Entrepreneur Bound? Here Are 10 Steps To Get Your Business Started!

LinkedIn
Businessman in a suit cropped image reading the newsletter

Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go – but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by un-incorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. SBA has compiled 10 steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business – while taking care of the startup legalities.  Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Step 1 – Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan – revisited often – will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on. Take a look at SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more ideas.

Step 2 – Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources  that can help advise you as you get started.  Check out what‘s offered at your Small Business Development CentersSCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, or your local SBA office.

Step 3 – Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations. Check out SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Locationand this blog: How to Choose the Best Location for your Business.

Step 4 – Understand your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resourcesexplain your options.

Step 5 – Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts.  Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, here’s an overview of your options and some information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state and the tax implications of your decision. You might also want to read:

Step 6 – Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Here’s how to register your “Doing Business As” name.

Step 7 – Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an “Employer Identification Number” or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; this blog explains more about this process.

Step 8 – Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Step 9 – Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. This guideexplains more and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Step 10 – Hiring Employees

If you’re hiring employees, follow these 10 steps. If you’re working with a contractor or 1099, read 5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors.

Source:  sba.gov

Guide to Veterans Affairs benefits and loans

LinkedIn
Smiling woman in camouflage holding cardboard box and looking at camera with blurred military man on background

In a nutshell…The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers many benefits for eligible veterans, including VA loans, the GI Bill, job training, medical benefits and housing grants for disabled veterans.

After your time in military service, you may be eligible for numerous veteran benefits. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, offers a range of services and assistance for eligible U.S. veterans and qualifying family members to help transition into civilian life.

Read on to understand the different benefits and loans available through the VA.

VA housing and homebuying assistance

One of the most well-known veteran benefits is VA housing assistance. It is meant to help veterans, service members and surviving spouses buy or build a home, refinance a home or make home improvements. Below are some of the specific programs and insights into each one.

VA home loans

A VA home loan is a type of mortgage loan that is backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Note that just because the loan is backed by the VA doesn’t mean it’s risk free. The VA backs the loan to protect the lender, not the borrower. If you miss payments, you still risk getting hit with late fees, decreased credit scores or — worse — possible home foreclosure. VA loans can be used to …

  • Buy a home
  • Build a home
  • Buy a home and fund improvements
  • Make energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home
  • Refinance an existing loan

Specific eligibility requirements can vary based on when you served. But veterans, surviving spouses and those joining the military today must generally meet one of the following eligibility criteria to qualify for a VA loan:

  • Served 90 total days of active service during wartime
  • Served 181 continuous days of active service during peacetime
  • Served six years of service in the National Guard or the Reserve
  • The applicant is a surviving spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or passed away from ­a disability that resulted while serving.

Additional eligibility requirements apply in some circumstances, so check with the VA for specifics.

The VA offers just one type of direct loan — through its Native American Direct Loan program for purchases on qualifying tribal lands. Otherwise it offers borrowers indirect, VA-backed loans from private lenders that participate in the VA loan program. Be sure to shop around and compare mortgage rates to choose the best mortgage for you. Ask friends and family for lender recommendations and be sure to look at online reviews.

VA loan programs specify that the home purchase being financed must be for a property used as a primary residence. Here are some other rules to keep in mind:

  • Property requirements: VA loans are for single-family residences with one to four family units and must be primarily residential in nature.
  • Qualifying income considerations: VA loan rules on using rental income as qualifying income for the loan include having cash reserves for at least three months’ worth of mortgage payments and providing the previous two years of tax returns showing the rental income.

There are some key differences between VA loans and other types of mortgages that make VA loans so appealing. These differences are:

  • No down payment may be required: Most types of home loans generally require some form of down payment. The VA loan typically requires nothing down — although you can make a down payment if you want to try to lower your total loan amount and monthly payment. If your home is appraised at a lower value than the listing or asking price — or if the lender needs it to meet secondary market requirements — you may have to make a down payment.
  • The VA has no minimum credit score requirement: There are no credit score requirements set by the VA — however, the specific lender you go through to apply for a VA loan may have their own credit requirements.
  • You may not be subject to loan limits: Unlike FHA loans, VA loans of more than $144,000 do not have a borrowing limit, as long as you have full VA loan entitlement — meaning you have not already taken out a VA home loan, or you have fully repaid a previous VA loan.
  • You do not need mortgage insurance: Unless you put 20% down, lenders typically require mortgage insurance to protect themselves in case you don’t pay your mortgage. Since a VA loan is backed by the VA, you are not required to pay for mortgage insurance.
  • VA loans have a funding fee: VA loans may require a one-time funding fee. This fee can range from 0.5% to 3.6% of your loan, depending on a number of factors, and can be wrapped up in your loan if you’re unable to pay it outright.

