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

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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

The Bob Woodruff Foundation Releases Best Practices for Organizations Providing Emergency Assistance to Veteran and Military Families

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The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant economic downturn have had a profound financial impact on millions of Americans, including our nation’s veterans and military families.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) quickly pivoted their 2020 grantmaking plans to get critical funding into the hands of their partners, enabling emergency financial assistance (EFA) for veterans when and where it was needed most. Based on insights gathered from their grantees, BWF has now released “Emergency Financial Assistance: Best Practices,” the latest issue in their Stand SMART for Heroes research series, to share key findings that can help organizations minimize risk and maximize impact for veterans and their families.

In April 2020, BWF released a pivotal research paper, “Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans,” indicating that half of veterans between the ages of 25 and 44 had less than $3,000 to $4,000 in savings before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Additionally, 15% of veterans were employed in industries that were most likely to be impacted by the pandemic.

In anticipation of increased need, BWF leveraged their findings and expedited their 2020 grants to provide direct support to the military and veteran population during the pandemic, broadening their usual granting criteria to include applications from programs providing EFA. At the same time, BWF developed a survey to evaluate applicants for risk and professionalism. The results of that survey formed the basis for this latest research paper publication.

“Providing support to cover rent, groceries, home or vehicle repairs, or other unexpected expenses can help veterans maintain stability in the short term, so that they can thrive in the long term,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, Chief Executive Officer of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “By sharing what we’ve learned from our network through our latest issue of Stand SMART for Heroes, we’re shining a light on this urgent need while also providing an important resource to organizations that want to help.”
For more information, and for funders interested in supporting emergency financial assistance programs, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org/stand-smart-for-heroes/.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans, including suicide prevention, mental health, caregiver support, and food insecurity. To date, BWF has invested over $76 million to Find, Fund and Shape™ programs that have empowered impacted veterans, service members, and their family members, across the nation. For more information, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.

The 9 Best Job Programs for Veterans Separating in 2021

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Originally posted on Military.com

While 2020 was a lost year for many Americans, it doesn’t have to affect separating military members in 2021. Some veterans programs reorganized their work to fit coronavirus restrictions; others shut down entirely.

But the most effective programs continued their training cycles.

In 2020, we highlighted dozens of organizations that want to train, hire or give veterans a leg up in the job market. These are just the best of the best and are in no particular order, because every veteran has different needs and goals.

Anyone leaving the military in 2021 (and beyond) who doesn’t know where to begin should definitely start here.

1. Federal Agencies

It should be no surprise that the world’s largest employer, the U.S. government, has job openings for veterans. What might be a surprise is just how many agencies want to train them first and even have a pipeline from the military to civilian service.

Whether you’re looking to fight wildfires, become a diplomat at the State Department, bust punks in America’s national parks or be on the front lines of the U.S. homeland security apparatus, there’s a program for you. And although there is no pipeline, veterans preference will still give you an edge when applying to the FBI or even the CIA.

There are also opportunities for wannabe truck drivers through the Department of Transportation, paid internships for would-be park rangers and more.

2. BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program (WIP)

For anyone who’s ever wanted to work for an American defense contractor but didn’t know how to get their foot in the door, this is the jobs program for you. BAE wants veterans to apply before they even leave the military (separated veterans are still welcome) so they can start job training right away.

The program offers on-the-job training at a real BAE location, along with mentorship, guidance through the transitioning process and (of course) a paycheck for three years while learning the job. When your time in the WIP is up, you will be a full BAE Systems employee, just like your coworkers.

Read: This Company Is Now Giving a Total Transition and Jobs Program to Separating Military Members

BAE Systems currently has Warrior Integration Program openings in New Hampshire, Alabama and Texas, but even if you don’t live there, you can still apply.

3. Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS)

Dr. Arthur Langer is a Columbia University professor who runs the nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services. The company brings together major employers such as Prudential, General Electric and HBO, companies that need to fill critical roles. WOS then trains military veterans to fill those positions. From mechanics to Java developers, WOS has a 90% retention rate in U.S. companies.

