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

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Business

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

It’s All About Service: 4 Tips for Finding the Right Entrepreneurial Fit

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man in army service attire standing in front of U.S. flag

By Matt Noe

A commonality among veterans is the entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated through the discipline and skillset that comes with being in the military. These skills include determination, relationship-building, being process-oriented and having a passion for service, which can be easily be transferred into establishing and running a business.

When deciding what to do next after making the ultimate decision of returning home and departing from my active role in the military, I knew I had to be selective and had a laundry list of considerations to keep in mind. I relied heavily on my experience and skills to help find the best fit. Through a lot of my research, it became clear that franchising was the right route for me, and ultimately stumbled upon a drug testing franchise, Fastest Labs, which checked every box I was personally looking to fulfill in this venture.

While the transition back into a more traditional career after being in the military for over 4 years can be an adjustment, I want to share a handful of tips for recent veterans who are vetting opportunities and looking to take that next step, all of which served as a guiding light through this new, riveting venture.

Ask how you can give back to your community
When looking for the perfect business, there are a lot of options to consider, especially in franchising. Ranging from gyms, security companies, manufacturing businesses to restaurant concepts — the options can often be overwhelming at first. When in the first phases of narrowing down your options, I always kept my experiences in the military and deep-rooted appreciation for serving others. This was an aspect of my history with the military, I knew I had to carry into my new business — whatever it may be. Finding what motivates you can help in finding a business that provides a valuable, unique service to the community. One thing that drew me to Fastest Labs was how much it felt like a family. That support system and how well the business is run was a huge driving factor in why I decided to open a Fastest Labs in 2020. Local businesses play an integral role in one’s community, and asking how you can help support it is critical. It is important to look for values in not only the offerings of the concept, but the overall business model, reflect your own. These values play a major role in how you will be supported, which trickles down to the impact you will have on your community.

Search for an industry you have a baseline understanding of
Tapping into your past experience can assist you when considering your next industry for work. There is definitely room to grow and learn, but jumping head first into business ownership can be eased if you understand — or have some level of personal experience — with the industry, even if it’s from the consumer perspective. Coming from a military background, routine and surprise drug tests were part of the equation. When opening up a Fastest Labs, there was a comfort in having knowledge of how the business worked as well as a motivation to learn as much about the industry as possible. Look for an industry that you find interesting and build off of that in your search.

Focus on the skills required not the tasks you’ll complete
When starting a business, the lists of tasks can be intimidating. There were various classes and certifications that were needed before opening up Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. not to mention learning and instilling the best practices behind running a successful company. I knew that my military training and experiences — such as delegation, multitasking and problem-solving — would provide an impactful foundation for running and growing a successful business. When you’re looking for a next step in your career, try to not get hung up on the technical tasks required, rather, focus on the skills needed to be successful, and you’ll see the boxes being checked off naturally.

Have the hard discussions early
Money can be a sensitive topic, and it can be hard to factor it into the conversation when your heart is already sold on an idea, which is why your realistic budget should be top-of-mind from the very beginning. It is also important to do your research, because costs can differ depending on what franchises you are considering — think about every aspect of the business and what will be required for you to invest. Knowing that entrepreneurship was on the table, my fiancé and I began to save while I was still overseas, which allowed us to open our business in record time (six weeks) and hit the ground running, even amid the pandemic. Taking financials into consideration is key, and making a plan on how to spend and save early will surely be a pillar in your success story.

About the Author
Matt Noe is the Owner and Operator of Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. Noe started his career in the military and served multiple tours overseas with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as the 10th Mountain Division. After the military, Noe served as a government contractor. Noe greatly enjoyed serving his country but had dreams to pursue entrepreneurship. While oversees, Noe searched for the perfect franchisee opportunity for him and was drawn to the family-like atmosphere that he found in Fastest Labs. Noe opened the Columbus, Ga. location in 2020 and manages and operates the business with his fiancé, Rebecca.

