Hi! My name is Ricardo Leon. I was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. I have an Associate in Computer’s Science. I joined a tech company back in 2005 in Guadalajara, Mexico and then they invited me to move to the U.S. with a work visa that later on they upgraded to a Green Card.
I understood that I couldn’t build a life around a single income so I decided to open a few lines of businesses with my wife, and this has been an amazing life changing decision for me and my family. The benefits and knowledge that the small business world brings is UNBELIEVABLE GOOD! EGBI has helped us make amazing things possible by giving us entrepreneurs tools to go get things done! I’m very thankful for that!
Ricardo shares his experience as a volunteer and client below.
To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
My soul gets full when I see people making the decision and taking action to improve their lives, like opening a business, learning more about personal finances and topics related to businesses, and having the courage and discipline to set goals and go after them. That makes me really happy!
What is unique about your business?
I work best with business owners that are willing to do more and learn more about the business world. I bring a different perspective and new ideas to the table when they decide to do business with me. I also like giving them as much value as possible beyond any contract, like offering their products or services to people in the community that are looking for them.
What is the biggest obstacle you encountered in starting or growing your business? How did EGBI help you overcome this?
At first it was my very own limiting mindset, like doing paperwork to form an LLC, talking to the State Comptroller to make sure all transactions would be done correctly in order to collect and pay State sales tax, then getting permits for a food business that I used to run, etc. All of that was overwhelming to me! But then I was invited to participate in the workshops that EGBI provided and that gave me a lot of clarity in terms of how to manage my business and how to make it grow by following a plan. EGBI gave me all these tools and knowledge that I’m using now to get consistent income in my digital marketing solutions business.
EGBI walks you through the entire process of making a small business successful. Isn’t that what you’re looking for? – Ricardo Leon
Ricardo, you have volunteered as an instructor and also on the EGBI Marketing Committee.Why do you volunteer with EGBI, and what has your experience been like?
I’m very grateful to EGBI and their goal to make more and more businesses successful. That’s why I volunteer every time I’m invited to. I have nothing but good things to say about this organization and its commitment: to help as many business owners as possible to establish and make small businesses grow. The coaches and managers at EGBI are amazing people that always make sure that all volunteers (like me) feel welcomed and confident to help them in their mission.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI?
Please do it! Everyone’s experience in running and managing a small business is unique and everyone can provide a different perspective on how to get around obstacles, as well as tips and tricks to be successful in this small business world. We all will appreciate your input!
In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ricardo make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.
Amy Carrillo Cobb started her business in Spring 2020. Amy holds a bachelor’s in finance and is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She started her own business Amy Cobb Consulting to help Business Owners demystify their finances. Amy has a history of non-profit experience beginning in 2007 with her participation in the Hispanic Austin Leadership program. She became a Board Member of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas-Austin Chapter in 2008. She was a board member for the Latino Leaders of America and co-chaired their annual 5k fundraiser Walk-Run-Lead in 2014 & 2015. She now serves as the Board Treasurer for Ladders for Leaders.
Amy is a wife and mother of a 6-year-old daughter. She has lived in Austin since 2004. She is dedicated to using her skills and experience to help others and unify the community.
Amy shares her experience as an EGBI volunteer, supporter, and blog writer below.
To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
My fun fact is I’ve completed the Austin Marathon & Half-Marathon. Owning a business is a marathon not a sprint- I am a runner and business owner.
Why do you volunteer for EGBI?
This is my first-year volunteering for EGBl. I believe in the mission and am happy to assist as an Austin Business Owner.
Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
I created Amy Cobb Consulting on the foundation to enhance social equity. Volunteering was instilled in me at a very young age by my family. We are strong community advocates, and I will continue that legacy through my volunteerism and business.
“I chose to become an EGBI volunteer because I believed in the mission. It is mysocial responsibility as a community member to help others succeed.” – Amy Carrillo Cobb
Why do you write blogs for small businesses owners?
As a Latina and first-gen Entrepreneur, I run into my own set of limits that I subconsciously put on myself. [Based on] my experience speaking, working and strategizing with my clients, others do the same thing. I want to engage business owners through a platform (blogging) that is easily digestible. My blogs allow others to see how I engage with my clients. I am the resource for minority business owners.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI?
