Fire Department Coffee-Rum, Tequilla and Bourbon Infused!

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Fire Department Coffee

Founded by veterans who learned while serving in the military and fire service that caffeine and good tasting coffee is critical for long nights and high octane lifestyles.

The Bourbon Infusion has the delicious smoothness of bourbon and the best part is you can drink it in the morning without feeling guilty. The Rum Infusion takes you straight to tropical shores with the kick of caffeine that you need to get the job done. Finally, the Tequila Infusion conveys the delicious complexity of the drink you know and love, with hints of lime and a crisp, sweet finish.

“We work hard to make sure our quality is unsurpassed and that we are always giving back to our men and women who put their lives on the line daily. This is why portions of every sale goes back to military and firefighter charities. Be a part of something greater and join the FDC family, where strong coffee and values matter most.”

The process used to create these coffees is groundbreaking! Unlike cask barrel aged coffee which can have a powerful and harsh flavor from the charred wood inside the barrel, the Spirit Infused Coffee Line features a proprietary infusion process, which has never been done before. Consumers will taste the flavor they love with none of the harshness of the barrel aging process. Just smooth Fire Dept. Coffee with the delicious smells and tastes of Bourbon, Tequila, or Rum.

Find out more and purchase your Fire Department Coffee today at firedeptcoffee.com

#FireDepartmentCoffee

How to Grow a Robust Business Portfolio Based on Military Principles

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scholtzskys restaurant with trees in background

By Cary Albert

For many, returning to civilian life after serving your country poses significant challenges. A sense of confusion, frustration or uncertainty about your next career move is not uncommon.

Entrepreneurship, however, proves to be a great option because many of the military principles you learn while serving translate to successful business ownership.

After serving four years in the United States Air Force, I transitioned to a standard 9-5 job with Honeywell Test Instruments Division as a calibration technician for electronic equipment — something I felt comfortable and confident in from my military experience. From there, I started my own firm, growing it to a multi-million-dollar business before selling. Through this journey, I began to see and understand the parallels between military principles and entrepreneurship and was ready for my next venture.

That’s when I found franchising. Not only does this provide the opportunity to achieve the American Dream in the form of business ownership, but you’re also handed a proven playbook to success. Similar to military life, follow the playbook and conquer the mission.

Over the past nearly three decades, I’ve grown my franchise business portfolio to include 25+ Schlotzsky’s restaurants, one of Focus Brands’ iconic brands, while also building a retail empire.

Serving your country provides countless life lessons, and in return, there is a vast opportunity to launch your entrepreneurial chapter of life — from VA loans, SBA 504 loans and VetFran discounts, that in the case of Schlotzsky’s offers $15,000 off the initial franchise fee and more.

Take the leap — lean into the resources available to you and rely on military principles to guide you toward success.

Embrace Your Team as Your Greatest Asset

Cary Albert headshot
Franchisee Cary Albert of Schlotzsky’s Restaurants

Whether in the Air Force or business, you must understand the value of your people — your team. In the military, you surround yourself with a strong squadron you trust with your life. In business, you must surround yourself with team members you trust in making key decisions and acting on them successfully. Build your team with that mentality — when you have a specialist in each role, collectively, you become an accountable team all aligned on the same mission, ultimately becoming an unstoppable force. Understand this and commit to investing in your team.

Break Down Obstacles

When an obstacle is too big, it can be overwhelming. A useful technique I learned during my time in the Air Force is to break up each milestone, so it becomes more manageable — win battles, not the war (i.e., payroll, overhead, vendor partnerships, etc.). Once you have a set of manageable pieces, you can tackle each one individually. You may already know what tools you need to apply or what solutions to avoid because they are not appropriate. Only once you understand the obstacle in its entirety can you determine the best course of action.

Follow Instructions & Routine Process

Without this, you can’t scale. Every Soldier (or Airman) gets the same training so that if something breaks down, you can easily detect it at the highest level. Now, from how we identify sites, to hiring staff, to getting clients in the door — it’s all about keeping those systems dialed in so we can see where we’re successful and where we’re missing opportunities.

Practice Self-Discipline

Veterans bring a sense of resourcefulness, boldness and leadership not seen in employees with civilian backgrounds. They’ve been faced with the challenge of getting a job done without access to the resources that would ideally be available. Veterans also bring to the table a keen ability to be self-disciplined, stick through challenging tasks and see them through to completion.

