Air Force Vet’s Business Franchises Take Flight

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Headshot of Don Stone

By Rhonda Sanderson

Don Stone’s entrepreneurial spirit first began when he learned to fly while serving in the Air Force. After leaving the service, Stone took his flight knowledge and chose to open his first business as a fixed-based operation, which is basically a gas station for planes, at a small airport in Colorado.

While it was a fun business overall, he faced challenges with the city and county governments that owned the airport. This experience helped him immensely for his next endeavor—owning and operating a franchise.

Stone’s first franchise was part of a 216-location hair salon company near Texas. After selling that business in 2000, he was immediately interested in purchasing another.

“My experience with franchising was what made me pursue future opportunities,” Stone shared. “I spoke to someone in Dallas about a mobile pet grooming business that wanted to expand and start franchising. Because of my experience with the hair salon franchise, I thought of using that same model to expand it, but instead ended up buying the business outright.”

After much due diligence, Stone realized it would be complicated to turn the mobile grooming business into a franchise. He was surprised to learn that mobile pet grooming salons are more complicated than the average person would expect, so instead of franchising, he kept the business as it was and it has since grown significantly. Stone now operates over 50 mobile grooming salons in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

As time went on, Stone continued to watch for a complementary business to purchase.

“I knew one of the founders of Pet Butler,” he said. “I watched the business as it grew and franchised.”

Once the Dallas/Fort Worth market opened, he jumped at the chance to diversify by adding a Pet Butler franchise to his current business model.

“It was easy for me to add on because we had the back-office services in place already,” Stone explained. “It was a great way to acquire a much-needed service, popular in the pet specialty services group.”

Stone was able to keep his focus on the same great services for pets in people’s homes or offices. He has a full-time manager and six scoopers—four having been a part of his organization for more than 10 years. And when Pet Butler was acquired by Spring-Green Enterprises in 2017, franchisees of Pet Butler received not only digital marketing help, but also back-office support—a huge advantage Stone says because he’s not tied to a desk.

The company’s National Call Center answers all calls from would be and existing customers, and provides immediate information to the franchise owner.

“Within minutes, we are on the phone with the customer solving any issues or schedule changes.” Stone said.

The back-office support team also handles customer billing and processes payments. Stone has also gotten his son involved with the Pet Butler end of the business, which, frankly, involves the back end of a dog! Stone has a dedicated, full-time Pet Butler manager, but he, too, scoops poop, and his son is learning to become a manager for the business by scooping poop as well.

“He will learn the business by doing, not by taking over,” Stone says.

In fact, all of Stone’s children are involved in both his Pet Butler and mobile grooming businesses. They came to them on their own, which was very important to Stone.

“It is interesting to get a different perspective from my kids,” said Stone, who is proud to build his businesses alongside his kids.

His advice to those veterans thinking about purchasing a Pet Butler franchise?

“You must have an entrepreneurial spirit, but you also need to follow the program,” Stone said, “The franchisor spends a lot of time and money on what works and what does not. A good franchisee will learn from that so they don’t repeat costly mistakes.”

Stone added, “If you’re in the pet business already or are looking for a business in a booming industry, take a serious look at this. Ninety percent of the things you need to know and do are already figured out for you. It’s a great business.”

Pet Butler was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of 43-year-old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years.

To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit their website here.

To inquire about a franchise, call (844) 777-8608 or visit their website here.

Paws of War Asks for Help to Bring Soldier’s Dog Back to America

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soldier pictured with her dog that lying on the grass next to her feet

Many people are aware that some military bases are being closed overseas and the soldiers are being brought home. What they may not know is that some of these soldiers have dogs that will be left behind to fend for themselves in an area of the world that doesn’t treat dogs with kindness.

One of those dogs is Meeka, who has been a loyal companion to Sergeant E, who is already back in the U.S., missing her dog, and has turned to Paws of War to help bring him back home to live with her.

