The Military Spouse and Entrepreneurship – Eight Do’s & Don’ts

By Guest Contributor Renee Nickell
 
For 17 years, I had been a stay at home mom and military spouse.  My days consisted of homeschooling my kids, chauffeuring, meal-planning, budgeting, making sure life was stable during TDY’s and deployments, and supporting my husband through three college degrees.  While these things gave me great fulfillment and I loved my role in the family, I had always had dreams of my own.  Our family made a lot of sacrifices for me to stay at home with my children.  Society says you can’t survive on one income and we proved them wrong.
About two years ago, my husband and I really started talking about leaving the corporate world. He was now a reservist and disabled veteran and he wanted to support me in accomplishing my hopes and dreams.  We haven’t gotten to the point of him leaving his job yet, but we are working towards it.  I went full steam ahead and began writing my first non-fiction memoir.  It was published in July 2018 and it was certainly a dream come true.  Since that time, I’ve had to teach myself how to market, grow my tribe, advertise, and everything else that goes along with being a new entrepreneur.
Just two months before I decided to start writing my book, my husband was suddenly told that he would no longer be “fit for duty” until he underwent a medical review board.  This meant our monthly military pay was gone with zero notice!  This was a huge blow for him as a commander and 17-year veteran.  We had to make things work with a sudden drop in income.  This was a huge risk.  It’s been 18 months and still no medical review board, but we are still making it without his military pay.
If you are a military spouse who may be considering starting a new business on a limited budget, I want to give you a list of eight do’s and don’ts that will help you make that decision:
 
1. Don’t rely on the bank account for you to start your business.
Now some may say, “Renee, this is NOT wisdom.  Every business needs cash!”  Well, no they don’t.  How many dreams have been born around a kitchen table?  How many bakeries have started with mixing the flour and sugar in a small home kitchen?  Many businesses now are started on one-income families with small investments.  Start small, but dream BIG!
2. Don’t expect to get rich quick.
With the social media, coaching craze happening right now, all it takes is one look at your timeline to believe you can become an overnight sensation on YouTube and make 6-figures in two months.  It may happen for some, but for most of us, that isn’t realistic.  What is realistic, if that is your goal, is to grow in what you know.  What you don’t know, learn.  Long-term success takes time, energy, knowledge, and patience.  Remember that turtle that was slow and steady?
3. Do plan on working long hours with no pay.
Startup businesses do not start making revenue right away.  Like I mentioned before, I’m 18 months into “the dream”. I haven’t made any profit thus far, but that doesn’t keep me from moving forward.  Your desire to turn “the dream” into a reality MUST be stronger than the desire to get rich quick.  What this has taught me, is that I am showing my children delayed gratification.  They know mom works A LOT, but I am always teaching them that it’s perseverance and hard work that will eventually pay off, not giving up when you see little results (this can go for weight loss or building up savings).
4. Do expect to make sacrifices.
Have you heard those stories of incredibly successful entrepreneurs that have sold everything they own to make their dream a reality?  Yes, I can relate.  When I was publishing my book, my husband would come home from work and wonder where our furniture went.  I’d tell him I had to pay the editor.  This went on for months until we finally put in for a job transfer and sold our home…providing us with funds to market the book.  You will learn to do what you can to make it work.
5. Don’t expect everyone to understand or be supportive.
Let’s face it…no one will be as excited as you about your new venture.  Friends may think you’re crazy or possibly be upset with your new time constraints.  Naysayers may be jealous and Facebookers may get annoyed.  So, what?  Only ONE person needs to believe in your dream…YOU!  You WILL grow your tribe…don’t try to appease everyone (and most of the people on your social media won’t be your tribe, that takes time to grow).  Those that do support you – keep them close.
6. Don’t give up.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your small business.  If you are dedicated to doing what you believe in and you’re aware that building a business takes time, you WILL eventually see results.  I promise.  Hang in there and know that you will have good days and bad days, but the good days make the bad days worth it.
7. Do take the risk.
Maybe it’s because of my life experiences, but life is too short to not take the risk.  I mean, I’m not talking about bungee jumping here.  Sometimes the greatest results happen because of the greatest risks.  Six months after I published my book I wrote my favorite author and asked for an endorsement.  Guess what, she said yes.  I was so scared to ask, but my husband always tells me, “if you don’t ask, your answer will definitely be no, but if you do ask, you may get a yes.”  He would remind me this after all the “no’s” I have gotten.  I still take the risk and it’s really been incredible to see what doors have opened.
8. Do have the time of your life!
Always remember your “why” and enjoy the journey.  It’s truly the journey that you have to learn to appreciate, because that journey never ends.  Make small goals and celebrate when you meet those goals.
 
