On October 30th, Representative for Florida’s 2nd District, Congressman Neal Dunn, visited with potential and current veteran business owners at Gulf Coast State College. He set the tone and provided the opening remarks for the Veterans Small Business Round Table for a crowd of some fifty attendees. Neal Dunn has represented Florida’s 2nd District since 2016 and has since passed many beneficial bills for service members to include the Retired Pay Restoration Act, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed by the President on August 28th of this year.
Following his comments, a panel of four veteran-owned business leaders spoke about the challenges faced by each of their respective businesses. The group gave suggestions on how to avoid making similar mistakes when they first started their business. They each acknowledge that being a veteran has significantly helped their companies and has opened up many opportunities to improve and grow their business.
John Miller, Veterans Business Outreach Center, Certified Business Consultant facilitated the event and offered insight into the offerings of being a veteran-owned business. The benefits include opportunities such as contract-bidding advantages with state and federal governments, tax relief, improved access to capital, counseling, and support for start-ups and small companies poised for high growth and innovation. Veterans should register a small business with the Veterans Administration as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) through VA’s Veterans First Verification Program.
Hank Picken, the owner of Beaumont Products, Inc., offered a valuable tip that many future business owners should keep in mind. He attributes the success of his company to the time spent working for someone else, saying “I know full well if I had done this the day I walked out of the military, I would have failed and failed miserably. The 25 years of experience of working with other people and learning from them made it possible to know what I was doing and how the trade functioned, how marketing worked, and how the sales department worked.”
Tomas Santos-Alejandro, President of Advent Services, added that finding and using resources can help a business needing advice. You can always use the free sources we have access to, such as researching the internet and going to the library. He then closed by saying you can learn from the people that you meet, such as clients and other business owners that will have valuable information and experiences that may help your business become successful.
Other panelists included John Shepard, President of Carpet One Floor & Home, and Rob Moran, President of Mine Survival.