The Motorcycle Club Helping Wounded Veterans

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The back of an American Infidels motorcycle club member jacket displayed on man in group of other riders greeting each other in a room

By Kellie Speed

What started out with two US Marine veterans in Massachusetts looking for a way to help fellow veterans has turned into a federally recognized war veteran organization with numerous nationwide charters.

“The motorcycle club culture was founded on veterans so we were only trying to get back to our roots,” said James Crosby, who co-founded the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club with Matt Nelson. “We have been able to give people that have lost their way purpose in life and that purpose being in the community and watching out for the people that they care about whether it’s people in the club or their family.

We constructed the Club based on three major points of people’s lives – family, work and club. Those are the three major things that you need to be fully invested in in your life. If you are going to be in the Club, you’re going to need to be able to give the same type of effort to all of these. We were just trying to take the approach that we care and we were able to create this environment that people want.”

Whether the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is organizing nationwide runs for fallen warrior brothers like Mike “Wildman” Kennedy, Rob “Tinkle” Richards and Stephen “Jackel” Jackel, their mission is simple – honor the many freedoms we enjoy, which are “a direct result of the bloodshed on the battlefield by the warriors that have come before us.”

“When I was in Iraq, this was something I had talked about with one of my buddies, Staff Sgt. William Callahan, who unfortunately ended up dying, so he’s part of this story,” Crosby said. “With the American Infidels, Matt and my goal was to create something – a purpose for people, for a portion of the population that signed up to do more for others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. What we do with the Club is we teach people how to get involved in their community and take care of each other. Semper Fi, always faithful – you don’t know what it truly means until you get out. You have no idea what you just signed up for because you just joined the biggest group of families. We are empowering people to stand up, have a voice and work with each other and that’s just what we have done with the Club.”

The Club provides numerous undertakings on behalf of our nation’s veterans. “Each charter must accomplish the mission to stay in the organization or they will be removed,” Nelson added. “Some do free hunting trips, motorcycle runs and benefits that give directly to wounded vets or other vets causes, suicide prevention, career help through our network of friends, politicians and advocates, legal help, navigating healthcare available to vets, and on the day-to-day, we are supporting each other and fellow vets through the hard times of life. That’s probably the most underrated yet most beneficial. Getting people to socialize and help network before the real hard times come upon someone.”

Nelson worked to have the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle American Infidels motorcycle club members on a ride with several riding together in row Club become federally recognized. “Due to our membership criteria, we decided to file officially and follow the federal regulations in regards to 501c19 War Veterans’ Organizations,” he said. “There are two types of 501c19 veterans’ organizations – war veterans’ and veterans’ organizations. We keep 90 percent war time veterans and 10 percent “other,” which includes non-war time veterans and patriots. To put it in a common analogy, we are a step above the American Legion because the Legion is a veteran’s organization, not a war veteran’s organization. Being the latter, we are able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to our organization without the need for a secondary 501c3 regular type charity with more specific guidelines.

It’s a lot of red tape that we’ve done on our own and have recently contracted out to professionals. My proudest moment as one of the founders is when the brothers accomplish a mission. No matter how small. Especially when it’s helping a brother or sister vet in crisis. It’s not easy and it’s urgent so the ability for our network to react is extremely rewarding. Sadly, sometimes we hear of things too late or we just can’t affect the situation in a positive way. Those are the hardest and most discouraging moments. It’s a double-edged sword. Secondarily, when there are great social events and you can see the crowd and brothers having a great time.”

Small Business Loans & Grants for Disabled Veterans

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According to recent statistics, there are almost 17.5 million veterans in the United States. Of these veterans, 4 million of them are suffering from a service-related injury with disability ratings ranging from 10% and above. Meanwhile, there are 13 million who have received disability ratings for non-service-related injuries.

This means the majority of them are suffering from one form of disability or another. That’s why it’s really not surprising, and incredibly critical, that there are a lot of small business loans and grants for disabled veterans in the U.S., especially for those who are thinking of starting a business.

Here are some of them:

Small Business Association Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
This is one of the most popular programs that the Small Business Association (or SBA) offers, and for good reason. It offers a low-down payment and more flexible payment options. SBA also offers a counterpart of this loan program for non-veterans, but they will not be able to enjoy the discounted rates and other privileges provided to veterans.

