area bank and non-bank lenders.
  • Business development assistance via the 8(a) program, available to businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • Veterans assistance through the Boots to Business program and dedicated lending programs for Veterans

For more information on any of these programs, contact the Oklahoma District office at 405/609-8000.