100% Disabled Veteran Starts a Business – Part II
In Part I Al prepared himself to go into business, he sought advice, went back to school, and secured a loan to get a very expensive key piece of equipment for his business. Now it was time to do some business.
Community Involvement (In general)
I was honestly amazed at the absolutely great attitude of Al. As I talked to him, he was so upbeat. He was so thankful for everything he had and for all the people who have helped him. He expressed how grateful he was that the education was available and was very surprised and how many of the young people in his classes were not taking advantage of all the opportunities they had.
He kept telling me in response to my amazement that he was not special; he was just doing the next logical step all along his journey to take care of himself and his family.
They give at their church and to many other charities, even though they struggle to cover their own expenses. In the middle of just trying to take care of themselves, Al and Christy are starting a charity to help the families of disabled veterans. Wow-I was impressed. The name of the charity is “Project Heroes Helping Heroes”.
The idea is that local service organizations, like the Lions Clubs, the Shiners, Masons and others, adopt locally a disabled veteran’s family. For the year of adoption, the kids are sent to camp in the summer, birthday presents and other holiday presents like Christmas are taken care of for the veteran. Attorneys are doing some pro bono work to organize the charity and Al is working with the local Lions Club to try and get his charity helping disabled veterans across the United States. Al is not starting this charity for its marketing potential but does feel it will help get his name out there and could have some positive marketing benefits.
Al has been so excited about his business he admits he has not focused down on a target market. They have put the paperwork in to be approved to sell plaques on military bases, a 2 year wait. They have put the paperwork in to bid on state projects, but no response yet. Al also told me, “Everyone is my market.” But he quickly followed up, I know that doesn’t work, we have to focus more.
-A Focus Strategy
He told me they need to focus more.
They plan to segment their market, pets, hospitals, children ID’s, and so on.They will work that segment for 3 months as hard as they can and as part of their campaign they will donate something to cause related to each activity. Like for the pet market they will donate a part of each sell to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After 3 months and hopefully a foothold they will turn to a new market segment.
-Community Involvement (Marketing)
As mentioned above, Al feels his community involvement will raise his profile and could lead to more sales.
-No Real Marketing Plan
I feel that Al and Christy have a great product and are doing very high caliber engravings, with many applications, but they do not have a real marketing plan yet. I have gotten involved in their story and made some suggestions keeping in mind they do not have much of a budget for marketing.
a) I asked for their business plan if they would share it with me and they did. They relied heavily on selling to military organizations. There is a lot of movement in the military with people changing assignments every few years. The departing service person almost always gets a departing gift, usually some type of engraved plaque to hang on the wall. It is a gigantic market, but they did not research it enough to know that the military requires you to be in business two years before you can sell on most installations and they needed to get a government contract. So their marketing plan immediately went out the window.
b) I suggested they go back to SCORE and tell their advisor they really need help with marketing. To ask him to find whoever the best person was in marketing as close to their product as possible and let them talk to him for some advice.
c) Consider a SCORE team-Some SCORE offices will put a team of 3-4 people together to work on a business issue at once. Al might ask if that could be possible at the office he goes to.
Summary of Steps
1) Al Reduced His Living Expenses
2) Educated Himself on his weak areas so he could run a business
4) Funding-Secured Loan for his business equipment
5) Opened His Doors for Business
6) Community Involvement
7) Next Step (Marketing/Scale)
Appeal to All My Fellow Entrepreneurs
I can’t say this story is far enough along that Al and Christy will have a million dollars in the bank. I know they have the potential and his one engraving machine could produce more than enough for them to make millions. This story is past the beginning, but has not hit any momentum yet. For that reason the story does not yet fit in my book as an example of how to make $1,000,000 in 3-7 years with a tried and true business. It may qualify in a few years. Still this is a great story of someone pursuing their business dream, their life is better off than if they had not. If you need any engraving contact Al and Christy at http://caplaques.com/.
We all have excuses that we think are reasons we do not pursue our dreams. You will never get today back, do something today.