Understand Leadership is Earned by Working Hard

From basic training to rising in the military ranks, veterans understand the value and payoff of hard work. You learn, you train, you succeed. In basic training, I was given the opportunity to be the Dorm Chief Leader, my first true leadership experience. It was in this role I gained confidence, learned how to earn respect, lead fairly and work together to achieve greatness. The same lessons apply to business. Work hard, gain accolades and opportunities, grow support from your team and they’ll want to perform at their highest level too. It was through this hard work that I was able to go from Dorm Chief Leader in Basic Training to Airman of the Year at Plattsburgh AFB in 1988.

With the right mentality and the right resources, franchise entrepreneurship is absolutely attainable for determined military veterans.

Be sure to do your research and align with a brand you are passionate about — whether that falls in a particular industry or is one that honors and celebrates the military community. When I found Schlotzsky’s, I saw great growth potential. Now, it’s immensely rewarding to see the brand’s commitment to supporting U.S. military members and their families through its Hometown Heart philanthropic platform and partnership with Blue Star Families.

Identify your goals, set a focused strategy and execute — soon, you’ll be well on your way to entrepreneurship.

Cary Albert and his wife Jacquelyn have been franchisees of Schlotzsky’s since 1994. With 26 locations in operation, the Alberts and their impressive team (now 500+ strong) believe the sky is the limit with this brand as they continue to grow their robust multi-brand franchise business portfolio.

Introducing the Veteran Small Business Certification Program

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will now handle all veteran-owned small business and service-disabled veteran-owned small business certifications instead of the VA.

The change took place on the first of this year and does not affect businesses that are already certified. The Veteran Small Business Certification Program will be the Agency’s primary vehicle for handling certification for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) — important classifications that enable those businesses to qualify for sole-source and set-aside federal contracting awards.

“As we celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week, I am proud that the SBA is designing its new Veteran Small Business Certification Program to be the gold standard in customer experience and support to ensure we grow our base of veteran federal contractors,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the SBA, “Adding this certification to SBA’s portfolio of capital, bonding and contracting programs will enable us to better serve our veteran entrepreneurs and help them grow their businesses through federal procurement opportunities.”

Administrator Guzman also shared much-anticipated news that she intends to grant a one-time, one-year extension to current veteran-owned small businesses verified by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of the transfer date.

On that one-year extension, Administrator Guzman added, “Our team is committed to supporting a smooth and seamless transition for our veteran customers and will be providing a one-time, one-year certification extension for VA certified veteran-owned firms, making it as easy as we can for them to continue their entrepreneurial journey.”

“The decision to extend the certification will make a real difference for our nation’s veteran business owners as we move forward with transitioning this certification from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Larry Stubblefield, Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. “In addition to supporting a smooth transition for currently certified firms, we will be able to focus on certifying new entrants and growing our base of certified firms.”

“We have been working closely with the SBA for a long time supporting the transfer of this certification program to the SBA and are glad to see it come to fruition,” said Chairman Jay Bowen, Veterans Employment and Education Commission at the American Legion. “We know that the veteran community will be well-served by this move and that the SBA will make the transition from the VA as smooth as possible. The announcement of the one-year extension for both veteran and service-disabled veteran small business owners further demonstrate the SBA’s dedication to helping the veteran small business community succeed and thrive.”

“National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is pleased to see veteran certification moving to the SBA and being applied across all the federal government agencies,” said Scott Jensen, executive director at the NVSBC. We applaud the SBA’s leadership in driving a process focused on success and supporting veteran-owned businesses and are excited to see the implementation. We also applaud the Administrator’s decision to extend existing certifications for one year. This decision will provide valuable relief to those already certified during a year of increased demand as other companies pursue the mandatory certification requirement.”

“As a voice for disabled American veterans, we are thrilled to hear of the SBA’s commitment to the veteran community through the new certification program,” said Dan Clare, chief communications and outreach officer at Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a nonprofit charity that provides more than a million veterans and their families support each year by empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. “Service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) will positively benefit from the one-year extension of existing certifications, and for self-certified firms to be able to continue to compete for designated set-asides during the grace period. I am confident that both DAV and the SBA will support SDVOSBs through the transition and certification when the time comes.”

The certification period will extend to four years on a one-time basis for firms verified by VA as of January 1, 2023.