Read: This Nonprofit Created a Pipeline System for Training and Placing Veterans in Jobs

Any business in America is welcome to come to WOS to fill its vacancies, and any veteran in America is welcome to come find job training and a place to work.

4. Microsoft

Any veteran who’s eager to join the best technical industry in the world but doesn’t know how to guarantee themselves a job should look no further than Microsoft. The tech giant looks to skilled, mature veterans to fill out its critical vacancies through the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA).

Read: Why Corporate Skills Training May Be More Valuable Than a Degree for Veterans

It’s an 18-week “reskilling” program that teaches advanced technical functions in high demand right now. At the end of the program, students will have the chance to interview with Microsoft or other tech giants in need of those valuable skills. Graduates of the program have an 80% retention rate, even without a traditional four-year degree — that’s the benefit of reskilling.

5. Army Career Skills Program (CSP)

Soldiers interested in finding a new career after the Army can look into the Career Skills Program as a means of getting that guaranteed job after leaving the military — and learn their new career while still getting that military paycheck.

Read: This Army Job Training Program Has a 93% Success Rate

Why would the Army pay soldiers to learn to leave? Because the 210 different programs offered by the Army CSP are all critical job functions the service can’t live without, but also can’t seem to find the people to do the job. Who better to work for Big Army than its former soldiers? It’s like living the Army life without the looming threat from the Green Weenie. Soldiers can choose from a slew of jobs, from auto repair to solar energy.

6. Workshops for Warriors

Hernán Luis y Prado of San Diego is a Navy veteran and the founder of Workshop for Warriors. He noticed a distinct lack of skilled trades in the American workforce, a lack he believes could cripple the American economy when the older generation of skilled tradesmen retires. So he started a nonprofit training organization designed to put veterans in those trades.

Read: ‘Workshops for Warriors’ Is Intense, Effective Training for Skilled Manufacturing Jobs

Unlike some of other programs, Workshops for Warriors requires a fee (learning or teaching a skilled trade isn’t cheap), but is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program has a 95% success rate in training and job placement, perfect for any veteran who wants to work with their hands.

7. Carrus

For both military members and spouses interested in health care jobs, Carrus is the place to start. CEO Misty Frost loves the mature soft skills that veterans bring to the industry when starting civilian careers, and that all the hard skills of the health care industry can be taught. So that’s what Carrus is doing.

Read: The Health Care Industry Is Looking for Vets. Here’s How to Get Free Training.

A grant from the Army Credentialing Assistance Program (ACA) allowed Carrus to expand its no-cost, short-term training program for military members and spouses. Anyone interested in free training for a new career in the health care industry should visit CareerStep.com’s Military Page to sign up for more information in the “request info” area of the page.

Read the full article on Military.com.

Retired US Army Officer Says Background Will Aid Success in New Career With the #1 Home Inspection Company

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As a retired Army officer, Apache helicopter pilot and an aviation inspector, Jim Mulvehill is more than prepared for his next venture as one of the newest franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection company in North America.

The Palm Coast resident serves homebuyers and sellers throughout Flagler, St Johns and Putnam counties, in Florida and works in Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, Beverly Beach, Crescent City, Palatka, Bunnell and St Augustine.

Mulvehill, who previously spent 24 years as an Army aviator and aviation inspector and then worked oversees with US military allies in training and standardization, expects that experience to play an important role in his new position as a small business owner with the most respected brand in the home inspection industry. “My previous experience in the inspection of aviation facilities and supervising inspection teams will be beneficial to me in my role with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors as I help new homebuyers in understanding what to look for in purchasing a new home,” Mulvehill said.

According to Pillar To Post Home Inspectors President and CEO Dan Steward, “We are rolling out some pretty amazing technologies that will be in full swing by spring 2021 for all Pillar To Post Home Inspections. One of these will be the PTP360 tour. It will also be available with a floor plan. It is a great new innovation – fast-tracked to completion for COVID-19 response – but in the long term, a huge help for busy, professional Realtors; saving time, better serving their seller and giving prospective buyers a far better experience. Buyers can view anytime they wish, stay if they like, share with friends and family, share with contractors to get an estimate and even get a measured floor plan to help with furniture planning, etc. This is a brilliant experience.”

