We recently had the opportunity to coach, inspire, encourage, and empower a very special group of soldiers. In spite of their service-related disabilities, they are aspiring to start their own businesses. We worked with 28 students in one phase of a very concentrated and focused three-phase program designed to give them a big head start in the world of entrepreneurship.
The EBV program in Syracuse, NY involves an intensive 30-day online course moderated by entrepreneurship faculty, a one-week residency phase that brings in speakers to share their real world entrepreneurial experience and coach the students, and a 12-month technical assistance program with ongoing support and mentorship.
These vets are committed to success and are sincerely excited about getting out there and making it happen. Of course, the road to successful entrepreneurship is always fraught with challenges, but these people have already demonstrated their bravery, tenacity, and spirit. Now their country needs them again. This time it’s to build new businesses, create new jobs, and provide new goods and services – the real backbone of our recovering economy. And once again they are heeding the call to action!
We hope that our experience will save them some of the time, setbacks, and false starts we suffered. Here is our parting message to these inspiring veterans that summarizes some of the key elements our real world stories exemplify.
A Note of Encouragement and Gratitude
To the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities
(July 30, 2013)
Last week we had the pleasure and the privilege of sharing our real world experiences with each of you! Your enthusiasm and commitment are inspirational. We hope we gave you some tools you can use to get out there and be successful. Although the risk is great and the safety nets are nowhere to be found, you still have some important advantages over your civilian counterparts: Discipline, Hustle, and Respect for Policies and Procedures.
You can mitigate the risk by realizing that when you succeed, someone else succeeds. Identify your strategic allies. Treat them like true partners, keep them abreast of your challenges, and empathize with the risk they take with you. Whether they are employees, suppliers, vendors, associates, customers, or the community, put yourself in their shoes. Treat them like you would like to be treated and they will go to bat for you.
Start small and make your big mistakes in a limited area you can manage. Change the documents that need to be improved to prevent a re-occurrence before you take your show on the road. There is no “yes” or “no,” just “now” or “later.” You are the one who says “no” when you stop asking. So ask or a different person, a different day or a different way, until you get to “now.”
Remember, sales trump everything and you can’t sell it if it isn’t there. So focus on how your product or service will get to market and stay there. Then deliver the best quality and service you can. All companies have only two divisions – Sales and Sales Support – and Sales Support works for Sales.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Do what you do best and leave the rest for the specialists. Pay for performance and attract the performers.
Hardship plus Hustle equals Opportunity. Opportunity plus Heart equals Success! We are proud of you and we are pulling for you. Thank you for having us and we look forward to your success!
Michael and Bonnie
PS: Use The Barefoot Spirit – It’s not a cure-all, but it is a helmet, a flak jacket and a darn good flashlight!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.