I hope this insight will help the new entrepreneur.  If you are a military spouse venturing into new territory, know that you can do this.  Remember that incredibly painful deployment when the kids were puking and the roof was leaking and the car broke down and it was still 10 days until payday?  Well, if you can get through that…you can do this.  The military spouse is resilient and strong.  Be encouraged and go out and make your dreams happen!
 
Renee Nickell is a military spouse, Gold Star sibling, and author of “Always My Hero: The Road to Hope & Healing Following My Brother’s Death in Afghanistan.” Renee has been featured on FOX & Friends, The Brian Kilmeade Show, and SOFREP Radio; her mission is to increase awareness of the difficulties that military families face, to better help them endure, recover, and heal.  For more about Renee, go to www.reneenickell.com.

Scholarships for Military Children

One of the most daunting details of a college education is perhaps also the biggest blockade as well: the cost of school and the ability to afford tuition. Even local community schools often come with fees that are beyond the scope of a military family. Fortunately, Fisher House Foundation and select companies make scholarships earmarked for Military children possible.
Over the past 17 years, the Fisher House Foundation has administered scholarship grants to nearly 11,000 students. These grants are courtesy of the Defense Commissary Agency and its business partners. Fisher House Foundation has volunteered to award and administer the funds, ensuring that every penny raised is awarded to a deserving recipient.
The nearly 11,000 students over the years have been selected from over 90,000 applicants. Potential applicants are eligible if they are the child of an active duty servicemember, reservist, guard or a retired commissary customer.  All eligible applicants should also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and be enrolled or enrolling in a 2- or 4-year degree program for the upcoming fall. Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2019 Semester.
Do you have a college student or graduating senior? The 2019 program application is currently available. Applications must be submitted online by February 15th.
Applicants will be reviewed by Scholarship Managers, a scholarship management firm. This professional firm contracts with Fisher House Foundation. All applicants are evaluated and the most qualified of the group are awarded. 500 Grants will be awarded for the 2019-2020 Academic year. Each grant will be $2,000. To ensure that all funds raised are awarded as scholarship grants, Fisher House Foundation does not charge for its services and covers the cost of the scholarship management contract.
The entirety of the program is funded by Commissary business partners. It is through the extreme generosity that the scholarship fund is even possible. Manufacturers and suppliers keep products on shelves at Commissaries worldwide and the purchase of those products fund the Scholarships for Military Children program.
For more information regarding the scholarship program, application instructions and sponsor information, please visit https://militaryscholar.org/sfmc/index.html.
Per the Fisher House Foundation website and corresponding press releases regarding the Scholarships for Military Children program:
The Defense Commissary Agency and Fisher House Foundation gratefully acknowledge the support and monetary donations of all contributors and especially the following business partners for the 2018 scholarship program:
Four Star Donors – $50,000 or greater
Fisher House Foundation
Reynolds Consumer Products
Three Star Donors – $25,000 to $49,999
522 Foundation
Kahlert Foundation, Inc.
Kellogg’s
MDV, A SpartanNash Company
Procter & Gamble
Two Star Donors – $10,000 to $24,999
Dial, a Henkel Company
Ferrara Candy Company
Frank and Joanna Hogan
J.M. Smucker Company
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
Red Bull
One Star Donors – $2,000 to $9,999
American Logistics Association – Hampton Roads Chapter
Association of US Army – MG Greene Chapter
Bath Fitter
Commander William S. Stuhr Scholarship Fund
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Elite Brands
Energizer
In Honor of MSgt. Loyd J. Rockhold, USMC
Mars Wrigley
Lt. Col. Ron Mattana Scholarship Fund
Pepperidge Farm
PepsiCo
PepsiCo “In Memory of Murry Greenwald”
Pharmavite
Pride Industries
SC Johnson, A Family Company
The Hershey Company
Unilever William and Helen Sherman
Supporting Brokers & Distributors Representatives
Acosta Sales & Marketing
Advantage Sales & Marketing
American Logistics Association
Coastal Pacific Food Distributors
Dunham & Smith Agencies
Exchange & Commissary News
Favata Bakery, Inc.
Military Media Inc.
Military Deli & Bakery Services, Inc.
Military Times / Sightline Media Group
Northeast Military Sales
Overseas Service Corp. / Webco Services Co
Sodexo
 