“Anyone who has ever had a dog knows how difficult it would be to walk out on him one day and live with the idea that you may never see him again,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “That’s exactly what has happened to Sergeant E, and we will make every effort to bring her dog to America to live out the rest of his days with her in a safe and loving environment.”

The bond between a dog and his human companions is special, particularly when you are someone living on a military basis thousands of miles from home. When Sergeant E first saw a dog wandering around the base that was showing signs of neglect and abuse, she had no idea that she would end up creating such a bond with him.

Naming him Meeka, the pair created an instant bond and connection. Every morning when she would leave the barracks she would see the dog, who would get excited for her attention. The dog would also spend time each morning alongside of her as she did her runs. The two became inseparable, but then she was sent home to the U.S. with very little notice, leaving Meeka on his own. He hid for a while, staying away from people out of fear, until other soldiers found a way to coax him closer by enticing him with food. They were able to catch him and have been holding him in a makeshift pen until Paws of War can help reunite him with Sergeant E.

“Ever since I returned home I’ve been worried about Meeka and miss him,” says Sergeant E. “I’m grateful that there is an organization like Paws of War that will help in such cases. I look forward to them bringing Meeka home to me. We have a bond that will last for many years to come.”

Paws of War is on a mission to help bring the dog back to the States, but needs the help of the public for it to happen. Transporting a dog across the world is not only costly, but it involves working with overseas organizations and volunteers to ensure that all medical records and paperwork are in order.

To support the effort to bring Meeka back to America, please make a donation at: 
https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com.

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.

How to Disagree with a Superior Without Starting World War III

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boss and employee in a heated conversation

By Steven Matthew Leonard

As we sat in the general’s office, the conversation carried the typical banter we’d come to expect. The general had a habit of talking out new concepts until he was sure he fully understood them and could articulate them clearly.

We were there to help him frame his thoughts, sort of like speech prep for big ideas.

That particular day, we’d brought in a major from a subordinate headquarters to give us a hand as we worked to make sense of a white paper he’d written. The topic wasn’t particularly difficult to grasp, but the writing was a little thick, so we thought it best to make him part of the process. Everything seemed to be progressing normally, until the junior officer’s tone changed sharply.

“No. That’s stupid. That’s not how it works,” the major blurted.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re wrong.” The major pushed his chair back and crossed his arms in front of him. “I wrote it, I know.”

“Okay, let’s dial this back a bit,” the general answered. “Remember who you’re talking to.”

“You want a debate? I’ll debate you,” the major replied, pointing his finger at the general. “Right now. You’ll lose.”

The aide-de-camp and I looked at one another, totally dumbstruck. Try as we might, we couldn’t intervene quickly enough. The general didn’t have much of a temper, but the major had pushed his buttons to a point we hadn’t previously seen. The aide distracted the boss—whose face was rapidly approaching a disturbing shade of purple—as I pulled the major outside and away from the general’s office.

“He’s afraid to debate me,” the major said confidently. “He knows I’d win.”

“That’s not the point,” I explained. “If he’s wrong, you’re here to help him understand, not to piss him off. Not to argue with him. Not to tell him he’s stupid.”

“Nobody can beat me in a debate on this,” he said. “I know more about it than anyone. That’s why I wrote the white paper.”

I pushed the major out the door and down the hall, still in disbelief. Words like blunt, tactless, and caustic came to mind. I’d seen people disagree vehemently before, but never in quite so spectacular a fashion, and never with someone so senior to them. I shook my head as I watched the officer walk away, shoulders back and head held high. There was no doubt he believed he’d just achieved a major victory, oblivious to the fact that he’d probably just written the epitaph on his next evaluation.

When Trying to be Right is Really Wrong

It’s not unusual to want to disagree with your boss: A new project proposal you don’t think will solve anything, a timeline that isn’t realistic, or an initiative that will cost more than it’s worth. Disagreeing with the boss elevates speaking truth to power to new heights. This isn’t just about providing unsolicited feedback or sharing knowledge of a problem. It’s about telling someone you think they are wrong. And not just anyone—someone senior to you who could just be in a position to influence your future. For a lot of people, this situation triggers a fight-or-flight response, and they choose survival over disagreement.

