Ever Thought About Owning Your Own Franchise?

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Nothing lasts forever. Hot brands in franchising don’t stay hot forever. New brands are always entering the marketplace. New ideas for products and services are introduced every year. Some of these new franchise concepts end up succeeding–exploding even. Some of them fade away soon after they’re launched. But, even the hot ones eventually lose their fire. Keep that fact in mind as you’re searching for a franchise you’d like to own.

Picking the Winners
Too bad crystal balls don’t really work. If they did, you could choose franchise concepts that were getting ready to go big. But, they don’t, so you’re left with doing good old-fashioned detective work to find then research franchise opportunities you hope will be a good fit and that you can be successful owning.

Goal-Setting
Before you begin taking a serious look at franchise opportunities, it’s important to set some goals. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself clicking from one franchise opportunity website to another for hours on end-with nothing to show for your efforts except a sore wrist and tired eyes.

Ideas for Goals
I want you to decide on your own goals for a franchise you’d like to own. It’s your life and your money. But, allow me to prime the pump a bit. Check out these 5 possible goals.
1. I want to own a franchise that allows me to have a lot of flexibility in my day.
2. I don’t want to invest more than $200k in a franchise.
3. I want to own a franchise with a well-known brand.
4. I only want to buy a newer franchise concept so I can get in on the ground floor
5. I want a franchise that can serve as a family business-for my family.

Did I get you thinking?

Deciding When
Number #3 and #4 above may not be goals you had planned on having, but, they’re important ones to consider. That’s because you need to decide when you want to get in. In other words, would you like to have first dibs on a franchise location in your area? If so, you should look into younger franchise brands … franchise businesses that are up and running in other parts of the country-just not in yours.

Or, would you like to be the second or third franchisee in your local area? If so, that could mean that the “best” locations may already be spoken for. It may also mean that the residents living in your area already know of the brand; that could make it easier for you to get your new business up and running.

The Ebbs and Flows
If you know going in that all franchise brands experience ebbs and flows, you’re already ahead of the game. You may end up buying a franchise that’s considered an up and comer. Your timing could turn out to be perfect. If so, take advantage of your brand’s popularity. Earn as much money as you can. But, make sure you put aside some of your earnings if possible, because business may not always be good.

Tip: Choose a franchise opportunity with an innovative executive team. A team that’s not afraid of introducing new products/services to the marketplace. It’s one way to try to limit the inevitable ebbs and flows that all brands experience.

Air Force general confirmed as first black chief of a U.S. military service

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General Charles Q. Brown in uniform

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American leader of a military service as the Pentagon and the country grapple with a raft of racial issues.

The confirmation also makes Brown the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

The 98-to-0 vote was a blowout approval for the four-star general. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brown in March, hailed the general on Twitter.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” Trump said, though the tweet came before the confirmation vote. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Brown’s nomination had been in the works for months, yet the vote came amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Top Air Force officials led the way in speaking out over the past week and calling for dialogue on racism. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the service’s top enlisted leader, became the first senior military official to speak out, and was followed by outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, delivered an emotional message Friday about his experience as a black airman.

In addition to becoming the first African American service chief, Brown will be the most senior African American Pentagon leader since Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but for the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.

“Without clear-cut answers, I just want to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead during difficult times like these,” Brown said of his nomination to be the service’s top officer. “I want the wisdom and knowledge to lead, participate in and listen to necessary conversations on racism, diversity and inclusion.”

Continue on to Politico to read the complete article.

Veteran Plants Roots In Tampa For Family With Floor Coverings International Business

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Mark McMurray pictured outside in front of his floor coverings vehicle with large samples displayed

Mark McMurray, 55, is no stranger to hard work and challenges.  After serving in our country’s military for many years he decided to go the corporate route. He was a consultant to many large public corporations and small private businesses, both in house and as a management consultant. It was during those years spent consulting with small, branch-based businesses that he decided to open his own business, buying the Floor Coverings International of North Tampa franchise which opened in early 2017.

He chose Floor Coverings International after much due diligence. The 150 plus unit franchise based in Norcross, Georgia, offered many of the key elements McMurray was looking for.

“I liked the thought of providing a great product and bringing a mobile showroom filled with samples of 3,000 types of flooring to people’s homes. That’s great customer service and convenience. And I get to build a dedicated work team at the same time.  That’s something that appealed to me from my military background,” said McMurray.

Having advised many business owners Mark offers his own advice to others looking for the same opportunity Mark found via a franchise model.