StreetShares Foundation
StreetShares Foundation is an organization that was specifically established to help veteran business owners. They have various loans and financing programs. In fact, they even award grants to veterans who qualify for their reward opportunities annually.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program
This is technically not a loan or financing program; however, it will still prove to your advantage to apply for it. This government program seeks to assist veteran-owned small businesses by doing business with them in the form of government contracts.

All you need to do is to get your business registered through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (or OSDBU). This will add your startup to their roster of small businesses to call upon if they found themselves in need of the products and services that you offer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants
The best thing we love about grants is that you won’t have to repay them anymore. You are not getting this money for free, though. You will be required to follow the terms of the money provided. Not to mention that it can be quite difficult to get approved given the number of applicants each year. va.gov

The Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab and Employment Ownership Track
Here’s a program that is specifically designed for veterans with disabilities. In fact, you must have a disability that serves as an employment barrier in order to qualify for it. We highly recommend this program, especially for those who have a high disability rating.

Small Business Administration Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
This is closely similar to the OSDBU program wherein qualified businesses will be granted an opportunity to qualify for contracts that can, in turn, reap revenue. The only difference, though, is that these contracts will not strictly come from the government. https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/veteran-assistance-programs#section-header-0

Increasing Your Chances
The programs we have listed above are definitely not the only ones that are available out there. There are a lot of government offices, organizations and even companies that offer financing aid to disabled veterans. The ones that we have featured above are simply the most popular choices, and thus, more easily accessible. However, please feel free to research your options further.

In the meantime, allow us to share with you tips on how to increase your chances of qualifying for any program that you wish:

• Always check the eligibility requirements. Don’t waste your time getting the paperwork ready and waiting for a response. Make sure that you are eligible from the get-go by verifying your eligibility.
• Take care of your business credit history. Most of you are probably researching loans and grants to start your business. This doesn’t mean that existing business owners won’t qualify for these programs anymore. Quite the contrary, it is easier for a small business with an excellent business credit history to get accepted to these programs.
• Stay organized. There is a lot of paperwork required for any loan or grant application. Those with existing businesses already are typically required to present business and personal tax returns for at least the past three years. Other requirements may also include financial statements, business certificates and business plans, among other important documents.
• Find out your exact need. Finally, you should determine where you are going to use your loan or grant money and how much before even thinking of applying to a program. In this way, you will be able to make sure that the program you’re applying for and its benefits will be enough for your needs. It will also come in handy during interviews.
We hope that you have found our information helpful in finding the program that your small business requires to take flight. It is the least we can do in exchange for the service you have provided. Good luck!

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in OpenCashAdvance.com.

Five Things I Wish Service Members Knew Ahead of Their Civilian Transition

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By Lawren Bradberry, MBA

I remember how confident and prepared I felt when I transitioned from active duty service. But as soon as I put away my uniform, it hit me: I needed help navigating the difficult and oft-talked-about transition to civilian life. Connecting with other Veterans and Veteran service organizations helped me navigate life after military service. So much so, in fact, it motivated me to focus my career on transitioning service members and Veterans.
Unfortunately, many Veterans I wound up working with struggled to adjust to civilian life more than they expected. Many struggled to find their way, unaware of the many resources available to help them find their way after military service.
Each day, more than 500 service members will start their transition. To them and the thousands more who will eventually make the very same transition, I offer five pieces of proactive advice from my own personal experience:

1. Make the most of your education benefits and career training opportunities.
Veterans can use their education benefits to pay for training programs, so you should be sure to look into ways to maximize what you’re getting out of benefits. Keep in mind, however, that not all programs are covered in the same way, and not every program includes the same type of training or extra resources to aid you throughout your process. Since 2009, 773,000 Veterans and their family members have utilized these funds for programs ranging from technology to entrepreneurship to foreign affairs and so many more, so do your homework and research your options before making a decision.

