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  • Will crowdfunding make franchising easier for Veterans?

    Will Crowdfunding help make acquisition of franchise opportunities easier for Veterans?

    One would think that a non-profit crowd funding platform for honorably discharged service disabled veterans who want to start small businesses is particularly well suited for a number of reasons. First is the fact that being a veteran is the #1 indicator of successful business ownership. One out of every 10 businesses is owned and operated by a veteran. Secondly, many disabled veterans have issues that allow them to tap into caring support networks.  So what is crowdfunding and could it help fund a Veteran franchise acquisition?

    Crowdfunding is the process of raising public money to fund a private campaign. It allows you to tap into your social network and receive contributions from all of your “friends” to develop an idea or event. The majority of crowdfunding money raised today is on rewards-based platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo websites. With these sites, supporters of a project typically get some kind of incentive, from a coffee mug to a listing on a marquee, in return for their contribution. In addition to rewards-based systems, the equity crowdfunding market now allows investors receive a share of the company in exchange for funds.

    While Kickstarter and Indiegogo are generalist platforms for raising money, niche sites are springing up that may serve to help drive equity to Veteran small business and complement new peer to peer lending platforms for Veterans like Street Shares. , The crowdfunding market is going to be full of specialized players that serve particular market segments very well. So why not Veterans in franchising deals and what are the problems?

    One problem is that the crowdfunding platforms mentioned need campaigns that are relatively expensive to organize and promote. Another is that the success rate of their Veteran campaigns to date is poor and only raises amounts that are typically below $5,000. With millions of crowdfunding opportunities out there, it’s difficult for people to choose what to support or invest in. However as crowdfunding becomes more mainstream, some expect to see crowdfunding funds start that aggregate multiple causes or investment opportunities. This could be a great new risk capital pool for Veterans in franchising. This could be particularly true as equity-based crowdfunding success stories spread and the public wants in on the action.  Franchising provides a relatively stable business analysis platform for investors and consistent regulatory information requirements.

    While it will be exciting to watch crowdfunding evolve into new areas like franchising, it’s important to note that each crowdfunding site must ensure that the money is distributed efficiently and that contributors get what they bargained for (the initial incidents of fraud have been low, less than .1 of 1% on Kickstarter) It will be easy to find Veteran franchise deals  that need money and  tough to find deals that will work out for investors.  For now SEC accredited investor rules still apply for due diligence requirements to over 1000 crowdfunding platforms worldwide.

    One very interesting facet of crowdfunding that has emerged is that communities are expected to use the crowdfunding vehicle for public/private partnerships. Envisioning community economic development actors partnering with Veterans on franchising projects is a refreshing thought. Even if Veterans have to bring their own “crowds” I believe at least a  few franchise deals will probably get done with crowdfunding.

    Author: Jim Mingey Featured in Franchising Magazine November Veterans Supplemental Edition

  • Vet to CEO Core Entrepreneurship Program

     Core Entrepreneurship Program

    If you are a military veteran or transitioning out of the service, or you know someone who is, please take a moment to read about VetToCEO’s Core Entrepreneurship Program.

    The Core Program is free of charge to qualified veterans and active duty military who are exploring entrepreneurship as a career option or are aggressively completing their business plan. This program is uniquely designed by veterans for veterans and leverages skills gained while in the military.

    Our next Core Entrepreneurship Program will run from:

    September 23rd through November 4th.

    The program consists of:
    * A preliminary online overview module designed to help you see if this program is right for you
    * Seven weekly webinars held Tuesdays from 7pm-9pmEDT
    * Business planning mapped to the military planning model
    * Access to our VetToCEO online community resources
    * Access to the GUST business planning platform where you can easily share your business plan with potential investors.

    To learn more about this online business course please Click Here

  • Congratulations, Brian Eaton, Winner of Operation American Dream

    It’s no secret that, at Signal 88, we have a special appreciation for veterans. In fact, Signal 88 Security has been listed among the top 10 percent of military-friendly franchises by G.I. Jobs as well as recognized as a Top 100 Franchise for Veterans by Franchise Business Review.

    Our respect and gratitude for the service of these brave men and women, as well as their leadership qualities, discipline and entrepreneurial spirit, are among the key reasons why we sponsor Operation American Dream: From Battlefield to Boss, now in its second year.

    The contest, which runs from now through May 15, 2014, is an opportunity for Army and Air Force veterans to demonstrate their professionalism, accountability, and commitment to unparalleled service for the chance to win money toward opening their own business. (There will be a separate contest for Marines and Navy veterans later this year).

    “Why do people not go to the gym?” Brian Eaton asks in his video entry  for Operation American Dream. “Because it’s boring. How do you fix that? You introduce fun.” That’s exactly what Eaton plans to do with OC Fitness, the business he is launching with his winnings from our Operation American Dream: From Battlefield to Boss contest.

