Veteran Entrepreneurship Program – A List Of Comprehensive Resources To Take Your Business To The Next Level

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Have you been searching online for free resources and tools to level-up your current business?

Are you finding that you are like many other military veteran entrepreneurs, who are looking to cut down on business expenses

Although starting and growing any business requires financial investments, there are plenty of free resources that you can get your hands on and use in your business starting today. 

In this guide, we will share some of the best free resources that you can use to grow your business, increase revenue, and spend less time worrying about your business’s success.

Military Entrepreneur Program: Why You Should Consider Being An Entrepreneur After Transitioning

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, military veterans are more than 4% more likely to be self-employed than those who are non-veterans. 

As a veteran, this should not surprise you.

You possess valuable skills and experiences that prepare you to achieve success as an entrepreneur, such as:

  • You have been trained in leadership.
  • You have experience working on a team
  • You have learned how to be disciplined
  • You have employed stress management
  • You have made personal sacrifices.

If you possess any combination of these transferable skills, you should seriously consider embarking on the path of entrepreneurship after the military.

Here at American Dream U, we want to help you transition into business with our VA entrepreneurship training. 

Click here to get free access to our online course that teaches you how to start a business.

Veterans Entrepreneurship Program - The 7 Most Important Thing You Should Consider When Growing Your Business:

As you build your business, there will be various aspects that you need to consider:

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or Service
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Funding
  • Hiring
  • Processes and Systems

Investing your time into establishing each of these parts of your business is essential. 

In the remainder of this article, you will find considerations that will be significant for your business, with suggestions for where to find free and valuable tools that can help you every step of the way.

1. Minimum Viable Product / Service

So, you may be wondering how to set up a successful veteran-owned business when you have a great idea for a business concept. 

You simply need an opportunity to test your business concept by developing a minimum viable product, also known as an MVP. Minimum Viable Product (MVP): a prototype that tests the value proposition of a product or service with minimal time, money, and risk.

Why is This important?

Imagine…

You dream about a business concept. Invest tons of time and money to start the business. Produce a full-fledged product/service. Spend lots of time and money (again) to market your business…only to find out that no one wants to purchase what you have to offer.

An entrepreneur’s worst nightmare!

However, if you take the time to develop an MVP, this does not have to be your story.

An MVP will allow you to test your product or service with minimal risk because…

  • It strips down the product or service to its most important features. 
  • Allows for you to get momentum on actually starting your business.
  • Invites feedback from customers to help shape the development of the full-fledged product or service.

The ultimate purpose of an MVP is to avoid investing too much time and money into a product or service that will not be successful.

How To Do It:

There are several ways to create an MVP. Here are some suggestions on how you can get started. 

  1. Build and launch a free website or landing page.
  2. Create a paper or digital prototype of your product.
  3. Publish an explainer video that introduces the product or service.

Tools To Consider Using:

  • Wix – Free Website Builder
  • Javelin – Customer Development Software
  • Google Forms – Collect Information Through Surveys
  • Animiz – Free Explainer Video Maker

2. Marketing

Businesses can not thrive without an effective marketing campaign. 

It is through marketing that you can:

  • Build your audience by providing valuable content
  • Engage with potential customers and clients
  • Ultimately make sales on your product or service

Why is This important?

According to Forbes, the marketing of your product is more important than the actual product. 

If you think about it, this is a valid argument.

You may have the perfect product or service to solve a problem for a particular group of people but if they do not know about it, how will you make sales?

How To Do It:

Today’s most effective marketing is done by providing valuable content to your target audience, not by pushing the sales of a product or service. 

For example, if you are wanting to market your lawn care services, you could do the following four things provide value to potential customers:

  1. Make sure you’re found locally when people search in Google for things like “lawn care near me” by setting up your Google My Business account.
  2. Write a blog post to share how to best care for your lawn during the summer months.
  3. Share before and after photos of a client’s lawn after 30 days of using your services.
  4. Film a video tutorial on how to effectively pull weeds from a flower bed.

As you share valuable content through social media, email, and your website, people will see you as an authority in your field. This is much more effective than creating posts or business collateral that is “salesy”.

Tools To Consider Using:

3. Sales

Sales and marketing are closely related because making sales is the end goal of marketing.

When you generate sales, you are generating revenue. 

Here’s a simple way of explaining it:

If you do not have any revenue, you do not have a business.

Therefore, you must have a sales plan for your business to survive.

Why is This important?

Every successful business lays out a sales plan to ensure that the “how” and “when” of generating revenue are executed. 

According to the SBA, small business owners should include the following components in an effective sales plan:

  • Sales Goals
  • Sales Activities
  • Target Accounts
  • Timelines

Once you have established a sales plan, it is time to execute the plan.

How To Do It:

To keep track of marketing efforts that lead to sales, you may want to consider a Customer Relationship Management System, also known as CRM. 

A CRM can be very helpful for things like:

  • Identifying prospective customers
  • Tracking sales trends
  • Retaining current customers

If your business is service-based, having a way to schedule appointments, sign contracts, and send invoices are essential to receiving payment from clients.

Tools To Consider Using:

  • Hubspot – Customer Relationship Management
  • Calendy – Booking and Appointments
  • Hello Sign – Document Signing & Invoicing

4. Funding

As it pertains to business, it takes money to make money.

