A new survey (https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/ctec_sme-rpt_v3.pdf) released by Morning Consult and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has revealed that veteran-owned small businesses are leading the way when it comes to use of social media and digital platforms to grow their businesses.
According to the facts:
· 61% reported that they built their businesses on Facebook; 34 percentage points more than other SMBs
· 63% said they have increased hiring due to business growth since joining Facebook; 25 percentage points more than other SMBs
· 70% have seen increased sales due to use of Facebook; 16 percentage points more than other SMBs
· 74% acknowledged using Facebook to trade with other cities, states, or countries; 25 percentage points more than other SMBs
With over 3 million veteran-owned businesses, providing more than 5.7 million jobs nationwide, it is clear the skills they have gained in the service have translated well to entrepreneurship.
This is also the theme of Facebook’s upcoming Three and a Half Degrees (https://www.facebook.com/business/m/threeandahalfdegrees) podcast episode (airing 2/25), featuring Victor Lezama, who retired from the military after 20 years of service and started The PC Landing Zone (https://www.facebook.com/ThePCLandingZone/) , and Jake Wood, who after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan co-founded Team Rubicon (https://www.facebook.com/teamrubicon/) , a veteran service organization that uses disaster response to help reintegrate veterans back into civilian life. Let me know if you would like to listen to the episode under embargo.
Below, I have also included some other inspiring stories of veterans who have followed their passions post-service. Let me know if you would like me to connect you with any of them to share more about how they have used the skills they learned to become successful entrepreneurs.
Waffles and Whatnot (https://www.facebook.com/WafflesandWhatnot/?rf=1824239824501825)
In 2016, after serving 18+ years in the Army, Derrick Green decided to take a sabbatical from serving the country to see if he could follow another dream – opening a business. During the sabbatical, he created a 21-day pop up shop selling waffles from a picnic table in Anchorage, Alaska. The pop up and waffle recipe were such a hit that Derrick decided to build a business out of it – Waffles and Whatnot was born.
Waffles and Whatnot has evolved over time. The first iteration was a pop up, the second was a mobile food truck, and the third was a restaurant located on a military base. With the restaurant and the mobile food truck, Derrick learned he had a passion for developing fellow food entrepreneurs. That’s where the “Whatnot” portion of his business name comes in. Derrick knows first-hand how hard it is to get a business started, so he donates his time, mobile food truck space, and menu to fellow foodies who want to start a business.
Facebook has been there to help Derrick both personally and professionally. Derrick first discovered the power of Facebook when he established a Page to share his “Stop Talking, Start Walking” journey – a 22-day walk to raise awareness of veteran suicide. When it came time to start his business, he knew Facebook would play a big role. Derrick first used his Page to build awareness of Waffles and Whatnot in his Anchorage community.
CrossFIt Little Creek (https://www.facebook.com/crossfitlittlecreek/)
Corey Coleman got introduced to CrossFit when he was in the military and continued after. After helping his wife lose 30 pounds from it they decided to open up a CrossFit studio. They started using Facebook from the very beginning to drive awareness for their business and accomplish three main goals – 1) educate about CrossFit, 2) document and share stories of current members’ success and celebrate them, and 3) through their Facebook group, provide accountability and support. This has not only led them to creating a successful business, but also creating a community that supports and empowers each other – which Corey says is the focus of their business.
When Enrique Marquez was seven years old, his family got him his first dog. Unfortunately, Enrique’s parents decided to give her up for adoption due to her aggressive behavior. While Enrique went on to a successful military career, his passion for dogs—and, particularly, rehabilitating dogs with behavior issues—never waned. So, in 2015, Enrique started DogWorx.
Enrique took a free crash-course through the Facebook for Business site, and started sharing images of the dogs he was training. The images resonated with people, and they immediately responded to the dogs’ stories—effectively telling the DogWorx team what they wanted to see more of.
DogWorx’s inspiring Facebook posts and targeted ads have garnered attention from dog owners across the country—many of whom wait months for a spot in Enrique’s in-demand training classes and programs. Not only has Enrique been able to expand his dog training business, helping hundreds of dogs and families, but he’s been able to expand into different business areas. The DogWorx Facebook Page now doubles as an online store for people to purchase dog training accessories. The company’s success has even enabled Enrique to hire more employees, and most recently expanded to a second location in Nashville, TN.
Project Healing Water (https://www.facebook.com/ProjectHealingWaters/?fref=ts) (VETERAN NON-PROFIT)
Daniel Morgan joined Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) as a volunteer in 2010 and became the National Communication Director in 2013. PHWFF was founded at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2005 by Captain Ed Nicholson, a decorated Navy Veteran with a passion for the great outdoors. Inspired to take action after his own stay at Walter Reed, Nicholson started PHWFF to help the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing, fly tying, and associated activities.
Years later, it was this same mission that brought Morgan to PHWFF as a volunteer. Morgan shared a passion for fly fishing with his late grandfather, a World War II Veteran who shared war stories with his grandson on the river in the years before his passing. PHWFF is now a national organization with over 215 programs across 20+ regions.
Under Morgan’s guidance, each program has their own Facebook Page run by a network of volunteers. PHWFF successfully uses Facebook to grow their local programs, increase the number of veterans they serve, raise funding to keep their programs going, and increase awareness of and interaction with their cause. PHWFF secured grant dollars to fund their Facebook Advertising campaigns and have creatively leveraged Facebook’s targeting capabilities to reach post-9/11 veterans and introduce their programs and services. Today, PHWFF continues to grow in new locations across the country, reaching even more veterans in need, and giving Daniel a place to do what he loves every day.”
Kallie & Co. (https://www.facebook.com/kallieusa/) (VETERAN SPOUSE)
In 2014, Nadia, a Mexican immigrant who married a US Marine, was looking for a job that could be portable, since they were often having to relocate. Coupled with her desire to give back to her Mexican community with Fair Labor, she decided to start an online retail business selling handmade shoes and accessories from Mexico. After meeting the Artisans and sourcing the products, she turned to Facebook to tell her story.
She began using the Facebook Pixel integration to re-target past visitors to her website resulting in 4 out of 5 customers finding her through Instagram and Facebook. Today, Nadia has grown Kallie & Co. from her laundry room to a small team of military spouses, selling her products across the U.S. and Canada, and supporting 20 artisans in Mexico with fair labor. And that’s not all – Kallie & Co. is committed to giving back by donating 100% of profits from t-shirt sales to the Semper Fi Fund and by making donations of shoes to women in need in the United States and Africa. Nadia may have started as a way to have a job on the go, but it’s grown in to a sustainable, socially conscious business supporting people across the U.S. and Mexico.