By Natalie Rodgers
Transitioning from the military field into a new line of work can be difficult for any veteran, but this problem seems to be especially prevalent for women looking to transition into business ownership.
Veteran Airforce pilots and current business owners, Chassity Jackson and Patricia Frame, recently took part in a CNBC hosted seminar to discuss their best tips for women veterans looking to start their own businesses.
Here are five tips for aspiring women veteran entrepreneurs:
Know Your Industry
Of the millions of small businesses in the United States, it can be difficult to make your work stand out. Study the competition and decide what you would like to bring to the table. What will your company be bringing to the table that is different than everything else? What are the consumers of your product looking for and what are some typical frustrations they come across when they are trying to obtain it? Once you understand how your business fits into the industry, keep up on the latest news with competitors and customers to ensure you are fulfilling industry demands.
Networking is Key
Connect with other business owners, especially ones who are experienced in the field and can help mentor you through this new journey. Attending business conferences and networking events have always been a standard way to make these connections, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these conferences have switched to online platforms for business owners to easily utilize and converse through. LinkedIn is also a great source for networking. Make sure your profile is up to date to seem as presentable and professional as possible to new connections.
Know Your Audience
When a business is first starting out, its crucial to understand who the target audience is for the project. Start off by testing a select number of products to your customers and observe what sells and what doesn’t do as well. As you get to know your clientele, it will be easier to figure out how to best allocate your resources and where to put your money to receive the most profit.
Have the Funds
Once you have a business plan, you want to make sure that your business is going to be properly funded. Though many have used their own source of income to help get their company off the ground, there are a number resources that that veterans can utilize to get started. One of the most well-known ways is through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides low cost loans to veterans, military personnel, and their families.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that veterans will just be given money because of their status–a misconception that has been believed by many current and former military personnel in the past. Raising money through pitching competitions and crowd funding campaigns are other significant ways that you can allocate the proper funds you need for your business.
Be Willing to Change
In the midst of COVID-19, companies are preparing now more than ever for unprecedented circumstances their business may face. Many businesses have closed due to repercussions from the pandemic and you don’t want yours to be one of them. Make sure you have a back-up plan should something drastic happen to your everyday routine. How will you continue to provide your products to customers if a lockdown occurs? Can you utilize the internet to help your customers in times of need?
It’s also critical to make sure that you have a cushion to fall back on should a situation arise. Put some of your profits aside as often as you can to create a money reserve to fall back, just in case.