Compelling Reasons: Why Veterans Make Good Franchisees

By guest contributor Chris Coleman
 
If you’ve ever done any research into the franchising environment, you may have noticed that many franchise companies offer Veterans a discount on their initial investment. Why is that? Well, there are a couple reasons why. First, this is a way for many franchisors to say ‘thank you’ for serving. Many of us feel you’ve gone above and beyond to protect our country and secure our freedoms. Second, there’s a general consensus that Veterans typically make great franchisees! Franchisors find that Veterans, with their leadership and teamwork skills and propensity for following a system, make ideal business owners in the franchise space. Let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why Veterans are so sought after by franchise companies.
You can’t investigate this without first establishing a key finding. For many, that key finding would be the similarities that exist between franchise operations and the order and structure built into military service. We in the franchising industry know that a franchise is successful because the bedrock of its operation depends upon a defined set of principles and procedures that, when replicated, have a high chance of success. Our friends in the military community know that having a defined mission is essential to success; a successful mission, in turn, can usually be replicated, mitigating risk in future operations.
One example of those similarities is training. One of the key advantages of franchising is the amount of training and support that goes into the development of franchisees and their respective franchises. In the military, many of you began with basic training. In a franchise system, you may be required to attend their version of basic training, alongside other new franchise owners. Both are examples of an accelerated learning atmosphere where you’ll ramp up your knowledge of processes and procedures quickly. And we all know that the training doesn’t stop once you graduate from your basic course. The same goes for franchise support systems, all of which make ongoing education, training, and support a key ideological framework.
No discussion about Veterans and franchising would be complete without a reference to teamwork. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “teamwork makes the dream work,” keep in mind that it applies to franchise operations as well as military training and execution. Much of our military organizational framework is built around groups and teams of men and women – troops, squads, platoons, regiments, divisions, and so on. Franchises rely on the same framework, the same type of top-down leadership as the military, to ensure the success of their operations.
The remaining similarities are no less obvious. The ability to thrive under pressure is a suitable quality in both a Veteran and a franchise owner…neither are strangers to long hours, hard work, and a payoff for effort at the end of the day. Lastly, discipline will always win the day…the military and our Veterans depend upon it and strong franchise brands demand it. In some sense, we can actually tie teamwork and discipline together – successful teams tend to have some sort of accountability structure in place and good franchise companies facilitate accountability groups throughout their system to encourage franchise owners to be all that they can be.
There are plenty of statistics that speak volumes about Veterans and small business ownership. From 2012 U.S. Census Bureau and Small Business Administration information, data suggests that approximately 2.5 million businesses – nearly 9.1% – were Veteran-owned. Within the small business ‘space’, franchising itself is a successful business platform for many Armed Forces Personnel – Veterans, Family members, National Guard & Reserve, and even Service Members on active duty. Many reports detail that approximately one in seven U.S. franchises is owned by Veterans. Did you catch that? One in seven franchises is owned by a Veteran! There must be a compelling reason for that statistic…
While there are a lot of synergies between franchises and the military, researching the nearly 3,600 franchise concepts can be tricky. If you or someone you know is a member of the military community looking to establish a business foothold in civilian life, I recommend connecting with a local franchise consultant to help navigate those waters. And don’t forget what they say – ‘teamwork makes the dream work’…
 
Chris Coleman is a second-generation franchise consultant & a franchise owner with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. He and his team provide no-cost consultations to individuals seeking business ownership opportunities. Chris currently owns franchise territory in 4 states, sits on the Board of Directors for FranNet, and serves as Vice-Chair of FranNet’s Franchise Advisory Council.  Connect with Chris on LinkedIn here or visit FranNet.com for more information on franchising.
Do you have any experiences you’d like to share about your military-to-civilian transition? Anything that might benefit others in our military community, facing the same challenges? If so, email Kris@militaryconnection.com and tell us your story…

