By Debbie Gregory.

Whether at the helm of a two-person company or a bigger player, strong leadership skills can mean the difference between a successful business and a failing one. Leadership is almost 100% about managing people.

Having great ideas and a strategic vision won’t get you far if your employees aren’t willing to follow you. And too many entrepreneurs take leadership skills for granted.

This is usually not a problem for veterans in an entrepreneurial role. But just what is it about the military that has created individuals with such a strong sense of leadership? What values do veterans leave their military service with that that makes operationalizing a team so easy?

A business’s success really boils down to the way the team works together. Here are some pointers that will serve all businesses well:

  • You’re one team, despite your position. Lead by example. And never be afraid to ask for advice.
  • Listen throughout the chain of command. Communication is key! Share successes and failures. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
  • Embrace diversity. Hire and retain the best of the best. Often times, these employees will be your fellow veterans.
  • Have a strategic vision. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. Leaders can be found at all levels in an organization. Giving your employees more responsibility will help you to identify which ones have what it takes, allowing you the opportunity to help them develop their leadership skills.

Successful CEOs must build a team that are prepared to pitch in and move out of their comfort zones. This is something fundamental in the military, where the teamwork ethic is so strong that they never leave a man behind.

By Debbie Gregory.

Thinking about the years ahead can help you plan your goals and strategies better and if you do it right, you can beat your entrepreneur competitors to the finish line by doing something before they do.

Here are the industries to watch in 2018:

Classroom education

Tools geared toward educators are helping to transform the educational process. Schoology creates a platform for teachers, parents, and students to review work and communicate with one another. Newsela, an Instructional Content Platform that supercharges reading engagement and learning in every subject, uses artificial intelligence to transform news articles into age-appropriate reading comprehension materials. Examity, a startup that helps administer online tests while preventing cheating, has partnerships with more than 100 universities.

Health screening

Artificial intelligence might soon be able to diagnose patients better than your physician. Freenome is working on technology that would be able to detect cancer in the body, including its location and type, using only blood samples. Grail also has an early-stage cancer detection system.


Oscar offers health insurance policies via a user-friendly app-based interface. Lemonade targets the under and un-insured market of renters.


In the legal arena, CaseText has developed software that can read a brief and suggest relevant past cases in a matter of seconds. LawGeex, offer platforms that can examine written contracts for missing information, troublesome language, or other potential red flags.


The wedding industry is in a state flux, and engaged couple are by and large ditching the wedding planner and directly contracting their caterers, bartenders, DJs, and other vendors themselves. Companies like the Knot’s offer an app that includes contact information and access to some 300,000 vendors. Joy, a free wedding website and app, allows users to build a website, create and manage their guest list, send paperless “Save the Dates” and invitations, share details about the event, and more.

By Debbie Gregory.

A 53-year-old business owner and a 57-year-old service-disabled vet have pleaded guilty to engaging in a pass-through scheme designed to fraudulently land $13.8 million in federal contracts set aside for veteran-owned small businesses.

Jeffrey Wilson and his partner in crime, Paul Salavitch, hatched a “rent a vet” scam that led to the charges.

By listing Salavitch as the person responsible for the day-to-day operations of Patriot Company, a construction business owned by Wilson, they were able to leverage Salavitch’s disabled status to access lucrative contracts that the company otherwise wouldn’t qualify for.

As a result, the company 20 government contracts worth almost $14 million, with some worth as much as $4.3 million apiece.

The fraud was uncovered in 2013, when the Department of Veterans Affairs visited Patriot Company’s headquarters unannounced. Of course, Salavitch was nowhere to be found; Salavitch had a job as a federal employee with the Department of Defense in Leavenworth and did not actively run the company, located in Kansas City.

Salavitch told the Missouri Division of Purchasing and Materials Management that Patriot Company was a “legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small business,”  knowing that it wasn’t.

Under the terms of their plea agreement, Wilson now faces a sentence of up to 18 months in prison without parole. Salavitch faces up to one year in prison without parole. Both also consented to a civil forfeiture agreement of about $2.1 million.

While thousands of combat wounded and service disabled men and women work hard to succeed in American business, corrupt business owners continue to defraud the U.S. government by falsely claiming they are eligible for these set-asides.

When these fraudsters illegally secure SDVOSB contracts, our nation’s taxpayers and legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses suffer.

By Debbie Gregory.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is proud to host the sold-out Veteran EDGE Conference, which will take place February 16-18, 2018 in Austin, TX.

Registration, which is now closed, was open to veteran and military spouse business owners by invitation only. To be considered, attendees were required to meet one of the following criteria:


  • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) graduates
  • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F) graduates
  • Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) graduates
  • Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) members
  • Vet50 honorees
  • VetSmallBiz Growth Challenge 2.0 finalists


Attendees of the three-day educational event will have access to breakout sessions, business experts, and networking opportunities. They will also learn how to grow their businesses by finding mentors, connecting with networks, and accessing capital.

Additionally, the top 50 Fastest-Growing Veteran-Owned Businesses in the country will be honored during the Vet50 Awards Ceremony.

Stakeholders, IVMF program graduates, and veteran and military spouse-owned businesses from around the country will be gathering at the conference to network and learn about the latest opportunities, best practices, and resources available to their growing companies.

By Debbie Gregory

Potentia Labs, the developer of a unique interactive e-learning platform that teaches emotional wellness skills like resilience and mindfulness, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to create a program specifically for veterans suffering from PTSD and depression.

Potentia Labs won the Department of Veterans Affairs Industry Innovation Competition.

Potentia works via an online platform and mobile app, concentrating on positive traits, such as resilience, confidence, optimism and mindfulness.

Dustin Milner, cofounder of Potentia, said that due to their military training, veterans often have trouble attending and sticking with traditional therapy.

Many veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD have trouble acknowledging weakness. By building on veterans’ existing strengths to help them become the best version of themselves, Potentia works on every area of psychological, social, and emotional well-being and performance. Backed by science, the tool is designed to provide experiences on a daily basis, and it only takes 3 to 5 minutes a day.

The connection to veterans is personal for the company, according to Milner. Cofounder Eric Lenhardt is an Army veteran who has undergone treatment for PTSD in the past.

Potentia’s first-of-its-kind app is packed with dynamic courses created by experts to help build skills like mental toughness and emotional agility—the tools everyone needs to navigate life, work, and family.

The company aims to customize and expand the platform by mixing together gaming technology, instructional design, and expertise from psychologists.

Beginning in July, 2018, the platform will begin an 18-month trial at a California VA center.