Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program

EBV and the MHV Website

I got accepted into the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program last year. It offers cutting edge training in entrepreneurship and small business management to disabled veterans who served in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The intent of the EBV Program is to open the door to entrepreneurial opportunity and small business ownership to veterans. It does it by developing the participants’ competencies and activities associated with creating an entrepreneurial venture.

My buddy Alex, a 2013 graduate of the program, suggested I apply and I got in.

I always wanted to write full-time. Blogging professionally allows me to do both.

I have been writing on several niche sites as a “guest blogger” for a year with mixed response. A friend recommended a book and the rest is history. My website is:

www.militaryhistoryveteran.com

I call it MHV for short.

I built it using a program called “Wordpress.” It is still a little rough. All the emails I send to you will find their way to MHV, in one form or another. The website has five categories:

  1. Military History 2. Writing 3. Small Business Info 4. Veteran Issues 5. Book Reviews

The Idea of a Blog to Make Money

I know that blogging is an unconventional business idea, but there are direct ways and indirect ways to make money from one’s blog.

Direct Monetization:

>>Advertising- By selling ad space on your blog.

>>Sponsorships- I am endorsed by several Veteran Advocacy Groups.

>>Affiliate commissions- As my blog content grows I have attracted a following and other places that I write.

>>Paid reviews- I have a request in with Amazon to become a book reviewer of military history books.

Indirect Monetization:

>>Freelance writing contracts- I write content for several blogs and make $20 to $30 dollars a post.

>>Book deals- I am writing on a book about a National Guard Team in Afghanistan in 2008 and a Marine Sniper in Iraq.

>>Speaking engagements- I have spoken at several gatherings for veterans on about Iraq, Afghanistan and Veteran Issues.

>>Consulting opportunities- I am helping a friend with his business’ social media plan

>>Sell your own products- I am working on producing an e-book for my website.

After reading my business summary the EBV committee became believers that blogging was something to consider as a business idea.

The Crash

I started off badly. I relished my new-found freedom without the restraints of a 9 to 5 job. I began sleeping in every day. I was awake around noon.

I later learned self-discipline, and can now safely say that I am up by about 6am. I try something every day.

Why is self-discipline important? Because it determines your income. The early bird catches the worm. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of not having a weekly or monthly paycheck, but they hate their jobs at the same time.

Not for me. Like any other entrepreneur, I am comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I love every single day of “work” (even if I have to “work” on weekends!)

Purdue University

An important part of the EBV program is a nine-day residency course on the campus of Purdue University. You learn directly from faculty and industry leaders.

Purdue is in the beautiful city of West Lafayette, IN about 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis and 126 miles southeast of Chicago. The Battle of Tippecanoe where William Henry Harrison, the future 9th President of the United States, defeated Indian Chief Tecumseh in 1811, is 8 miles north of the campus.

It is a beautiful campus located at the crossroads of America. It looks a lot like other land-grant universities I have been to.

What made Purdue different was the amount of international students. The student body is more than 31% of international students. Mostly from Asian countries like China, Indonesia and throughout the Middle East. Engineering is the big program at the school.

You can tell because the large buildings override the landscape. All the “other” majors are in these small, efficient one story buildings that look like doctor offices.

The five buildings that make up “Engineering Mall” are these huge four story, state-of- the-art structures that were all built in the last ten years. They truly dominate the skyline at Purdue.

The Drive

The drive from Fort Knox, KY, where I used to live, to Chicago is breathtaking. The change from the green, rolling hills of Northern Kentucky to the open, grass-covered, treeless landscape of Central Illinois is extreme and stunning.

“Prairie” is a French word for meadow bestowed by the early French explorers. They had no word for the vast grassland that occupied Illinois in pre-settlement times. The drive is a great way to see the middle of America.

You get a constant change parade of color and sound. The grassland soil is great for growing things. There are fields of corn, soybeans and wheat grain everywhere you look.

Sprinkled throughout the landscape are small towns, farms and fields. The countryside looks like God had painted a rich tapestry of brilliant colors of red and orange on the leaves.

Chicago

My new unit is in Chicago. I love Chicago because I grew up there as a young child. It feels like a homecoming of sorts.

All my dad’s family lives there. It is great to see them on a drill weekend. The climate is extreme, but the people are friendly.

Chicago is very cosmopolitan. It is the Midwestern version of New York. It has a huge lakefront, tons of culture, diversity, museums, and tons of shopping.

Awesome architecture and the country’s second largest skyline after Midtown Manhattan. It has one of the world’s busiest airports. It has anything and everything you want.

The Team

My team has eight instructors that teach a course called Command General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC). Formerly called ILE, the course instructs army Majors on planning and staff functions.

The Team is called, “the Illinois Team” to designate what geographical area we teach in. The quality of the team impressed me.

Only two of the instructors have taught before, all the rest of us are new. All of them have a Master’s Degree, and are OIF and OEF veterans. There is a perfect mix of operational experience and civilian education.

At lunch, I felt like I was at a meeting of college professors facilitating a panel discussion on current army strategy and military history. They have a variety of backgrounds and this weekend we created a lesson plan of how each person’s area of expertise can benefit the classes we will teach.

The group examined military history, ethics of leadership, and warfighting- basically all the topics we cover in my blog posts. From the first time all of us assembled I knew it was going to be an awesome experience. I seem to have found my tribe!