Recognizing Veterans and Entrepreneurs

During this National Entrepreneur Month, we not only recognize the tenacity of small business owners, but our veterans who took the leap of faith to open a small business. While November is widely known as a time our country honors and recognizes the contributions veterans made to our country, it’s also a moment we acknowledge the impact entrepreneurs have made to our economy; both adding valuable contributions to our country.
Becoming an entrepreneur is challenging and rewarding, all at the same time. Sometimes it requires you to take that leap of faith by moving from fear to faith and taking the plunge to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a long while – but you just couldn’t figure out the right time to do it! Perhaps, now is the time. If you’re interested in getting your business started but don’t know where or how to get started, here are few things to consider:
Make a plan/Attend trainings, workshops or webinars. To get started, register now for the free AARP From Passion to Profit, Part 2: Veteran Entrepreneurship Webinar on November 9th at 3PM EST. During this session, moderated by SBA’s Jamie Wood, panelists Lee Dougherty (Founder, Operation Rally Point), Joseph Parker (Founder, iN2STEM Solutions, Inc.) will discuss the challenges and rewards of being a small business owners, as well as how they used their military skills to start a business. Gaea Honeycutt (Founder, Hypatian Institute, Inc.) and Charles McCaffrey (Director, Veterans Business Outreach Center), who work with veterans, will highlight resources and support available for veteran entrepreneurs. Organizations such as AARP, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); Veteran Affairs GI Bill; Bunker Labs; and the Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Program, all have training programs and/or offer funding to assist aspiring veteran business owners. Or, attend an event during SBA Veterans Small Business Week to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur.
Talk to an expert. I’m sure you know someone in business who has experienced the highs and lows of being a business owner. Reach out and request time to chat to ask about their experiences and how they got started; particularly if they are in your desired industry. Ask them about the challenges and successes of being a business owner and being your own boss. From there you can determine if starting a small business is right for you.
Get a mentor. The SBA has great resource partners such as SCORE, a group of retired business executives, to offer persons in business or interested in starting a business one on one assistance to help you get and stay on track. SCORE mentors are located in most cities though the US and have a proven track record helping entrepreneurs be successful.
Get funded. Funding is one of the most common road blocks to getting your business off the ground. There are a number of non-traditional ways to get funded through entities such as, KIVA, Fundera and Community Development Funding Institutions (CDFI) looking to help your business build and grow. Consider seeking an angel investor(s) and/or fundraising through GoFundMe to get people interested in supporting your business.
Don’t let failure stop you. Studies show that many businesses fail in the first 5 years. This may not apply to you, so do not let that discourage you. Launching a small business takes risk and fortitude to see your dream become a reality. Be committed to moving from idea to “open for business.”
Support small businesses. The challenges and rewards of self-employment are partly due to the support of fellow business owners. Take a moment on Small Business Saturday, November 25th to support small businesses. Remember, their survival depends on you.
AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP.
Photo: AARP
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From Passion to Profit

From Passion to Profit

Have you thought about turning your passion and something that serves others into an opportunity that could pay the bills? Perhaps you sold lemonade, made homemade desserts or sold candy when you were a kid.  At that time, you were probably nurturing your entrepreneurial spirit.  Many small-business owners will agree that when you’re passionate about what you do, it does not feel like work; you’re just doing what you were placed on this earth to do.

On Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. ET, AARP will host From Passion to Profitwhich will explore the journeys of three inspiring owners of Alan Michaels Design, Woofies, and the NailSaloon. All three took a leap of faith and left the corporate world to pursue their passions, ultimately reaping a nice profit. This panel of entrepreneurs will be moderated by renowned musician, Marcus Johnson, owner of FLO Wine and a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) award winner. The SBA will also discuss available resources for entreprenuers. REGISTER NOW to hear these inspiring stories from the entrepreneurs who created these businesses:

Alan Michaels Design. After returning from a trip to Kowloon, China, where he was introduced to clothing and tailoring, and eventually leaving his day job of overseeing a minority business program with the NFL, fashion aficionado Michael Humphrey decided to “chase” his passion to become a full-time men’s custom clothier and shoe designer. In 2005, he launched Alan Michaels Designs, located in Ashburn, VA, to not only sell menswear but educate men on identifying their personal sartorial style.  Humphrey, who’s always had a desire to “stand-out and be seen,” helps men, through his fashion passion, build their self-confidence.  Working in an industry that’s largely underrepresented by minorities, particularly African Americans, he networks through Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA) to influence men of color who have an appetite and interest in the industry.

Woofies.  Inspired by their passion and love for dogs, business owners Amy Reed and Leslie Barron left their corporate careers to establish a pet-sitting and dog-walking service. Being pet owners themselves, they knew firsthand the need to make sure their pets were in the best hands at all times when they were away from home or while traveling. As a result, Reed and Barron were frequently called upon to help care for others pets while the owners were away. Due to a high volume of demand, in 2004 they made the leap, and the business grew in a short seven years. Woofies, now includes Pet Taxi, Overnight Care, Bed and Biscuit and mobile grooming services.

NailSaloon. Rated one of the best nail salons on this side of the Mississippi and located in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, two friends ditched their corporate jobs to open a nail salon. After discussions over a cocktail and writing down ideas on napkins and envelopes, the NailSaloon was born.  They envisioned what the shop would look like and the customer experience. They knew they wanted a place where friends, new and old, could talk and relax.  They also donate 3% of their daily profit to charity. Andrea Vieira and Claudia Diamante are having a great time helping their customers feel special.

Want to hear more about how each of these owners got started? REGISTER NOW! Can’t attend this webinar? Register and a link will be sent to you when the webinar is complete.

Thinking of starting a business? Check out to see if starting a business is right for you.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: AARP

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