Types of VA home loans

There are several types of VA loans that are designed especially for the varying borrowing purposes listed above. These are:

  • VA purchase loans: A loan program that qualifying individuals use to buy, improve or build a home
  • VA cash-out refinance loans: A loan program that allows qualifying veterans, service members or surviving spouses to replace an existing loan with a new one, allowing them to borrow against equity in their home or refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan
  • VA interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL): A program that allows qualifying individuals to refinance your VA loan under new terms, potentially allowing you to reduce your monthly mortgage payments or interest rate.

There are both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate VA mortgages. With fixed-rate mortgages, you lock in your interest rate for the life of the loan. With adjustable-rate mortgages, your interest rate fluctuates according to the index of interest rates. The VA no longer prescribes specific interest rates — adjustable-rate loan changes depend on whether the loan is a standard or hybrid adjustable rate mortgage. Be sure to talk with your lender about which option is best for you, and learn how often these rates are subject to adjustment.

Homeowners insurance for veterans

Like almost any type of mortgage, institutions offering VA loans will typically require the borrower to purchase homeowners insurance. Additionally, the VA requires borrowers to have a hazard insurance policy where appropriate (flood insurance, for example, in known flood zones), which may be included in the conventional homeowners policy required by your lender. It may be worth asking your insurer or agent about possible military discounts for these types of programs.

State-specific veterans benefits

If you do not qualify for a VA loan or you are simply looking for additional housing benefits, there are generally state-specific organizations and programs designed to help veterans and others with housing at the state level. Be sure to check with your local VA office to help point you in the right direction.

VA disability benefits and programs

If you became sick or injured while serving in the military, or have an existing condition that got worse as a result of military service, you may qualify for VA disability compensation. You can file a claim for VA disability compensation online or at your local VA regional office — or send the appropriate information via mail to the address below.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

P.O. Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

You will need the following documentation to submit your claim:

  • Military discharge papers (DD214 or any other separation documents you may have)
  • Any service treatment records
  • Medical treatment records that show proof of disability (for example, doctor reports, X-rays, test results, doctor orders/recommendations for treatment, mental status examination or operative reports)

Be sure to apply for disability compensation as soon as possible since the claims process can take a while — generally in the neighborhood of four to five months. The VA site regularly updates the average time it takes to approve or deny a claim — it was 134.4 days as of June 2021 and 139.6 days as of July 2021.

VA benefits for disabled veterans

  • Disability compensation: This is a tax-free monthly benefit paid to disabled veterans who are considered 10% disabled or higher. The exact dollar amount you receive each month fluctuates based on the degree of your disability and if you have dependents.
  • Clothing allowance: This is an annual allowance for eligible veterans and service members whose clothing has been damaged by prosthetics/orthopedic devices or topical medication for a skin condition.
  • Service-disabled veterans’ life insurance (S-DVI): This insurance benefit is for eligible veterans who may have service-connected disabilities but are in good health otherwise. The amount of premium you pay depends on your age, the type of plan and the amount of coverage you need.

The eligibility requirements and application process for each benefit can change, so be sure to check with your local VA center to determine whether you qualify and how to access the benefit.

VA disability housing programs

  • Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA): The HISA program provides up to $6,800 in funding for home improvements and structural alterations to a disabled veteran’s primary residence. The intent behind the program is to improve home accessibility.
  • Specially Adapted Housing grants (SAH): The SAH grant helps certain veterans and service members with disabilities work toward independent living by creating barrier-free environments.
  • Temporary Residence Adaptation grant (TRA): The TRA grant may be available as part of the SAH program described and linked above. It is used to help veterans and service members make accommodations when living temporarily in a family member’s home that needs changes to meet their needs.

Automobile allowance for veterans

Although the VA does not offer specialized car loans for all veterans, it does provide an automobile allowance for veterans and service members with qualifying injuries. This is a one-time allowance for disabled veterans and service members to help them purchase a vehicle that better accommodates their needs.

Qualifying individuals can use this allowance to purchase a new or used vehicle that is already equipped with adaptive equipment, or they can purchase and install adaptive equipment to an existing vehicle.

VA education, training and employment benefits

The VA offers several education, training and employment benefits to veterans, service members and their qualified dependents to help with education costs, finding a training program or career guidance and counseling. Below are the different VA education and training benefits.

  • Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E): The VR&E program is designed to help veterans and service members with service-related disabilities with job training, employment accommodations, resume developments and job-search coaching. In some cases, these benefits may extend to dependents.
  • Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG): The PCPG program offers education/training, career, academic, resume and goal-planning counseling to eligible service members, veterans and dependents.
  • Dependents and Survivors Educational Assistance: This is a specialized program for spouses and children of veterans or service members who died or received permanent disabilities while serving. The program helps with tuition, housing, books and school supply costs.
  • Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC): The VET TEC program helps veterans with training and educational courses in high-demand areas of the tech industry. The training is for computer software, computer programming, data processing, information science and media applications.
  • VetSuccess on Campus: This program is designed to help veterans and service members transition from life in service to life on campus. Each school that is a part of the program has a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to help support veterans with assistance needed to pursue their educational and employment goals.
  • Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR): The MGIB-SR program pays for up to 36 months of education or training benefits for qualifying reservists and members of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard.
  • The National Call to Service Program: This program offers a choice between a $5,000 cash bonus, up to $18,000 of student loan repayment, or educational assistance for eligible veterans who performed a period of national service.
  • Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP): The VRRAP is a temporary program that provides up to 12 months of tuition and schooling fees as well as a monthly housing allowance for qualified veterans who became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility for other unemployment and education benefits can impact eligibility for this program.