The company has achieved the highest standings in various rankings of “Best in Category,” “Top 20 Franchises to Buy,” “Top 10 Global Franchises” and “Top Franchises for Veterans” in addition to achieving 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans. A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 9 years in a row and appeared in the ranking for 24 years. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

How this single mom went from serving overseas to opening her own gelato shop

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Thereasa Black in military uniform holds her young daughter in her arms with the Pentagon sign in the background

This gelato shop isn’t only known for its healthy take on the popular dessert. It’s also owned by a female Black veteran.

Thereasa Black is the founder and CEO of Amore Congelato, a Virginia-based gelato shop that prides itself on using healthy ingredients. Inside its doors, date sweetener and coconut sugar replace cane sugar, some flavors are packed with 24 grams of protein and oat milk is offered.

Black, who plans to change the name of her business to Bon Appésweet, opened shop last December just before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the United States. While thousands of local businesses were forced to close down, she stayed optimistic.

“Honestly, I’m not afraid at all. It’s crazy to say, right?” she told “Good Morning America.” “Because my product, people love it and people are going to buy it.”

Being a small business owner during the pandemic is hardly the first challenge Black has faced. As a single mother, Black woman, Navy veteran, author and law school graduate, she is all too familiar with overcoming challenges.

Black grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where she said she experienced discrimination at a young age. She remembers elementary school teachers excluding her from advanced classes despite her good grades, being the only girl on the football team and getting chased down the street by two white men in a pickup truck one night.

“My drive comes from a place of pain — a place where I cannot let other people define who I’m going to be,” she said. “When your whole life is people telling you that you’re not enough, you have to prove everybody wrong.”

Black went to college and joined the Navy. After a few tours of service, she enrolled at George Washington Law School to become a public defender.

Black became pregnant with her daughter during her third year at George Washington. She said the father didn’t want to be in the picture, but Black still had Isabella and finished school in 2017, documenting her progress through a series of YouTube videos called “Single, Pregnant & in Law School.”

Then, the week after completing her bar exam, she was called back into service and had to leave Isabella at home with her cousin, Vaughn Black. She packed her bags, baked her daughter an ice cream cake for her birthday and kissed Isabella goodbye.

She had heard of how hard distant military parenting can be and braced for being oceans away from her 2-year-old.

“None of the roadblocks I’ve hit, and none of the hurdles I’ve had to go over, compared to what I did during that deployment,” she said.

Despite crying in bed every night, Black called home daily.

“There was a handful of days, and when I say handful, I mean you could count them on one hand, when Thereasa missed it,” said Vaughn Black. “The effort I saw from her, from another country, a lot of the times I see none of that from people that live right in the same neighborhood.”

After six months overseas, Black knew that returning to be a lawyer would only make her too busy to spend time with her daughter.

Whatever she would end up doing, it had to be about Isabella.

Interested in entrepreneurship, she bounced business ideas off family and friends before deciding on gelato — a reminder of the ice cream cake she made for Isabella.

Not only would she cook all of Isabella’s meals from scratch, given her daughter’s soy allergies, but she also baked cookies for her fellow sailors overseas.

Continue on to GMA to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: GMA

American Veterans Group: Banking on The Success of America’s Returning Military

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Ben Biles and Keith Lisante at friends wedding smiling wearing military dress uniform

By Mark Kroeger

Ben Biles and Keith Lisante had big plans. Roommates at the U.S. Naval Academy, they had grown to become best friends and dreamed of working together on Wall Street when their military service was done.

But those dreams were shattered when Lisante, struggling with his transition back to civilian life, committed suicide just weeks after returning from deployment.

It was a tragedy that happens far too often in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 6,000 military veterans a year—that’s 17 veterans every day—take their own lives.