2. Remember that every transition story is different.
While there are certainly some commonalities, no Veteran goes through their transition in the same way – each person has their own strengths and faces their own unique challenges. There is no right way to execute your transition and there’s no need to rush, so take all the time you need to adjust and find your new routine. One thing that took me a while, as silly as it might seem to some, was figuring out what to wear! I wore a uniform every single day for years, so I never even stopped to consider the endless options of what I could wear to work as a civilian, and what message that might communicate.

3. Take pride in what you bring to the table.
By the time you reach the end of your commitment, you may have led teams into life-or-death situations, made high-level decisions, or managed millions of dollars in equipment. Even though you may be starting your career later than your civilian peers, your experiences are unmatched in comparison. Learn to tell your story with confidence in a way that demonstrates the skills and experiences you gained in the military, and how they translate to future opportunities.

4. Keep your personal values in mind.
Just like the different branches of the military, every organization has its own unique culture. As you search for employment, take the time to learn about the mission and values of the organizations you’re interested in. Veterans often return home with a very specific set of core values and ideals, and it’s hard enough to make the transition to a different industry with its own cultural norms, so make sure your future workplace stands for values and ethics that align with your own.

5. Connect with your community and peers.
If you need help, ask! The process can be long, confusing and intimidating, but it’s important to know that there are people and organizations out there who want to help and have dedicated their own post-service careers to doing so. Just be careful to keep in mind what I mentioned earlier and to not measure yourself against others – everyone’s experience is different.

By doing each of these five things, I am confident that as service members work to close one door – at their own pace, of course – they will simultaneously open another full of security, opportunity and continued success.

Lawren Bradberry, MBA is a retired Army NCO and the Senior Manager of Military Programs at Galvanize, the nation’s leading provider of software engineering and data science training. More than 700 active-duty military and Veterans have used Galvanize training to get post-military tech jobs. For more information, visit Galvanize.com.

Remembering America’s Military Heroes this Memorial Day with Ancestry

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Ancestry

This Memorial Day weekend, visit Ancestry® to find those in your family who served our nation and who lived through these remarkable chapters in history. Share your stories on Instagram with #ISaluteFor and tag @Ancestry.

To help everyone find stories to share, from May 28-31 Ancestry is offering free access to:

  • Search more than 550 million military records on Fold3®, covering military conflicts as early as the Revolutionary War.
  •  
  • Personalized stories on Ancestry.com using its StoryScout™ tool which quickly sifts through millions of records and can curate stories about your ancestors to help you make meaningful discoveries with no research needed.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Memorial Day as a federal holiday, Ancestry partnered with Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Combined Arms, and Jewish War Veterans to create a “50 Story Salute,” a joint tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom.

The tribute on Ancestry’s social channels is a curated montage of military heroes through time highlighting powerful stories of strength and hope.

Photo Credit: Ancestry

Help Heal Veterans Hosts #VigilforValor to Honor Military Lost to War and Suicide

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Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets) will host a month-long virtual candlelight vigil in May to honor service members who have fallen in battle and military members who served honorably in war and fell victim to suicide later due to the invisible scars of combat.

Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit that provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to veterans and active duty military who are suffering from the physical, psychological and emotional wounds of war, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

#VigilforValor kicks off May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness month, and concludes on May 31, Memorial Day. The United States has suffered more than 100,000 military casualties of war since 1950, and in the last 10 years we’ve lost more than 65,000 veterans to suicide.

“Our hope is to shine a light on the remarkable lives of those who have been lost,” said Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Often times we honor the war dead as a group and not as individuals. This year, we want to give people an opportunity to learn about the remarkable lives represented by people who have paid the ultimate price for this country.”

Participants in #VigilforValor will:

1. Create a candleholder, either of their own design or one made from a kit provided by Help Heal Veterans for a $20 donation. (Note: a large number of candle kits will be provided free of charge to select veterans/active-duty service members).
2. Customize the candleholder for the individual they wish to honor with a photograph, drawing, patch or other item. Those who don’t have someone in particular they wish to remember are encouraged to reach out in their community, school, church or search local news to find someone to honor.
3. Light a candle and share a picture of it along with their story on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #VigilforValor so we may pay tribute to them together.

