By Wendy Klug, VBOC of the Dakotas Director Photo Courtesy of VBOC of the Dakotas
About the VBOC
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard, and Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as VBOCs.
There are a billion tasks to complete when building or continuing to grow a successful business. It will be some of the hardest work you have ever done and at times it will seem impossible to keep up with it all. However, if you’re not on top of all the important tasks of business ownership, your business could fail. This probably sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the right “teams of people” in your life, it will be easier to build and maintain the business you have always dreamed of.
As an entrepreneur myself and a business advisor for the Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Dakotas, I have learned firsthand how important teams are! I often relied on my cheerleading team to help me when the water got rough. I relied on my SBA team to help me figure out ways to reach my ideal clientele. I always committed to community events to not only give back but to help me gain new exposure for future business. And now as a business advisor, I see every day the importance of these teams! These teams are forever growing in numbers and every now and then, another team category gets added to the list. There is no “I” in teams, so let’s get started on talking about who these invaluable team members are.
Before you get too far into your business planning, make sure you assemble your BAIL team; Banker, Accountant, Insurance, and Lawyer. This is a team of people that will help you get your business off on the right foot and here is why!
Banker: If you are looking for financing, you are going to need to work with a bank. Start with a bank you are familiar with. Interview them to see what they know about small business loans as well as how interested they are in your business. They should work for you and be interested in seeing your success. If not, it’s probably time to search for a new banker. Also, you will need to set up a business checking account separate from your personal account. Having both a business loan and your business checking accountant at the same location can be a time saver!
Accountant: If you are confused about which legal entity will work best for your business, start with an accountant. They should also be able to assist you with preparing taxes and financial statements. It is best to use a CPA or Enrolled Agent who continues education requirements.
Insurance: You will want to protect yourself from any liabilities that come with your business. An insurance agent can assist with loss protection, business insurance, and “riders” for business and shared assets.
Lawyer: Don’t get a lawyer after something has gone wrong. If your business needs to have a contract of some sort, make sure a lawyer reviews it and assures you that it meets contract and agreement standards. There are many types of lawyers, make sure you choose one that is a business lawyer.
If we don’t know how to do something or don’t know an answer, we have a network that we rely on to help us figure it out. We often coadvise with our Small Business Administration partners. This means that the North Dakota Small Business Development Center (ND SBDC) can be assisting you with financial projections and your business plan while I am assisting you with the marketing side of your business and helping you understand how to use your BAIL team. We all offer no-cost business advising and we all have specialty areas that we advise in. How do you know which one to pick? Start with the one that sounds like it will best fit what you need. If you reach out to one of us, the likeliness of you working with several of us is very high. We are your cheerleading team!
A one-stop shop for service members, veterans, and military spouses (but not limited to) looking to start, purchase, or grow a business. VBOC provides training workshops as well as business development assistance such as training, advising, and resource referrals.
Specialty Areas: Veteran initiatives, start-up training workshops, and marketing.
2. ND SBDC:
A network of credentialed business advisors that empower North Dakota small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive. They accelerate business growth in communities across North Dakota by providing customized guidance and resources that help owners and entrepreneurs achieve their goals at every stage of their business life cycle.
Specialty Areas: Business planning, financial projections, industry/market research, and small business exit and succession planning.
The nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors that are dedicated to helping small businesses plan, launch, manage, and grow.
Specialty Areas: One-on-one mentoring with a mentor that has worked in the business sector.
4. Women’s Business Center:
The WBC is a leading voice, resource, and partner for women business owners. They work hard to amplify the collective voice and economic impact of their clients through advocacy and access to critical resources.
Specialty Areas: Networking events, one-on-one mentoring.
Diverse Business Team
When you are ready to start hiring for your team, diversity should be a goal. Although most professionals try to be as adaptable and flexible as possible to meet their job requirements, there’s no denying that each person has a core set of strengths. To give their best, people need to be put in situations where they use their most developed skills and their inborn qualities.
The Creative Type: Having someone on the team who can look at the world without blinders can help a business keep moving forward. A creative person can optimize operations, improve products and services, develop original marketing campaigns, and more!
The Analytical Type: This person will take ideas, analyze them, and turn them into business strategies by seeing the big picture while seeing each specific detail. An analytical person can also see inconsistencies and errors which can help a business save time and money.
The Organized Type: This person helps the business function every day by creating order. They prioritize tasks, create and organize schedules, and know to keep the team efficient. They have a wide perspective on all aspects of the business which proves why they are so valuable to the team.
The Action-Orientated Type: Plans are just plans unless you have someone on your team that will help move them to action. This person can follow instructions while paying attention to detail, giving measurable results, and resulting in increased productivity levels. They help with the workflow of the business and help keep people on track to meet deadlines, resulting in increased productivity and hopefully profitability.
The Communicative Type: Communication is the glue that keeps a team together. While everyone should be able to communicate, the communicator will excel at this. They will be able to interact both verbally and in writing. They are good listeners who can listen to others speak about their plans and provide motivation. They help teams bond and make sure information flows between team members.
Having a community is vital to a small business. Not only does the community provide you with an opportunity to learn and grow as a small business owner, but it can help you form genuine relationships and network along the way. This community also becomes a customer and helps your business grow. When you support your community, they will support you back. To start finding a community team, attend networking events and reach out to local resources that support small businesses such as your local chamber and economic development centers.
This is a team of people who believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it. They may be someone you shared your idea with about how your product could better someone’s life and now they are part of your cheerleading squad. It could also be your grandma who believes in everything you have done since you were five years old. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who they are if they are giving you the encouragement and support you need to believe in what you are doing. They are your greatest fans, your cheerleading squad. And when life gets hard, they are going to support you in the ways you need support to keep on going. Cheerleaders support you and your business! No one has gotten to where they are completely on their own. Every business must have a supportive team system. The most successful businesses delegate tasks that they need help with because they know it is not possible to do it alone. The people you surround yourself with can make a world of difference in how you experience entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, all these teams become one big team for you and your small business! Whom do you have by your side ready to become your biggest cheerleader? Reach out and get started today!