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How To Grow A Veteran-Owned Small Business

How To Grow A Veteran-Owned Small Business

Veterans are gradually squeezing into the corporate pool, which is thrilling and promising. This spike is expected to reach colossal scales, given the rise in veteran business training programs, including the Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs). As of December 2022, veterans owned only 6.4% of small businesses in the United States, underpinning the need to prioritize their integration into the corporate sphere.

However small this number is, it’s quite an improvement from the past decades, where small veteran-owned businesses were relatively few. But as it’s reasonable enough to question why such small numbers exist, the lack of know-how to establish successful veteran-owned small businesses has continuously been the backdrop for the sluggish growth.

Times are changing, and more veterans are signing up for small business ownership opportunities nationwide. Therefore, this article discusses ways to grow a veteran-owned small business to ensure your success.

1. Have a working business plan

About 20% - 22% of small businesses fail within the first year. One of the factors that leads to business failure is lousy plans.

For any business to be successful, whether a fast-food franchise or a veteran-owned cannabis brand selling weed pre-rolls or flower, having a working business plan is paramount. However, re-evaluating your business plan will be useful if you’re already further into running your company. If you aren’t sure your business plan is effective and future-proof, you can go over this checklist:

  • Details and comprehensiveness of the plan
  • Ease of reading, understanding, and interpreting
  • Efficiency in addressing your business’s needs
  • Flexibility
  • Presence of an action plan with metrics and milestones

If your business plan doesn’t meet the above pointers, it’s time to re-evaluate and re-adjust. Otherwise, expecting your veteran-owned small business to grow would only be a snipe hunt.

2. Learn more about entrepreneurship

Mastering the entrepreneurship basics is the foundation for establishing and growing a successful small business regardless of the niche. Solid knowledge about the marketing strategy you need to use, navigating possible business mishaps, and dealing with imminent losses is what you need in your go-bag.

Growing your small business in this decade, puffed with a massive entrepreneurship craze, is seamless. However, amassing all resources you may need to grow your veteran-owned small business is now a piece of cake. Below are some of the veteran-centric programs to help improve your entrepreneurship understanding and grow your small business:

  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC): This program offers business training, workshops, government contract opportunities, and business mentorships, which are critical to solidifying your know-how of succeeding in business.
  • Service Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (SDVETP): For veterans who want to translate their service-connected disability into owning a small business, this program is the go-to. It lets you swiftly identify opportunities for growth in entrepreneurship to scale up your small business.
  • Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (WVETP): Various non-profit and educational institutions host this program, preparing women to thrive in business.

The ones listed above are a few practical ones that help certify your business and enable you to get government contracts.

3. Understand current marketing trends

Whether running a veteran franchise or a solely operated veteran-owned small business, understanding the market is a requisite you wouldn’t want to overlook. Moreover, having the current marketing trends up your sleeve can get you out of a cesspool of stagnation and an inability to expand your small business.

Brand marketing has hit its prime, and numerous businesses strive to get their names known across the digital community. Thus, social media marketing has become the norm, quickly converting lesser-known brands into household and mainstay businesses. You should know that brand recognizability matters, which should align with the service and product quality you render.

Therefore, you need to develop a marketing plan that blends online and offline tactics and invest in search engine optimization to improve traffic. Aside from this, email marketing is a modern way to connect with potential customers, vastly rendering visibility. You can also use analytics to track your marketing campaigns and adjust where necessary.

4. Build a solid and dependable team and invest in your employees

Your veteran-owned small business will only be running on a treadmill without a close-knit and reliable team. Training your team, no matter how small, can get your business soaring to greater heights. If your team directly handles your customers, it’s ideal that you inform them of what clients expect and the quality that gets them head over heels.

Your team also needs to be dependable and coordinate swiftly. Try investing in your group by making available all resources that make them the best version of themselves. Let them understand the entire process and get behind your every move. That’ll make operations more seamless and geared toward growth and success.

