Center for Veterans Enterprises Long Range View

http://www.vetbiz.gov/about/where.htm

The Center for Veterans Enterprises has some lofty goals set for itself, that is the good news. The bad news is that it has given itself 15 to 25 years to get there. I wish I was joking but I am not. In 25 years we might have colony on the moon..and the Veterans Enterprises might still be working on their goals set in 2007. Of course the year will be 2032 and we could be on our 4th or 5th President after President Obama by then. So let’s run through their goals and see if we can help our friends at the CVE speed up the process with some fresh ideas. Please feel free to comment with your own ideas as well.

Here are the goals:
Goal 1. Return manufacturing to America’s communities Rebuild pride through “VetBiz-Made in America!

Now this sounds like a great idea but in all seriousness how is the Veterans Department going to fund this? Is this going to be another static web page for the VA with a fancy logo that you can stamp on your products? Great, I am sure the products will fly off the shelf when customers see this logo. If you really want to achieve a goal like this then you are going to need some capital. Why not start a venture capital fund to look at start up ideas by veterans. Pick a panel of experienced VOSB and SDVOSB owners as well as industry experts to review these ideas and decide who gets funded based on the potential for long term success. Place restrictions on the use of the money 1.Must be a veteran 2. Must manufacture the product in the USA 3. Must hire veterans whenever possible.

I know what you are thinking…great idea…but where is the VA going to get the money to fund this project when it is already stretched so thin? Let’s get creative, let’s ask the top 100 DOD government contractors to help us fund this project and maybe they could be on the panel to review business ideas of veterans. I think Lockheed, Boeing, Blackwater & Halliburton could spare some change out of their pocket to help a venture fund to create Veteran owned businesses.

Goal 2. Restore our Environment – Go Green with Veterans First!

Ok, we are all pro-environment because we all breathe air and yes it is very cool to be pro-environment these days. With President Obama having a goal of transforming our economy to a green economy this could translate into jobs and businesses down the road for Veterans. Again, if this is going to be a goal of the CVE then there is going to have to be a plan in place to make it happen. You want green ideas to save money, energy, and efficiency and create jobs then you are going to have to put some type of reward & funding system in place to help these veterans come up with these ideas. An online community of sharing ideas would also be helpful in this pursuit. Also create educational pieces that show Veterans how to build a company using less resources (cloud computing, online marketing, etc)

Goal 3. Respond to Emergencies with Veterans First!

I think this is the job of the National Guard but if you wanted to create an auxiliary force to augment and assist federal, state, and local officials then creating an online community with twitter accounts would be ideal. For very low cost you could create state based communities with organizers (Old Vets would love to volunteer for this type of duty) and distribute messaging via web based text messaging to cell phones such as Twitter. Again the online community could be secure with only verified Vets being allowed to join. This community could then share phone numbers/email addresses with each other and quickly organize a response in the case of a national emergency. All of this could be coordinated by the Veterans Affairs Department in conjunction with state and local officials.

Goal 4. Rely upon experienced owners to guide tomorrow’s business leaders through Operation: VetBiz Education.

The new social media is going to be perfect for this. 1st you create a facebook type community site on Ning.com for Veteran Entrepreneurs, this is free and can be done in about 15 minutes. Then you take the email list that the CVE maintains of all of the owners of VOSBs and SDVOSBs and you email them and ask them to sign up. Every time a Vet creates a VOSB or SDVOSB, you make them sign up for this web based community. (Vets then start to do a weird thing…they share ideas)

Scary I know…

Next if you are at the CVE, you let your imagination run wild. Get a video camera ($400 for a decent one), contact the most successful VOSB and SDVOSB owners and create a youtube series on their success (cost = next to nothing) then you could create a youtube serious on steps to starting a business. Maybe let your VOSB and SDVOSB execs create the series and topics since they are the ones who know what they are doing and the CVE just helps them along the path.

That is it…this took me 30 minutes to write down some ideas to start executing on the CVE’s long range view…hopefully it will not take the Center for Veteran Enterprises 25 years to execute on their strategy. We can only hope.

R/S,
Joel Stevens

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