    Brian says his seven years of active duty in the Army and six years in the National Guard instilled in him a love of physical fitness. “I would wake up in the morning and my workout would be the first thing that popped into my head.” However, the sedentary nature of his post-military career as a deputy county sheriff left him out of shape and unhappy with his body. “It really put in me in a dark place, and I decided I didn’t want anyone else to have to be in that kind of dark place.”

    The answer for Brian was obstacle course racing. Last year he completed 17 races and has already done seven this year. He ranked in the top 100 in the nation for Spartan Races. Now, he wants to share the secret of his success with others. “I’m on the Legends team and for a while now, we’ve been going around to local parks, setting up obstacle courses and giving people free workouts – just to show them what we do.” The amount of interest these free demos have generated started Brian thinking about how he could make a business out of it. “I was talking to a buddy about it. How could I make it happen? What could I do? And the next week I got an email saying that Signal 88 was doing the contest.”

    Brian plans to use the $5000 he has won from Operation American Dream to purchase materials to build obstacles, a trailer to carry the obstacles and some marketing for OC Fitness. He will start out as a traveling boot camp, offering three separate introductory, intermediate and advanced classes per week at different locations in and around his North Carolina community as well as individualized training. Ultimately, he wants to open a permanent indoor/outdoor facility.

    Signal 88 and VBS wishes the best of luck, Brian. And when you have gyms all across America, we hope you’ll consider Signal 88 for their security needs.

    Learn More about Signal 88 Franchise Opportunities:

  • Can Soldier’s Heart Help the Franchise Industry?

    Lately the franchise industry has created some momentum with transitioning military into franchise opportunities.  Pretty much everyone seems to think that the discipline and commitments to mission in the military will convert easily into success in the business world.

    There’s also a lot focus in the media lately on how a great percentage of transitioning service members are afflicted with PTSD and “all that entails”.    PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, can elicit silent responses of fear, pity and other unfounded conclusions from the general public.  Traumatic Stress has of course been with society from the dawn of civilization and can crush the spirit out of any affected person. Everyone can and should empathize with the pain of this trauma but no one should generalize about how anyone’s condition could negatively affect a person, and especially how service men and women with Soldier’s Heart might perform in the franchise arena.

    I prefer to call PTSD “Soldiers Heart” as it was referred to after the Civil War. Back then there were no estimates of those affected and most likely just silence  as to whether a returning soldier with Soldiers Heart could run a successful business. Back then, and probably in most cases now, Soldiers Heart just always loomed as permanent sadness and most just carried the burden while they dealt with the everyday pressures (both successes and failures)of life.

    We live in an “acronym” labeled society where individuals with various short and long term conditions are unfortunately not judged by the sum of their parts.  Soldiers Heart can of course be debilitating at its worst but as an asset if one considers the strength it takes to manage that condition. In my own family, a WW II combat veteran bore the burden of Soldiers Heart alone but was strong enough to build a successful business which helped educate 11 children.  One of the unseen strengths of the Greatest Generation was how they carried there Soldiers Hearts with dignity and always strived to complete their missions in life, especially their commitments to family and business.  Our latest heroes will do the same.  They have borne the battle in war and can easily manage the competitive challenges of a franchise opportunity.

    One of the most important things franchisors evaluate when considering a franchise candidate is whether the person has the support of their families. If a Veteran has the determination and creativity to grow, change and deal with difficult problems then that Veteran probably has the strength to handle typical adversity presented when implementing a new franchise. The Veteran network and support systems available today for Veterans with disabilities are unparalleled and greatly extend multiple business mentoring opportunities.  Programs like the SBA’s Boots to Business Reboot and the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), VETtoCEO offer both individual and family business assistance and networking advantages which can mitigate risks for Veterans and Franchisors as well.

    Veterans with Soldiers Heart couldn’t control what happened to them, but they can and do control their attitudes now and can master change rather than let change master them. So if they can meet basic financial and other franchise system requirements, they just may have a secret weapon for success.

    And speaking of secret weapons, most with Soldiers Heart would be eligible for VA financial support to acquire or develop a franchise concept. Veterans can apply for eligibility status for Chapter 31 benefits online.  Once confirmed they then develop their self-employment plan which can be anywhere from $10,000 to even $100, 000 for those deemed to have Category I status. If self-employment is deemed the most appropriate career goal, then VRE financial support can go a long way showing banks and other investors that the Veteran has extra “skin the game”. However the Chapter 31 process can be arduous and time consuming at VA so patience is an essential quality needed.

    However, if you’ve got a Soldier’s Heart crisis or see one that needs immediate attention, call 1-800-273-8255 24/7. If, like most Veterans, your already managing  with your Soldiers Heart and need to move forward to examine an opportrunity, just contact me.

    Jim Mingey Phone: 202-349-0860


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