For Biles (pictured left), Lisante’s (pictured right) death was profoundly personal. He resolved to honor his friend’s legacy by fulfilling their shared vision for a career in finance, while at the same time providing meaningful philanthropic support for military veterans seeking to succeed in their return to civilian life.

Biles’ solution was American Veterans Group, an investment banking company he co-founded that dedicates 25 percent of its profits to career readiness programs for military veterans across the U.S.

Since establishing the company in 2018, and through the end of 2020, American Veterans Group will have donated $70,000 of its earnings to career readiness programs in New York City, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. The money—100 percent of it—has directly supported career training for up to 150 veterans as well as payed for training and salaries for a dozen career readiness coaches and instructors.

According to Biles, he and his team of 15 employees at American Veterans Group are just getting started.

“Our social-impact mission is what distinguishes us on Wall Street,” said Biles, “Our vision from the start has been to create a ripple effect through our philanthropic giving—an ever-widening circle—that impacts, and improves, the lives of as many returning military veterans and their families as possible. The best way to do that is to become a recognized leader in our industry, while never losing sight of the social mission that got us here.”

To fulfill that mission, Biles and his team structured American Veterans Group as a Public Benefit Corporation, which they bill as the only one of its kind on Wall Street. The investment banking firm has a parallel non-profit foundation—the AVG Foundation—that manages the company’s philanthropic giving.

American Veterans Group partners with national, military-focused charities to deliver social impact in the local communities where it does business.

“It’s important for us to serve our clients’ in their own backyards,” Biles said. “A lot of veterans who need this kind of support live in places other than New York City, and our clients recognize that. They see veterans in their own communities who are struggling. It goes a long way when we are able to show that our philanthropy is directly supporting those local needs.”

Being veteran-owned, American Veterans Group qualifies as a diversity supplier. Biles is building the company by networking and forging partnerships with high-profile names in the investment banking community; reaching out to corporate and municipal banking relationship managers; and telling his story to corporate executives who guide diversity supplier, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.

“We make it a priority to hire and partner with veterans and veteran-owned companies, but our impact extends well beyond even those important benchmarks,” Biles said. “We’re able to demonstrate a direct, deeper and wider impact on veterans in local communities where we’ve done business. We can help corporate clients point to measurable social impact as it relates to veterans both locally and nationally by including us when they decide to access capital in the financial markets.”

Since its founding, American Veterans Group has supported nearly 70 financial transactions as a co-manager or selling group member, helping such states as Massachusetts and California, and municipalities such as Chicago and New York City, access the debt capital markets. The company also supports equity capital market transactions, preferred stock syndicates and secondary trading issues.

American Veterans Group’s high-profile investment banking and financial industry partners include Citi, Bank of America, Barclays and MetLife. The company’s sales team members average 20-plus years’ experience.

Biles co-founded the company with William Frazier, a financial industry leader with 45 years’ experience. Frazier was a partner at Oppenheimer & Company where he led the firm’s global fixed income division. Before American Veterans Group, Frazier founded and oversaw all aspects of Gates Capital Corporation, a boutique dealer specializing in fixed income trading support to independent registered investment advisors.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Keith and remember the plans that we made,” Biles said. “My hope is that he’d be so proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. And it’s our mission in life, and in business, to make certain that we’re helping returning military veterans just like him find their pathways home.”

American Soldier Pleads For Help To Bring Rescued Dog Home

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Sergeant Tiann leans over Millie th dog she wants to rescue upon deplyment

Millie is a mixed breed dog overseas that was rescued by Sergeant Tiann. The soldier has created a long lasting relationship with the dog and is desperate to bring her back to the U.S. with her, now that her deployment is over.

She has reached out to Guardians of Rescue for their assistance in helping to make the relocation happen, and they need donations from the public in order to make it happen.

We could make this a reality, but we need financial support from the community,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “There are a lot of logistics and people that have to come together to make this happen and it’s expensive. Let’s all work together to give Sgt Tiann this wonderful gift of ending a tough year on a high note and going into a new year with a smile.”

