How to Innovate Your Veteran-Owned Business
At The National Veterans Chamber, we know that veterans make fantastic business owners. Not only are veterans hard working and driven to succeed, but they’re also eager to test new ideas and quick to adopt new technology. This open-mindedness towards innovation will take your business to new levels. Whether you run an ecommerce company or a brick-and-mortar store in your community, developing your business through innovative tech upgrades will help you keep up with your competitors—and maybe even surpass them. Here are some digital improvements to consider for your business!
Optimize Your Business Processes and Workflows
Business process management (BPM) is the practice of improving how your business operates. It’s about optimizing workflows and regular processes to improve efficiency and adaptability. BPM is critical to digital transformation! By streamlining and automating repetitive business processes in areas such as accounting, sales, and customer service, you can boost productivity, reduce errors, save costs, and improve process outcomes. This will make daily work easier for you and your employees, decreasing resistance to new technology and facilitating employee buy-in.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
Automation is a core component of BPM. When you automate time-consuming processes, you free up time and money for projects that foster the growth of your business. You can automate almost any repetitive business task. For example, OnDeck explains that you can automate social media posting, competitive monitoring, website traffic tracking, customer support, email responding, payroll, bill payment, invoicing, appointment booking, and much more.
Use Machine Learning
Machine learning will make it easy to automate business tasks that often require human intervention. By drawing on databases of information, machine learning can handle many tasks you’re currently doing manually, from pricing your products to responding to customer service inquiries. Beyond saving time, machine learning can improve your customer experience by offering unique personalization capabilities to your website, marketing materials, and customer interactions.
Get Comfortable with Digital Marketing
If you’re not advertising your business online, it’s time to get familiar with digital marketing. You don’t need to be a marketing expert to create effective digital marketing campaigns. With the help of automation tools and machine learning software, you can plan and implement digital marketing strategies that specifically target your ideal audience. BuildingBlocks Marketing Solutions explains that veterans who want to learn more about digital marketing can participate in online training workshops and statewide Boots-to-Business events.
Offer Remote Work to Employees
The pandemic was a great experiment in remote work. As it turns out, remote work offers plenty of benefits for employees and employers alike. Remote work leads to increased productivity, lower costs, reduced employee stress, lower employee turnover, and less absenteeism. Plus, remote working opens up worldwide talent pools, so you can hire for the specific skill sets you need instead of spending money on employee training. And with the help of remote work tools, onboarding and managing a remote team is easier than ever!
Leverage Low-Cost Apps
Many veteran business owners are hesitant to adopt new technology due to the anticipated costs involved. But innovation can be surprisingly affordable! Software companies often offer plans at tiered price points, so businesses of all sizes can afford to use their technology. Some of these tools are even free! For example, you can set up Google Analytics on any website for free, providing a wealth of information about your website visitors at no cost. Look for other free or low-cost apps designed to handle things like customer relationship management, inventory management, bookkeeping, and other time-consuming business processes.
Successful businesses are always innovating. If you want your veteran-owned business to keep up with your competitors, you must stay on top of the latest advancements in your industry and the business world in general. Leverage technology to make your business run more efficiently, and nothing will stop you!
Are you a veteran business owner? Join The National Veterans Chamber to support the veteran community, including other veteran business owners and veteran families. Fill out the membership form on our website to join today!
Article prepared by:Lucy Reed
Running for Office as a Disabled Veteran
In a perfect world, the government would support everyone, regardless of physical capability, race, gender, economic status, and other such parameters. As Huffington Post notes, though many of these are far from resolved, it does prove that representation truly matters. Here are some resources to help you in your run for office.
It’s safe to say that the many challenges that disabled people face when running for office have a lot to do with why disabled political candidates are still quite rare. The rigors of such a physically demanding endeavor notwithstanding, it can, in fact, be said that politicians with disabilities face a great deal of stereotyping and stigma.
Among the most prevalent challenges that candidates with disabilities face is establishing credibility while also fending off concerns relevant to their individual disabilities. It is this stigma that behooved an illustrious statesmanlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take great pains to hide his disability from the public for almost his entire political career.