The truth is you can disagree with someone without fearing for your livelihood. It requires a delicate blend of timing and social intelligence, but it can be done.

First, weigh the risks. Is the matter at hand so important that you want to take a stand? These are what I often call silver bullet moments. You only get so many silver bullets; don’t waste them on squirrels.

Second, acknowledge their authority. A little respect goes a long way if you’re planning to disagree. The decision is usually theirs to make, so acknowledge that. Your role is simply to help them make an informed decision, not to make the decision for them.

Third, ask permission to disagree. This is one area where it’s far better to ask permission now than to beg forgiveness later. Often, all this requires is a statement like, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer some thoughts.” This allows your boss to invite you into the discussion instead of you barging in like the Kool-Aid Man.

Fourth, validate their position. This is a simple, yet essential step in disagreeing with your boss. Acknowledge their position, even if you think it’s completely wrong: “I think that’s a great point. Maybe we could also…” If you allow disagreement to turn into debate, you’ve already lost.

Fifth, keep your emotions in check. Sometimes, our passions are our undoing. If you feel particularly strong about an issue, this can be a true challenge. Always remember facts, not emotions. This might also save you from using judgmental terms, such as “stupid,” “short-sighted,” or “wrong,” or inadvertently telling someone senior to you to do something that might be anatomically impossible.

Finally, stay humble. You’re not the authority figure in the room and it’s not your decision to make. Don’t pout if you don’t get your way and don’t gloat if you do. Keep things in perspective.

You can disagree with your boss without committing career seppuku. Be smart about it.

Source:  news.clearancejobs.com

What to Ask When Interviewing a Veteran

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woman recruiter interviewing man during a virtual meeting online

By Emily King

When interviewing a former service member, your goal is to understand the various roles, responsibilities, skills, and experience the candidate has accumulated over the course of his or her military career.

To do this, you may need to look well beyond the most recent position, going back 10 years.

Unlike a civilian resume that often culminates in the highest level of responsibility to date, the military resume is often a collection of seemingly unrelated experiences and must, therefore, be considered together as a whole.

Below is a list of questions you can select from to assist you in understanding the candidate’s background, and convey your interest in the world from which they are coming.

General opening questions can build rapport and sense where the individual is in his or her transition from military service to civilian employment.

Begin with “I know leaving the military can be a big transition . . .”

  • How is it going, separating from military service?
  • How has the adjustment been?
  • What has been the biggest surprise about the civilian workplace?
  • What opportunities are you looking forward to taking advantage of as a civilian employee?
  • What challenges do you foresee as a new civilian employee?

For each job over the past 10 years, ask:

  • How would you describe this position in layman’s terms?
  • What was your primary mission in this job?
  • What did it take to accomplish this mission?
  • What were the key activities you performed, and in what circumstances/conditions?
  • What people or resources were you responsible for in this role?
  • What were the greatest challenges in the role?
  • What is an example of a time that everything went as planned?
  • What was your contribution?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • How did you incorporate what worked and what you learned?
  • What is an example of a time that things did not go as planned?
  • What went wrong?
  • What did you do, and what was your contribution?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • What did you change or do differently as a result of this experience?
  • What aspects of this role or job would you like to find in a civilian position?
  • What aspects of this role or job would you prefer not to perform in a civilian position?

General questions to ask include:

  • How would you approach a situation in which… (describe something “typical” of the job the candidate is applying for; avoid irrelevant questions that may come across as setups)?
  • What kinds of things did you coordinate and accomplish in the community (e.g., community social events, charitable projects, leadership roles)?
  • Looking across your recent military work experiences, what key knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences would you say are most valuable?
  • Setting aside the specific job you were required to do, what activities do these knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences prepare you to do?