Sergeant Tiann found Millie after she had given birth and was nursing. During that time, someone came along and took all the puppies from the mother, leaving her in a vulnerable position. Sergeant Tiann knew that this would leave the dog in danger, so she wanted to do what she could to help her.

Doing all she could for Millie, the two of the formed a relationship based on love and trust. She knows that if she cannot get Millie back to the states to live with her, she will once again be put in danger. They have an inseparable bond and want to be at home together for the holidays.

Overseas dogs are always in danger there and are not treated the same way they are treated here in America. Guardians is asking for help for Sergeant Tiann and Millie to help reunite the two. Transporting a dog across from overseas is something that Guardians of Rescue can help the soldier do, but it’s a costly venture that is also complicated. They will only be able to pull off the mission with the financial assistance from the community to help make it happen.

“Leaving Millie behind is just not an option for me,” says Sergeant Tiann. “She’s become my best friend and we don’t leave our best friends behind and in danger. I appreciate everyone who helps me bring her home with me.”

To make a donation to help bring Millie home to the US where she can live her life with Sergeant Tiann, visit the site at:  https://guardiansofrescue.networkforgood.com/projects/120170-bring-soldier-s-dog-little-millie-to-safety-in-the-us 

Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to active military overseas through the “No Buddy Left Behind” program and investigates animal cruelty cases. It is located in New York, but it helps animals in many places around the country. It is also instrumental in helping military members with their pets. To learn more, get involved, or to make a donation to support the Guardians of Rescue, log onto www.guardiansofrescue.org.

About Guardians of Rescue
Based in New York, Guardians of Rescue is an organization whose mission is to protect the well-being of all animals. It provides aid to animals in distress, including rehabilitation, assisting other rescue groups, and providing support to families, both military and not, who need assistance due to economic factors. To learn more about Guardians of Rescue, visit the site at www.guardiansofrescue.org.

This Christmas Give the Gift of Saving a Soldiers Dog from being Abandoned Overseas, Time Is Running Out

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happy rescue dog smiling at soldier

A soldier’s dog is in urgent need of rescue, or he could be left behind as his soldier is being deployed back to the U.S. from serving overseas.

Due to reduced flights and heighted requirements for animal travel there are just days left to make this rescue happen and keep this soldier and his dog together.

“The United States military does not leave best friends behind. We need your help to reunite them here in America,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “Even small donations will add up to help. We want to give Specialist Lucas the great Christmas present of bringing his dog back home with him.”

When soldiers are deployed they can get lonely, miss home, and become depressed. Every once in a while they are lucky enough to come across a stray animal that they befriend, which brings them happiness. That’s exactly what happened to Army Specialist Lucas, when he came across a dog that he’s now desperate to bring back to the U.S. with him now that his deployment is over.

“I noticed his calmness, he just wanted some love and attention. I love all animals but he was special,” says Specialist Lucas. “I can’t imagine having to leave my best friend behind, God only knows what will happen to him and my heart will be broken.”

The soldier saw the dog walking around, lonely and hungry, near the base where he is stationed. As he considered how he could help, the dog made his way to him, wanting attention. Specialist Lucas decided to name him Boy Dawg, and they instantly made a connection. Each day, the dog would seek him out for attention and food.

Over time, they created a bond that has helped Specialist Lucas during his time being deployed. When he got word that he was going to be sent back home to the states, he couldn’t imagine leaving Boy Dawg behind to forage on his own again. By this point, he considered him part of his family. He reached out to Paws of War to see if they could help him bring his dog back home.

Paws of War has helped numerous soldiers to bring their pets back to the U.S. However, this year the mission is more challenging to pull off. The pandemic has severely limited the number of flights coming from the U.S., especially those allowing dogs. Plus, flights from overseas are costly, and there is a lot of red tape that needs to be addressed and logistics to overcome.

The only way they can successfully bring Boy Dawg home with Specialist Lucas is with financial help from people in the community. They are urgently accepting donations so they can plan the mission and secure the flight.