Staff and Services
No politician should go it alone. Lumen explains a modern political campaign is actually like a well-oiled machine in which different individuals, from the campaign manager to the volunteers, contribute in one way or another to your bid for office. It goes without saying that you will want the right people in your camp to help you efficiently tackle the challenges on your horizon while, at the same time, push forward your community’s agenda.
Aside from volunteers and staff, consider some outsourcing for a more successful political bid. As an example, freelancers skilled in online writing can be valuable additions to your team as they can help write effective social media content, blog posts, and emails while staying true to your overall message and agenda. If you want to skip the expense of hiring freelancers, there is a wealth of free online tools you can put to good use. For instance, if you have a YouTube channel, try a YouTube banner template to help you customize your space on this platform. You can use the template to swap out banners whenever you need.
Skills and Training
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of sufficient training. There are, in fact, several organizations committed to helping disabled people seek public offices through training and development, and it will do you well to make use of such resources.
Specialized training will vary based on the type of office you’re running for and the skills you already have. For example, earning a degree in computer science will be helpful in building and maintaining a website so you can keep an open dialogue with your constituents. This would be an especially useful tool for those with disabilities who may have trouble making it to local events during their campaign and after being elected.
At the most fundamental level, campaign training for candidates with disabilities will cover the basic skills and methods of running for public office, including creating an authentic message, outreach, staffing, and, of course, the all-important fundraising. These are, by and large, wonderful initiatives that seek to encourage a more diverse political lineup, which is truly a breath of fresh air in this day and age.
As a veteran with a disability seeking a public position, you’ll face challenges. As long as you’re prepared for the challenges and committed to service, there’s really no reason why you won’t succeed. The world is ready for change, after all, so bring it.
Back to School Options for Veterans
The National Veterans Chamber promotes collaboration and supports innovative ideas that will address Military/Veteran challenges faced during pre- and post-transition. Contact us today for more info! firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to School Options for Veterans
You're completing your military service and considering what comes next. The economy is good and there are plenty of jobs around, but you want something more, something to make into a career. The National Veterans Chamber explains that the answer may be going back to school. There are many programs open to veterans, and a college or university degree or MBA will open the way to higher-paying jobs in the field of your choosing.
Why You Should Go Back to School
Although you may have several years of military service, you won't be alone going back to school as a veteran. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of veterans in the workforce with associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees is slightly higher than the national average. The maturity and skills you've learned while serving actually prepare you for the discipline required for further study.
Unique Challenges Faced by Veterans
As the VA notes, leaving the structured military environment brings with it several challenges. It can be difficult to adapt to civilian life, especially if you joined right after high school. You may not have the right skill set to join the labor market or have difficulty relating to people who haven't experienced military service. Going back to school can help you overcome these challenges and provide a goal to aim for.
Paying for School
Several programs provide funding for veterans to go back to school. GI Bill benefits can cover most or all tuition expenses. If you're eligible, some schools run a Yellow Ribbon Program that can fund up to 50% of the difference between post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and mandatory school charges. You may also qualify for federal student aid. Most programs cover tuition fees only, while students need to fund living expenses. One way to handle these expenses is to enroll in a remote course that allows you to work part- or full-time to cover costs.
Balancing School, Work, and Home
One of the practical challenges of going to school after military service is balancing school, home, and work, especially if you have a family. The solution is to plan your life carefully to allow time for each. This may mean taking fewer courses and limiting your work hours so you have time for your family and studies. Use your military discipline to stick to your schedule, and don't be afraid to call in favors from friends and relatives.
On the home front, be sure a positive and inviting atmosphere prevails. Transitioning to civilian life is stressful enough, so identify what sources of stress or distraction may be causing a tense environment in your living space. Then take some simple steps to remove those sources, such as decluttering, deep cleaning, and organizing. Also consider bringing in a few houseplants to help purify the air, and an oil diffuser for aromatherapy can’t hurt.