Next steps

To find out if you are eligible for VA home loan programs, visit the VA website or your local VA regional office to discuss the programs and your service record.

Continue to read the complete article on CreditKarma.com

Why Do Veterans Make Great Business Owners?

LinkedIn
Businessman in a suit cropped image reading the newsletter

Once their service ends, veterans often expect to start a new career. In many cases, the same skills and characteristics that helped make them successful in the military, such as ambition and a drive to succeed, make veterans uniquely suited for entrepreneurial endeavors like business ownership.

Franchising is a path toward business ownership that requires strong leadership skills, so veterans are often some of the most qualified and successful prospective franchise owners. According to the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran), a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association and the Franchise Education and Research Foundation, at least 97 percent of franchisors believe veterans would make excellent franchisees; 70 percent have brought on a veteran franchisee or employee in the last year alone.

“The skills veterans develop through their military experience are integral to pursuing a new career,” said Tim Davis, former president of The UPS Store, Inc. and former U.S. Marine Corps captain and Gulf War veteran.

Leadership. Work ethic. Discipline. These qualities are exactly what help more than 200 veteran The UPS Store franchisees succeed.

  • Working as a team: The success of an organization relies on its members working together and a recognition that the business is greater than the sum of its parts. Many veterans learn to rely on their fellow service men and women; franchise owners must embrace teamwork at multiple levels, from employees of the local franchise to the franchise’s national and regional leadership team.
  • Executing a plan: Although a franchise owner typically has access to a proven business model and ongoing support, executing the plan is the franchisee’s responsibility. Putting the pieces together and developing a working business plan requires an entrepreneurial approach similar to the military training veterans received.
  • Thriving under pressure: Things don’t always go according to plan, and service members possess the training and discipline to remain calm in pressure-filled situations. For best results when navigating situations like disgruntled customers or employees, a level-headed approach often prevails.
  • Working hard to accomplish a goal: Not all business owners have the level of commitment and work ethic necessary to accomplish their entrepreneurial goals. Service members are trained to understand the requirements of a mission and work diligently to achieve them.

Financing a Franchise Dream

Through its participation in VetFran, The UPS Store, Inc., makes it easier for veterans to attain their post-military professional goals.

For example, its “Mission: Veteran Entrepreneurship” program offers nearly $300,000 in financial incentives to assist qualified U.S. military veterans in opening their own franchise locations. In addition, the first 10 eligible veterans to submit a complete buyer’s application packet and initial application fee by Nov. 11 will receive a waiver for their franchise license fees.

Before You Buy a Franchise

Becoming a franchise owner is a big decision, which means it’s important to thoroughly research potential opportunities and carefully review all the available documents. In most cases, you will have an interview with the franchisor, which is not only a chance for him or her to assess your abilities but also for you to ask questions like these that can give you more perspective.

  1. How mature is the brand?

Some franchise systems are backed by a nationally renowned brand name and decades of franchise experience. A mature brand with a proven track record of success can be especially beneficial for a first-time business owner.

  1. Will training be provided?

A good franchise will be committed to helping you succeed by providing the tools and training necessary to get you started on the right foot. The best franchise opportunities will offer a comprehensive training program that covers more than just basic operational procedures, but also provides ongoing assistance. Ask if there is a support team you can reach out to with questions. Also find out how the brand’s franchisees work collaboratively to learn from one another and help each other succeed.

  1. How stable is the industry?

It’s impossible to guarantee the success of a business regardless of the state of the economy. However, some industries are more recession-resistant than others. Those that offer essential products and services that remain in demand or those that flourish due to tough economic conditions are typically among the best franchise opportunities. If you’re exploring opening a franchise business as a means of controlling your own employment and financial security, consider an industry that can thrive even in the face of market volatility.

  1. What type of marketing, advertising and promotion do you provide?

While you can generally expect to receive marketing assistance and grand opening guidance when first opening a franchise business, the type of marketing and advertising support provided beyond that can vary greatly among franchisors.

  1. What is the total short and long-term financial commitment?

Discuss all initial and ongoing fees in depth with the franchisor before committing to buy. You will also need enough operating capital to support the business until it breaks even. The franchisor should be able to give you an idea of how long it typically takes franchisees in the network to become profitable.

  1. Do you offer funding, incentives or deals?

The costs associated with opening a franchise business can be a significant factor in finding the right opportunity. Some franchisors offer financing options, as well as special incentives for veterans, women and minorities; certain business models; or opening a location in specific geographic areas.