Volunteering helps me engage in the community and hone my business skills. It is a way to participate and build your skills.
Amy Cobb shares her knowledge through blog posts for EGBI. Read her recent post on Money Sabotages & Trauma to learn more.
Linktree is an online tool frequently used on social media platforms like Instagram for organizations to compile important links onto a single landing page. It generates a URL, allowing business owners to share important information such as a website, registration form, online store, and more, all through one link. It is especially useful for Instagram, which limits the amount of links users can add to their profile. Linktree is convenient to both use and access, with a free Basic version available to all.
However, there are a few things to consider before implementing Linktree in your business. First, the Linktree URL and logo on the landing page may not match the brand your company hopes to portray. While it may take time, many platforms (Wix, Squarespace, etc.) allow users to code their own landing pages for free. This has the added benefit of direct access to your website, increasing traffic. Additionally, many of Linktree’s advanced features require premium accounts, which can range from $5 to $24 per month.
If your company relies on social media for marketing, it may well be worth it to create a Linktree. To get started, visit the Linktree Website and sign up for free. As you create an account, you will customize your unique Linktree URL to fit your purpose. For example, a common URL would be “linktr.ee/[company name]”.
Once you have signed up, you can begin adding necessary links or media to your landing page.
Next, through the “Appearance” tab, you are able to customize your Linktree appearance using colors, images, and even Canva designs to match the company brand.
Lastly, once you launch your Linktree and begin sharing with potential customers, Linktree will track and analyze data including views, clicks, click-through rates, and revenue (if applicable). Premium accounts include metrics such as locations of users, referrers, or on what social media app Linktree was accessed the most, the type of device used, and more. You can monitor these statistics through the Analytics tab.
Overall, Linktree is a valuable marketing tool especially considering the digital revolution occurring today. Despite certain drawbacks, it is a convenient way for businesses to increase engagement with customers.
By Amy Carrillo Cobb, Business Owner at AmyCobb.Co
Business owners bring their story with them into the work – their past, present, fears, mess, humor, and trauma all go into their business decisions.
Every business owner has their own sabotaging beliefs around money. These beliefs have been following you around throughout your money journey. You must identify them, dig deeper, and be kind to yourself when you start noticing the patterns behind your actions. Below are some beliefs that prevent and distract you from making sound financial business decisions.
Money Sabotage Statements
Read Each Statement and See if you have a Reaction to It
I often manifest unexpected bills.
I’m afraid to increase my prices for fear of losing all my clients.
I feel an unconscious need to give it away, spend it or even repel it.
I’m afraid to set goals or money targets because I think I’ll jinx it.
I avoid looking at my bank account.
I feel weird when I have extra money in the bank.
I feel guilty making money out of things that are easy for me.
I’m surrounded by people struggling in business.
I stay with old suppliers because I don’t want to hurt their feelings.
I avoid celebrating milestones, I just move on to something else.
Did you have any A-HA’s? You can now start to recognize your patterns and behaviors when you feel uneasy about making a financial decision, acquiring your biggest client or signing your biggest contract. The key is to become more aware and compassionate when your old thought patterns about money are in the driver seat. It is safe for you to release your sabotages and enjoy your success.
About the writer: Amy Carrillo Cobb gives others the financial capacity to make a difference through Bookkeeping, Accounting and Finance services. She is a Money Mindset Coach, Business Coach, and blogger. https://linktr.ee/amycobbco
Únete a EGBI y a expertos en materia para llevar su marketing al siguiente nivel este verano con nuestra serie de marketing de 3 partes.
Ponga Tu negocio en la búsqueda de Google y Maps
Aprende a configurar, verificar y administrar tu perfil de negocios en Google, con una herramienta gratuita llamada “Google My Business”. Este taller tiene dos partes y en esta primera parte se enfocará en como Google My Business ayuda a que empresas locales se encuentren y administren la información de su negocio en la Búsqueda de Google y Maps.
Presentadora: Vicky Sepulveda, una escritora creativa, bloguera, viajera del mundo y orgullosa líder latina.
Únete a nosotros el 14 de junio de 8:30 AM a 10:00 AM. ¡RegístreteAQUÍ hoy para reservar su lugar!