“The potential franchise you end up with should be something that you are naturally interested in; they should have the kind of model that fits your management/leadership style, be in the right territory, be affordable, and have a trustworthy and supportive franchisor and network, and the ability for you to build on its value.  It’s not easy to find a suitable candidate with all those criteria!  I had heard of Floor Coverings International during my previous career and had heard great things about the culture of the company.”

After years of moving around McMurray said he’s thrilled to have embraced Tampa for the past twelve years as his home and this mobile business has plenty of room for growth giving him the opportunity to work with his family too.

“I am thrilled that I get to be back at work with my wife, a CPA, and my father in law who is a general contractor. We are building something together along with my kids. That is very special to me.  And this industry excites all of us and is always supplying us with new challenges. The rate of beautiful new products coming on to the market is exciting, and the colors and trends change over time.  Luxury Vinyl Planking that is water resistant is growing in popularity and performs really well in Florida with the heat and humidity.  It gives the look and feel of hardwood, and our customers are really loving it which is very exciting.  Scraped hardwoods and reused woods are also coming out with some gorgeous new visuals, so there’s really a lot happening in the industry.”

Even through the Covid19 crisis, McMurray depended on the support team of his franchisor, Floor Coverings International to keep things going while following proper guidelines.

According to McMurray, “During the COVID-19 crisis, Floor Coverings International of North Tampa took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees.  For In-Home Consultations, our employees were masked, gloved, wore booties, and disinfected all samples and items brought into our customers’ homes.  We’ve also conducted “Virtual Appointments” with our customers to discuss their projects and look at samples together.  Watching how things evolved and grew in the virtual space was most interesting, and we’re happy to work with our potential clients now however they feel most comfortable.

Our focus always has been providing excellent customer service, and it will remain so during this challenging time for our community.  We primarily work with residential customers who are updating the look and feel of their home, and that seems to have continued during the time when everyone had been spending so much time at home. Homeowners are seeing their homes in a whole new light after the quarantine, and they are ready to make some exciting new changes when the time comes to get back to normal.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA based Floor Coverings International which has ranked consistently as the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 150 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and along-side the existing decor. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in the next 5 years. For franchise information, please visit www.opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Healthcare Careers in 2020: An In-Demand Industry

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Confident black doctor in healthcare face mask and gloves

Healthcare careers are part of the fastest growing industry for job growth and development in the United States. This trend is expected to continue over the next decade.

Projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that healthcare jobs are expected to increase by 18 percent from 2016 through 2026. This means that the industry will add about 2.4 million new healthcare jobs.

Why Healthcare?

There are several aspects that lead people to consider an exciting and rewarding career in healthcare. From potential financial reward and a diverse environment to career growth and personal fulfillment, there’s plenty of opportunities available and reasons to enter the field.

Healthcare Industries

Healthcare is a wide-spanning industry encompassing a variety of jobs. The profession is no longer tied to some of the more traditional positions in doctors’ offices or hospitals. In fact, the last two decades have seen an eruption in non-doctor roles. Today, healthcare providers are also needed in less mainstream sectors such as marketing, tech positions and more.

Healthcare Career Shortages in the U.S.

This field will add more employees than any other occupation in the coming years, according to the BLS. This is largely due to the accessibility of healthcare and the aging baby boomer generation.

Most recently, retired doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have been recruited and asked to return work to help provide medical attention to patients infected with Covid-19 virus. The US was projected to face a shortage of doctors before the pandemic hit: The Association of American Medical Colleges had estimated that it could reach 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032. And in rural areas, particularly in states such as Mississippi and Arkansas, doctors were already in short supply. Many states are also projected to face significant nursing shortages in the coming years, particularly California and Texas.

Accordingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast that healthcare job opportunities will continue to soar through 2025.

Top 10 Medical Careers in Demand For 2020 and Beyond:

Physicians

Registered Nurses (RN’s)

Physical Therapists

Occupational Therapists

Respiratory Therapists

Home Health Aides

Medical Assistant

Physician Assistant

Healthcare Information Technologist

Pharmacy Technician

An Industry Full of Opportunity

Choosing a lasting, profitable, fulfilling career that you can be satisfied with means choosing a profession in healthcare. Many career benefits of healthcare include improving the lives of others and making a difference. The financial benefits, tremendous growth and high paying careers are limitless. It’s never too late to pursue a career in the medical field.

Source: medbrainmedia.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, gmercyu.edu

Wells Fargo Employee Veterans Share their Transition Story

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military people in uniform walking then transitioning to civilian professional attire. Side view.