Updates in the new program will include:

  • Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of January 1, 2023, will be automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period.
  • All firms verified by VA as of the January 1, 2023, transfer date will receive a one-year extension to their eligibility giving veterans an extra year to get recertified under the new SBA system.
  • The extension will allow SBA to process applications from new entrants into the program and grow the base of certified firms.

New applicants certified by SBA after January 1, 2023, will receive the standard three-year certification period.

Along with the recertification extension, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act grants a one-year grace period for self-certified SDVOSBs until January 1, 2024.

  • During the grace period, businesses have one year to file an application for SDVOSB certification and may continue to rely on their self-certification to compete for non-VA SDVOSB set-asides.
  • Self-certified SDVOSBs that apply before the expiration of the one-year grace period will maintain eligibility until the SBA makes a final eligibility decision.

Beginning January 1, 2024, both veteran and service-disabled veteran small business owners will need to be certified to compete for federal contracting set-asides, unless an application from a self-certified firm is pending an SBA decision.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Leveraging Honor and Respect to Improve Recruitment and Retention

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Larry Broughton in business suit arms folded and smiling

By Larry Broughton

Leaders struggle with securing, maintaining and exporting one product more than any other: respect. This is due in no small part to our current cultural mindset, which is counter industrious.

Our media declares the “little guy,” the marginalized majority, to be the constant victim of tyrannical bosses, teachers, owners and basically anyone else in a leadership role. The modern American distrusts leadership, at best, and resents leadership, at worst. So, how does a leader actually recruit, retain and lead people who consider themselves victims? The answer is found in the core values of honor and respect. Leaders, not employees, are responsible for setting the standard and the pace of the values.

In setting the standard, leaders must recognize and respect the time, energy and effort of those around them. This requires listening, thinking and approaching people as if they are just that — people. Most bad leadership comes from a soured mindset toward followership. Many in management positions have had enough of trying to be kind, supportive and considerate; eventually, they just want results: productivity, plain and simple. The problem with that mindset is evident: people are not cogs in the machines of a leader’s choosing. They are individuals with strengths and weaknesses, good days and bad, dreams and limitations. They cannot be demoted to the level of a cog — that logic is just as faulty as the aforementioned “little guy syndrome.”

Those in management and leadership positions must look at their followers and realize their own job is to optimize their employees’ potential to succeed, not simply fume as they seem to maximize their ability to fail. Many resistant followers have never shared respect with a leader in their lifetime and are not properly equipped to start any time soon. This is the first challenge of leadership: see “employees” as “team members” and draw the potential out of them. Do this by taking the first step. Establishing a standard of respect will not only enable your followers to fulfill their potential, but it will also cause the majority of them to respond in kind.

Regarding pace, leaders have to acknowledge that the process of gaining, sustaining and expanding respect and converting that into a productive and tenured team member is usually lengthy and arduous. To unwrap a pessimistic employee from their cynical cocoon is no small feat. Again, the antidote is simple, free and readily available: respect. It begins at the top and works its way down, not the other way around.

Leadership requires us to control the flow of respect and to drive it into every hour and corner of our organization. Once it does, it breeds a culture of honor, and anyone who enters it will either rise due to its effects or leave quickly. Many leaders will see this step as futile and counterintuitive. “Employees respect me because I am the boss. If they earn my respect, then so be it.” That mindset may have worked well enough in generations past; however, modern followers do not subscribe to this logic, so it simply won’t work today. Respect them first and farthest; then coach them up or coach them out if they do not meet the standard. By taking the first and farthest step, a good leader will completely eliminate excuses and tolerable failures — followers, will either meet the pace of respect set by the leader or find another placement.

Many view leadership as passionless and visionless. They see managers as the ultimate cogs in an even larger machine. To reverse this mindset, leaders must seek to see the value of every team member and offer honor, respect and understanding even before it’s deserved or earned. Some followers will buck this treatment and run — their presence is undesirable anyway. Some will respond almost instantly with loyalty and trust — these people were most likely conditioned for work by whoever reared them and will make excellent team members. Most will come around slowly but treat their leaders more fairly because they recognize the goodwill the leader has extended them first. This style of leadership does require considerable effort at first; nevertheless, working smarter and accomplishing more is certainly preferable to leading a group of maligned, untrusting misfits to merely adequate performance.

Now, take rapid action and go do something significant today.