How to Leverage Applicant Tracking Systems in Your Job Search

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
 
Ahhh, the online job application. Been there, done that. From the advent of the Web to social to mobile, technology has made quite the impact…and perhaps no more so than on the recruiting and selection process for today’s workforce.
Have you ever completed an online job application and received “NO” feedback? Not even a “Thanks, but no thanks”? Because I know that most of you are nodding your heads in agreement, I’m going to spend the next few minutes talking about the primary source of our frustration – the Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. Of course, this information & these comments serve as a general reference and do not apply systemically to all ATS programs or to all companies.
Before I continue, you need to know that much credit for the substance of this post goes to my good friend, Frank Alaniz. Frank is an Air Force Veteran, colleague, mentor, and friend, and he’s helped literally thousands of job-seekers over the last twenty years find gainful employment as a trainer for the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. Between his grasp of technology and his tremendous network of employers, he’s been able to stay current on the latest hiring practices and pass that knowledge along to his clients and workshop attendees. You can connect with Frank on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/frankalaniz).
Early on. Way back in the day, the explosion of online job boards created a global platform for advertising job openings and forced the recruiter to look to an electronic recruitment system to help automate the processing of all the candidates. The early ATS companies appeared on the scene in the late 1990s and, at the turn of the century, many recruiters weren’t convinced that the Internet would ever become relevant for mainstream recruiting…your average retail clerk or plumber or sales rep would never apply for a job online.
E-recruitment and Applicant Tracking Systems started off as clunky, bureaucratic processes that frustrated everyone. But now…now they’re so much more. Those systems are integrated, cloud-based software suites that encompass the entire employee lifecycle. There are hundreds of Applicant Tracking Systems out there from which a company can choose, and in the employee selection ‘space’ an ATS enables users to manage hiring processes like job distribution, screening, interviewing, and sending out offers.
The good. What used to be the exclusive domain of large organizations, the ATS solution is now available for employers of all sizes, thanks in large part to the potential unleashed by cloud-based computing. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online at an enterprise or small business level, depending on the needs of the company. There’s also free and open source ATS software available. And what can an ATS do for the overburdened HR staff? Well, it can analyze resumes and present the data they contain in a standardized format where it can be quickly reviewed; it can make comparing resumes fast and simple; it can collect, organize, and show job candidates in the same way LinkedIn or Facebook show your contacts or friends; it can post to a wide range of free and paid job boards with a single submission; and it offers the facility to automatically filter dud applications from true job candidates. The right applicant tracking software is a major step towards creating a repeatable, systematic hiring process, from posting a job to having an offer letter accepted.
The bad. It’s estimated that about 95% of businesses use software programs to handle their recruitment process. The ATS searches resumes – sometimes thousands of them – for keywords that match the job description in order to help determine the human “best fit” for the position. But while that helps with efficiency, experts also claim that a full 90% or more of resumes submitted online are never seen by human eyes.
In some of our workshops, we jokingly(?) call the Applicant Tracking System a “weapon of mass rejection.” Here are some numbers for you: up to 80% of those resumes scored by ATS programs are determined unqualified within the first 10 minutes of the application process (i.e., before actual submission); up to 75% of the remaining job applicants are unqualified immediately after hitting the submit button; and some experts estimate that at least 85% of those resumes rejected were done so because they contained the wrong words or used the wrong format.
Simply put, an ATS maps and gathers info from your resume, scores each resume based on how well it matches the job description (think keywords), and then ranks the candidates. Potential employees with the highest scores move to the next step in the recruitment process, while others are left in the dust. Your carefully-crafted, hand-tailored, aesthetically-pleasing resume is getting reviewed and graded by… a bot.
Make sure your application entries and/or resume contain the keywords that the job posting uses to avoid the ATS “black hole” …that situation where you never hear from anyone at any time about any of the jobs for which you’ve applied. Keywords are those…well, words…that employers and recruiters use to find appropriate and relevant resumes. Regardless of how well-qualified you are, if your resume doesn’t contain the words they’ve coded into the ATS for that position, the system will not find your resume.
The ATS looks for a specific match, ranking the resumes with the most keyword matches higher than the rest. Those keywords typically come from the job description you’re applying for, so don’t use generic “buzz words” you found online.
Speaking of keywords and the ATS, here’s a tip: avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. What’s that, you say? It’s literally stuffing hidden keywords into a resume in order to game the system, done by repeatedly typing keywords into the resume then making the text white so that it’s invisible to human eyes. The idea is that it will help the candidate rank higher in an ATS review.
Unfortunately, keyword stuffing with hidden text is easily spotted and one of the quickest ways to burn a bridge with a recruiter. Instead, focus on resume keyword optimization, which isn’t about “tricking” or “beating” the system; it’s about working in sync with recruiters and hiring managers and the technology they use. One way to optimize is to use any number of online apps to help you analyze a job description compared to your resume. Do so, and that comparison will reveal all the keywords that are missing from your resume so you can deliberately work them in.
There are other legitimate ways to increase your resume “ranking”, like tailoring the content to the exact way the job description is written. And yes, that will mean a different version of your resume for each job application. Focus your resume on hard skills; many soft skill terms we use (like ‘dynamic’, ‘team player’, and ‘critical thinker’) are not quantifiable. Pay attention to how words are written in that job description: watch for plural vs. singular, abbreviations, and numbers. Did the job description read “nonprofit” or “non-profit”? Did it read “3 years” or “three years”? In ATS-land, those details matter…
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…there are certain things that you might just want to go ahead and embrace, rather than fight every step of the way. Applicant tracking systems are one of those things. Learn them, figure out how to use them to your advantage, and stay connected with folks like Frank who can help you keep up with all the latest techniques. Best of luck working within YOUR system!
 