Here are several employee resources tailored to improving your employees' output:

  • Mentorship opportunities: Your employees may want to learn more about the job despite being qualified. In that case, you can offer them mentorship opportunities.
  • Employee development plans: Frequent in-depth employee assessments help find the gaps in skills that need filling. Development plans act as a guide to you and your employees to facilitate their development.
  • Virtual events: Meetings and events are practical resource pools offering much-needed sensitization about your business's various aspects, including task execution and customer satisfaction. So, making virtual events available will go a long way.

Internal mobility programs, employee training, and support for independent learning activities are other resources that you can consider.

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5. Focus on customer service

Your customers are the center of it all, driving your profits and losses in your small business. Customers are the centerpiece in every business strategy and plan and precede everything else when running a business. Gathering their input will allow you to tailor services and products to suit their needs. Remember, 66% of customers believe that companies must understand their needs, so it’s beneficial if you’re adept at rendering your services and products.

Valuing their feedback is a strategy you can implement to show that you care. Practice active listening when on a phone call or chat with them, maintain a positive attitude during interactions, and be more prompt with your responses. It'd also help to personalize your services to create sturdier business-customer relationships and identify possible issues they might experience and provide solutions.

Offering high-quality services also lowers customer service costs by almost 33%. Besides, tailored customer service provides a high-end experience that keeps more clients circulating your business. Hence, you need to train your team members to provide excellent customer service.

6. Diversify your revenue streams

Diversification in business is vital if you want to proliferate. Veteran-owned small businesses aren’t the exception either. Identify various revenue streams that anchor your business firmly. However, this technique requires more foresight into potential future product sales since diversification can be your undoing.

Keep in mind that diversification helps you rack up massive revenues from selling closely related but marginally independent products and services from what you primarily offer. Regardless, you shouldn’t risk your main business and what your customers love the most.

Below are three practical tips for diversifying your revenue streams:

  • Conduct an audience audit: Try understanding what your customers want that’s closely related to your offer. That should guarantee a ready market.
  • Focus on being genuinely resourceful: While you may want to diversify to evade the risk of using up your resources, how will your diversified revenue stream benefit your customer more?
  • Connect with your customers: When diversifying, it helps to ensure that you focus on your customer and how your new income revenue will help them. Find out how a crisis has affected them, so you can genuinely help them.

You can consider getting extra financing from veteran support groups. The good thing is that you can leverage small business loans for veterans to diversify and expand your business.

7. Leverage your veteran network

The various veteran military personnel networks available can be your treasure trove in helping you grow your small business. These connections are themed around the services you rendered while in active service, and you’ll surely get rewarding tokens from veteran organizations. Furthermore, it'll help you build meaningful networks through veteran-focused events and business sensitization programs to support you in scaling up your enterprise.

8. Closely monitor your finances

Having excellent financial acumen is crucial to business growth and includes mastering your cash flow, revenue, and expenses. Regularly monitoring your finances will help you plan for the future through financial forecasting. That should allow you to bypass loopholes and operation risks that might threaten your business’s survival.

On top of that, having a comprehensive understanding of your finances will help you develop operational patterns that enable you to diversify effortlessly without risking your business.

9. Leverage technology

Investing in technology is an effective strategy too. Every niche has specifically tailored technologies that help streamline operations, whether in logistics, communications, or fast food.

Creating a winning digital transformation strategy can help you offer a better customer experience and use your resources efficiently. Plus, it keeps you well-connected with your customer base and employees effectively. Business transformation puts technology at the center of any business strategy. Thus, it’s easy to scale up your veteran-owned small business with a unified model integrating business and technology.

Conclusion

Running a business as a veteran is rewarding, and growth is possible. You need to have the right tools and strategies to take your business to a new level. In a century where technology is sophisticated and the world reduced into a global village, getting your small business known far and wide is relatively easy. However, it's even more fulfilling to see your business defying all odds and flourishing by the day. With the tips discussed above, you’ll grow your business to unimaginable heights.

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