Source: globenewswire.com

From Readiness to Revenue: Smart Tips for Military Transition

LinkedIn
military man carrying boxes to office with flag in background

By Dr. L.H. Taylor: President/CEO of Veterans Business Partnership

The prospect of becoming a successful entrepreneur is exciting and exhilarating. Becoming your own boss, doing your own thing, taking the risk and enjoying the spoils is where the action is. After all, what could be better than controlling your own destiny?

For veterans and spouses, the journey to entrepreneurship can be equally exciting and at the same time, perplexing and challenging. Transitioning from military readiness to the revenue game could be analogous to aspiring to become a big star in Hollywood. The glitz and glamor; the lights and action; and the excitement of big money can be intoxicating. The vision of the bells and whistles may block their view or fog up the rose-colored glasses through which they view this new paradise. Then comes the reality of it all; not everyone makes it to Hollywood.

One of the most challenging questions regarding entrepreneurship is, “where to begin.” The answer to that question could very well determine success or failure for many transitioning service members and their spouses. Fortunately, there is an answer to that question.

Get a Head Start
First, let me suggest that a two-year head start on career transition is not unthinkable for those who have not done so already. The secret for transition success starts with the local installation Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office. The DoD TAP program has teamed up with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer exceptional entrepreneurship training to transitioning personnel courtesy of twenty-two regional Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) across the country.

Over the course of the suggested two years, a veteran or spouse can take part in the two-day SBA VBOC Boots-to-Business (B2B) training as many times as they desire. Beyond the two-day TAP-VBOC presentation, SBA sponsors a robust array of (free) follow-on training, that includes counseling, and mentoring to jump start these future entrepreneurs. The VBOC offerings under TAP are the place to start the transition journey to entrepreneurship. VBOCs then, will reach out to community partners such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) to assist according to where a client is in their journey.

Military members and their spouses are more than adept at and equipped with the skills and temperament for becoming successful entrepreneurs. The big “however” is that nothing advances the cause of entrepreneurial success more than advance planning. Many of my clients who ultimately succeed are the ones who have researched their ideas and invested sufficient time and energy to do the homework necessary to get their enterprises off the ground. The ones who do not, are generally not as successful, or fail to launch their dreams. VBOCs are designed to help get start-up entrepreneurial initiatives off the ground. For qualified veterans and spouses, their services are free.

Entrepreneurship is an exciting proposition. It is a pathway to self-expression and freedom to control one’s life. On the other hand, entrepreneurship can be extremely demanding, perhaps exhausting, and sometimes disappointing when things fail to go as planned. Entrepreneurship is not just the act of starting a business, or just about being in control of your own destiny. It is not a one-off point in time when you open the doors to your business and start to rake in the money. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle; it demands full-time care and feeding. It transcends every aspect of one’s life. It is a twenty-four-hour, seven-day-per-week proposition. It becomes a living, breathing member of your life.

Before you take the plunge, contact your local VBOC for support. VBOCs work closely with their community counterparts and can help determine when additional support might be needed.

Take a smart tip from a veteran entrepreneur turned VBOC Director, contact your nearest Veterans Business Outreach Center, introduce yourself, share your dream and start your exciting journey toward successful entrepreneurship.

Good luck!

Source: Veterans Business Partnership

From Combat to Cattle: A Retired Army Ranger’s Story

LinkedIn
Patrick Montgomery outdoors standing on large farming vehicle looking over property

By Kellie Speed

Former Army Ranger Patrick Montgomery never could have imagined his business as an online Wagyu beef retailer would become an overnight success for their hot dogs.

When the combat veteran left the military in 2014 and went to the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Animal Science to become a veterinarian, he instead decided to buy a farm. Montgomery is now the owner and founder of KC Cattle Company of Weston, Missouri, which offers melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly marbled, hormone and antibiotic-free Wagyu steaks as well as pasture-raised Berkshire pork and even burgers, brats and hot dogs.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between agriculture and the consumer and the appeal for me was working outside and owning a ranch,” he said. “No one really knew what Wagyu was yet, and I figured I was young so I gave it a shot. One of the biggest things I noticed along the way was there were a ton of protein options for consumers to pick through, but with Wagyu, you can really tell a palatable difference. I wanted people to have a unique eating experience. It has been interesting and fun to see people learn what we are all about.”

A few years ago, Food & Wine gave KC Cattle Company a top nod for its Wagyu hot dog, saying it was “basically like eating a steak in a bun.” Shortly after that article was published, they quickly sold out of every single product on the site. “That was crazy,” Montgomery reflects. “Hot dogs were our worst seller and then the article came out and it was the #1 article on Apple news. We only had about 40 packages of hot dogs in stock when the article came out and they were our worst seller. Over the next few weeks, we sold about 7,500 packages of hot dogs. We used to think we were a Wagyu steak company but now our number one seller is hot dogs [laughs]. Strips and ribeyes are next up in popularity.”

