What’s It Called? Vetrepreneur
What is it? “The Voice of the Veteran Business Movement” — the official magazine of NaVOBA
Where’d we find it? At Montgomery’s Small Business Incubator on Court Street
What’s the deal? The title is a made-up word, denoting that this magazine is willing to take risks (such as word-creation) when it comes to getting you the information you need, if not want, about members of the military who have started a business of some kind. NaVOBA is the weird acronym for the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.
The group compares themselves on page 10 of the magazine to the NMSDC and WBENC, which try to create support for minority and women-owned businesses. The thing about veterans though, is they aren’t quite like minorities and women in that they are not an immutable identity category that has faced a legacy of discrimination making it harder to start and maintain businesses. In fact, the case probably isn’t too tough to make that vets have a leg up since, thanks to the G.I. Bill, they have fewer college debts to repay and all of the weight of the flag-waving pro-America crowd to support their ventures. Oh, and there’s the fact that in an all-volunteer army, these people have chosen to forgo corporate advantages in order to get other kinds of training and benefits. They claim that 1 in 7 American businesses are vet-owned. NaVOBA formed in ’07.
But let’s not digress too much. So some vets want to band together and promote their businesses. And they have a magazine. And they like to make up words. And Chuck Norris is on the cover.
What sections do they have? Aside from the cover story about Chuck Norris, there are four featured profiles about people who were in the military, but now run businesses. There are three stories called Start Up, three on Sales and Marketing, four on Franchising, four called V2B: Vetrepreneur to Business, and four called V2G: Vetrepreneur to Government.
Who advertises? Looks like some heavy hitters. They have a full page from Rolls-Royce, another from Mastercard. Microsoft joins defense companies DynCorp and Raytheon as “three star corporate members.”
What’s interesting in this issue? They heavily heature former Pittsburgh Steeler Rocky Bleier, who they tout as their national spokesman. Bleier is a Vietnam vet who had an NFL career after winning a Purple Heart. What this has to do with running a business is unclear. Bleier, who is 62, has a column and is featured in some kind of NaVOBA advertisement wearing a Steelers jersey.
The president of NaVOBA has a column too, where he explains how socialism “leads to shirking, not working.” His robust and astute defense of capitalism is a true blow to those who would “penalize hard work.”
The articles are nothing special. They’re pretty short and mostly feature companies, well, owned by vets. One guy trains cops around the world. The magazine is more along the lines of quoting that guy saying he “puts the bad guys in jail” and less along the lines of looking at human rights abuses committed by any of his customers after recieving some of his “services.” The other articles are gems like “Your business should prepare in case of unexpected events” and “You should be thrifty with your marketing dollars during economic downturns.” Real business school wizards at work here.
All in all, there’s nothing in the magazine that makes me think that a vet would want to read it on a regular basis, aside from the generic identification with the idea of being a vet. The mag is far too general to offer any real business advice. After all, the only thing that the readers have in common is that they were once in the military. An ex-Army guy who runs a trucking company is not going to have much in common with the ex-Navy woman who designs software. Those business owners would be much better off reading magazines targeted at their individual fields, not something filled with generic “think outside the box” platitudes and dissimilar “business profiles.”
Still, maybe some fans of noted Internet joke Chuck Norris will snap up this issue as they eagerly await his next losing campaign endorsement.