VetCentric Assistance – Most of our counselors have been through the VA system in one capacity or another. Most of us have service connected disabilities and understand the services, claims processes, vocational rehabilitation process, and Small Business Administration programs specifically targeted toward veterans. There will always be a NEVBRC staff member available to assist with unique VetCentric business situations or processing difficulties.
Additionally, Vetrepreneurs have unique needs in a couple of different areas depending on type and length of service, ability of accumulation of assets, severity and nature of any disability they might have, translation of military experience and social network, and most importantly the education a recently discharged veterans must undergo that helps them transition from military service to civilian community. There is a big difference between being a soldier and being a veteran, and these are transitions our staff members are uniquely qualified to assist with.
One major theme that recently discharged veterans need to come to terms with is the “can’t fail, failure is not an option” attitude that the military breeds. While on active duty, the military community continues to weave a comprehensive and intricate support network which is available to active duty members and their families which cover just about every conceivable personal and professional need. So, while on active duty, “Can’t fail, won’t fail” comes with enough support to help guarantee success.
Once a member transitions to veteran status, they mistakenly believe that the VA in tandem with other federal agencies (SBA, DoL, IRS, etc.) maintain a similar network of support. Nothing could be further from the truth and in fact, in this scenario failure is not only an option, but a probability without the proper training and support.
Advice and Tools – When you first contact us for assistance, we will start by asking questions. We will need to know more about you, your idea (or venture), your skill sets, assets, support network, and resources, because entrepreneurship is much more than just having a good idea and a lot of motivation.
Starting a business involves working with variable formulas. Ultimately, the solution to the formula needs to be “profit”. The variables that go into the formula will depend on you and your resources. For instance; the ratio between labor/hours and liquid assets (spendable cash) will be a driving factor in much of the equation process. If you have unlimited funds, then you can hire out much of the formula. Working backwards, the less cash you have will increase the amount of labor/hours you have to input.
Figuring out just where to input cash versus labor into the equation is critically important during the early stages of the process and will be the determining factor as to whether your equation equals “profit” or “loss”
That is where we can help – At NEVBRC, we’re not cheerleaders and we’re not nay-say’ers, we’re business counselors. We will help you break the problem down into separate pieces and work with you to figure out how to accomplish those tasks using the resources that you have available to you.
What about you? – Patience is the most difficult skill to master. Entrepreneurs are inherently type “A” personalities; passionate, motivated, clever, multitask’ers, visionaries, and leaders. And by nature, we want it all NOW. However, if you go back to the equation analysis, you will quickly realize that if you have access to unlimited funding, then you can probably start your new business in 30 days or less. On the other hand, every dollar you lack translates directly into additional hours worked at the rate of about 20:1 (twenty dollars equals an average of 1 hour of work). That ratio really isn’t important to remember, I just use it to illustrate the fact that every task will come with a cost, and how you satisfy that cost will be up to you.
It’s your business – We can’t give you the answers, we can only give you the benefit of our combined knowledge and experience. In every business situation, there will be a myriad of variables to deal with. It might be the case where there simply is no right answer, so you will just have to try and pick the best solution and move forward. That’s entrepreneurship in a nutshell, dealing with uncertainty, taking calculated risks based on the best information available to you at the time, and dealing with the outcome decisively.
The first meeting – The first meeting can either be in person, over the phone, or an email exchange. Phone and email are by far the most common and all usually last about an hour and a half. During the first meeting we will get to know each other and look at an overview of your venture. Your counselor will ask questions until s/he feels that s/he has a decent fundamental understanding of what it is you are interested in accomplishing.
During this exchange, we will offer ideas, advice, suggestions, and/or resources. We will also recommend a timeframe for you to check in. We will gather your contact information (phone numbers, email address, etc.) and will usually forward your some electronic tools to work with (spreadsheets, business plan worksheets, examples, additional websites, etc.)
We will also leave you with a tangible task to complete and will explain how that task will grow into an important building block as you build your company.
After the first meeting, it will be up to you to follow up with us. You are welcome to ask as many questions as you need and seek as much direction as necessary. Once you complete the information we asked you for following your first meeting, we will go over the information together and set goals for the next course of action. This process will continue until you no longer need our assistance.
