Vet-owned businesses pulling through COVID-crisis

Vet-owned businesses pulling through COVID-crisis

This article was in the Colorado Springs Business Journal – they quoted our Director, CJ Niehoff

Veterans who own small businesses appear to be making more progress towards recovery than their peers, according to a new poll from Alignable, a small business referral network. The poll shows greater optimism, resilience and recovered revenue among male and female veteran business owners.

Alignable asked veterans how they’re getting through the COVID crisis in the poll, conducted among 8,092 small business owners Oct. 24-27. Ted Rejman of King Ferry Bottling Co. identified a unifying theme among veterans: “There is an ingrained sense of always looking for the good to come from what may look not so good. There is a sense of never giving up, always looking forward to a better situation.”

Jerry Bowden, a disabled veteran and president of Revealio Software and Media Solutions, added, “Veteran business owners are battle-tested and accustomed to overcoming adversity and difficult circumstances. They’re trained to survive in the worst of situations. When COVID first began threatening the way we conduct business, veteran business owners started analyzing and strategizing how they were going to navigate through the changes and come out on top. Strategy plus action equals success.”

While 65 percent of the veterans said COVID continues to negatively affect their businesses, the survey showed veteran-owned businesses are making strides despite their challenges.

  • 75 percent of veteran-owned businesses will pay their rent in full and on time in November, compared to only 68 percent of their peers.
  • 69 percent of veteran-owned businesses are fully open vs. 62 percent of others nationally.
  • 61 percent of veteran-owned businesses report having cash reserves to cover at least three months, while only 50 percent of other businesses have that kind of cash on hand.
  • 38 percent of veterans say they’ve matched or exceeded their pre-COVID monthly revenue, in contrast to 31 percent of other SMBs.

“Many business owners continue to fight hard to keep their operations going despite countless COVID issues,” Alignable CEO and co-founder Eric Groves said. “But amid this unparalleled struggle, it’s inspiring to see these determined,  optimistic warriors forge what appears to be a stronger path toward recovery, leading the way for their local economies.”

Another poll finding highlights the positivity that propels many veterans.

When asked, “What aspect of your financial recovery gives you the most concern?” veterans were 35 percent more likely to answer, “Nothing, everything is good,” compared to other business owners. That said, veterans and non-veterans alike agreed that the No. 1 concern looking ahead is that governments might enforce new SMB shutdowns due to increasing outbreaks. While a new wave of closures would lead to yet another round of battles for small businesses, Alignable member and veteran Bryan Tuggle of The Butler Did It suggests how everyone can maintain the right mindset. “I constantly remind myself that, ‘You are what you think, what you think, you believe, and what you believe, you become,’” Tuggle said. “I choose success. I adapt and overcome.”

Alignable’s poll illustrates that “adapt and overcome” is a lesson everyone can learn from veterans, according to a release Nov. 2. These veterans bring leadership values to small business communities. “It’s a patriotic act to support local businesses that are veteran-owned,” said C.J. Niehoff, president of Skills After Service, a company that prepares veterans for the civilian workforce. “Veterans typically run their businesses with honor and integrity. They’re often the best of what our society has to offer and during Veterans Small Business Week [Nov. 2-6], we’re reminded to purchase goods and services from small, veteran-run businesses. They want to get things done and they want to get them done right.”

Alignable is the largest online referral network for small businesses with over 5.5 million members across North America. Alignable established its research center in early March 2020, to track and report the impact of the coronavirus on small businesses, and to monitor recovery efforts.

See previous polls here.

The original post can be viewed here:

We’re Building The Transition Hub

Skills After Service is working with a network of partners to create a new tool for veterans and their families making the transition from the military to civilian life. 

The Transition Hub is a state-by-state field guide for veterans and their families with links to key resources, training & tools all in one simple portal, so vets can forge a new path forward with meaningful work and career opportunities that leverage the valuable experience and leadership skills they earned while serving our nation.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” says Founder, CJ Niehoff. “This new tool is meant to provide a single-source hub of information, bringing together all of the great organizations, services and offerings that are out there for those leaving the life of a servicemember.” Skills After Service is getting help from nonprofit partner, Transition Skills Training to fund development and ongoing maintenance of the hub.

Our goal is to make it easier for veterans and their family members to find what they need to find a job, get an education, establish their new home and to make friends and begin to build a new network. Life in the military comes with many questions already answered, but once you leave those questions need to be answered. Right now, it’s not easy to sort all of that out. We’re hoping to change that process so that our heroes can dig in and build a life that makes good use of their time spent in service to the country.