Larry Broughton is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and leadership mentor. TheLarryBroughton.com

Photo credit: Westover Photography

Top U.S. Cities for Veteran Entrepreneurs

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The PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) founded by PenFed Credit Union, announced the findings of its annual study on the top U.S. cities for veteran entrepreneurs. The PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP), which supports veteran-owned startups and businesses through access to networks and capital, conducted the study in partnership with Edelman Intelligence.

According to the 2022 study, for the second year in a row, Washington, D.C., New York, and Seattle proved to be the top cities for veterans to start their businesses. The top emerging cities, or those that made the most progress since the PenFed Foundation’s 2021 study, include Sioux Falls, Tampa, Cincinnati and Rapid City. The study analyzed four main categories for each city: livability, economic growth, support for veterans and the ability to start a business. As the nation navigates the economic impacts of inflation, the study focused primarily on how inflation impacts cities differently.

“The military community’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit are invaluable for our nation’s business sector. That’s why PenFed is proud to commission this study for the third year in a row, highlighting the cities that are making strides to support veteran businesses,” said PenFed Credit Union President/CEO and PenFed Foundation CEO James Schenck. “We want to help cities across the United States understand which environments are best suited for military veterans to start and grow businesses and inspire city leaders to take the actions needed to support veteran entrepreneurs.”

“Additionally, veteran-owned businesses often hire more veterans, so supporting veteran entrepreneurs provides more jobs and opportunities for the greater military community, who have served as PenFed’s base of membership since 1935,” added Schenck.

The top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs include:

1)   Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area
2)   New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area
3)   Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area
4)   Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area
5)   Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area
6)   Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro Area
7)   Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area
8)   Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area
9)   Rapid City, SD Metro Area
10) Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area
11) Raleigh, NC Metro Area
12) Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area
13) Madison, WI Metro Area
14) Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area
15) Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area
16) Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area
17) Columbus, OH Metro Area
18) Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area
19) Jacksonville, FL Metro Area
20) McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area

The top four emerging cities for veteran entrepreneurs are:

1)  Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area
2) Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area
3) Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area
4) Rapid City, SD Metro Area

The study used a custom scoring algorithm based on a robust quantitative data set from existing PenFed partners and openly available data sources. The data painted the complete picture of veteran support, city characteristics and entrepreneurship ability across the U.S.

VEIP has a three-pronged approach to create a robust network for veteran-owned startups and businesses:

  1. Education through virtual and in-person workshops;
  2. Preparation through the master’s program, a yearlong fundraising accelerator, and Ignition Challenges; and
  3. Investment of seed capital, providing access to other capital investment programs and connecting entrepreneurs to funders.

Since 2018, the PenFed Foundation VEIP has accelerated over 350 veteran-owned startups and helped educate over 4,700 veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the PenFed Foundation’s work with veteran entrepreneurs or to donate to the Foundation, please visit penfedfoundation.org.

Source: PenFed Foundation

From SEAL to Gaming Creator

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Joel Lambert in fatigues close up

Meet the Master of Escape and Evade — Joel Lambert

By Annie Nelson

U.S. Navy SEAL and Afghanistan and Kosovo veteran Joel Lambert keeps things interesting. The star of the Discovery Channel’s Lone Target TV show (known outside the U.S. market as Manhunt) started on his journey due to fear, and fear has never defined him.

If you ask Lambert WHY he became a SEAL, he will tell you, “I wanted to be a SEAL because it was the thing that scared me the most!” You see, he wasn’t sure he could achieve it, so something inside him told him that was what he had to do. As Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, said, “Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”

I asked Lambert how being a SEAL changed him as a man. “How did it change me? It rewrote my DNA. It inducted me into a sacred brotherhood that stretches back to time immemorial and goes forward to who knows where. There are a few true warrior societies left on Earth, and the SEAL teams are one of them. Long Live the Brotherhood.”

Residing in middle Tennessee now, Lambert loves the country life and living off the land. He has a passion for the people in his life, his dogs and our freedom and independence as humans.

Lambert has found his freedom and independence and is thriving! “I had to get out of California. Tennessee is gorgeous. I live on 80 acres of paradise with deer, turkey and all kinds of wildlife on our property. We are becoming self-sufficient, and I can drive into downtown Nashville [which is] 20 minutes away and have world-class entertainment, the city and everything I might need. It’s paradise here.”

I asked him what things from his military career led him to the life he has lived after his Navy career. Lambert said, “It was such a shaping experience that I can’t dissect it like that. To do so would cheapen the complete metamorphosis that the SEAL Teams were for me. However, the things that were uncovered/revealed in my being from that experience are some of the most precious in my existence.”