Emily King, a nationally recognized expert on the transition from military service to civilian employment, is founder of the consulting firm Military Transitions and author of the book, Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing & Retaining Veterans.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Land a Civilian Job

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airport employer holding guiding sticks for airplane to taxi in

Being able to translate your military skills, experiences, and accomplishments into terms that civilian hiring decision makers will easily understand and recognize as being valuable to their organization is key.

That translation requires that you understand how business decision makers think and the language they speak.

One way to speak an employer’s language is to communicate the impact and results you’ve achieved in your work experience.

Employers understand results; by communicating your ability to make a positive impact on critical aspects of the business, you’ll increase your chance of being hired.

Most organizations are focused on:

  • Attracting and retaining customers
  • Improving customer satisfaction, and product or process quality
  • Increasing operational excellence
  • Boosting the performance of the organization (in part or as a whole)
  • Improving the organization’s strategy
  • Maximizing the return on investment

Review the following examples for ideas on how to translate your experience into a framework employers’ value.

Result/impact statements

Results: Results hiring decision makers care about

Impact: How you have delivered results in these areas in the past, and/or how you can deliver them in the future?

Result: Quickly solve problems, and then prevent them from occurring again

Impact: When conducting after action reviews, I focus on the root causes of problems rather than searching for someone to blame. As a result, I ensure we only make a particular mistake one time, and that we can accurately identify and address any operational weaknesses.

Result: Improve safety and reduce accidents

Impact: Having spent time on rifle ranges, handling hazardous materials, and working around dangerous equipment, I understand how to develop, disseminate, and implement safety guidelines that virtually eliminate accidents or injuries.

Result: Increase the reliable operation of equipment, reducing breakdowns and expensive repairs

Impact: By inspecting and maintaining equipment before, during, and after an operation, I eliminate unexpected breakdowns and prevent the need for expensive repairs.

Result: Nurture teamwork and collaboration that allow staff to achieve things together that would be impossible for them to accomplish individually

Impact: I make sure all the members of my team understand how the tasks they perform will affect their coworkers and other units or departments that depend on us. Once they understand why and how their role is important, they stay motivated and collaborate more effectively with others.

Result: Analyze and select from among competing courses of action

Impact: I have learned to quickly generate several possible courses of action, evaluate each to spot the strengths, advantages, and weaknesses, and then develop an action plan around the most promising one.

Source: careeronestop.org

StableStrides: Why Horses are Used for Therapy for Veterans

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A man wearing a camoflauge shirt, looking at a black horse

by April Phillips, StableStrides

Horses are not only “good for the inside of a man,” but uniquely suited for mental health therapy for veterans due to both instinct and behavior.

When paired with a human, a horse will intuitively react to behavioral patterns or body language from the human. This gives insight into how a person is being perceived. Because they are prey animals, horses are constantly on the lookout for danger and respond quickly with either confrontation or flight. This instinct allows for a deeper level of intervention with a therapist that surpasses any other mental health treatment.

StableStrides is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose primary focus is mental health therapy with horses. Situated in the large military community of Colorado Springs, CO, StableStrides is uniquely positioned to serve veterans, active duty servicemembers and military families. On a mission to significantly improve the lives of people through a connection with horses, StableStrides exists because of horses and their ability to touch the lives of people.

Horses and humans share a history that goes back to ancient times and has continued to today. Their role in medicine was first prescribed by Hippocrates (460 BC-375 BC) as a form of natural movement that strengthened the body. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” believed in health that united body and mind and studied treatment for trauma and mental healthcare. Since then, relationships between horse and human has been studied and incorporated into modern medical practices, both physical and mental.

The physical aspects of horseback riding are used to develop physical strength, muscle development and other physical benefits, while the relationship between horse and human is known to strengthen both mind and spirit. Today, the term Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) defines the use of the horse in recreational and medical intervention. A large portion of EAAT is focused on veterans and their healing journeys during and after service. When partnered with a horse, a veteran is asking the horse to enter into a relationship with them that requires mutual trust and some degree of vulnerability.

