I’m fairly certain I could write a book for military spouses about all of the things I learned at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F).
If you have ever thought about starting your own business, EBV-F is a three-part education and training program offered by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. All of the costs of the program, including travel, are free to military spouses through a generous grant.
Attending EBV-F has been one of the most influential experiences of my entire military life. But if I never tell you anything else, I wanted to share the top three secrets that really hit home and will stick with me forever.
1. You can't do it alone: It takes a team.
This was probably the single most fatal mistake I made when I ran my first gourmet food company. I tried to do it all by myself. The ordering, the marketing, the shipping, the customer service -- every task lived on my perpetual to-do list.
Related story: Too Scared to Fail: Entrepreneur Bootcamp
I have long ascribed to the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. It never occurred to me that the same is true of business. EBV-F dispelled the idea of the lone entrepreneur making it big. And they have opened doors and given me the gift of a built-in extended network to reach out to for assistance.
2. Resources are out there.
For a long time, I assumed that if you wanted to make it in business, you had to be wildly creative and learn how to do magic so you could make something amazing out of absolutely nothing.
While these skills can only be an asset (and if you can do magic, we need to talk), the truth is, there are resources out there to help you if you know where to look. There are things available to us like the Small Business Administration, SCORE, crowd-funding sites, and micro-loans.
In a time when the world is getting smaller and smaller thanks to this crazy little thing we call the Internet, there is no reason to let lack of resources stop you from chasing your dreams of business ownership. Spend some time doing some research; I promise you, there is something out there for every kind of business idea.
3. Your network is worth its weight in diamonds.
Your networks, both personal and professional are the most important and precious assets you have. No matter how unique or innovative your ideas, there is always someone out there who has been-there-done-that or who can help you to solve problems and grow your business in ways you never could have imagined on your own.
If you want to own your own business, you have to start making connections. My biggest challenge was not in the making of these connections but learning how to use them. You’ll be amazed at how many people out there will jump at the chance to connect with you and your business. All you have to do is be brave enough and open enough to ask.
Start by being brave enough to look into the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families. It is your next step to establishing a business you will love.
-- Veronica Jorden is the marketing director for the Military Spouse Business Association and the Red, White & Blue Pages. Her approach to business and marketing stems from the “typical” and varied military spouse career path and the hard-knock lessons learned from her own small business experience. She is a former soldier, proud Army wife and mother of three.
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