For 50 years, Help Heal Veterans has been using craft therapy to help veterans and active-duty military heal the invisible wounds of war.

“We have seen first-hand the healing power of crafting,” said McClain, “and it has been especially important over the past year, when isolation placed an extra burden on recovering veterans and military and the usual sources of support were not always available or accessible.”

Studies show that crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits, including improving fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, memory and dexterity, and can help alleviate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs.

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organization’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit HealVets.org.

Veterans who are in a crisis and need support can go to https://www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

About Help Heal Veterans
First established in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. These craft kits help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health. Most of these kits are developed, manufactured and packaged for delivery at our production center headquartered in Winchester, California. Since inception, Help Heal Veterans has delivered nearly 31 million of these arts and crafts kits to veterans and veteran facilities nationwide, along with active duty military overseas.

The City of Austin’s RENT Assistance program

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RENT assistance program flyer with picture of nurses and doctors wearing masks

The program is available for low-income Austin residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and are struggling to pay their rent. 2020 has been challenging for everyone and the City of Austin has expanded its RENT Assistance program making it easier for eligible candidates to apply.

The RENT assistance program will pay up to 12-15 months of rent for eligible Austin renters and may cover the following:

Future rent payments will be provided three months at a time and families will be requalified every three months after that. If the government pays for a portion of your rent, the program can pay the additional portions not covered by the government subsidy.

Residents may be eligible if they earn 80% or less than the average household income. If residents were assisted last year, they are still eligible for this new program and can help cover rents that are still due from April 2020 through December 2021.

For example, a mother with two children who lives in Austin’s Rosewood neighborhood who made $54,500 a year but has lost her job due to the pandemic should apply for RENT assistance. She is currently unable to pay her landlord and may lose her apartment. She can visit http://AustinTexas.gov/RENT and submit her application.

Another example includes a couple living in Austin’s Riverside neighborhood. They made a combined $62,500 and renewed their lease, but due to the pandemic one of them lost their job and they are now struggling to make future rent payments. They will qualify for RENT assistance.

The RENT Assistance Program has established a priority point system to ensure those in greatest need are considered first.

Renters in the first priority group will receive 3 points and will be considered first. That includes Renters need to meet two criteria: the renter must qualify for unemployment for at least 90 consecutive days before application and have zero or extremely low income (at or less than 30% of the area median income).

Renters in the 2nd priority group will receive 2 points and will be considered after the 1st group. This includes renters who qualify for two criteria: renters who qualify for unemployment for at least 90 consecutive days before application, and have low income (between 30% and 50% of the area median income).

Renters in the 3rd group will receive one point and will be considered after the 2nd group. These renters only have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Renters who qualify for unemployment for at least 90 consecutive days before application
  • Low income renters (at or less than 50% of the area median income)
  • Renters who have experienced homelessness in the last 3 years
  • Renters who applied for the RENT Assistance program between August 2020 – December 2020 and did not receive rent help (this does not include inactive applications and applications that were denied.)

All other applications will be considered after those in the 3rd group.

With an easier application process, candidates do not need to submit documents with their application but will be requested if they are selected. Documents that will be needed include:

  • A Self-Certification form stating residents have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The form will be sent electronically requesting an e-signature.
  • Proof of current monthly income for all household members.
  • Proof that residents are at risk of experiencing homelessness or that housing is unstable, which may include past due rent or eviction notice.
  • Current lease showing address, name of the leaseholder, amount of monthly rent, and when the lease expires. The lease must be signed by both the resident(s) and the landlord.
  • A government-issued photo ID for the head of household. For example, a driver’s license, passport, or other photo ID.

A social security number and legal status are not required for this application. Eligible applicants will be randomly selected, and if the application is selected, the RENT Assistance program will contact the landlord and pay rent directly.

To learn more and apply please visit http://austintexas.gov/RENT. The portal will remain open through September 2021 or until all available funds have been committed.

