We recently closed applications for the first cohort of the Veteran Business Resiliency Accelerator program hosted by LiftFund, generously sponsored by United Way Tarrant County and facilitated by Table SALT Group. But wait, that’s not the only way to network and learn from like minded veteran business owners and experts. Introducing the SALT Shaker Network.
In our research to make this program a success, we learned a lot about what Veteran Entrepreneurs believe will help them along their journey. While networking and mentorship topped their lists, here’s some insight from the literature that has confirmed our lessons about this unique group of proprietors.
Back to Basic Training for Veteran Entrepreneurs
In preparation for this program, we made it our priority to listen closely. Generally, we often heard Veteran Entrepreneurs (VE) want basic information. They express the desire to learn practical steps to take to get a business started in this business resiliency accelerator. The VE seek to understand fundamental principles that are not usually taught at home or in school but are essential in personal and business financial goals.
We also learned, alongside financial literacy, VE want to know about what business structures to consider in how to run a business. Selecting the most appropriate business type at the various stages of growth has significant tax implications and mitigates other financial risks associated with business ownership.
Achieving Business Success and Efficiency
The VE often want to accomplish the business goals of maximum productivity, minimum wasted effort, and least expense. For example, VE often seek to gain more competency to help them improve their business operations and achieve profitablity. They want to know what it means to possess the flexibility and adaptability to operate a business. Their prior military experiences have reinforced the need to strategize business success instead of leaving their businesses to chance.
Our review of relevant literature revealed another skillset VE possess is efficiency. This learned behavior potentially helps them realize stability and scalability faster through business systems and standard operating procedures. Often, Veteran Entrepreneurs state not knowing what questions to ask, so they are open to learning anything and everything related to business development and baseline tools. Programs for veterans have been known to overlook what participants want and need, so doing thorough research on systems and standard processes ahead of the curriculum design was critical to this program for VEs to achieve success.
Understanding Market Potential
Marketing is often interchanged with promotion and advertising. These concepts can be confusing to someone who is not a marketing professional. Often entrepreneurs get ahead of themselves by attempting to conduct promotion and advertising without a proper understanding of their industry, the market, and potential revenue. The VE express the desire to gain marketing advantage and knowledge about marketing and sustainability, which implies the successful application of these concepts will help them achieve their goals. We emphasize marketing research to identify the target audience and their pain points in conjunction with an effective advertising campaign which is key to expansion, profitability, and sustainability.
Scaling and Stabilizing a Business Enterprise
We learned VE recognize the need for planning, funding, staff, processes, technology, and partners to take their businesses to the next level. For example, VE reported wanting to learn how to scale/grow/stabilize their companies and transition into full-time entrepreneurship. To the contrary, we found that VE usually create jobs for themselves instead of hiring and building a team to run the business. So, we ensure entrepreneurs learn to hire and effectively execute contracts to provide employment opportunities that stimulate growth in the community and help them “work on” and not always “work in” their businesses.
Generating Revenue with Contracts, Credit, and Financing
Every business needs capital to operate, sustain, and scale. Preparing for this accelerator, we learned VE are actively seeking information about business funding and financing to acquire capital from startup to expansion. For this reason, credit education and the awareness of business potential through government contracting are essential to the success of the program.
Most entrepreneurs seeking to do business with the government attend programs to win federal contracts. But, there are several approaches to business acquisition aside from certifications and the formal process of proposal writing for publicly announced solicitations. In response, we brought on experts with insights and specialized knowledge on rapid acquisition and blanket purchase agreements to help entrepreneurs at all stages build relationships with agencies and break into the federal marketplace.
Reasons Why Networking is Important
We learned VE often express disappointment with networking and mentorship opportunities for their new businesses. Networking allows entrepreneurs access to valuable information that might not be easily found working alone. A strong network can provide insight into different fields, help complement entrepreneurs’ blind spots, create a mastermind leading to a business advisory board, and much needed growth through mentorship. Networks of other entrepreneurs provide information on what potential markets are looking for and advice on how to improve marketability and promote ideas.
So, perhaps you missed the window of opportunity to participate in the Veteran Business Resiliency Accelerator. It’s not too late to join the group in the SALT Shaker Network, a community of Veteran Entrepreneurs, seasoned business owners, and experts with specialized knowledge in business development. Our community includes:
- Business scholars
- Federal marketplace consultants
- Business plan writers
- Legal advisors
- Experts in organizational development for small business owners
These resourceful members are accessible to you around the clock. We have special events, forums, featured speakers, and showcases to help you every step of your journey.
Join the SALT Shaker Network
It takes less than a minute to join, and together we’re networking, sharing our stories, experiences, and ideas. We think you’ll love it there.