How would Montgomery say his military experience as a member of the Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion helped launch his career? “I think every veteran can speak to the transition out of the military not being an easy one,” he acknowledged. “You have a camaraderie in the military and then you get out into the civilian world and lose that. What’s missing most are those most kindred friendships you made sharing stories of crappy experiences overseas. You feel sort of lost when you come back home.

“It is important to me to make time to speak to people, who reach out to us maybe asking how we got our start or how we got capital or something like that,” he explains. “We like to link folks together and it’s an opportunity for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.”
Since its inception, the veteran-run company has been committed to veterans through employment, mentorship and donations. “Some people don’t want to hire veterans because they think they are broken individuals and can’t do anything after they get out of the military, but I wanted to provide an opportunity just for veterans,” he said.

This year, KC Cattle Company received the FedEx Veteran Business of the Year award for 2021.

“We have been a partner with Fed Ex the last two years and used to solely ship with them because their core values aligned with ours,” he said. “It was great to receive this award. You know you work hard, but it’s kind of cool when you get recognized for it.”

For more information, visit kccattlecompany.com.

The Types of Government Contracts & What You Need to Know

LinkedIn
Black mature businessman working on laptop

When it comes to running your small business, one of the greatest assets you can acquire to help you succeed is a government contract.

The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. It buys all types of products and services — in both large and small quantities — and it’s required by law to consider buying from small businesses.

The government wants to buy from small businesses for several reasons, including:

  • To ensure that large businesses don’t “muscle out” small businesses
  • To gain access to the new ideas that small businesses provide
  • To support small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation
  • To offer opportunities to disadvantaged socio-economic groups

There are a multitude of contracts that can be obtained and further searched into using Sam.gov, but here are a few of the different types of government contracts that could help fund your small business:

Set-aside contracts for small businesses:

To help provide a level playing field for small businesses, the government limits competition for certain contracts to small businesses. Those contracts are called “small business set-asides,” and they help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.

There are two kinds of set-aside contracts: competitive set-asides and sole-source set-asides.

Competitive set-aside contracts:

When at least two small businesses could perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.

Some set-asides are open to any small business, but some are open only to small businesses who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.

Sole-source set-aside contracts:

Most contracts are competitive, but sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. Sole-source contracts are a kind of contract that can be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract. To be considered for a sole-source contract, register your business with the System for Award Management (SAM) and participate in any contracting program you may qualify for.

In some cases, sole-source contracts must be published publicly, and will be marked with an intent to sole source. Potential vendors can still view and bid on these contracts. Once the bidding process begins, the intent to sole-source may be withdrawn.

Contracting Assistance Programs:

The federal government uses special programs to help small businesses win at least at 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars each year. There are different programs for different attributes of a small business, such as:

8 (a) Business Development Program: Small Disadvantaged businesses.

Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: Women-owned businesses

Veteran assistance program: Veteran-owned businesses

HUBZone Program: Historically underutilized businesses

SBA Mentor-Protégé program: Sets up your business with an experienced government contractor

Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program: Provides natural resources and surplus property to small businesses.

Joint Ventures: Allows businesses to team up and acquire government contracts (more info below)

Joint Ventures:

Two or more small businesses may pool their efforts by forming a joint venture to compete for a contract award. A joint venture of multiple small businesses still qualifies for small business set-aside contracts if its documentation meets SBA requirements.

Small businesses that have a mentor-protege relationship through the All-Small Mentor-Protege program can form a joint venture with a mentor (which can be a large business). These joint ventures can compete together for government contracts reserved for small businesses.

A joint venture can also bid on contracts that are set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned, women-owned, or HUBZone businesses, if a member of the joint venture meets SBA requirements to do so.

Resources

If you still have questions or are looking for additional information, visit sam.gov or sba.gov. No matter what your situation is, there are many opportunities available to help your small business succeed.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Small Business Resources for Veterans

LinkedIn
man in wheelchair talking to female co-worker

Service members make great contributions and sacrifices on our nation’s behalf. When it’s time for your next mission, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides customized tools and training to support and empower you through every stage of business ownership.

Below we’ve highlighted a few SBA programs for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses:

Entrepreneurial Training
A key first step for transitioning service members, veterans or military spouses interested in business ownership is Boots to Business (B2B). Available on military installations worldwide for service members and their spouses, this course covers the fundamentals of business ownership. Boots to Business: Reboot (B2BR) brings the B2B course off installations and into communities for veterans who may not have access to a military base, along with National Guard and Reserve members, and spouses.

B2B has been a launchpad for many aspiring military and veteran entrepreneurs. For example, after taking the B2B course, U.S. Army veteran Jeremy Boucher and his wife, Dr. Kristen Boucher, were able to turn their brewing hobby into a small business. They now own Split Fin Brewing in Midway, Georgia.