One veteran reflects on his mental health sessions at StableStrides by asking:

“How could they go from resting and relaxed to full alert, with a first instinct to run, then to relax again, in seconds? How they could let go of that tension and anxiety and just “be?” As a herd animal, they entrust leadership to the strongest. That leader makes the decisions for the herd for as long as it’s capable or trusted. How can a prey animal, the horse, come to trust an apex predator, a human, with their safety? What a concept. This huge, powerful animal, easily capable of killing me, that fears me because I am a predator, could come to trust and work for me because it wants to.”

As prey animals, centuries of domestication have done little to lessen the horse’s response to danger. They understand that their best chance in escaping danger is to flee. As a result, the horse’s “fight-or-flight” instinct is used for decision making. In addition, horses are extremely perceptive and communicate with body language to convey fear, anger, calm or anxiety.

In a herd, each member relies on the leaders in the hierarchy to make decisions for the safety of the herd, if that leader can be trusted. When in the absence of a herd, the horse will determine if the human is to be trusted as the leader. If not, the horse will decide on his own what is safest.

Therapists have selected horses to incorporate into therapy due to these characteristics, including what many call “mirroring of emotions”. While horses aren’t mirrors, they will often reflect their leader’s emotions. If their leader senses danger and responds with fear, so will the horse. If the horse senses calm in their leader, the horse will likewise be calm, trusting their leader’s instinct. In mental health therapy, the therapist incorporates the horse and the relationship between veteran and horse for a dynamic and therapeutic environment. Through the horse’s reactivity, a veteran and therapist are able to examine and process behavioral reactions or emotional incongruencies. This requires the veteran to be present and mindful as to what is unfolding, and to be transparent about reactions.

Many organizations such as StableStrides exist for the horse-human connection and improve lives through EAAT. Through a connection with horses, mental health therapy strengthens families and individuals. Because of the horse’s unique qualities and instincts, incorporating horses into mental health allows for a therapeutic intervention that surpasses any other form of mental health therapy.

Photo Credit: Amy May Images 

 

 

 

Virtual Events Take Center Stage

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A woman in a military outfit looking at her laptop

By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  •  Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  •  Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  •  Attendee engagement
  •  Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  •  Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  •  Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  •  Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.
Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

What You Know is Only the Beginning

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Aliahu “Alli” Bey's Headshot

by Jackie Hobson

Aliahu “Alli” Bey is a husband, father of 3, and a US Army Aviation veteran entrepreneur. After gathering nearly two decades of engineering and project management experience, Alli decided he would prefer life without the corporate politics.

Utilizing his experience, he started his first small business, Haight Bey, in June of 2014. He spent 14 long months writing proposals from his basement and making ends meet by moonlighting at a small food manufacturer in the evenings and working as a boot and ski technician during the day at a local ski resort.

In July of 2015, he won his first Department of Defense contract worth more than $47 million dollars. Over the past 5 years he has added several Prime and Subcontracts to their project portfolio, and most recently stood up a cybersecurity compliance company called Totem Technologies.

Helping Other Veteran Business Owners

Bey volunteers his time and donates company profits to helping other veterans and minorities start and grow their businesses. He is a board member of the Utah African American Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chairman of the Warrior Rising board, a nationally-recognized organization that helps veteran entrepreneurs. Bey developed over 3000 square feet of incubator space within the Haight Bey and Totem.tech facilities. He currently supports two veteran-owned businesses— one is a USAF Minority Veteran, Woman-owned Human Resource startup called Pyramid Edge, and the second one is a USN-owned machine shop called Fox Machining.