High-Earning Degrees to Consider
A benefit of going to school after your military service is having the opportunity to aim high for a career that both stimulates and pays well. Apart from undergraduate and doctoral degrees, an MBA sharpens your business skills and develops your aptitude in corporate finance, marketing, human capital management, and strategic planning. An online MBA opens up well-paying job possibilities and is a great option if you have an undergraduate degree.
An MBA is a prerequisite for many high-paying jobs, including:
• Business Manager
• General Manager
• Management Consultant
Building a Career After Serving Your Country
Thanks to the many programs that recognize the unique contributions of the military in service to our country, you have the opportunity to build a dream career. While you may face challenges adapting to civilian life, disciplined study can help you through them and open the doors to a well-paid career in the field of your choice.
The National Veterans Chamber of Commerce can help you connect to resources by connecting you with Leaders in the Community.
Article prepared by:Lucy Reed
Need These Apps to Make Life Easier
The National Veterans Chamber of Commerce establishes strong bonds of collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations who have a passion for supporting and empowering veterans and their families. Join the Chamber or read more informative articles today!
Need These Apps to Make Life Easier
Time-saving techniques are crucial when you’re running a veteran-owned business, and recent technology has allowed more access to apps and other online resources that make life easier for the individual on the go. Whether you want to boost your productivity or keep track of a busy schedule, there are several tools that can help you stay on top of both your personal and professional commitments.
Not only will using these will help you run things smoothly, but they’ll also help you free up some time so you can do the things you enjoy while maintaining a successful business. National Veterans Chamber of Commerce explains that these tools can do much more than help you stay organized.
Keep up with your paperwork
As a veteran and an entrepreneur, you already know how big a role important documents play in your daily operations. Staying organized is crucial for both the wellbeing of your business and your customers’ peace of mind, so look for apps, online services, and other technology that will help you stay on top of those necessary docs. If you travel a lot or just want to simplify things for yourself, look for a mobile scanning app that allows you to scan and send paperwork right from your phone, without the need for bulky equipment. You can also look for apps that help you manage customer interactions across platforms in real-time, so you never miss an important message.
Make communication easier
Staying in touch with your customers is crucial, but it’s just as important to keep communication open with your employees. Whether you’re working on a big project together or just need to make sure everyone can contact you when you’re away from the business, it’s a good idea to look for apps that will allow you to get in touch easily. Video chat services, shared channels, and conferencing tools are perfect for small businesses, especially those that utilize remote workers. Using the right communication apps will help you and your team members avoid misunderstandings so you can get things done right the first time.
Organize your workflow
Staying in touch with your employees is one great way to remain organized, but if you travel a lot or have a full plate most days, you might need a little assistance with keeping your schedule from becoming overloaded. Fortunately, there are several apps that can assist with that, from project management tools to digital helpers that keep track of your to-do list. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to manage your time at work, and these apps will help you see where you and your employees spend the most hours so you can make adjustments when necessary.
Share with ease
Getting organized should extend to your company’s files, as well. There are lots of great apps available for sharing documents within a business or creating customer proposals, and some will integrate with one another to make the process even easier. Some are free, while others offer different services with an upgrade fee, so RingCentral suggests doing a little research to find the right one for your business’s needs. Note each option’s security features as well to ensure that your information is safe.
Keep up with your finances
As all small business owners know, time is money, so when you’re looking for ways to be more productive and organized you can also search for the best apps for tracking your finances. You may need something that helps you keep up with travel expenses, invoices, payroll, and/or monthly income, and many apps available these days can help with most of those at once. Consider whether you want automated services, whether you need them to be tax compliant, and what your budget will be when choosing the right app for your needs.
Make payments easier
Money apps aren’t just for the business owner; there are several tools available that will make things easier for your customers, as well, such as mobile payment processing apps that take various credit cards as well as transfer services such as PayPal. Startup Guys notes that there are benefits that come with offering many ways to pay, such as creating loyalty in existing customers and ensuring that new customers have the flexibility they need to keep coming back. It will also help you reach a larger audience, especially with online sales, and will give your customers peace of mind that they can pay securely without giving a company access to their credit card information.