Local Support
SBA resource partners, including Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), offer expert counseling and training to business owners, with help available remotely. VBOCs are highly familiar with the military business community’s values, strengths, and needs, and can connect you with key resources.

One military spouse who worked with her local VBOC to grow her business is Terra Smith, owner of DocTerra Mobile Veterinary Services in Vale, North Carolina. Smith reached out to her local VBOC at Fayetteville State University for help gaining access to capital as she launched her mobile veterinary clinic. The VBOC walked Smith, whose husband is a Marine veteran, through the steps of applying for an SBA-guaranteed loan through a community lender.

Disaster Assistance
The SBA is also here for business owners in the military community when the unexpected happens. Like many small businesses, veteran-owned businesses have been hit hard by the economic impacts of the pandemic. and we’re continuing to offer disaster relief options to help. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), for instance, is an SBA-backed loan that helps small businesses keep their employees on payroll during the pandemic. Borrowers may be eligible for forgiveness. Air Force veteran Tom McMahon, owner of the Washington, D.C. gift shop, Urban Dwell, is just one of the veteran business owners who have kept their businesses afloat with help from the PPP.

The SBA is also offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to provide economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL is available through December 31.

Beyond pandemic relief, the SBA offers several other disaster relief programs, including the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL). If one of your essential employees is a military reservist and that person gets called to active duty, you can apply for MREIDL to help with eligible expenses.

As a member of the military, you’ve served our country. As you transition to entrepreneurship, let us serve you.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

4 Strategies for Rebounding from a Rejection Letter

LinkedIn
Young man with tablet computer checking his e-mail at home

Hunting for a post-military job can sometimes feel like a roller coaster. There are some definite highs in the job search, like spotting the perfect position for you, landing an interview and receiving an offer.

But unfortunately, there are also some lows mixed in – including the dreaded rejection letter.

While it may be disappointing, getting a rejection letter can actually help you in your job search. It offers you an opportunity to learn from the process and improve upon certain areas for the next dream job that crosses your path.

But, while you’re looking for that next opportunity, how can you stay motivated for the next search? While everyone will have their own process, here are our four strategies for rebounding from a rejection letter:

  • Take a minute. There’s no denying it – rejection stings. It’s true in life, love and even work. Before you dive back into the job hunt, take some time to process your disappointment. Talk with friends or fellow service members, go for a walk, meditate, eat a whole bag of chips (okay, maybe not that last one). You might even need more than a minute. It’s okay to take a breather from your job hunt. Though it can be hard to step back when you’re facing the end of your military career, a pause may be the key to landing your first post-military job.
  • Keep perspective. Remember, there’s only so much you can control in a job search. Maybe you were a great candidate, but there was only one open position and a lot of great applicants. “Maintain healthy expectations about the process and don’t lose hope,” said James Marfield, associate director of VA’s National Recruitment Service. “It is not necessarily an indictment on your candidacy – it may just be that the hiring manager had better qualified candidates to choose from.” While it may look from the outside like some people have it easy and catch all the breaks, everyone gets a rejection letter at some point in their career. Transitioning to a post-military career can be an especially big leap, but there are plenty of people who have successfully made the transition. Have faith that you will, too.
  • Look in the rear view mirror. You got as far as an interview, so you know you’re doing a lot of things right. If you’re applying for a federal job like one at VA, you made it through the recruiter and were referred to the hiring manager, which is a big step. Your resume and cover letter are on point, and you’ve completed all the right federal forms to accompany your application. Before you dive back in to your job hunt, take some time to review your interview performance and see if there’s anything you could improve. Do you need to come up with better examples for VA’s performance-based interview format, or did you remember to send a thank you letter after your interview? Each interview is great preparation for the next one, but if you want even more practice, ask a friend or family member to rehearse with you.
  • Move forward. Once the feeling of rejection starts to fade and you’re feeling positive again, jump back in to your search with renewed energy and enthusiasm. As you continue to apply, look for ways you can continue to add to your skills and improve your candidacy for a civilian career, whether that’s through volunteering, additional training or part-time work experiences. Veterans can take advantage of a free year of LinkedIn premium, which includes access to training through LinkedIn Learning. The Department of Defense also offers transition assistance for Veterans, including training, apprenticeships and internships through SkillBridge.

No roller coaster lasts forever – even the job search coaster. While there may be more than one “no” along the way, all you need is one “yes” to land your dream post-military job.

Source: VAntage Point Blog and VA Careers (blogs.va.gov)

5 Tips for Transitioning from the Service to Starting Your Own Business

LinkedIn
former service members now businessman and business woman high five each other outside their cafe

By Chris Wayne, CTO at Yahoo Small Business and former U.S. Army Sergeant, 82nd Airborne Division

It may seem daunting to think about your next step from active duty to civilian life, whether you’re considering going back to school, applying for a new job, volunteering or even starting a new business.

While there are many factors that play into finding your next career path, it’s important to consider your passions, interests, the experience you’ve gained during your time in active duty and how the foundation you built can correlate with a post-military career.