In May and throughout the year, Wells Fargo pays tribute to service members, veterans, and their families for their contributions to the U.S.

It is also an opportunity to spotlight and elevate the many women in leadership at Wells Fargo who come from various branches of the U.S. military.

These women have transitioned to the corporate world and continue to make an impact in their corporate and civilian lives.

Meet two dynamic women who have influenced Wells Fargo’s commitment to engage members of the military, veterans, and their families, thereby supporting the financial health and success of the military community.

Learn their background, transition from service, workforce challenges, and advice for other women who are looking at their next opportunity beyond military service.

Senior Vice President, head of Team Member Philanthropy

Wells Fargo employee Chanty Clay, PhD headshot

I am Chanty Clay, PhD, head of Team Member Philanthropy at Wells Fargo, which means I am responsible for the enterprise volunteer and workplace giving programs and initiatives at the company. I made the decision to enlist in the military when I was a 20-year-old college student, and served in the U.S. Air Force for the next 10 years.

After serving in a lead role in the Air Force, I questioned if my leadership skills were strong enough to be a leader in the civilian world. I soon realized that in order for me to maximize my transition experience, I had to own it. I started networking, connecting, and — more importantly — demonstrating the skills I learned from serving my country.

In fact, my doctoral dissertation focused on women veterans and their ability to self-identify, market, and utilize their military-learned interpersonal competencies (soft skills) in their post-military career in corporate America. Today, my role focuses on helping employees leverage their strengths, passion, and skills in volunteer, service, and leadership roles in their local communities. I also continue to serve by mentoring employees and veterans, both inside and outside the company, who are transitioning from the military to civilian life.

My advice for veterans, especially women, is to think holistically about their combined soft and hard skills, and to proactively volunteer for additional opportunities to demonstrate their skills. They should also embrace the reality that opportunities in the civilian workforce are not limited to the role or title you held in the military. The key is to shift your mindset to balance both individual contributions as well as team and camaraderie—all of which are critical in your next career.

Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Auditor

Wells Fargo Employee Julie Scammahorn headshot

My name is Julie Scammahorn, and I am the Chief Auditor for Wells Fargo. I am also a proud 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I did not come from a military family. I had completed one year of college when one of my good friends joined the military, and it piqued my interest. I enlisted and eventually served for 10 years before returning to college and continuing a career in internal audit.

Joining the military jump-started my career by giving me intense practical and leadership training. Transitioning to the workforce was challenging—I won’t lie, I felt like I was taking a risk. However, I knew the opportunities I had in the military would translate well to the corporate world.

After holding leadership roles at several financial companies, I now lead Wells Fargo’s Internal Audit organization, consisting of approximately 1,500 employees. Our team delivers independent and objective internal audit services such as assessments and credible challenge regarding the company’s governance, risk management, and control functions. Many of the skills I learned from being in the military prepared me for my role today, including finding my voice, having confidence, mitigating risk, being resilient, and building a strong team.

My advice to women in the armed forces who are navigating their next chapter is to have a plan, know who you are and what you want, and set goals. It’s really important to acknowledge that you don’t have to have all the answers at once, but you should have an idea of the direction you want to go. Take the time to think about your next steps, aim high, and never settle!

Wells Fargo has supported service members and veterans’ financial success for nearly 170 years. For more information on programs and resources, please visit WellsFargo.com/military.

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know

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Mans hands shown tying on laptop computer

As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

From the Corps to Corporate America

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Headshot of Laurie Sayles

U.S. Veterans Magazine asked Laurie Sayles, president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions (CivilityMS), and Jackson Dalton, president and founder of Black Box Safety, Inc., to share what it was like for them to transition out of the military and into the boardroom.

Laurie Sayles with Civility Management Solutions

Founded in 2012, CivilityMS provides professional consulting services as an SBA 8(a) certified, verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman and Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB/WOSB). The firm’s status as a SDVOSB is verified with the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) and the Veterans First Contracting Program.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Laurie Sayles (LS): I am from Chicago, IL, and have always sought out a means of having my own money or supplementing my income. I was a baby-sitter to single women in the low-income projects complex I resided as a young girl and I modeled professionally during high school, all before I joined the USMC. So, I often say that I have always been an entrepreneur.

But after getting out of the USMC, I returned to supplementing my income. I tried medical billing as a home-based business only to learn it was a scam. I also became a wellness coach and a bootcamp fitness instructor, to name a few.