Do you have any experiences you’d like to share about your job search or military-to-civilian transition? Anything that might benefit others in our military community, facing the same challenges? If so, tell us your story and email Kris@militaryconnection.com!

New Year, New You: Pursuing A Degree that Fits

It’s officially 2019 – and while the year is only a day and a half old, many of us have been thinking about our resolutions and how to make our lives better in the new year. Some of us will be starting a diet and new fitness routine. Some of us will be cleaning and organizing our homes. Some of us will be working on our budgets and finances. If there is a still a longing in your heart for a change that doesn’t fit these descriptions, perhaps a change in your education might help you along your journey.
Making the jump to being a student again can be daunting. There are more choices available now than ever before and many decisions need to be made before the application process even begins.
Step 1: What do you like?
What do you like? At what do you readily excel? There are bound to be activities in your life that bring you joy that could be turned into an academic program and possibly career. Sit down and make a list of your strengths, passions, likes and activities. Once you have made that list, start to explore the academic options that best match up.
Step 2: Match your hobbies with a degree.
In so many cases, a hobby can be turned into a career. Are you passionate about animals? Perhaps a Veterinary assistant would be an ideal career for you! Love children? Pursue a degree in early childhood education. Photography your jam? Look to take photojournalism classes as part of a journalism program. If you can’t stand math classes and hate working with numbers, then it would be counter-productive to pursue a degree in accounting!
Step 3: Look for programs in your area
A great place to start is your local community school. They typically offer a plethora of degrees across a wide variety of disciplines and can be great for adult professionals looking to advance an existing career or jump start a new one. If it turns out that your desired degree requires a four year or more commitment, your local community school can probably point you in the right direction as well. Don’t forget about online degrees – depending on what you are going for, the online option might be the best way to pursue your academic dreams without uprooting your entire family.
Step 4: Pick a program and apply!
Hitting the “apply now” button is sometimes the scariest thing! The leap of faith of will pay off, however, as you truly won’t know until you try.
Step 5: Explore your GI Benefits and change your future!
You’ve served your country and now deserve the opportunity for self-exploration and improvement. Be sure to mention your service time to the advisors you meet along the way and get your documentation together for a smooth process.