Starting your own business is a great way to use the skills you’ve developed during your time in active duty. Based on my professional experience as the CTO of Yahoo Small Business, and my military experience as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, I want to offer the following five tips on how to transition from military personnel to business owner:

Follow your passion

During my time in the service, I was a combat engineer, which required complex problem-solving skills and the need to take calculated risks. Upon transitioning into civilian life, I identified the parallels and found myself in the tech field—now, years later, I am the chief technology officer at Yahoo Small Business. I work with small business owners every day, including many veterans, who saw a need that aligned with their interests and areas of expertise, and took the opportunity to become a small business owner. As a veteran, you already have the skills, network and discipline needed in order to start a business. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream.

Continue to value your unique abilities

At first, you may not feel that your skills translate to entrepreneurship, but they are key to establishing a resilient business that can withstand challenging circumstances. As you begin your small business journey, your ability to overcome adversity, prioritize and manage stress, and always lead with courage and integrity, are paramount to succeeding as an entrepreneur. Among countless other abilities, these skills enable you to lead effectively, meet the needs of your team and customers, and manage difficult situations in ways that others may not be able to.

Appreciate your military experience

Be true to who you are as a veteran and don’t be afraid to spotlight your military experience. Your unique experience has created a valuable framework for how you conduct and operate your business. Representing yourself in your business is a great way to build connections. For a consumer-facing business, for example, your personal style can help drive customer engagement and differentiate your business from other similar companies. You may even inspire other veterans to take the leap of faith and start their own business.

Leverage your network and join a community

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and with the challenges veterans can experience while making the transition, developing ties to a local community can be difficult. Fortunately, the military community is always ready and willing to support you no matter where you are. Leverage your network and seek mentors or advice by joining existing military and veteran entrepreneurship communities. Joining online communities of like-minded individuals is great for networking and offers a way for you to inspire and support others as you all navigate your entrepreneurial journeys together. For example, communities such as the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) is a global network of military families that support each other like a local community.

Work with a partner company

Outside of the military community, I encourage you to work with a professional partner company. Starting a business comes with challenges, but with your skills, the military community and a partner company behind you—you will have the tools needed to succeed.

Leveraging a partner company can help you establish your business the right way. For example, a partner tech company can help you develop a business plan and create and manage your business’s website. You can work with a partner company and small business advisors to outsource core aspects of business management, including your website, accounting, SEO and marketing and more. By outsourcing key aspects of business management, you can focus on what’s important— running and growing your business, engaging with customers and enjoying your journey.

Looking toward your future

As you look toward the future, remember that your skills and experiences make you uniquely suited to start your own business. Remember that you already have the critical components needed to be successful, and you have the military community—as well as a community of other entrepreneurs—on your team.

Chris Wayne is the Chief Technology Officer at Yahoo Small Business, where he oversees engineering, production operations, support and more. Wayne joined Yahoo in 2004 as a manager at the HQ Desktop Support, became the Chief Information Officer for Yahoo Small Business in 2015, and the Chief Technology Officer in 2018. He holds a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree from the University of Southern California and is a certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP). Prior to joining Yahoo Small Business, Wayne was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

How My Air Force Experience Shaped Me to Be a Leader

LinkedIn
two men shaking hands, one of them is in a suit, the other is in military uniform

By Joe Paranteau

From the foot soldiers of the Roman Empire and Genghis Khan’s cavalry to today’s military, the contributions and leadership of people in uniform have stood the test of time.

I spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve and the leadership lessons I learned have lasted a lifetime. I often rely on my military leadership lessons to lead sales and business teams today.

Here are a few of the most enduring lessons I learned. Whether you have served or not, you can take some of these golden nuggets and apply them to your business:

It’s Not About “You.” It’s About “Us”

The moment enlisted or officers start their initial training – the core value is the same. No one person is greater than the team. If you are a lone wolf, you won’t go far. From the minute your service begins, you learn that the sum is more significant than its parts. The team is everything.

My first night in training, I watched people shed their individuality for the team’s good. Over time, our team grew stronger through proximity and shared adversity. If something wasn’t right, the whole team suffered.

I was a chow runner, which meant I ran ahead of the formation to the chow hall to sign our unit in. The fastest runners guaranteed their units ate first. I could run fast. In fact, on a good day, I could get signed in 5-10 minutes before my unit would arrive, which meant I had time for a bit of shut-eye. One day, I was fast asleep leaning against a pole. Click, click, click. I heard the boot taps of my drill instructors as they circled me. I woke up and stood at attention. They yelled at me for what seemed like hours.

I had already learned to take ultimate accountability for my actions. When asked why I was asleep at my post, I replied, “No excuse, sir.” In reality, there is no reason for an excuse, although people make thousands of them. My unit had to wait because of my actions instead of eating early. I stared into a sea of hungry, impatient eyes and realized I made a mistake that affected everyone. I learned to never repeat that mistake again!

