Military life is a great experience and it has many benefits. In the previous articles we discussed how you can use the knowledge you gained in the military to start your own business. Now In this article I will list some pointers to help you get started.
Did you know…?
The estimated military veteran population in the United States is about 24 million and of those, approximately four million veterans own businesses – of the total eighty million small businesses in the US. That is to say six percent of small businesses are owned by US veterans. Be proud! What an accomplishment!
“Veterans who own their own businesses do better in comparison to other business startups.”
Did you know that the majority of businesses run by veterans succeed? You have a vast depth of experience, confidence and a winning attitude. You are disciplined, determined, organized, and you have training from the military.
Today there are a number of services to help veterans with business education and loans. It started in 1999, when Congress implemented a full array of services to help support veterans determined to succeed in the commercial market place, just as they had in the military.
During and after the Persian Gulf War, in the early 1990′s, many military reservists businesses were harmed, damaged, or even lost when they left and went to serve their time in the military.
After this terrible disaster occurred, Congress promised to make changes so military reservists would not have to go through this again. Congress passed bills that would provide all the technical, financial and procurement assistance needed by veterans to support their small businesses.
In August 1999, Congress enacted Public Law 106-50, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999. This was initially designed to cushion the impact on small businesses when their owners or essential employees were ordered to active duty during military conflicts. The bill also provided assistance to veteran entrepreneurs and to service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs, with access to loans, loan payment deferrals during time of call-up, technical and managerial assistance.
The following necessities were established in this law:
The Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) was set up, to be administered by an Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development (AANBD) within the Small Business Administration. The AANBD became responsible for the formulation, execution, and promotion of policies and programs of the SBA that provide assistance to small businesses owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans.
The national Veterans Business Development Corporation was created, to expand and improve access to technical assistance for veteran entrepreneurs. They work with public and private resources, and the business development staffs, of each Federal department to assist veterans with the formation and expansion of their small businesses.
Congress also established an Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations concerning veterans’ business affairs.
The SBA Administrator was directed to work with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) to provide business training and counseling services to veterans.
The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 also provides commitment to veterans by giving financial relief for military reservists ordered to active duty during times of conflict.
Now in 2008 the US government is continuing to encourage and support the entrepreneurial spirit of success in veterans. If you are considering opening your business you should check and find out what the government can do for you to help you start your business.
Below are some civilian tips to help you get on your way…
1. Save up as much money as possible before starting. A better plan is to save up as much of the needed investment money as possible, including your living expenses for the first year, or even two. Odds are that your business will not be profitable for one to two years. Even if you get plenty of business coming your way — and your customers pay you on time, which is not always a sure thing — you will want to be able to invest most of that money back in the business for space, equipment, advertising, and insurance needs.
2. Think small. Do not rent a place if you can work somewhere else, and do not hire employees until you really need them. You can hire independent contractors or temporary workers in the meantime.
3. Plan ahead — you will make a profit. You should be able to state in just a few sentences how your business plans to make a substantial profit. For starters, you need to know your costs: how much you will spend purchasing inventory, paying the rent, compensating any employees, and covering what is likely to be a surprisingly long list of other costs. Then you can figure out exactly how much you need to sell each month, for how many dollars, to cover those expenses and have an adequate profit besides. These numbers are all you need to create a “break-even analysis.”
4. Make a business plan, no matter how short it is. Understanding your profit numbers and creating a break-even analysis is the first step in making a business plan. For most small businesses, the key portions of a business plan are the break-even analysis, a profit-and-loss guess, and a cash flow projection. Projecting your cash flow is key to success. It will make or break your business: With a cash flow spreadsheet in place, as well as a profit-and-loss forecast, you can tinker with your business idea and improve it before you start — and continue to use them after you start.
5. Get and keep a competitive advantage. Building a competitive advantage is crucially important to long-term success. Some ways to get this advantage is by knowing more than your competitors, making a product or offer a service that is hard or impossible to imitate, being able to offer, produce or distribute your product more efficiently, having a better location, or offering superior customer service. Being unique and having great customer service will definitely make obtain a successful business.
6. Hire and keep good people on your staff. Good employees are hard to find. Your goal should be to hire and retain truly excellent employees — not just reasonably competent ones. A highly competent and truly enthusiastic employee is twice as valuable as a person of average skill. Customers will more likely be loyal to an upbeat business — and are more likely to recommend it to their friends. Using a great staff can help you bring in the cash quickly.
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