My journey was long after transitioning because there was no outreach during the 90’s for military personnel leaving the USMC. For example, TAPS didn’t exist, and no one in the marketplace really cared that you were a veteran. Also, the Internet was not what it is today and there was no support to help translate your MOS. It was a more challenging time.

But I wanted to work in corporate America, so I took a job for $17,000 in 1989 as a receptionist. With that, the journey began to learn the difference of being a civilian in this space as an African-American woman with no degree. Within a short period of time, I began to take English, grammar and speaking courses to help me modify my means of communication.

I climbed the corporate ladder from receptionist to administrative assistant, to an executive assistant, to an operations director to a project manager over a 20-year period. Then in 2012, I became president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

LS: My experience from the military has a huge influence in my skillset as a business owner. Again, being an African-American woman in business adds more challenges that many cannot identify with unless they belong to this ethnicity. But, thanks to being a woman that served in the Marine Corps, I am accustomed to operating in a man’s world and a world that is full of alpha males! The Marine Corps is not known to be, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” just as a slogan—it’s a culture and a lifestyle. As I often say, if you re-enlist in any branch of the military, it really speaks to you adapting and accepting that culture completely, otherwise you get out after first term. No one—and I do mean no one—that knows me personally walks away not knowing that I served in the Corps. It shows up in my demeanor and my strength as a business owner.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

LS: Make sure you start your homework early when you know your end date. There is so much to offer us when we get out of the military, and finally this country is beginning to recognize this fact. Our discipline, leadership, resilience and determination set us apart from anyone else who never served. So, with running anything … you’ve been trained while you wore the uniform; trained to operate in high integrity; and trained to leave no man behind. All three of these lead to you being a strong leader willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Help others be successful as you become successful.

Do take advantage of all the training being offered by the SBA in your State, affiliates of the SBA, and programs offered to veterans of the military. Get yourself affiliated with associations and advocacy groups that focus on the type of work you want to do as a business owner.

Lastly, network, network and network some more to find people that you can engage with. And get yourself some mentors! Each one will add different values and you can call on them as needed.

Jackson Dalton and Black Box Safety, Inc.

Headshot of Jackson DaltonBlack Box Safety, Inc. specializes in the prevention of serious injury in the workplace by supplying safety equipment for government agencies and organizations. Dalton is a Board-Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master’s degree (MPH) in public health—only 17 percent of CSPs hold both (Board of Certified Safety Professionals, 2017) —as well as a Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Jackson Dalton (JD): I was injured while serving in the Marine Corps. As a direct result of the injuries I sustained, I went through 3 leg surgeries and was not able to walk for a year. While serving, I was hurt at work—essentially an occupational injury. From this experience, I have made it my mission in life to ensure that others aren’t hurt at work, so that they can continue to do the things that they love to do.

As a direct result of my Marine Corps experience, I transitioned from the military into a career in occupational health and safety. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Public Health, and spent over 10 years working as a Safety Engineer. Three years ago, it was my desire to help more people in a more meaningful way so I left my job at 3M and started my company, Black Box Safety, Inc., which is a supplier of safety products and safety training to government agencies and organizations that are looking for ways to reduce risk and help their employees stay safe and healthy.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

JD: My experience in the Marine Corps instilled two traits: Grit and bearing. Grit is the ability or decision to persevere in the face of extreme hardship and danger. Bearing is the ability to maintain a calm and confident demeanor in the face of adversity and uncertainty. I learned that the most contagious thing in the world is not infectious disease—it’s human emotion. As a leader, if I lose my bearing and communicate emotions of fear and stress, those emotions will be transferred to those I’m leading. I served as a squad leader in the Marine Corps and today I serve as President of Black Box Safety, Inc., where I am responsible for the health and welfare of 2 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

JD: This is the advice that I would give to someone transitioning from the military to entrepreneurship

  1. Take advantage of every educational opportunity available including but not limited to: Post-secondary education funded through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Dept. of VA Vocational Rehabilitation Ch.31,; free business start-up courses offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) [SBA offers free business courses online at SBA.gov]; apply for a free SCORE mentor; podcasts featuring business start-up advice; and finally an often-overlooked resource that proved to be of great value and benefit to me, Shark Tank and YouTube.
  2. Join an incubator that is composed at least partially of active-duty and veteran business owners. I benefited greatly from the camaraderie I found by applying to a veteran incubator called Tactical Launch. I went through this incubator 2 years ago, and I am still close friends with many of the members of the cohort and many of us continue to be successful in business. The camaraderie is necessary when starting a business, especially if you are the sole founder. It’s actually the number one thing that servicemen and women miss the most when transitioning out of the military.
  3. If you are able to do so, start your business now. Many business startups require very little in the way of capital and expense. Most can be started out of your home with a phone, a laptop and a lot of determination. The biggest mistake I see in other founders is the desire to have everything ready prior to launch. A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.