Usa Facebook e Instagram para hacer crecer tu negocio
¡Regístrate para tener acceso a las últimas tendencias para impulsar ventas en tu negocio!puedes hacer crecer tu negocio con las Redes Sociales, pero no estás seguro de qué hacer para eso? Este taller te ayudará a aprender:
Cómo usar tu tiempo de manera efectiva en las redes sociales
Diferentes estrategias para crear y manejar tu contenido
Lo que necesita saber para ejecutar una campaña exitosa en Facebook e Instagram
¡Regístrate para tener acceso a las últimas tendencias para impulsar ventas en tu negocio!
Presentadora: Jessica Campos, JD, BBA es educadora, autora, experta en marketing digital forense y fundadora de Marketing For Greatness, una agencia de marketing de servicio completo en Austin.
Únete a nosotros el 21 de junio de 8:30 AM a 10:00 AM. ¡RegístreteAQUÍ hoy para reservar su lugar!
PRESÉNTATE CON CONFIANZA, EN LÍNEA Y EN PERSONA
Eres la cara de tu empresa, pero ¿la estás representando bien? ¿Estás seguro que resaltas frente a los demás de tu industria? En este taller aprenderás a estar preparado para atraer a los clientes que está buscando con tu apariencia en línea y fuera de línea. Aprenderás a:
Estar preparado para representar a tu negocio en todo momento.
Utilizar lenguaje corporal para realzar tus mensajes
Dejar una impresión inolvidable y ayudar a crecer tu negocio
Presentadora: Leslie Montoya- Rios, una personalidad reconocida por su misión de motivar y comunicar para nuestra comunidad.
Únete a nosotros el 28 de junio de 8:30 AM a 10:00 AM. ¡Regístrete AQUÍ hoy para reservar su lugar!
No hay costo para asistir, pero debes confirmar tu asistencia.
Join EGBI and subject matter experts to take your marketing to the next level this summer with our 3 part marketing series.
Get your local business on Google Search and Maps
Showing up when customers are searching online is more important than ever. Ensure customers can find accurate, updated information about your local business on Google Search and Google Maps, no matter which device they use. In this workshop, you will learn how to create and manage a Google Business Profile from start to finish.
Speaker: Creative writer, blogger, world traveler, and proud Latina leader, Vicky Sepulveda.
Join us on June 16th from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM. Register HEREtoday to reserve your spot!
Use Facebook and Instagram to Grow Your Business
Heard you can grow your business using social media, but not sure how? This workshop will help you learn:
How to use your time effectively on social media
Different content strategies that work
What you need to know to run a successful Facebook and Instagram campaign
Speaker: Bill Combes is the founder of No Time for Social.
Join us on June 23rd from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM. RegisterHEREtoday to reserve your spot!
PRESENT YOURSELF CONFIDENTLY ONLINE AND OFFLINE
You are the face of your company, but are you representing your company well? Are you standing out from others in your industry? This workshop will help you be prepared to appeal to the customers and clients you are trying to attract with your appearance online and offline. You will learn how to:
Be prepared to be a representative for your company at all times
Use body language to elevate your message
Leave a memorable impression to help grow your business.
Speaker: Well-known personality in the Central Texas community, Leslie Montoya.
Join us on June 30th from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM. Register HERE today to reserve your spot!
Meet Bill Combes, founder and CEO of No Time for Social – a digital marketing agency that has been in business since 2014. Bill is originally from Long Island, New York and came to Texas via the Air National Guard after spending 4 years in Lawrence, KS. Bill attended K.U. for meteorology and was a weather forecaster in the Air Force at the 127th weather flight in Topeka, KS. In 1995, Bill started his first business, AnythingWeather, a private Austin-based weather company. Bill fell into digital marketing after he left his first start up and a lot of his roofing company clients were asking about running Facebook ads for their businesses, thus the start of No Time for Social. Bill lives in Round Rock and when he is away from work, he enjoys spending time with his wife Ileana and two sons Billy and Alex.
Bill shares his experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.
Hi Bill! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself? With my background in weather, I love storm chasing and even ran a business taking people on storm chasing adventures across many states and thousands of miles over the years. I love anything and everything weather and if there is a weather event going on, I am most likely tracking it. The tornado that hit Round Rock was less than a mile from my house which was a little frightening!
How have you volunteered for EGBI? I will be presenting at one of EGBI’s Digital Marketing workshops on June 23rd, 2022.