Veterans Launch New Advocacy Organization to Promote American-made Clean Energy Ahead of Earth Day

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Two workers technicians installing heavy solar photo voltaic panels to high steel platform. Exterior solar system installation, alternative renewable green energy generation

(Washington, DC) ––  U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA), Former Congressman Patrick Murphy, President and co-Founder of CleanCapital Jon Powers, Mayor Pro Tem of Costa Mesa, California Andrea Marr, and clean energy entrepreneur Kevin Johnson — five veterans of the U.S. Military — recently announced the launch of the Veterans Energy Project. The new organization will work to support veterans and veteran-owned businesses that build and deploy American-made clean energy, and advocate for clean energy investments that create good-paying jobs in American manufacturing on top of the three million that already exist in clean energy.

**EVENT RECORDING HERE**

Speakers and project supporters discussed veteran leadership in the clean energy industry and pending proposals before Congress to invest in clean energy and sustainability technology that can rebuild American manufacturing, create jobs, and fuel an economic recovery for all.

“America’s veterans are leading the way in building and deploying American-made clean energy technology. The President’s plan would double down on their victories to keep our country and our climate safe while securing the jobs of the future. Please join us on this mission through the Veterans Energy Project,” said Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy and Advisory Board Chair of the Veterans Energy Project.

“As a member of Congress I’m often faced with the false choice of clean air or a thriving, growing economy. But the truth is, we don’t have to choose. We can have both and we can do it all while supporting our veterans,” said U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA).

“Our brother and sister veterans take an oath to protect our country that lasts until the day we die. And many of our fellow veterans are drawn to the clean energy industry. Why? Because they’re good paying careers that build on the skills we honed in the military and it helps keep our country safe,” said Patrick Murphy, former Congressman and Under Secretary of the Army.

The U.S. Military is the largest energy consumer in the world, so American veterans have the skills and training that are ideally suited for the clean energy industry and sustainability technology. Already, veterans are building successful businesses and careers in clean energy all over the country. President Biden’s Build Back Better plan would double down on these victories and ensure our country is the world leader in these booming economic sectors.

“What I’m very excited about is what President Biden is putting forward in the Build Back Better plan, because it invests in American-made clean energy and sustainability technology. It’s restoring the backbone of our country and securing our place as a world leader in a booming economic sector,” said Jon Powers, President and co-Founder of CleanCapital. “It’s also really helping to align American manufacturing and jobs.”

“As a veteran, I believe that helping to lead the transition to a clean energy economy is one of the post patriotic things that I can do. It creates jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and combats climate change,” said Andrea Marr, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Costa Mesa, California, and Director of Willdan Energy Solutions.

“As a proud combat veteran, I served overseas in Iraq and saw our dependence on fossil fuels. I had soldiers ask me everyday: what are we doing here? And when are we going home? It really instilled in me the importance to think about what we do in the future in relation to our dependence on fossil fuels, and encouraging me to commit my career to service as a clean energy entrepreneur,” said Kevin Johnson, Clean Energy Entrepreneur and Board Director of the American Resilience Project.

Veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed, small business owners — and the President’s plan empowers all small businesses, especially in the clean energy industry, funding innovation hubs across the country and investing billions in programs that connect small businesses to federal research and development programs.

Visit www.veteransenergyproject.org for more information. 

Veteran Brings No. 1 Home Inspection Franchise to Hometown

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Lori and Dave Starnes closeup wearing blue work uniform

Sometimes you find a business opportunity that fits like a glove. That seems to be the case for Dave and Lori Starnes. The couple recently moved back home to the Adams/Clarksville, TN area from Hawaii and recently launched operations as new franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection franchise in North America.

Team Starnes Home Inspectors, LLC will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout Clarksville, as well as Hopkinsville, KY, and surrounding areas.

Dave retired from the United States Army after 26 years and had been a high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor in Hawaii. He also ran his own handyman/general contracting business, while Lori was an operations/ property manager for 100 luxury vacation rental properties, in addition to running her own cleaning business. If it’s something related to homes, the couple has a pretty good handle on things, so becoming franchisees with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors was a natural fit. “Dave had been a handyman and general contractor for more than five years and worked directly with realtors in fixing and repairing many of the deficiencies discovered during the home inspection process,” Lori said. “He had a knack for finding and fixing those issues and we decided to join Pillar To Post Home Inspectors in order to provide professional home inspection services for current and future homebuyers throughout Clarksville and the surrounding areas.”