To see pictures of Specialist Lucas and Boy Dawg or to make a donation, visit the site at: https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/119293-boy-dawg.

Paws of War rescues dogs, provides them with proper training, and then pairs them with veterans who need service animals, all free of charge. They also help soldiers bring their dog back to America after serving in the Middle East. Those who would like to learn more about supporting Paws of War and its mission can go online to: http://pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

Husband and Wife are Retired US Army Colonels Bringing No. 1 Flooring Mobile Showroom to Homes

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Bill Mahoney and Marie Mahoney stand outdoors in front of their decorated work vehicle smiling

Analytics. Logistics. Planning. Strategy. Putting those four ideals into practice would provide a strong cornerstone for the success of almost any business.

Those are the skills that Bill and Marie Mahoney bring with them as they each launch second careers as new franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Having launched operations in late September, Floor Coverings International Midlothian serves clients throughout the greater Midlothian, Bon Air, Moseley and Chesterfield County areas.

Bill and Marie – both 56 and residents of Chesterfield – are retired United States Army Colonels with Bill retiring in 2015 after serving 30 years and Marie following in April 2020 after a 34-year career. Each were deployed to Afghanistan for one year. Bill later served as Director of Planning for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “It has been shown repeatedly that veterans make great small-business owners because of the skills and discipline learned in the military,” Bill said. “On top of that, women-owned businesses continue to grow at a rapid pace and Marie is excited to contribute to that growth.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there is about one veteran-owned company for every 10 veterans and veteran-owned businesses employ 5.8 million individuals. In addition, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 21 percent over the past five years, more than double the increase of nine percent for all businesses, according to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Approximately 42 percent of American businesses are owned by women. “We were looking for a post-military business opportunity, and given our backgrounds, we both felt we couldn’t have been better prepared to own a Floor Coverings International franchise,” Marie said. “Plus, our son, Max (20), is working part-time for us while our daughter, Maura (16), helps behind the scenes with our social media.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of our lives. However, Floor Coverings International utilizes a number of preventative safety precautions to keep both clients and franchise owners and their employees safe. “We are relatively pandemic-proof,” Bill said. “The desire for home improvements has actually grown tremendously this year as more consumers spend time in their homes and expend resources that might have otherwise been spent on travel and other activities.”

In Floor Coverings International, the Mahoneys found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. “The Floor Coverings International business model is a one-stop shop that offers a higher level of customer service than many competitors,” Marie said. “Our Mobile Flooring Showroom provides our clients access to virtually unlimited flooring options.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA-based Floor Coverings International has been ranked consistently as the No. 1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 142 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3,000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and alongside existing lighting, paint, and furniture. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in 2021. For franchise information, please visit www.opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

 

 

Never Settle – How I Took a Leap into the Tech Industry

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Paul Yoon pictured in Army uniform holding a rifle standing in rough terrain

By Paul Yoon

I was in the military for four years. I served in the US Army as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic for the first two, then transitioned to an artillery surveyor.

I gained experience as a radio technician, and also managed and secured transportation for equipment and personnel.

After the military, I became a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for about five years. I had to help my parents with a lot of bills. I had to find work, and law enforcement was hiring quite heavily at the time.

I’ve always had some interest in coding. When I was an adolescent, a couple of my friends and I explored basic HTML and CSS, as well as how to build web and mobile applications. But I grew distant. A lot of my friends became software engineers, and they encouraged me to look into it once my family was more settled.

I had a stable career. I’d just bought a house. I was comfortable. But I had this mental struggle: If I stay here, accept and try to be happy with what I have, I’m settling. Do I want to live with regret, or would I rather take some time, make a few sacrifices and try it out?

Going back to school wasn’t a feasible option for me as I was helping my parents with bills. I needed something quicker and coding bootcamps were popular at the time, so I started researching. I noticed that a lot of them only covered one stack. Coding Dojo split it up into three different stacks, and that was more what I was looking for. I wanted to get my feet wet, understand certain stacks and experiment with them. At the Coding Dojo orientation, the main presenter was very open and welcoming. He was also a veteran – there’s a lot of vets in bootcamps.

