Since I don’t have a job to go back to, I have been giving some thought to starting an online fabric store for quilters. Today, I took a small step in that direction…
One advantage of COVID-19 is that a lot of trainings are going online. Today, I got up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a first-time online training (it’s usually a classroom training) called Reboot from an organization called VBOC – Veterans Business Outreach Center – an organization that helps active duty service members, veterans, and their families realize their entrepreneurial dreams. The training started at 6:00 am my time, 8:00 am Wisconsin time. I didn’t find myself feeling sleepy, however, because I was so busy taking notes.
They started with a session on things to consider if you want to start your own business. Another advantage of COVID-19 is that they said disasters and pandemics are the perfect time to consider starting a business because that’s when you can see problems that you can provide solutions for. Also, if your business can survive a pandemic, nothing can stop you!
There was a session on economics where I was introduced to terms like “revenue drivers”, “margins”, “volume”, and “operating leverage”. The woman who taught that session was probably the best of the speakers, and we had her for another session as well.
There was a legal session where the speaker talked about considerations such as taxation, liability, and how I expect to get paid. He talked about setting up a legal entity. The funniest thing about this session was that the speaker had his dog with him and the dog got jealous of him talking to us and tried to disrupt his talk numerous times! The speaker said that he had been bringing his dog to work with him because his wife couldn’t conduct Zoom meetings with the dog around. Apparently he’s been bringing the dog with him to the office for a couple of weeks and never had a problem with him until today. That dog has something against Zoom meetings!
Next was a session about finance (ie – how to get money to start a business). He talked about the kinds of things a lender looks for if you want to take out a business loan, but loans weren’t the only options he talked about, so Mom, I do have other options!
There were technical difficulties to be worked out throughout the training, but there was one trainer who was unable to be seen or heard, so the training coordinator moved on to a couple of women who were going to talk about a program called Kiva. One of them was unable to get her video and audio to work properly, so the other one took over. Kiva is an organization that gives microloans of anywhere from $1000-$15,000 to start-up businesses. She talked about the process of applying for a Kiva loan and all the way through to getting funding. One of the interesting aspects of this process is that they require applicants to do fundraising with their friends and family first in amounts of $25 each. Then they help them get public funding for the lion’s share of it. If I were to go this route, could I get any funders from amongst my readers?
The woman who taught twice came back for a session called Intro to Business Planning, briefly touching on how to write a business plan. In order to get more in-depth training on business plan writing, there are resources I can go to to get models and training.
Speaking of resources, the next session was about resources. This VBOC training was offered in collaboration with an organization called WWBIC, or Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation. He listed other organizations where I could get training, mentorship, networking opportunities, etc. He also mentioned something that made me perk up my ears for Mark’s sake — there is a Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce. I thought only states and towns had chambers of commerce!
The last session was on the procurement of certification for getting contracts with federal and state governments and with the VA. This was another topic that excited me for Mark’s sake. He could apply to be certified as a disabled veteran-owned business. The way this would benefit him is that he wanted to advertise his services on Davis-Monthan Air Force base down here and they said he would have to pay $400 just to be able to put a flier up on their bulletin board. I believe if he could get certified, that could be reduced or waived. I sent a chat message to the speaker about Mark and he gave me his phone number and said to have Mark call.
I was madly taking notes and wasn’t able to get all the information down, but they sent us a lot of information that we can go through on our own. Throughout the training, I kept getting flashes of ideas for my business that I haven’t had before. For that alone, the class would have been worth it, but there was a lot more that raised questions I hadn’t thought of before. It’s all good!
I still have some reservations about whether I can succeed in business or not, some fear and trepidation about all the steps I need to go through to get there, and the more I learned, the more I found out I don’t know. But they promised that they wouldn’t leave us on our own to figure things out. I am eager to explore this possibility further and see if I can make a go of it. It beats being unemployed!