VA Jobs You May Qualify for With Military Training

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military people in uniform walking then transitioning to civilian professional attire. Side view.

You’ve spent years sacrificing for your country and working hard to protect it. But what happens when it comes times to transitioning to a civilian career? Are job opportunities available to you after military service?

Here’s some good news: You have a variety of options when it comes to a career at VA.

VA Careers has a Transitioning Military Personnel initiative designed to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.

In fact, based on certain military occupational specialties you learned in service, you can apply for several positions immediately after your service. Other VA positions offer preference for veteran applicants or are a good fit for those who worked in military health.

The even better news? We offer employees premium-paid health insurance and robust retirement plans. Veterans working at VA also enjoy education support through veteran-focused scholarships, professional development opportunities and accommodations to make the workplace fully accessible.

Ready to kick start a civilian career? Check out these five VA jobs you may be well suited for after military service:

  1. Intermediate Care Technician (ICT)

Former military medic or corpsman should look at ICT careers. As an ICT, you apply your military medical training and skills as a health care provider at a VA medical center (VAMC). You perform complex technician-level diagnostic and treatment procedures. You also provide intermediate and advanced paramedic-level care, intervene in crises and do much more.

  1. Health Technician/Para Rescue Specialist

Former corpsmen and medics bring the skills, abilities and experience acquired during active duty to careers as health technicians. These include delivering direct patient care, taking vital signs, administering medication and communicating results. Other responsibilities include providing diagnostic support and medical assistance to VAMCs and specialty clinics.

  1. Medical Support Assistant (MSA)

MSA positions require tact and diplomacy, and that’s why former military personnel are right for these roles. As the front-line contact with patients and staff, you set the tone for customer service at VA. You use your shared experience to comfort fellow veterans coping with administrative processes or difficult health issues.

  1. Nursing Assistant

Approximately 16 percent of all VA nurses are veterans. That’s not a surprising figure. Former military personnel bring the skills learned during service—working as team, caring for others and supporting a mission—to VA nursing careers. This role involves helping licensed nursing staff provide patient care. Although certification is desirable, it’s not necessary for your application. Nursing staff may take advantage of the special education support programs we offer to earn the degrees and certifications necessary to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse.

  1. Support Services

Every team member at VA has a meaningful role to play in the care of veterans, including those in the support services role. These positions include housekeeping aid, federal protective officer, engineering technician or transportation clerk. Housekeeping aides, in particular, are given veteran preference during the hiring process. “Our housekeeping staff keep facilities safe for our patients, and veterans and their families rely on them,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of VA Recruitment Marketing. “We are actively looking to fill these positions with quality employees, including our veterans.”

Source:  va.gov

How to Land a Government Contract

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A headshot of Katie Bigelow

By Katie Bigelow, founder, Mettle Ops

Government contracting is not for the faint of heart. The barriers to entry are high and the regulations are complicated and overwhelming. If easy money is the goal, government contracting is not the way to get it. We lose 99 bids out of 100. Can you take that kind of beating and keep going?

The first steps to government contracting are pretty simple. Register with Dun & Bradstreet. Don’t pay them or anyone else to do it. Regardless, of how it seems, it is a free service. They will give you a DUNS number. Use that to register in Sam.Gov where you will get a CAGE code. Don’t skip the opportunity in Sam.gov to complete the SBA Dynamic Small Business search. Read all the regulations that you are committed to follow. Next, register with Beta.sam.gov and look for opportunities to bid. When you find something that looks good, read the whole thing. That’s right. Read all 76 pages paying particular attention to the Performance Work Statement, Section L, and Section M. Submit your bid per their instructions. That’s it. Too easy.

I don’t actually know anyone that has made any real money doing it this way. No doubt there are people out there that simply followed the prescribed path and struck it big. More often, there are people that followed the path and ended up in the pokey, too.

The hard truth is that nobody in this business is rooting for you. I have never found a Government Small Business office that did anything other than put your name on a list and provide a PowerPoint presentation.

Government Contracting Officers, as a general rule, don’t want to do lots of small contracting actions for small businesses. They want to execute fewer contracting actions for big businesses with big dollar amounts. One of my first customers tried to offer me a $14 million contract. The contracting command gave us all a giant “NO!” We were too small, too new, too much of a nuisance.