Bootcamps are meant to be hard. It’s four years of coursework condensed into about four months. But I realized if I’m going to make this huge jump, I had to reserve a lot of time.

Looking at the material that we covered during the first few days, I knew that if I went home each night and just read a few things, it wasn’t going to be enough. Sometimes the material is hard to understand. I was “that guy” who asked a lot of questions, and I think that’s what helped the most. A couple of my course mates were too prideful. They wouldn’t ask the instructors, or they’d just be stuck on the same thing all day.

MERN was my favorite stack, but Python was close behind. For fun projects and applications, I would use MERN, but for deeper studies, analysis or data, I would use Python. I would’ve preferred to stay away from Java, but it’s a foundational language that is useful to know. Coincidentally enough, the work I’m in uses Java.

After graduation came the job hunt, and COVID-19 had a severe impact. I was competing for entry level jobs against people who were getting laid off as software engineers with years of experience and who were willing to take lower-paying jobs. I told myself I’d rather seek an opportunity to learn and grow than merely look for the highest-paying job. I considered a lot of paid internships, mentorships and entry-level positions. It was a lot of rejection as many apprenticeships and internships got delayed or canceled due to COVID-19.

Then, a company called Twilio finally responded about their Hatch apprenticeship. The process took two and a half months, but it ultimately worked out. I’m now officially a Software Engineering apprentice and learn something new every day.

You have to go in with the mentality that you’re going to be challenged. You have to sacrifice and compromise. Just give it everything you got. The only way to learn and understand the material is to put in the hours. Your family and loved ones will support you.

Having been in the military, making sacrifices was easy for me. I’d usually be the first one in and the last one out. I had a competitive mindset. I knew if my goals and missions were set, I couldn’t leave until I finished. It was comfortable for me to approach people from different backgrounds, being collaborative and working with peers.

The tech industry is huge. There are so many roles that start with coding and development as entry points. If you can find transferable skills similar to web development or software engineering, by all means you should consider making the change. It’s healthy. If you’re in a position where you’re not comfortable and feel like you can do more, it’s never too late. Don’t doubt that.

Top holiday gifts for U.S. Veterans

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four images of holiday gifts including hats and coats

During their service, most members of our military missed holidays with family and friends. Make sure this season is merry and bright with these special gifts picked just for U.S. Veterans.

• Give a gift to disabled veterans all across the nation. The DAV Spare Change program allows you to round up purchases on a credit or debit card to automatically donate your “spare change” to support our America’s heroes. Enroll before you go holiday shopping, and do good with every purchase!

• To strengthen its decades-long relationship with the U.S. military, Ford has launched an online store stocked with holiday ideas. One hundred percent of profits from Ford’s Proud to Honor merchandise will benefit two nonprofit military organizations. Shop for shirts, caps, tumblers and more at ford.com/proud-to-honor/store.

• DAV (Disabled American Veterans) celebrates 100 years of service and support for America’s injured and ill veterans and their families. Pick up some caps, hoodies, pins and more at davstore.org and share in the centennial celebration while supporting our nation’s ill and injured heroes!

• Smells like “oh, cool, we’re moving again.” Light up the holidays with the perfect candle for military wives.

• So many veterans enjoy fishing. Rapala launched an exclusive Americana Collection with items for the rookie novice angler to the gearhead technical angler, like this Rapala® trucker cap featuring a red, white and blue Rapala® logo. A portion of each purchase goes to helping our nation’s veterans. Shop the Americana Collection.

• A&W has a history of raising funds to help provide critical programs and services to veterans and their families at no cost. Treat a veteran to an A&W Root Beer Float this holiday season. Find an A&W location near you.

• Remember, give a gift that keeps on giving. To enroll, shop anywhere and help veterans, visit davsparechange.org or text DAV to 26989. Your spare change can provide big gifts for our disabled veterans.

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