Haight Bey workforce employees standing around a table
The Haight Bey workforce is comprised of over 60 percent veterans

Bey’s advice to those thinking of starting a business:

Stick to what you know: My first contract win was in support of a tactical weather system utilized by the USAF and Marine Corp. This was not luck—it was experience, patience, and relationships. I worked over a decade on this system for the manufacturer, and then as a program manager for a large Prime contractor. I assisted with engineering, deploying, servicing and supporting. I knew this system inside and out.

I had and continue to have great relationships with the manufacturer and the government program management team. What you know will get you started, but who you know, and better yet—who knows you—is a cornerstone in building and growing a successful company.

Focus on quality: Our chief cybersecurity engineer has always said to me, “Build a quality product and the customers will come.” We all know that nobody wants a cheap product that’s going to fall apart after a few uses. What we don’t understands as clearly is that a quality product requires a collective mindset of those around you. From my salesperson not over promising and clearly defining what will be delivered, to our project manager ensuring that we are constantly communicating and delivering exactly what our customers expect, everyone in the process must share the same desire of delivering quality.

A group filming Travis Bell's weather program
Program Manager Travis Bell, teaches the Air Force about their sustaining methods and support of their tactical weather program.

Don’t depend on your set-aside status: All too often I find within our veteran and minority business community individuals that expect to be handed business opportunities solely on their set-aside status i.e. Woman, Veteran, Minority, etc. In business, your set-aside status is a good thing, but if you have failed to focus on what and who you know, and delivering a quality product or service, your set-aside will never become relevant.

Get multiple mentors: You can never have enough people around to ask questions. I often seek advice on the same topic from multiple mentors, knowing each will have an answer based on their unique experiences. Sometimes I get widely varying opinions/answers, however, I have now been a mentee long enough to learn that no one answer or opinion is more correct than the other. This allows me to evaluate my issue from multiple perspectives, which ultimately leads me to make a better decision. Mentors don’t have to be formal. Many times, I ask for advice from co-workers or even a complete stranger.

It’s hard work: Let’s be honest—starting a business takes a rather large emotional commitment, so you must want this at your core. I spent years talking daily with my family and other business owners, making sure I was making the right move. I knew once I jumped in, it was all or nothing. Vetrepreneurship requires buy-in from the entire family, as there is usually a substantial financial and personal time commitment.

Jason Van Camp, my friend, mentor, US Army Green Beret and the founder of Warrior Rising, says, “I ask the same three questions to vetrepreneurs that I do when a guy tells me he wants to go to Ranger School or Special Forces: The first is, why do you want to do this? Second, what are you going to do? Finally, what have you done in the past to ready yourself for this?”

Photo Credit: Haight Bey Marketing

Want to Become Your Own Boss?

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A pair of glasses sitting on a book in front of a man in a suit with his hands folded

By Jessica Evans

Walmart. Nike, Fed Ex. What do these companies have in common They were all started by veterans, proving that we’re among the country’s best entrepreneurs. The reason? Well, that’s simple: Veterans already have all the skills that successful business owners need—namely the ability to lead a diverse group of people, understanding how to manage personnel effectively, and we have the grit and determination to see things through.

If you are considering starting a business, but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips to help:

Take advantage of the help that’s available

There are so many programs and resources available, so how can you tell which are legit and trustworthy? Your best bet is to begin locally. Start searching for veteran-entrepreneur groups in your AO first and then go from there. This way, you’re eliminating any groups that might try to take advantage of you, and you’re leaning on the experience of other veterans to help guide your path.
The Transition Assistance Program recently launched Boots to Business. This program can help you learn the bases of entrepreneurship and get a clear idea of worthwhile programs.

Lean on the Small Business Administration

The SBA has hundreds of Small Business Development Centers across the country and nearly twenty-four Veteran Business Outreach Centers that have cultivated resources specifically for veterans and transitioning service members. The SBA helps align you with mentors, learn how to market yourself, and explore lending options.

Consider opening a franchise

A franchise is ideal for veterans because it takes the guesswork out of starting a business. Having a corporate partner who knows the landscape and the industry makes most franchises “turn-key” choices. That’s one less stress for you as the owner and one more way that the business is set for success. When you don’t have to worry about marketing or coming up with an employee training manual, you have more time to dedicate to making your location flourish.