After his military career, Hollywood came calling. Lambert did quite a bit of scripted acting at first, and he still does occasionally, but he is mostly done with that chapter. The show Lambert is most proud of is Manhunt. He was dropped into foreign countries where he would sneak over their border, parachute in or come out of the ocean. The host nation’s Special Operations Forces, fugitive recovery team or specialty tracking unit would then try to track him down and capture him before he made it to his designated extraction point — one to four days after he started.

Lambert would use anti-tracking, counter-tracking (a primitive skillset) and all his wits and experience to try to get away before they could catch him. They would use everything at their disposal: Dogs, drones, human trackers, electronic gear, thermal imaging, whatever they wanted. Per Lambert, “It was an amazing experience and a great show.

We aired in over 240 countries and territories worldwide. I know exactly what drew me to Manhunt. [It] was precisely because I didn’t want to do it that I knew I had to [do it]. I did not want to do it because it would be hard. It would be dangerous; it would require all my skills, mental toughness and ability to endure miserable conditions and even then, even if I performed at my best, there was no guarantee that I would prevail. The deck was stacked against me — the constant threat of international humiliation looming. I looked at all the reasons NOT to do it, which were precisely [why] I knew I had to do it.

When I was going through BUD/S, the SEAL selection and training program, all I did was dream of graduation day when I would finally be on top of that mountain, the peak, the pinnacle. When I finally arrived, I stood up on that mountain and realized a funny thing: The darkest moments were the ones that were the most significant — where I had grown and evolved the most. Since then, I have tried to continue to find my best in the darkest, hardest places. Manhunt, while it was definitely not the SEAL Teams or life-and-death, still challenged me and allowed me to access that place of struggle where we can find ourselves at our greatest expression.”

Lambert also has a passion for innovation. He is constantly researching, engaging and moving forward. Behind the blue jeans and boots is a mind that does not stop.

So, what is the most captivating thing on the planet right now for all ages? Gaming. That is the space you will find Lambert engulfed in right now. Not as a gamer, but as a creator.

Lambert shared, “I have started a gaming company, and we are in our angel investor round. We have an incredible concept that we’re bringing to market in the augmented reality genre. Escape and Evade!”

People can go to escapeandevademobile.com and sign up. You can also follow their Instagram accounts: @joel5326 and @escapeandevademobile.

So, when the rooster crows, you will find Lambert feeding his chickens, “The Ladies” as he fondly refers to them, then tending to his produce and hay as well as his favorite girl, Miss Petunia, a foster-failure dog that he rescued fall of 2022. By midday, this entrepreneur creator will be grinding on the Escape and Evade gaming company. To think it all started because this young man feared being a SEAL.

Photo Credit: Discovery Channel

How two WWII veterans built Waffle House into an empire

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Waffle House restaurant image with veteran owners superimposed

By Sarah Sicard

Nary a soul has been stationed at a military base or made it through four years of college without stumbling one drunk Saturday night into the 24-hour greasy spoon chain known lovingly as “Waffle House.”

With more than 2,000 locations across 25 states, it’s safe to say that the humble breakfast haunt is really more of an empire than a mom-and-pop shop. But it wasn’t always that way. The first Waffle House was actually opened by two veteran neighbors in the small town of Avondale Estates, Two World War II veterans opened the first Waffle House in 1955. (Sarah Sicard/Waffle House via Canva)

Georgia, in 1955. “Tom Forkner joined the military and served in military intelligence and security based out of Oak Ridge, TN,” according to Njeri Boss, Waffle House’s vice president of public relations.

Drafted into the Army in 1941, he covertly worked to transport valuable products from a “Tennessee facility to Los Alamos,” according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation. He eventually was sent to work on the infamous Manhattan Project, where he served until heading home and taking his place with his family’s real estate business.

His eventual partner, Joe Rogers Sr., enlisted with the Army Air Corps at age 16.

“The bulk of his service was in the Army Air Corps where he trained to fly BT-9s, B-29s, AT-17s and B-24s,” Boss said. “When his military service ended in 1945, I believe he was a B-24 pilot instructor with the Eighth Air Force at Smyrna Airfield. He achieved the rank of at least Captain during his service.”