Why do you think it is important to volunteer? I’ve been volunteering on many levels over the years and I love to give back – especially in learning spaces. The ability to take my wisdom and knowledge and pass it on to others to help them succeed is invaluable to me. In fact I usually get more out of it than the individuals I am working with. I really enjoy people and conversations so it just fits when I can speak to others and give back. I’ve volunteered over the years with the City of Round Rock, Round Rock ISD, United Way, the Round Rock Chamber, and a host of other organizations and I love it.
“Supporting EGBI means you are supporting others in their entrepreneurial journey. The more entrepreneurs succeed the better off we are as a society and community. Small businesses are the backbone of the community and just about all businesses start small so let’s help them become successful.” – Bill Combes, founder and CEO of No Time for SociaL
Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI? Most entrepreneurs are out there on an island with all of the cards stacked against them so they need as much support as possible. They may have friends and family members questioning their path to success, so they need as many individuals on their team to provide guidance in the journey. If we can help develop these business owners and provide information for them to succeed, we have succeeded so it is a win win for all of us. I love seeing people succeed and that is what EGBI is all about!
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI? If you are looking to give back and you have knowledge that will help others succeed then you should consider volunteering. As I have mentioned previously, I get a LOT out of the volunteering process so I love to do it.
— Bill Combes will be sharing his knowledge about growing your business using social media in the upcoming Marketing series on June 23rd from 8:30 AM to 10 AM. To register be sure to register at this link.
Meet Joe Arellano-Villegas. He currently lives in Dallas but spends lots of time in Austin. He is the first in his family to graduate and attended St. Edward’s University in Austin where he got his Bachelor’s in Photo-Communication (2014). He later went back to school a bit before the pandemic to Dallas College to get an Associate’s in Applied Science in Graphic Design (2021). Joe has had a variety of careers, gigs, and volunteer opportunities from helping students on film sets, to retail, to school photography, photo editing, and now shifted towards a career in graphic design. He is currently freelancing and a volunteer at Dallas Fuse: a HIV prevention treatment center and STI education safe space.
Joe shares his experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.
Hi Joe!To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
I was looking for clients to volunteer for on Catchafire and saw an Austin company called EGBI. And the former Austinite in me said, “Well I definitely have to apply.”
How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I helped design some information flyers for entrepreneurs in order to distribute information they might need to start and/or run their business.
Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
Nonprofits sometimes need help since the people who work for them do a lot for the communities they engage with. If I can help take a load off of them why not help.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”-Charles Dickens
Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?
Starting a business is hard, especially for communities of color, which have historically been disenfranchised in the process. EGBI helps those in Austin learn, incubate, and grow so that companies that are starting or struggling to find footing have an easier time navigating such a process.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI?
Volunteering in any capacity is an act of love because you are willing to go into a space and offer help to those who might need it. Be open to communication and always listen to what the needs of those who are asking for help. Everyone at EGBI is really nice and wonderful to work with.
In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Joe make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.
As a veteran, many of the skills you learned in the military can be especially helpful in running a business. The wide range of hard and soft skills you acquired through service can be transferred with great success to the private sector. Many veterans are doing just that.
According to the United States Small Business Association (SBA), 2 1/2 million businesses are run by veterans. Nearly one in 10 U.S. businesses are veteran-owned. They cover the entire range of business types: from professional and technical services to consulting, construction, consumer products, and more.
While funding can be an obstacle for many new entrepreneurs, veterans have some advantages. Federal agencies are required to set aside a certain amount of funding for vets. This is especially helpful, given that many veterans lack sufficient credit history to obtain funding from traditional sources like banks.
In this guide, we outline the steps you’ll take to get a successful company off the ground. We’ll dive deep into each step and explain exactly what you need. We’ll introduce you to the wide range of excellent resources that can help you turn an idea into a successful business.
Step One: Coming Up With Your Business Idea
Every good business begins with a good idea. Since you’re reading this article, you might already have a great idea that you’re trying to turn into a reality.
However, if you’re not in this category but still want to work for yourself, you’re not out of luck. It’s common for first-time entrepreneurs to spend as much time coming up with their business idea as they do getting it off the ground. The questions below will help you lock on to whatever business ideas could work best for you.
What Skills Do You Have?