Six Tips to a Top-Shelf Business Plan

By guest contributor Will Katz
 
It has been my honor and pleasure to work with many veterans who have started small businesses. Over the years, I’ve noticed that people with military experience tend to be excellent entrepreneurs. Why would that be the case? Well, I don’t know this for certain, but I would imagine that the careers of most military personnel revolve around 1) creating a plan, and 2) executing that plan.
Perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that entrepreneurship generally follows a similar roadmap. Entrepreneurs also create a plan, then execute that plan. With that in mind, here are six key points for anybody embarking on the process of business planning:
Begin with the end in mind. You might recognize this as Habit 2 of Dr. Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is always a good habit, but especially so when it comes to business planning.
Of course, it may be somewhat challenging. If you have never written a business plan, the odds are that you have also not seen a wide variety of business plans. If you have not seen a lot of business plans, it may be difficult to envision what your completed plan might look like.
You should ask your network of peers and advisors if they might be able to share some business plan samples with you. If your personal network doesn’t include people who are well-versed in the business planning process, use this as an opportunity to expand that network a little bit. I would recommend that you begin your journey by attempting to read and review at least ten business plans. This will give you a baseline.
Beware of search engine results. Sure, you could type “business plans” into your favorite search engine.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait…I can tell you what you are going to get back. You will see all kinds of specialty business plan-writing products that will cost you anywhere from $79.99 to about $1,200. Search engines are wonderful, and I frequently wonder how I managed to get by without the ability to find out what time the nearest pizza restaurant closes. But when it comes to complex topics like business planning, I’m not sure that search engines are your best friend.
When it comes to business plans, results with high placement are often placed in your results feed because companies who sell these tools pay for that placement. Their job is to give you “business plan envy”. They want you to feel like you couldn’t possibly do this without them. They want you to think the business planning process is more confusing or more exacting than it really is.
There is no magic format. Believe it or not, there is no magic in how you lay out the sections of your business plan. I’ve seen great business plans with 4-5 sections, and I’ve seen great business plans with 12-14 sections. I’ve seen business plans funded for millions of dollars that were 4 pages long. I’ve also seen plans of every shape and size that were lacking in critical content.
I spent several years working with an aspiring pre-venture entrepreneur who was convinced that there was a magic business plan format. He created a plan and he sent that plan to dozens of potential funding sources.  Each recipient of the plan pointed to some issue or issues, and many of them pointed to different problems.  Every time he received a response, he passed it on to me with a note, making sure to tell me that he was unhappy that I didn’t see the issue ahead of the rejection!
In this case, my belief was (and still is) that the plan didn’t correctly identify a problem and his corresponding solution. The business notion underlying your business plan is always the main issue. But his belief was simply that if he wrote the “perfect” business plan, regardless of the underlying facts, he would get millions of dollars in funding.  (Hint: it doesn’t really work that way!)
Especially if you are in the earliest stages, it will benefit you to think of your business plan along the lines of a simple feasibility analysis. The simple act of viewing your concept and your business idea from that 10,000-foot perspective may well be revolutionary for you. Shoot for maybe 5 or 6 sections, each section being one page.  You may be surprised at how far that will lead you.
Research is key. There are a lot of different types of research that might go into a business plan. Foremost among those types of research, I would say, is “secondary” market research.
When it comes to market research, “primary” market research relates to the questions you ask customers and/or potential customers. “Would you buy this?” “How much would you pay?” “What should we call it?” It’s not that these are bad questions, but for most entrepreneurs, it is exceedingly difficult to design the right survey tools and get outside of your comfort zone far enough to ask them to people who will give you unbiased answers.
“Secondary” market research relates to existing sources of information that answer questions one might have.  If your business idea is related to after-market car parts, it would be helpful to know how many cars are registered in your metro area. If you are planning to open a nail salon, wouldn’t you like to know how many people in the area have received pedicures in the last six months? (Believe it or not, this is a question that could be answered!)
There are some amazing tools for research out there if you know where to look. Some are free to use, but some are not. Again, it is always a good idea to expand your personal network to help you learn what you know and what you don’t know. If you don’t know any librarians, it might be worth your time to meet one! I’m a big fan of the US Census Bureau tools (https://www.census.gov/smallbusiness/), as well as industry reporting from places like IBISWorld, Cengage, and First Research.
Be specific in your statement of purpose. Yes, you should be as specific as possible in all aspects of business planning. But the reference here is to the purpose for your actual plan.  I always like to see a sentence in the first couple of paragraphs that starts like this: “The purpose for this plan is….”
Maybe the purpose is to find a bank loan for 50% of the $100,000 you need. Maybe you are looking for early-stage investors among family and friends. Maybe you are simply putting together a document that will keep you on track as you develop ideas and one that will provide you with direction as you move forward. Whatever the reason is, put it in the plan.
Necessary, but not sufficient by itself. I’m certain that no battles have ever been won by planning unless the planning was backed up by robust action. Know that it will be the same way with your business. Planning alone will never compete with planning AND execution.  In your military career, how many of your plans survived first contact with the enemy? Probably not very many! The same will be true of your entrepreneurial pursuits. It’s great to have a plan. In fact, it’s critically important to have a plan.
Just be prepared to deviate from that plan when the situation calls for it!
 
Will Katz, MBA, CVA is a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) and Accredited Business Planning Advisor (ABPA) specializing in valuation support for SBA lending. Will is also Director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Kansas, where he helps entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Will has worked with more than 1500 business clients, including hundreds of military Veterans in the Ft. Leavenworth area. Connect with Will Katz on LinkedIn here
 
Do you have any experiences you’d like to share about your small business planning process or military-to-civilian transition? Anything that might benefit others in our military community, facing the same challenges? If so, email Kris@militaryconnection.com and tell us your story…