The pair met in 1949 when Rogers moved to Georgia. Wanting to do something different and create an environment where friends and family could come together and eat, they opened a 24-hour diner-style joint in their Atlanta suburb and painted the sign bright yellow to attract the eyes of drivers.

Its reputation for being the best place for late-night food and overall popularity led Forkner and Rogers to begin franchising Waffle House in 1960.

And while the times have changed greatly since that first greasy spoon opened in the 1950s, much of the Waffle House aesthetic and menu has stayed the same.

“We serve the basic foods, and the basic foods never change,” Rogers told NBC.

Alas, the iconic restaurateurs both passed away in 2017, but their waffle legacy lives on in the hearts of troops in dire need of hash browns and syrup boats after a night of barracks shenanigans.

Click here to read the original article posted on Military Times.

Veteran Entrepreneur Resources

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SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

Devoted exclusively to promoting veteran entrepreneurship, the OVBD facilitates the use of all U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs by veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors.

SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Program is an OVBD initiative that oversees Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the country. This small business program features a number of success stories and offers business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training for eligible veterans.

Funding for veteran-owned small businesses

You can use SBA tools like Lender Match to connect with lenders. In addition, SBA makes special consideration for veterans through several programs.

Veteran entrepreneurship training programs

SBA programs feature customized curriculums, in-person classes, and online courses to give veterans the training to succeed. These programs teach the fundamentals of business ownership and provide access to SBA resources and small business experts.

Government contracting programs for veterans

Every year, the federal government awards a portion of contracting dollars specifically to businesses owned by military veterans. Also, small businesses owned by veterans may be eligible to purchase surplus property from the federal government.

Check out the rules of eligibility for these government contracting programs for veterans.

Military spouse resources

Military spouses make great entrepreneurs, and small business ownership can be a transportable.

Continue reading on sba.gov/veteran-owned-business.

Cheeriodicals: Team Building That Matters

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cheeriodicals team building group holding magazines

Cheeriodicals recently delivered  personalized cheer-up duffel bags containing patriotic and convenience items to VA Hospitals, which included our current issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine.

About Cheeriodicals
Cheeriodicals provides a one-of-a-kind corporate team building experience focused on corporate social responsibility. Our Team Building that Matters concept is a turnkey, meaningful celebration on a local and national level.

We flawlessly execute an impactful, user-friendly event to unite your team while ultimately making a difference for those who could use a dose of cheer.

For more information about Cheeriodicals visit, https://cheeriodicals.com/

Should Your Company Invest in Supplier Diversity Programs? The Answer is Yes.

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By Yvette Montoya

When we consider the state of the United States in 2022 both socially and economically, it’s clear that our demographic is shifting and that Americans believe that social responsibility is more important than ever.

Companies that want to stay relevant in this economy need to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives. A 2017 Cone Communications CSR study stated that 87 percent of consumers would purchase a product that aligned with their own values, and 76 percent would boycott a brand if it supported an issue that went against their beliefs. So, it’s a good time for companies to evaluate what their corporate social responsibility (CSR) looks like and where it needs improvement.

There are four types of corporate social responsibility: Environmental, philanthropic, ethical and economic responsibility– and supplier diversity programs have the potential to achieve all four categories. In a world that’s increasingly looking to employers to create stability and treat employees fairly, supplier diversity programs not only give companies a competitive edge but also make them more likely to maintain high standards of ethics. Implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) positions businesses to create a positive experience for employees, vendors and the community at large.

Here are three reasons why every company should take supplier diversity programs seriously:

  1. You Get to Be a Leader in Social Responsibility

Companies that choose to focus intentionally on investing in Black and Latinx, women-owned, and LGBTQ+ businesses build trust with their customer base and inspire other business leaders to examine their own company practices. When we create transparency related to how products are sourced and/or hiring and management practices, we put our money where our mouth is, and so will your customers. According to Cone Communications, three out of five Americans believe that companies should spearhead social and environmental change. And eighty-seven percent of Americans said they’d buy a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about.

Although there may be some challenges in finding minority-owned vendors that comply with a buyer’s procurement requirements, there are two solutions to this. One being creating mentoring and training programs for diverse suppliers to help them meet the standards of the certification process. The other is to partner with relevant councils and chambers of commerce that provide these support systems. When value is created through tangible solutions, everyone wins.