No One Left Behind

Military teams take care of each other. As a result, one person rarely does anything alone. And no one is ever left behind. This is an ethos in the military, and builds upon the “Us” mentality. Strength gets forged in unity. You don’t need a battlefield for this to ring true. How do you check to ensure your people are never left behind in the activities that drive your business? Build strong teams that look out for each other and make your organization strong. Get rid of inadequate training, unclear expectations or guidance or a lack of support. Don’t leave your people behind.

Attention to Detail

In the military, you learn that the subtle details can cause big problems. For example, foreign object damage (FOD) is anything that should not be on the runway. The smallest of items can wreak havoc on jet engines resulting in fatal outcomes. Pay attention to the small things and their impact on the broader operation. Teach your people to be on the alert for these little details. Condition them to spot things that may otherwise go unnoticed. Instilling attention to detail can help your business avoid unpleasant outcomes. Consider creating more detail around safety, ethics, governance, compliance, and fiduciary matters.

It’s Easier to Course Correct a Moving Object

In the military, there is a significant amount of planning done for many things. You can talk, plan, and prepare. There is a need to act and put the plans in place. Standing still tells you nothing. Military battle planners will often admit their plans rarely survive the first bullet. It does not mean to stop planning. Instead, some things are clear when you observe them in action. Take flying a plane. You can preflight a plane, but flying in the air is dynamic based on many changing variables. If you miscalculated wind speed, you need to adjust your plans. Headwinds may cause you to burn fuel faster, and may call for you to make deviations to your course. When you march a unit in a formation, you may need to make minor corrections. But they happen once the unit is moving and marching. If someone gets out of step, make the cadence clear and consistent for everyone to follow. The same is true of many things in business. Get started and expect to make minor pivots along the way. You can learn a great deal when you move past your best plans and test them in the market.

Know When to Lead, Follow and Serve

Know when to lead from the front, stand beside and serve. The best leaders I’ve ever seen in my life are military leaders. What makes them exceptional leaders is how they model excellence. They have solid missions and visions, and they communicate them from top to bottom of the unit. Everyone knows the mission. Being able to create clear goals and focus on them is a critical skill. As a military leader, you learn to feed the troops first. I recall how my commanders demonstrated how to serve.

Joe Paranteau headshot
Joe Paranteau
During the holidays, leaders served in the mess halls, cooking and serving others. As a business leader, find similar opportunities to serve your people. Figure out what behaviors you can model that will make your team stronger.

It’s been years since I’ve been out of the military. Yet, fellow servicemen and women who have served can all relate to one or all these examples. How would it look if you applied them to change your business culture? What results should you expect? The military has been using these principles for centuries. Take a lesson from tried-and-true leadership practices, and see how your people respond. These principles show you care, and build trust and strong teams dedicated to the mission.

Joe Paranteau is the author of Billion Dollar Sales Secrets and works at Microsoft. He leads a sales team and serves as an industry leader for healthcare customers. He is a sales coach and mentor, keynote speaker, small business owner, entrepreneur and investor. As a U.S. Air Force veteran, he is committed to veteran’s issues. He supports causes to end child trafficking and exploitation. Visit him on LinkedIn or at.thejpar.com

Serving the Called — Letter From the Editor

LinkedIn
Kellie Pickler featured cover story

Merriam-Webster defines military service as “time spent serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc…” A simple, literal definition whose meaning goes so much deeper.

Service is at the heart of every facet of the military, no matter which branch you serve.

You might hear servicemembers and veterans alike speak of being ‘called to serve,’ or inspired to be of service in any capacity to their fellow man, their country and the greater good.

It’s this devotion to serving others – and the sacrifice it requires – that puts us in awe of our veterans, military members, spouses and families. It’s why we can never thank them enough.

Our cover story, singer Kellie Pickler, is attempting to do just that by serving those who have been called. By partnering with the USO (United Service Organizations), Pickler, alongside other celebrities, gets the chance to give back to a community that means the world to her.

“They have enabled me to be a part of something that matters,” Pickler shares.

“Working with the USO, it’s really all about keeping the families connected and keeping our servicemen and women connected with their loved ones. We take a piece of home to them.” Read more about Picker’s mission to serve on page 88.

If you’re preparing to transition from service, or have already started a new job, check out these 10 career tips on page 25 to keep you on a positive course.

Kat Castagnoli headshot
Kat Castagnoli, Managing Editor, U.S. Veterans Magazine

Looking for new career options? Consider putting your military experience to work in the electronics industry on page 28.

If you’re a recruiter, check out these 3 tips companies need to successfully attract and hire veterans on page 36.

Maybe offering a work-from-home option could be a draw, as most employees want to continue working from home on page 38 in these postpandemic times.

In honor of all of those who have served or are serving, we here at U.S. Veterans Magazine are proud to provide the information, content and stories that continue to serve you and your career and business needs.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Lumen

Lumen

Leidos Video

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Verizon

Verizon Wireless