Franchising is so exciting because it gives you a chance to be your own boss without all of the headache and hassle of starting a business from the ground up. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your research. Remember that not all franchises are created equally, so you should be careful about what you select as your investment. Visit https://hiregibiz.com to search some military-friendly franchises.

Once you have a clearer understanding of the kind of business you want to run, you’re going to need some help navigating opening your business. That’s where Hire G.I. can help.
We offer free services to veterans and military spouses who are ready to start their own businesses. By signing up to speak with one of our certified business coaches, you’re taking the first step to your next great career. Visit www.hiregi.com for more information.

Source: Hire G.I. LLC

Construction Companies Offer Strong Parallels for Veteran Employment

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A man looking out on a construction site

By Phil Panzarella, Chief Growth Officer, Easterseals DC MD VA

When veterans transition from the military to civilian life, organizations work to break down barriers, engage communities and connect veterans with what they need for meaningful employment, education and wellness. Community services are needed to ensure unmatched, accessible and indispensable resources and support for veterans to ensure they successfully transition to civilian life.

Veteran services provided by Easterseals’ national network of 68 affiliates focus on developing inclusive programs, including valuable training for veterans to leverage their skills to secure meaning employment.

“Easterseals has been delivering critical services to veterans and military families since the end of WWII,” says Angela Williams, National President and CEO of Easterseals, and herself a veteran. “We continue to be the ‘go to’ resource for them to help ensure their successful transition to civilian life.”

Historically, veteran employment programs are funded by the government, which in many cases lead to veterans falling through the cracks. Easterseals DC MD VA recognized this significant problem and established the Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), a meaningful innovation in the world of nonprofit service delivery. The VSN provides job search training and career coaching for veterans and military spouses.

While the VSN assists veterans’ search for employment in all industries, construction industry connections have yielded great success in matching skills to opportunities. There are established parallels that exist between the military and construction skill sets, and many candidates have qualities that construction companies would value such as flexibility, dependability and accountability.

Military service trains veterans to be problem solvers, team-orientated, safety-conscious and respectful of the same kinds of hierarchical structures that exist in the world of construction. Ultimately, there are great benefits to be realized by employing those who understand the overarching aspects of complex projects. The attributes offered by veterans are a result of military service that directly mirrors day-to-day construction operations.

According to a study performed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IMVF) of Syracuse University, veterans stay at their jobs 30 percent longer than their civilian counterparts. Countless careers in the construction industry are built around operations, and job loyalty creates a smoother operational base for long-term projects. Looking at the broader military universe, veterans are often qualified at the operations management level; they are accustomed to following complex plans, working collaboratively with teams, interacting with all aspects of diverse cultures and making things happen efficiently. Operational leadership is most often found in the enlisted corps as officers are trained for tactical leadership, senior management and operations execution. They lead the deployment of assets, oversee labor resources and develop strategic plans and relationships.

But in order for veterans to deliver their best work, companies must be willing to provide job training. Recognizing that veterans are highly experienced at learning quickly and deploying effectively, training programs are essential and valuable for 18-26-year-olds transitioning to civilian life.

Unbeknownst to most, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a product of the construction industry. To meet the prerequisites required to take the PMP exam today, one must have a background in project management. Many veterans leave the military with those skill sets, and nonprofit veteran organizations are there to help them identify that experience and prepare them to leverage opportunities. A veteran interested in learning whether they qualify should engage with an organization like the Easterseals VSN.

While working to connect veterans to meaningful employment, the VSN simultaneously works with construction companies and their veteran employees to create veteran-friendly workplace cultures. In general, creating a robust military culture is an organizational lift. One key aspect of such a culture is the appointment of an executive champion, who can drive the “we proudly employ veterans” message to a variety of external and internal communities, both horizontally and vertically.