The first question you’ll want to answer is whether you have any specific skills that would transition easily into starting a business. Chances are that you learned quite a large range of skills in the military that will translate easily into your own project. Did you work as an electrician? That might be a good answer. How about logistics? Even if these areas don’t fit, with some creative thinking you can come up with some good ideas. Do you have any other skills you obtained before joining the military? Those might also be of good use.
What Interests You?
The second question is whether there’s something that specifically interests you. This may be one of the most important things you need to answer. If you’re going to do a job and do it well, you’re going to want to like what it’s you do. If you enjoy something, the chances are that you’ll be better at it. Beyond that, having a passion for something you like to do will make your days go by a lot better. As the saying goes, if you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. It’ll be your driving force and what will get you out of bed in the morning. It could be that your hobby could become your profession.
What Resources Do You Already Have?
Thirdly, look at your existing resources. You might already have in hand various things that might suit you. For instance, if you already have access to a storefront ― perhaps it’s from a family business ― this can be a good start to getting you going. Similarly, if you have built up a solid tool shed and have a large set of tools, you might be already set up to begin some sort of maintenance, carpentry, or odd jobs business. Remember, one of the largest barriers to a business is expense. If you have anything already on hand, you’re already partially ahead of the game.
What Need or Niche Will You Fill?
Another thing to do is to look for an existing need in your community. There may be a shortage of people with a certain set of skills in your town or a business that doesn’t exist beyond a certain driving distance. You might find yourself filling a niche that has been needed for a long time. It never hurts to talk to people about what sort of things that they wish they had available to them. There may be a need that people have that they might not even realize. If you can come up with this, sometimes a simple need can be translated into a profitable business.
What Government Contracts Are Available?
Government contracts can be very lucrative, and veterans are often given special consideration when bidding them. Spend some time browsing the following resources, looking for opportunities that align with your skills and interests:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): If you own a small business, you can be given special consideration when bidding on government contracts, but you need to register with the Vets First Verification Program first. Full details on the program can be found here.
The National Center for Veterans Institute for Procurement: This organization exists to help veterans get a leg up when applying for government contracts. It provides a wide variety of training, mentorships, and exclusive offers.
VetBiz: Another division of the VA, VetBiz is a portal for verification, acquisitions, and management support. It helps veterans find verified firms and offers training, communications, and assists in setting up events.
Step Two: Developing Your Business Plan
An often-overlooked area of starting a business is the need to create a clear business plan ahead of time. You need to have a plan in place to get from where you’re now to where you want to be. It’s best to lay out this information well before you begin. Set a few milestones, including dates, for how you plan on obtaining a set of individual goals.
Not only is this a good idea, and helps you find a way of measuring your success, but it’s also necessary if you intend on getting some help in financing your business. We’ll address this a bit later in this article.
What Should a Business Plan Include?
A business plan is a document that provides a summary or overview of your business, including a simple summary that can be presented to potential investors or others interested in your ideas, an overview of how you plan on running your company, analysis of the market ― who is your competition ― how your business will be organized, how you plan on developing and producing a product ― if that’s your plan ― financial projections, and more. Let’s break these down.
The first part of your business plan will be an executive summary. An executive summary provides a quick overview of your entire business plan. It’s useful for readers to get a brief glimpse of your plan without having to read the entire document. In most cases, the entire document will be read, but this serves as an introduction to make absorbing the information easier. You should consider this to be one of the most important parts of your entire business plan. It should have the following pieces.
The Mission Statement
This should be a brief paragraph describing what your business is, and what needs it’s attempting to meet. Define your higher-level goals here, including what you wish to accomplish.
Here’s where you can provide some insight into the thinking behind your business. For example, you should include when it was formed, and who you are. Include everyone involved in creating the business, such as your business partners, and list what roles each of you’ll fulfill, the number of employees you have or expect to have, and where it’s located.
If you already have started your business, this is a good place to mention any milestones you have already achieved. Include your gross earnings or other financials. It’s normal to want to bolster your credentials by including overly rosy information about your financial achievements. However, it’s important to tell the truth here, especially since this will come into play at some point in the future when you pay your taxes. The point, however, is to provide a positive snapshot of where your business is and where it’s going based on these numbers.
Products and/or Services
This is where you describe what product or services your business provides. Outline who your primary customers are or will be.