The Transition Hub will be a web portal along with a series of city-based apps so that a soldier moving back home or to a new town can download the app and find what they need to get settled, claim their benefits, start school, get a job, meet new people and more. For a quick preview, click here. This is a work in progress and will continue to change and grow.


Click to preview the Transition Hub

Do you really want to thank veterans for their service?

Do you really want to thank veterans for their service?

Want to Know How You Can Really Thank Veterans for Their Service?

We all feel good when we see our soldiers and veterans treated with respect and appreciation – we see it at airports, in restaurants and once in a while, just as part of every day life. And it’s nice, right?  We all clap when they are in a group. We post patriotic images and hashtag #VeteransDay – and that is good. It is good to feel that appreciation and respect for our military service men and women.  But it falls short, because words, social media posts and applause are not going to make things right. They are not enough.


1. Spend your money with veteran-owned businesses.
Not sure where to find them? Here are some helpful links.

Note – Google has just released new tools for small businesses to designate themselves as veteran-owned so in coming weeks, you can also search for veteran-owned along with whatever you’re looking for to find options for your shopping, dining or services.

2. Hire veterans for jobs that make good use of their skills and experience.
Veterans make great employees. They are highly skilled, loyal and honest. Our military entrusted them with millions of dollars worth of equipment, trained them on some of the latest technology and instilled a work ethic that can be hard to match in the civilian candidate pool. Here are some resources to help you hire veterans.

  • Contact Military Accelerator 
    They help corporations develop a hiring strategy works with veterans to help develop their resume and interview skills.
  • WizeHire
    This vet-owned business offers a completely new process for hiring, They combine great online DIY tools with actual human recruiters at a low monthly fee that you can turn on and off as needed. Simply let your recruiter know that you’re interested in hiring veterans and they’ll prioritize candidates for you.
  • Department of Labor 
    The DOL provides a lot of information about the benefits of hiring veterans, not just the “feel good” kind but understanding the tax incentives, training options and more.

3. Make a donation to Transition Skills Training Inc.

Transition Skills Training is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works closely with Skills After Service and other groups to provide free access to training and education for veterans and their families as they make the difficult transition from military to civilian life. Every single penny goes toward ending Transition Stress, the number one challenge for veterans after they leave the military. Click here to make a donation in any amount.




Our Panel Was Selected for SXSW EDU 2020!

Our Panel Was Selected for SXSW EDU 2020!

BIG NEWS: Our panel session “New Ideas in Education for Transitioning Veterans” was selected for SXSW EDU 2020! #AllInForVeterans We are very excited to feature some of the top voices in leadership, innovation and tech to take on the challenge of transition stress for veterans and their families. The session features Skills After Service Advisory Council members Starr Corbin, Col. Scott Mac Leod (ret) and Jay Niblick with Julie Niehoff facilitating the discussion. Please click to read session info, speaker bios and share the session on your own social media for us.

Session Description
The most common challenge for veterans who transition out of the military into civilian life is transition stress, much of it from an inability to find meaningful work that leverages the service members’ time and experience while in service to the country. Conversely, many employers express concern with limited candidate pools, seeking out quality workers with leadership skills. This panel will look at different ways to solve both issues with good training, tech innovation and growing awareness.

Welcome Annie Powell Director of Business Development

Welcome Annie Powell Director of Business Development

Skills After Service is pleased to announce that Annie Powell is now the company’s Director of Business Development. Annie will be responsible for developing new business opportunities and creating customized solutions for our partners; specifically for the company’s growing Local Biz Camp series now in 30 cities, veteran skills training programs, and HR leadership certifications. She will also play a key role in a national roll-out of the Transition Hub, a state-by-state portal for veterans and their families who are making the shift from military life to the civilian workforce.

“We are so grateful to have Annie on this team,” says CJ Niehoff, Founder and Managing Director of Skills After Service. “She has a great deal of experience and success in working with key organizations in the industries we are working with. In her first two months with us, she has already demonstrated her knowledge and ability to lead, increase reach, grow awareness, strengthening relationships and driving new business.  As we continue to grow and expand our capabilities in service to veterans, Annie has already proven her value to us and will continue to be a key resource for our partners and for our staff.” 

Annie brings over 25 years of management, business development and media relations experience to Skills After Service. She also brings personal experience as a founder and business owner to this role, an important factor as the company is highly engaged in providing guidance for veterans who want to start and grow their own businesses.  “I am over the moon to be joining Skills After Service,” says Powell. “My father fought in WW2. Participating in service to our American heroes is my way to honor him, and all of those who protect our country. Julie and CJ Niehoff are amazing creators and forces for good in this world, I am humbled to join them in this important mission.”