Tire kickers – Dreams take time to come true. Just because you were looking at the car of your dreams but couldn’t afford it at the time, doesn’t mean that you will never be in a position to buy that car (or one just as nice). The entire business process is going to be a journey of information gathering tempered with decision making. The information you receive at the beginning of your journey will be like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. It may take you a while to sort through all of this, and get your resources together in preparation to launch your new venture.
Your resources include your immediate family members, ESPECIALLY your spouse. If your spouse isn’t on board (really on board) and somewhat engaged, the likelihood of success WILL BE GREATLY DIMINISHED and your journey will be severely more painful. There will come a time when you will need to sit with your spouse (if you haven’t done so already) and “sell” them on your plans. During this conversation, it will be your natural inclination to soft sell your plan and avoid talking about the negatives (or potential negatives).
Avoid that temptation. If your spouse has a realistic idea of what to expect at the onset, then your pain will be greatly reduced later in the process. Understand that your spouse, like it or not is a “silent partner”, and has a vested interest in what happens. They will often be the reality check you will sometimes ignore.
Standard of living – You will need to be prepared to suffer a decreased standard of living while building your business. There can be many reasons for this;
• Businesses do not generate positive income right away
• You will be diverting most of your disposable income toward the venture
• Your free time will now be consumed by the new venture
• You will need to continue to support your family (or self) while the business is draining your resources
For this, you will need to have a plan; a plan that addresses your resources of money as well as time. This is not to be confused with your Business Plan. This is a personal life plan which you should begin by writing a personal mission statement.
Personal Mission Statement – A personal mission statement needs to address who you are; Wife, Father, Employee, Community Leader, Business Owner, Home Owner, Hockey Coach, Religious Community Member, Family Member, Son/Daughter, Inventor, Hobbyist, etc.
An example of a personal mission statement can be found linked to our website; it should be motivational to you and intensely personal. Once you write your personal mission statement, you should go through and weigh out how much of your time you currently spend on each persona.
You will then need to look at how your time is spent, and figure out how you will need to reallocate your time to allow for sufficient time resources to be dedicated to your new venture.
The primary ingredient needed for success – is SALES. It won’t matter how good your product is, it won’t matter if you are the best, most cost effective service provider in the world, it won’t even matter if you are giving your services away for free. If you fail to sell, your company will fail, end of story.
So the most important task that your company faces is, yes, sales. Yes, sales will be more important than product development. Yes, sales will be more important than buying “low so you can sell high”. Yes, sales will be more important than anything else you do, because just about everything else that has to do with your company can be cured with robust sales.
Here is the problem, most humans are genetically preprogrammed with the fear gene, and the number one daily fear that lives in the hearts and minds of most people is the fear of failure.
Fear of failure has ties to our self esteem, our vanity, our confidence, and many of the other emotions that make up who we are. Want to know how most people deal with this fear of failure? They avoid it. Simple as that, we tend to avoid situations that statistically provide for a high degree of failure, and statistically the job of sales produces failure at a ratio of about 10:1 (and those are good numbers depending on the field, product or service).
So where does entrepreneur fit into all this? Since far more businesses fail than succeed, entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly convinced that they are the exception to the rule, and that their business can’t help but succeed.
But what happened to that four (plus one) letter word SALES?
Time and time again I will have a room full of entrepreneurs and will ask the question, “How many of you would consider a career in sales?”, and without fail 10 percent or less of the audience will raise their hand. This is a problem. In 99 percent of all business ventures, the primary entrepreneur HAS to be the primary sales force.
There are two reasons for this;
1 – you can’t afford to hire a professional sales person and pay them according to what your expectations would need to be to get your business launched properly, and
2 – No one knows or has the passion for your business better than YOU.
Everything in this world revolves around sales, everything. Some of the very first words of record spoken involved a sales negotiation; “If you agree to leave this tree and its fruit alone, I will pay you with eternal life” or “If you agree not to invade my cave, I will pay you by not taking your life with my spear”, whichever scenario you choose to embrace.
And along with sales comes the 2nd force effecting every business relationship,,,,,competition.
Every business venture has a competitor. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs think that they have a unique and revolutionary product or service, and because of that, they believe that they will have absolutely no competition. False.
Every product or service introduced replaces something else and ideally satisfies a need or fills a vacuum, which ultimately takes work or sales away from someone else. There is always a competitor, and for the emerging entrepreneur, that competition is YOU.
“Don’t buy from him, if you buy from me and eat the fruit, I will give you eternal knowledge”.
Everything in life can be compared to a good business model.