This section is crucial if you plan on getting any financial assistance from an official outside source, such as a bank or loaning institution, or if you plan on selling equity in your business. If you have any existing loans or grants, you should list these here.
Explain how you intend for your business to grow. You should create several projections about where you plan or wish your business to be in the next three to five years.
After you have constructed your executive summary, you’ll want to go into some more detail about your company and the unique proposition that you have constructed, including your plan on how you’ll be successful.
You’ll want to give a brief pitch for what your company does that nobody else already does ― at least in your area. Failing that you can go into an explanation for why you’re better than your competition. Think of this as a brief statement that you might commit to memory so that you have an answer for when someone asks you what it’s you do.
After this, provide a value proposition. Go into some detail about the nature of the existing market and why you’ll help fill a gap that exists. You’ll also want to describe the structure of your company. Is this something you’ll be running by yourself? Will you have partners? How many employees will you have, and what roles will they fulfill? Here, you’ll also want to explain how you’re legally set up. We’ll go into some detail later about various types of legal business types there are.
Before going into business, it’s important to have a clear sense of the landscape. What’s your competition? Are there many competitors in your niche reaching your particular area? You should identify how much money is typically spent on your product or service, and research what possible areas there are for growth.
Describe your industry in general, report on market trends, and provide the outlook for how your general segment of this market sector will trend in the near future.
Identify who your target market is. You may want to draw up a few personas that would represent your ideal customer. How old are they? Are they predominantly male or female? How much money do they have available to spend? You’ll also need to clarify how long it’ll take to get your product to your consumer from the moment they request it to the moment you deliver it.
Next, you’ll need to provide detailed results of any market research that you have done. Identify by name who your top competitors will be. Identify if there’s more work available than they can provide. This may be true in many service sectors. For instance, it can often be several months between the time a customer requests, say, a roofing job to be done and the time that your competition can fulfill this request. If it’s more than a month or so, you have a great opportunity here.
Define your business’ management structure here. You’ll need to include how many employees you’ll have, and what roles they’ll fulfill. Define your ownership structure here as well. If you’re a sole proprietor, with no employees, say so. If there are several other people who have invested equity into your company, explain their roles.
This is also a good place to bring up your background as a veteran. If you’re forming this business with several other veterans, include that information here as well. This will come in particularly handy if you’re attempting to get some funding from a source that specializes in supporting veterans.
If you need people with specific talents, you’ll need to identify what roles you need to fulfill, and what sort of credentials and experience you’ll expect from them.
Product Development Plan
Here’s where you cover what services or products you intend to sell. Provide a basic description of the product or service. Describe how it meets the needs of your potential customers or clients. Explain why your product or service is better than your competition. If it’s a new product, go into detail about what it is, and what features it has. If it’s new, is it available right away or do you need investment to get it created and produced? Explain all of this. If you need to do more research, that’s okay, but include this in your plan, including the research you plan on doing, and what resources you need to accomplish your goals.
Do you plan on relying on external vendors or manufacturers for providing you with the product? Explain this clearly, including how to get needed materials and supplies.
If you’re entering into the tech sector, you’ll likely want to make some statements about your intellectual property. Digital products are relatively easy to steal so make sure you have covered the mental labor you have put into creating your tool or product. Make sure you register or patent any inventions and list those patent numbers here.
Money is important for running most businesses. There’s a high chance that you may not have a large amount of money available, but it’s very important to outline what it’s you do have and how you plan on raising the necessary capital.
Provide records for your:
Income Cash flow Bank balances
If you have any documentation on accounts receivable (A/R) or accounts payable (A/P), you’ll need to list these out as well.
Remember, if you’re attempting to get a loan from a bank or other source, this information will need to be accurate and verifiable.
You also need to plan out for the future. You should create statements on your:
Projected cash flow
Expenses, including any initial capital expenditures, such as machinery or equipment you need to buy
If you are trying to get money from outside sources, make this explicitly clear here. How much do you need at this moment? Will you need more in the future? Explain all of this.
Step Three: Registering Your Business
Now we need to get into the nitty-gritty of going through the legal procedures for operating a business. It may seem like a pain but it’ll save you many problems in the future.