According to Pillar To Post Home Inspectors President and CEO Dan Steward, “We are rolling out some pretty amazing technologies that are now in full swing for all Pillar To Post Home Inspections. One of these is the PTP360 tour.” PTP360 is an interactive, virtual home inspection tour that allows users to revisit a home anytime and anywhere from a smartphone, tablet or desktop and even share the tour with family and friends. “It’s a great new innovation – fast-tracked to completion because of COVID-19 concerns – and we saw just how well it performed,” Steward said. Clients can also receive a measured FloorPlan of the entire home, with measurements to help with furniture fit and placement. “In the long term, PTP360 is a huge help for busy, professional Realtors, saving them time and better serving their seller, while also giving prospective buyers a far better experience,” Steward said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors 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.

Dave and Lori have two adult children who followed their father’s footsteps into the Army and their son, Russ, will be joining his parents in their business in the near future. In the meantime, Dave and Lori are looking forward to the new year and the newest chapter in their life. “We chose Pillar To Post Home Inspectors because we felt the support and technical advances were superior to other options we considered,” said Lori. “And we were ready to start our own business to secure our financial independence.”

 

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.

Five Financial Perks From Serving

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soldier in uniform pointing to a graphic of images symbolizing money and finance

By Natalie Rodgers

From active-duty members of the military to longtime veterans, it’s no secret there is an array of financial resources you can utilize to best care for yourself and your family.

However, many don’t know the specifics of some of these great benefits and how they can best be utilized. Here are five ways you could be better caring for your finances as a member of the military:

  1. Save While Deployed

Service members currently in combat have access to the Savings Deposit Program, a bank account that will collect 10 percent interest to the deposited amount during and for three months after deployment. Money originally deposited to the account cannot exceed $10,000, must be done after deployment, and has to be via cash, check or allotment. To start contributing to your account, contact the finance officer in theater.

  1. Education for the Whole Family

Many people know that the GI Bill can cover full college education, funding tuition and fees at public colleges for up to three years and for over $25,000 for students at private universities, but the benefits can also apply to spouses and children. Members who have served for at least six years with the intention to continue serving for at least ten years are also eligible to transfer their benefits to their spouse or children. These benefits apply for both undergraduate and post-graduate degrees and can also cover the costs of books and necessities for full-time students.

Former military members may also be eligible for free courses or job training following the events of the COVID-19 pandemic with costs covered by the U.S. military.

  1. Affordable Mortgage Plans

Whether you are already utilizing a loan from the VA or are looking to purchase a home soon, the maximum amount one can receive for their home mortgage has grown significantly in recent years. Many veterans have been able to buy a home without a down payment while others have been able to lower their current rates by implementing an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance loan. More information on all of your mortgage options can be found on the VA’s website, va.gov. Additionally, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can provide protections for your mortgage loans, along with many others, should deployment change your circumstances.

  1. Life Insurance Discount

Regardless of your health or risk, active-duty military can receive up to $400,000 of life insurance through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. This total can be obtained for only six cents a month for every $1,000 of coverage purchased, or about $288 a year. Military spouses can also receive up to $100,000 of coverage for as low as $54 a year.

For retired or veteran members, Veteran’s Group Life Insurance has proved to be a popular option, especially for those with health issues. Coverage through this insurance does increase with age and should be compared to other options to find the best deal for you.

  1. Retirement

The Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement plan available to veterans, is one of the lowest cost ways to save for retirement overall. According to new implementations applied to the TSP in 2018, service members who joined the military from 2018 to the present day, or who opted into the Blended Retirement System from 2006 to 2018, are now eligible to have their retirement funds matched by the Department of Defense, as long as 5 percent of your total income is going into the account.

With these new rules, members can collect up to $19,500 in just a year, with higher capacities available to members over the age of fifty or to those who are receiving a tax-free income from a combat zone.

Source: U.S. News

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