Tabatha Turman, founder and CEO of Integrated Finance and Accounting Solutions (IFAS), is an entrepreneur who successfully transferred her military experience from the battlefields to the boardroom. Before opening her company and providing financial and accounting services to the federal government, Mrs. Turman spent twenty years as an Army Finance Officer. She is also a decorated war veteran who served in Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Moreover, she used the experience, relationships and opportunities that she developed over the years to build a solid foundation for her thriving business. She has great insight and advice for veterans who are looking to start their own businesses. Here are 5 Tips for Veterans Looking to Open or Expand a Business:
1. Stay in your lane. “Don’t try to be all things to everybody,” Turman says. Many small businesses make the mistake of going too broad. For example, they carry every product or claim to perform every service out of fear of losing a potential client. In reality, they create the opposite problem—no one knows exactly what they do. Turman stayed in her financial services lane and gathered a positive reputation for specializing in that area.
2. Leverage your military relationships: When looking for potential business relationships, Mrs. Turman found she didn’t have to go far outside of her military circle. In the past, she worked with generals and other senior officers and those were the same individuals who knew of her qualifications and experience and were happy to give her business when she struck out on her own. In short, leveraging your powerful military network will help you hit the ground running with your start up.
3. Get assistance and get certified: Turman went to the Veteran’s Affairs office and received help in getting certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned business. Additionally, she sought out George Mason University’s Procurement and Technical Assistance Center for free assistance with completing her 8(a) certification package. Certification is a process which helps small businesses to obtain work from the federal government. Additionally, she stated that the Army is very good about marketing to veterans and providing them with marketing programs on how to do business with the federal government. Seek out these organizations and agencies that provide free help to veterans and small business owners.
4. Ask lenders for money before using your own: As one who specializes in financial management, Mrs. Turman encourages small businesses to ask for money before needing it. Too often, business owners exhaust their personal resources first and then apply for a loan when they urgently need assistance. Banks are rarely in the position to loan money at that point. Ask for a line of credit when your financial picture looks healthy, i.e. before you’ve opened your business.
5. Be of service to others: Turman acknowledges that she is very blessed to be in the position to now use her business and experience to be of assistance and service to those looking to start their own business. Being able to be of service, she says, is the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship.
Nicole Cober, Esq. is a partner at Cober Johnson, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small business consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington DC’s NewsChannel 8 and author of soon-to-be released book: “CEO of My Soul: The Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz”. Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on Facebook @facebook.com/CoberJohnson. Visit her website at www.coberjohnson.com.