Choose a Business Name
This part might seem easy, or it may be difficult. Either way, once you’ve come up with a good brand name, you’ll need to register that name with your local state authorities as a doing business as (DBA). This will enable you to cash any checks issued to that business into a bank account you create for your company.
Define Your Legal Structure
These are the main types of businesses:
Sole proprietorship: This is what it sounds like. You’re the only person in your business, and you have no employees. This is simple, and it’ll enable you to do business as yourself. Don’t forget to register your DBA.
Partnership: If there are at least two people involved, this is a partnership. You’ll need to hire a lawyer to draft a formal agreement between the two or more of you.
Corporation: Corporations are far more complicated. These are separate legal entities owned by shareholders, which will require incorporation. Most businesses starting out may not wish to do this, but there are many legal advantages, such as the fact that you personally won’t be subject to any losses gained by the company.
S corporation (S-corp): Similar to corporations, but slightly different, S-corps can avoid the double taxation that can occur for regular corporations.
Limited liability company (LLC): LLCs are combinations of partnerships and corporations. Those who own shares in an LLC aren’t liable for losses incurred by the business. Taxes pass through to the shareholders.
Franchises: Although not exactly a legal entity, franchises are a great option for those who might find starting a business from scratch to be overwhelming. In franchises, you don’t specifically own the company but do own the income you generate for your individual franchise. In a good franchise, you’ll typically receive a lot of marketing help in selling an already established brand.
Register for Taxes
Don’t forget this. Your company once it has been established legally will need to be registered with federal and, where applicable, state and local authorities. You’ll likely need to get an employer identification number (EIN), although, in some cases, you can use your Social Security number. Check with the federal government to find out if you need one.
Get Your Documents, Licenses, and Permits
While this may be a chore, this is important. These vary from state to state and locality to locality and depend on what your specific product or service is. You’ll need to research before you even think of getting started.
Step Four: Funding Sources for Veteran-owned Businesses
You may need money to get started. The good news is that there are a lot of places you can look for help.
If you have a new and innovative product that will interest many people but hasn’t yet been realized, crowdfunding sources, such as Kickstarter, may be a great place to get funding. People will often contribute money in advance for a new product for a chance of getting their hands on this new product or a special offer in advance. It’s a form of small-level investing that has launched many new businesses.
You may be able to get a loan from your bank or, even better, as a veteran you may find that you can obtain a loan from places that specialize specifically in providing loans to those who have served in the armed forces.
Beyond banks, you can consider using the Veterans Business Fund. This is a nonprofit organization designed to provide veterans with the resources and loans that they need to begin their journey into the business world. This fund isn’t currently accepting new applicants but is expected to resume soon.
Some organizations will give you money outright in the form of a grant, which you don’t need to repay. Here are a couple that are available:
Idea Cafe Grants: This organization provides grants for entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. They specialize in smaller grants of under a few thousand dollars, but also offer a variety of other instructional resources.
Veterans’ Resources for Starting and Managing Their Business
Beyond funding, there are several other resources available to help veterans run their companies.
Work With the Government
One area that may seem like a natural fit for many veterans is to work directly with the federal government as an independent contractor. If you’re a veteran you already have experience working for the government. Therefore, why not convert them into a business partner or customer?
Of course, there are resources not directly tied to the government. There are many nonprofits that will help as well. One such organization is the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, which is one of the more comprehensive and full-service organizations. It offers networking opportunities, support in finding funding and seeking mentorships. It’s veteran-run and very much veteran-focused.
Maybe you’re just looking for some good resources to help you learn how to navigate these sometimes treacherous waters of beginning a business. There are a wide range of companies that can help provide courses and information that you may need, including:
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans: Specifically geared to veterans from the post 9/11 era, it’s also available to families who are caring for veterans. It offers a wide variety of training seminars across the country.
One of the key parts of business is connecting with other business owners. Here are many useful resources for veterans:
SCORE: This organization provides many mentoring workshops, some in collaboration with Facebook. Its searchable database lets veterans search for and find experienced mentors, people who’ve “been there, done that” in the business world and can help you do it too.
American Corporate Partners: This group has helped more than 20,000 veterans enter the business world through its large network of mentors, many coming from some of the largest, most successful Fortune 500 companies in the nation.
Vets In Tech: Provides mentoring and workshop opportunities for veterans looking to transition into the tech industry. It has a job-search board and a place for you to post your resume. A job in a tech company is an excellent way to prepare you to someday start your own.