Keep it secure
No matter how hard you try to keep things secure, you’ll likely still need help from a professional service when it comes to anti-virus software. There are different types available depending on the size of your business and the type of tech you use, including security for computers, mobile devices, and file servers. Look for a system that’s easy to use, within your budget, and offers a variety of protection services so you can ensure that both your data and your customer info are kept safe.
Boost your social media presence
Once your data is secure, you can think about boosting your business’s social media presence without worry. Maintaining accounts across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter requires daily updates with valuable content, including videos and photos that draw in potential customers. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure you have a quality photo editing app on hand, and there are many free choices that will help you take your business pics to the next level no matter how much experience you have.
Finding the right apps for your veteran-owned small business can take some time, so do some research before committing to one. Talk to your employees about their needs and get some insight into the kind of software that will be most beneficial to them, especially if they work remotely or are often working on projects together.
Photo via Pexels
Women Veterans in Business
The number of women veterans keep rising steadily over the years due to an increase in the number of women entering and leaving the military. Women long before they were recognized officially have served in the military since the days of the revolutionary war, showing patriotism, sacrifice, courage, tenacity, leadership, sound judgment, resilience, all special qualities that are valued in military service.
Women have been a crucial asset to the military and we at the National Veterans Chamber want Honor and show our gratitude for their contribution.
Unique challenges of women veterans in business
Veterans who exit the military service may also have a hard time fitting with civilian life. Women may encounter more difficulties compared to their male counterparts.
According to a survey conducted by the VA, the result shows that only about 1.4% of female Americans have served in the military in comparison with growth rate expected to increase to 16% by 2043, women are the fastest-growing segment in the veteran community. This may bring some unique challenges faced by women veterans, because of the steady increase in number.
Women veterans are more likely to become entrepreneurs, maybe this is as a result of a necessity. Women veterans have an unemployment rate 4% higher than other women. While younger women veterans face a stark of over 20%.
All these, in addition to the stigma from the society that makes it difficult to go from soldier to what the society expects to appropriate female behavior. Also, at the end of their service, unlike male counterparts who are easily seen as heroes and warriors, women have a harder time identifying as veterans.
Another challenge female-veterans encounter in business is a lack of capital. Women veterans are more likely than males to secure government contracts. This was revealed in a recent study where women are less likely to go for loans even when their financial profiles were far better than their male counterparts. This may be in large part due to fear of being denied.
How do women veterans fare in business?
What we do know is that women veterans who are given the necessary tools, they end up doing great things in business. Women have proven to be a better risk factor when it comes to loans, women tend to make payments on time and are less likely to default.
The traits that make women veterans successful in service are what makes them thrive in business too. Integrity, the ability to take initiative, a resilient spirit that adapts to changing and evolving situations, all unique traits that make successful business owners.
Despite the challenges, the veterans who make it are twice as successful in terms of revenue and longevity.
According to statistics by the department of labor in 2012 alone, women veterans contributed to about 20b a 26% increase since 2007. Representing about 400,000 women veteran-owned businesses as of 2012 makes them the fastest-growing segment in the entrepreneurship community. To makes the picture clearer, this is over 200% increase from 2007.
As a nation with futuristic ideals, it is not only a moral imperative but an economic one, that we take care of women veterans. These women reinvest and rededicate themselves to the future of our country, through service and through entrepreneurship. We must consider the unique challenges they face, and we should work towards adopting a better system that works to empower more women veterans immediately after service.
Women veterans & business traits
Some veterans are born with special personality traits that make them outstanding leaders coupled with the military training they undergo. This also plays a key role in how they take on their businesses. What they learn and the culture they embrace during service such as the ability to work as teams, leadership growth, early leadership, progress after failure, focus and execution, curious and knowledge seeker, action-oriented, thoroughly trained, are what makes an outstanding entrepreneur.
It is no surprise that women veterans are successful business owners. It is our duty as a Nation and as Veterans to support all Veteran-Entrepreneurs and to provide the tools and the set of skills one needs to succeed. Women-Veterans have demonstrated a unique ability to succeed in business and have shown to possess a set of skills and traits that are crucial to Entrepreneurial Success.
The Veterans Chamber of Commerce Radio Show