Best practices that demonstrate veteran-friendliness include establishing veteran-specific links and landing pages on corporate websites, pushing job postings to channels that veterans often visit, and ensuring presence at job fairs aimed specifically for veterans seeking employment. With all that said, it’s incumbent upon the company to provide its recruiting teams with training on how to speak a veteran’s language.

Engaging with an organization that can assist with employment and help to establish the right program is a great first step to creating a veteran-friendly culture. The construction industry is an ideal area of employment for veterans to cultivate their top-tier talents in order to find their passions. By providing workplace diversity, construction companies create attractive careers for veterans interested in taking their next step in life.

To learn more about the Veteran Staffing Network, click here.

Don’t Chase Butterflies: Finding Purpose in Your Career

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USA army soldier holding yellow folder in hands

By Connie Russell, CEO C. L. Russell Group, LLC

If you’re fortunate to be employed today, it doesn’t always mean you’re excited about it. If you’re like many employees, it isn’t exactly filling you with joy to work every day. The reason may be that many employees misalign their purpose and their employer’s purpose, which have them constantly seeking a new job. Many people want to feel a sense that what you contribute everyday actually matters. It matters in a large way, so much so that it can change someone’s life or even the world.

As a young child, did you ever experience chasing butterflies? It was as if the harder you tried to chase to catch them, the faster it seemed they escaped you. However, once you would stop running, sit down on the lawn and simply watched…something magical happened! The butterflies would come to you and rest on your arm or leg. It was never for long, but just long enough for you to smile and enjoy the moment as if you accomplished something really big.  This is a feeling many of us want to experience at work. We want to know we make a difference. When you set out to actively look for purpose in your career, the harder you try, the harder it can be to find. Finding purpose in your work can be very much like chasing butterflies. Don’t run around anxiously, trying to find it. Instead, be patient and conduct a more thoughtful search. The meaning and purpose you seek will most likely appear when you least expect it.

Here are a few tips to help you discover a more purposeful career

Connect the dots

Where you start may be distinctly different from where you end up. Most people won’t discover their purpose immediately during their career. As you begin to follow what you’re interested in, you will begin to discover clarity as you explore your passions and different fields of work. Be open to embracing the uncertainties that comes along with this process. Know that you’re not expected to get it right the first time, or even the second. Continue to connect the dots along your journey. Soon, your dots will connect you with your passion.

Change your mindset

It’s all about attitude. Finding purpose in your work can have a lot to do with your attitude. Happiness and meaning often result when you focus on something or someone other than yourself. Practice having different perspectives in the workplace and remember: Everything isn’t always about you.

 It’s OK to look back sometimes. Examine your situation

It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in our day-to-day “to do” lists or the next big project. When we do this, we sometimes tend to focus forward on what we have not accomplished. Doing this can make you feel defeated once again and question the direction you’re taking. Take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished and the difference it has made for others.

Pursue a career path that fosters learning

While you’re spending time trying to figure out what your passion truly is, at the very least, pursue a career that encourages constant learning. You’ll not only discover what new skills you may find passion in, but you’ll also discover what doesn’t interest you. Make learning a lifestyle.

 Rediscover your ‘why’

What’s truly important?  Ask yourself these questions: What makes you come alive? How do you measure your life? If money wasn’t an issue, would you do for a living? What are your natural strengths? Those skills you’ve always been good at. Asking yourself these questions can help you get on the right track to discovering your passion.

Understanding your ‘why’ will also help you articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. And this is a great feeling! This will give you a point of reference for direction in life. Your choices will become more intentional for your career as well as your personal life. You will begin to inspire others.

Nothing is more satisfying than having a clear understanding of direction in your life. In the great words of Nelson Mandela, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”  Finding fulfilment in life starts with understanding exactly why you do what you do.

L. Russell Group, LLC is a workforce training consultant company, headquartered in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. Visit clrussellgroup.com for more information.

 

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