Becoming a Veteran-Owned Small Business
May 5, 2017
BuzzCream is a Texas-based small business that makes alcohol-infused ice cream. It was founded by Michael Davis, a 2013 Le Cordon Bleu graduate and U.S. marine veteran.
From the over three million veteran-owned businesses, many are providing transitional assistance and financial empowerment to transitioning veterans. As a military spouse, daughter, and sister, I have recognized first-hand the impact that small business ownership can have both fiscally and to help boost overall morale for the transitioning service member and their families.
First Hand Experience
In 2009, Mike and I began our transition from military life. His goal: secure a job and onboard the day after end of active service. Goal achieved. Mike started a job as an armored driver the exact day after his official discharge. Due to his motor vehicle operator military occupational specialty in service, however, he never acquired any skills that would translate to something more meaningful or that would bring about financial freedom. Feeling stuck, he turned to vocational rehabilitation to get assistance in becoming retrained. More specifically, he wanted to become self-employed in the culinary arts field as a result of his fruitless attempts at traditional employment. Unfortunately, Mike was turned away. With hurt pride, he had to engage tenacity and resiliency to continue on his entrepreneurial journey. Fast forward to today; Mike overcame those obstacles. He has become equipped with the necessary skills and experience and is currently working on his second food venture, BuzzCream, Artisan Liquor-Infused Ice Cream. Being along with him on this journey has been a rewarding view into not only the hurdles that many “Vetpreneurs” may face but the resources available to overcome them.
Resources from SCORE and More
One of the first resources we found was freementorship through SCORE(Service Corps of Retired Executives) sponsored by the Small Business Administration. We were paired with a mentor who saw potential and assisted with pointing us in the right direction to both gain an entrepreneurial mindset and obtain the necessary training to become successful in the marketplace. We are also graduates of the EBVand EBV-Fprogram sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. This free program presents networking opportunities, access to capital, including grants, and ongoing support through its benefits assistance program. When it was time to get access to capital, we were able to find PeopleVETthrough PeopleFund, a CDFI lender that not only offers a 5 percent interest rate to qualifying veterans, but also free ongoing training and technical support. Did I mention that all of these resources are free! There are many more resources available to the veteran-owned business no matter what stage of the business life cycle you are in.
The impact of business ownership on our lives has been immeasurable. It has been a blessing to our family and opened up doors and relationships that traditional employment just would not have presented. You can learn more about BuzzCream and our story here.