“Go work for a prime for 5 years,” is the verbatim advice we’ve received from contracting officers. Large government primes have lots of attorneys, lots of money, and lots of shareholders to please. They use small businesses, strip the name of the small business off the work and offer it as your own. It’s not illegal. If you don’t mind, this may be the route for you. It’s not the route for me.

Here’s my secret sauce: Work really hard. Do all the things I mentioned in paragraph 2 and then work hard. We take every opportunity we can afford to meet people, to shake hands, to share what we’ve learned. We don’t shy away from making referrals, even if we get nothing in return. We wear our character on our sleeves, our business cards, and our websites. We were warfighters and always will be at heart. There is a standard of values that comes with that.

We are students of our industry. Take DAU classes. We read and connect and learn. We reach out personally to potential customers every single day. Our goal is to understand more about government contracting than even our customers know. We aren’t trying to outsmart them. We are trying to provide great value to them.

To date, I have only won 4 government contracts since 2015. The first was for $70,000, then $14 million, then $19 million, and the most recent another $19 million. Since I told you we won 1 out of 100 or less, you can do the math to see how many times we lost. Decide if this is the industry for you. If it is, call me. Maybe we can do it together.

Katie Bigelow is the founder of Mettle Ops, a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, disadvantaged small business. WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, NVBDC, CVE, VOSB, SDVOSB, U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Certified 2027

5 Ways Veterans Can Leverage Facebook to Grow their Career or Business

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Payton Iheme smiling at the camera

By Payton Iheme, U.S. Public Policy Manager, Facebook

Each year, an estimated 200,000 service members return to civilian life and for some, this brings uncertainty to what’s next in their career, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, these service men and women continue to contribute to their country, even when they return, albeit in a different way.

I have spent more than 15 years on active duty and continue to serve—from being an officer in the Army’s Special Operations Command and a White House Senior Policy Advisor to currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. In addition, as the co-owner of a home remodeling business, I know firsthand how important it is to have the right tools and support, whether it’s in the military or as a veteran small business owner.

Everyday Facebook serves as a platform for veterans to find and be a part of groups that help them build community. In fact, more than 900,000 people in the US participate in more than 2,000 groups for military members, veterans and their spouses on Facebook. As a proud supporter of the military-veteran community, Facebook has also made it easier for veterans transitioning into civilian life to find career opportunities and draw on their unique skills to start their entrepreneurial journey.

That’s why we recently announced the launch of the Military and Veterans Hub to provide an all-encompassing resource for veterans to continue to build their community, find job opportunities and enhance their digital skills through Facebook to grow a business or a career.

Facebook also partnered with SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors, to provide business education and mentoring to military members, veterans and their families who want to become entrepreneurs. I utilized SCORE’s resources during my transition into civilian life and it helped me not only build on my experience and skills to find a new career, but it also gave me the confidence to start something new. I’m particularly thrilled about our partnership with SCORE and the opportunities it will unlock for fellow veterans.

Whether you want to build a business or a career, here are five ways military members, spouses and veterans can use Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub to their advantage:

1. Connect with a mentor from a cohort of SCORE’s experienced business mentors, who are also U.S. veterans themselves, through the Mentor Match program.

2. Access our veteran-focused educational toolkit for launching a business that includes steps for developing a business plan.

3. Attend a veteran-focused interactive workshop to receive guidance on starting a business. We’ll be working with ten local SCORE chapters to bring these in-person workshops to cities that we’ve determined to have a high concentration of military members and veterans.

4. Find employment opportunities through the Facebook Jobs Tool. Frank Diaz, an Army veteran and owner of Tin Hut BBQ, uses the Facebook Jobs Tool, for example, to source employees at his mobile restaurant with an objective to hire discharged veterans in need of work and mentorship.

5. Test out the Facebook Military Skills Translator, designed to help people find careers on Facebook relevant to their military experience. As the Public Policy Manager at Facebook, I’m proud to be a part of a company that values my experience and allows me to use my military skills to make an impact on the business.

Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub make it easier for military spouses and the military community to find and access Facebook’s resources, tools, events and groups. For more information, visit our website here 

Payton Iheme (Facebook US Public Policy) focuses on policy issues on a range of topics, but works closely on issues related to the Internet, digital economy/small business, counter terrorism, cybersecurity, data privacy, and partnerships. Previously, she served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Communication Technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She holds honor degrees from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Government Policy from the George Washington University. Iheme currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur

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A clothes hangar filled with women's coats

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy. The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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Central Michigan

   
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