  1. Investing in DEI will Foster Innovation and Sales

Treating DEI like an option or something that isn’t deserving of attention means that customers will see that you’re not taking your CSR seriously. Corporate social responsibility initiatives can be the best public relations — as well as marketing — tool. Gen Z and Millennials are experts at spotting inauthenticity. A company that positions authentically with real company-wide efforts and accountability will be viewed favorably in the eyes of consumers, investors and regulators. Honest initiatives attract opportunities and employees that match an organization’s convictions.

CSR initiatives can also improve employee engagement and satisfaction — key measures that drive retention. Finally, corporate social responsibility initiatives by nature force business leaders to examine practices related to how they hire and manage employees, source products or components and deliver value to customers. All of these things create happy employees and customers, which lead to innovation, sales and a good reputation.

  1. You Get to Make an Impact on Structural Inequality in America

Supplier diversity programs are a catalyst for true social impact because thriving small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. Strong local businesses create jobs and higher wages, which put money back into the community and drive economic growth. Another plus of supplier diversity is the impact it will have on the company at large and the economy overall. Supplier diversity promotes healthy competition by increasing the pool of possible suppliers. This can lead to potentially lower costs and a better product quality. Not only that, bringing in people from different backgrounds or from backgrounds that reflect the community your company serves can result in better marketing, unique solutions to old problems, as well as innovative ways to meet your customer’s needs.

With midterm elections underway, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on the right side of key issues, including racial and gender equality and environmental sustainability. This gives corporations the opportunity to work collaboratively with businesses in a way that combats racial discrimination, all while empowering the public, creating economic opportunity and enhancing their business.

Yvette Montoya is a Los Angeles native and journalist who is equal parts content creator and writer. She covers everything from issues of spirituality and politics to beauty and entertainment. Her journalistic work has been featured on Refinery29, Teen Vogue, ArtBound, HipLatina, Mitu, and she’s a regular contributor for POPSUGAR.

Empowering Veteran Business Owners For Nearly 150 Years

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Alex McKindra pictured with father and grandfather

The McKindra family believes in two things: service and community. That’s what led Commercial Banking Managing Director, Alex McKindra to West Point, the Air Force, and now JPMorgan Chase. Here’s how he honors his family legacy by helping to empower veteran business owners.

From his years of service in the military to his current role as a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase—where he helps former soldiers build their own businesses—Alex McKindra Jr. is a veteran success story.

And his story has a long history, tracing back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.

Generations of Mentorship

In the late 1800s, McKindra’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed Black slaves.

Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. Namely, the family utilized mentorship programs, as well as public and private funding, to not only start but grow—and grow—their family farm.

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military and, subsequently, to their communities when they returned home.

“I would not be in the position I am today if not for the opportunities that mentorship provided,” says McKindra. “The farm my family was able to start, through the support and mentorship of others, has helped to educate and put clothes on every generation of my family since the 1880s.”

Paying It Forward

McKindra chose to honor his roots by following in his ancestors’ footsteps and joining the military. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty serving as Captain in the United States Air Force.

Armed with the life experience and knowledge he gained from the service—and a freshly-minted MBA from the University of Southern California—McKindra dove into the world of corporate finance. Quickly building a reputation for his intelligence, reliability and kindness, he rose through the ranks. Today, he works as a Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.

Amid his own success, McKindra’s also wanted to help those who—like his great-great-grandfather Reuben—had risked their lives for the country and were now seeking to put down roots as civilians.

At JPMorgan Chase, he continued to advocate for veterans, ultimately becoming co-lead of JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s veteran initiatives program, alongside Army veteran Terry Hill.

Currently, McKindra and Hill are working with JPMorgan Chase and Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit, to build programs to help veteran small business owners. Together, they created CEOcircle, a 13-month mentorship program that is tailored to help mid-size, military-connected companies grow. Through this program, veteran business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to succeed, including education, networking, and one-on-one financial mentoring from JPMorgan Chase advisors. The program empowers businesses that will support military families for generations to come—businesses like the McKindra farm.

The new program launched nationally last year and will welcome its second cohort of 80 military-connected businesses this November.

“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built didn’t just support our family, it also instilled the values in us that would seed the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veteran-owned businesses in the future,” McKindra says. “I know he’d be proud of that.”

In the past decade, over 16,000 veterans and service members have transitioned their military skills into civilian careers at JPMorgan Chase. Through our programs and initiatives, our goal is to position military members, veterans and their families to thrive in their post-service lives. Learn More.

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