Although some free resources and tools can be utilized in growing your small business, there will be times you will have to invest financially in your business.As a veteran, you may be aware of some of the funding opportunities that are available just for you.

Depending on the type of business you have and whether or not you can personally invest in your business, there are various ways to consider funding your business.

Why is This important?

Taking advantage of funding programs specifically designed for veterans can greatly increase your chances of success as an entrepreneur. 

Statistically, almost a third of businesses fail because they run out of money to continue the business.

You don’t have to be one of those businesses that fails.

With the various funding programs, grants, and loans available to veterans, you do not have to be a statistic.

How To Do It:

Complete A Financial Projection Sheet

Before you apply for funding opportunities, it is important to complete a financial projection for your business. It should include, at a minimum, the following components:

  • Business Assets
  • Operating Costs
  • Sales Forecasts
  • Balance Sheet

Taking the time to thoroughly complete a financial projection for your business will give you the confidence you need to seek out more opportunities for funding.

Seek Veteran Funding Through Your Local SBA Chapter

Maybe you have been researching how to get a VA business loan or how to use the GI bill for business?

Or maybe you are wondering…

How do I apply for a VA small business grant?

Your local SBA Chapter takes pride in providing free business mentoring to help veterans apply for funding opportunities.

If you are a veteran that was honorably discharged or if you were disabled during your time in the service, you may qualify. 

Also, if you are a reservist, a National Guard member, or a spouse of any of the above, you may have veteran-specific loan advantages through the SBA.

Taking advantage of the assistance that your local SBA provides is worth checking out!

Tools To Consider Using:

5. Hiring

If you want to grow your business, you will need to consider hiring employees or contractors. 

However, hiring takes some intentional forethought. 

As the owner of your business, you do not want to just hire anyone. However, you do want someone who can be an asset to your business and team.

Why is This important?

Bringing on someone to help you fulfill the vision and mission of your business can greatly affect your business – positively or negatively.

If business is your livelihood, you want to be sure that anyone that you bring on board will increase your business’s productivity and success. 

With the right planning, you can be confident about hiring the right people for your team.

How To Do It:

Here are some critical steps that should be thought through when hiring individuals:

  1. Think very carefully about the company culture you want to create.
  2. Create a job description that includes clear expectations.
  3. Draft a set of interview questions to reflect the various components of the job description.
  4. Provide training that will set your new hires up for success.
  5. Recruit by advertising online and offline.

Tools To Consider Using:

  • LinkedIn – Online Recruiting & Resume Platform
  • Breezy HR – Recruiting & Application Software
  • Zoom – Video Conferencing Software

6. Processes & Systems

If you are like most entrepreneurs, you have faced the issue of feeling like there is not enough time in the day to complete all of your required tasks.

The challenge you face is common, but there may be a solution to cut down on some of the day-to-day work you have in your business.

Implementing processes and systems that help you to work on your business (rather than in your business) are readily available for you to use.

Why is This important?

Having effective systems in place can prevent you from experiencing unnecessary burnout, stress and can save your business in the long run.

Here are some benefits of systematizing your business processes:

  • Saves time
  • Improves productivity
  • Avoids routine problems

Including your employees and contractors in the implementation of your systems and processes are necessary for building productive routines in your business.

How To Do It:

Take some time to think about the following to find areas of your business that need to be systematized:

  • What issues happen regularly in your business? (ex: Customers not receiving invoices on time.)
  • What parts of your business can you outsource? (ex: Organizing digital files on your computer.)
  • What about your business constantly frustrates you? (ex: A break down in communication with team members.)

After answering these questions, you can begin creating your process for solving the aforementioned challenges.

Forbes does an excellent job helping entrepreneurs to work through the necessary steps to creating profitable processes and systems.

(1) Identify the Issue → (2) Plan the Process → (3) Execute the Plan

You may also want to learn about time management methods that have been proven to increase productivity in addition to the tips above.

Tools To Consider Using:

7. Accounting / Taxes

You are probably thinking that attending to the financial side of your business is boring and a bit stressful.

That is understandable because most entrepreneurs would not describe themselves as naturally being able to navigate the world of accounting due to the meticulous care that it requires.

However, this is a part of the business that must be attended to regularly and with great care.

Why is This important?

There is not one business that does not need to keep track of financial records. 

In fact, there are major negative effects of not doing so properly.

For example, if you leave off a “0” on the end of just one financial input, it could cause you to lose money or a business opportunity.

Or even worse…

Being audited by the IRS for simply not having your financial records properly documented.

Thank goodness that today’s technology allows for any business owner the convenience of keeping financial records very easily with intuitive software.

How To Do It:

It is always wise to consult with a certified accountant or tax professional. 

As you do so, here are some considerations to think through as you are setting up your business accounting. 

  1. Open a business banking account.
  2. Track your expenses.
  3. Use a bookkeeping system.
  4. Establish a payroll system.
  5. Understand the tax requirements for your business.
  6. Evaluate your numbers for business growth.

Attending to each one of the items above will contribute to the growth and success of your business for the long haul.

Tools To Consider Using:

Here at American Dream U, we take pride in providing free resources and veteran entrepreneur training

To help you move forward in your pursuit of starting and growing your business, enroll in our FREE entrepreneur bootcamp for veterans.

Click here to get free access to our online course that teaches you how to start a business.

joey@contentmarketingstrategy.co

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