Patriot Bootcamp: Helps veterans network with each other to innovate in the business sector. It also arranges periodic training sessions around the country, helping veterans pick up extra skills that they can use to start their first venture.
Disabled Veterans Resources
If you have a veteran-related disability, you may want to check out some of these resources:
There’s a range of companies who provide useful savings for veterans, which may be useful in your business:
Microsoft:Microsoft offers up to 10% off select products and services. The discount includes business products and services like PCs, Microsoft 365, and mobile products. The discount applies to active-duty service members, veterans, and Reserve and National Guard personnel as well as their family members.
Nimble: Entrepreneurial U.S. service members can receive one free year of Nimble CRM software. This is especially beneficial to veterans taking advantage of Microsoft’s offer as Nimble integrates seamlessly with Office 365 as well as G Suite. The Nimble CRM combines contact management, social media, sales intelligence, and marketing automation to help manage and grow your business development.
Netsonic:Netsonic is a veteran-owned hosting service dedicated to supporting and showing appreciation for its fellow U.S. military personnel. When starting a new account, simply select the semi-annual billing cycle and enter promo ― PROMO CODE USA ― to apply the discount to basic, advanced, or webmaster shared hosting plans.
The Office of Veterans’ Business Development (OVBD): This is the SBA’s liaison with the veteran’s business community. Its “mission is to maximize the availability, applicability, and usability of all administration small business programs for veterans, service-disabled veterans, reserve component members, and their dependent survivors.” The OVBD assists with training, counseling, mentorship, and oversight of federal entrepreneurship programs.
VetFran: Extensive research shows that veterans regularly find success as franchisees. The veteran’s success is due to the unique match of skills and aptitude needed to meet the rigorous demands of small business ownership. Veterans make up approximately 14% of all franchisees in the U.S. and VetFran encourages and facilitates the franchisor/franchisee partnership by encouraging discounts and incentives from the former while providing resources and tools to the latter.
Bunker Labs:Bunker Labs is a nonprofit that organizes events bringing military-connected entrepreneurs and veteran small business owners together. Bunker Labs’ online entrepreneurship curriculum helps aspiring business owners move their business from idea to fruition. Ongoing support from the community allows Bunker Labs to provide practical tools and resources to veteran business owners.
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF): The IVMF focuses on advancing the post-service lives of our nation’s military veterans and their families. Syracuse University and JPMorgan Chase & Co are its main supporters and, through its world-class advisory board, provide career training, entrepreneurship education, and actionable research which helps foster small business ownership of veterans and active-duty military spouses.
GovConOps: GovConOps is a consulting group for government contractors. Its focus is on preparing contractors for success in the preaward and post-award phases of government contracting. Its managing principals and directors have more than 15 years of combined experience producing favorable dispute resolution results. This service is on top of providing services such as audit and investigation assistance, contract advisory and compliance services, business development, and marketing.
Starting a business isn’t easy. As you have read, there’s much to think about when you’ve endeavored to enter into this realm. However, as a veteran, courage is one thing you likely don’t lack.
It’s still difficult, but the good news is that there are some fantastic opportunities for veterans. I hope this guide will serve you well.
Meet Diana Garcia, an Austinite unicorn (someone born and raised in Austin, Texas). Diana is currently in college studying marketing and data analytics. After graduation, Diana plans on working in the airline industry as a marketing analyst. In her free time, Diana enjoys making pottery and illustrating.
Diana shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.
Hi Diana! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
I am a licensed esthetician. Aesthetics school was actually where I learned about and fell in love with marketing and the reason why I decided to go to school to study marketing.
How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I have helped EGBI’s marketing department by creating social media graphics, writing blog posts, assisting clients in their marketing endeavors, and documenting EGBI’s marketing analytics.
“Volunteering at EGBI means supporting your local small businesses.” – Diana Garcia
Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?
Volunteering at EGBI helps local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs pursue their goals of starting a successful business, which in turn helps the local community grow and thrive.
Last question, do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?
My favorite experience volunteering with EGBI was helping small business owners with their marketing strategies. Their excitement and willingness to learn new concepts made my projects and time volunteering fun and exciting.
In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Diana make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training ,coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can get involved.