Chris Hale, President, 2007-2016, National Veteran-Owned Business Association
Chris Hale shares his perspective on Gallup's report on lending to diverse segments and how it relates to NaVOBA members.
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At Wells Fargo, we believe that successful small businesses are the foundation of healthy, vibrant, American communities. That's why serving small business owners is one of the most important things we do.
Yet we also know that many small businesses across the country, including those in diverse communities, are still recovering from the great recession. Serving diverse and veteran-owned businesses is a priority for us, and we know more needs to be done to help these businesses grow and prosper. It's also clear that we, as well as those who support small businesses in our country, need to understand the challenges facing diverse and veteran business owners.
For this reason, we turned to Gallup to conduct a groundbreaking study. Gallup surveyed women, LGBT, veteran, and diverse small business owners nationwide to better understand their motivations for starting a business, their funding needs, and their attitudes towards credit. We learned about how small business owners addressed funding needs and their perceptions of financial institutions. We heard about their desires for resources, education, and tools to help their businesses succeed.
In this video, Chris Hale, President of the National Veteran-Owned Business Association, shares his perspective about the study and how it relates to their members.
One of the things that resonated with me regarding the Gallup study was that 76% of veteran-owned businesses felt as though they were treated no differently than any other class. And I think in today's day and age where veterans are certainly in, you can't turn on media and not see something positive about a veteran or thanking a veteran. I think that they should really know that there is a tremendous advantage to declaring themselves as a veteran.
Veteran-owned businesses, like a lot of businesses, are very concerned with growing their business and finding new, innovative ways to build revenues. The reality is that most Americans would prefer to purchase from a veteran-owned business versus one that is not. And so, there's a tremendous opportunity for them to grow their businesses simply by identifying themselves as such.
So NaVOBA was formed in 2005 as an organization to help advocate for the nation's 3 million small businesses owned by veterans. NaVOBA's mission is to create opportunities for veteran-owned businesses in three areas: for Main Street businesses through our Buy Veteran Campaign; for businesses that would like to get involved in corporate supply chains through its supplier diversity advocacy; and for those who would like to get involved with government contracts through its government advocacy.
Veterans, when they come from military service, are taught to be very, very independent. So I think veteran-owned businesses carry this into their personal lives, and they have a very, very strong desire to be independent. And so, they oftentimes delay in reaching out to financial institutions for assistance on credit or in assuming debt. And so I think getting veteran-owned businesses and getting our members to start to become more comfortable with more sophisticated financial instruments is nothing more than educating them on what is available out there.
Veteran-owned businesses, like all others, are looking for good relationships with a financial institution that can help them with everything from merchant services at their early start of those businesses, to credit and lending services that they may need for expansion and for growth, and then towards the latter part of the business' maturity level, private client services, and wealth management.
The biggest opportunity that we see for veteran-owned businesses to grow their businesses is to simply have them declare themselves as veteran-owned businesses. Unlike other diverse business classes, you can't visually identify a veteran-owned business. And so, therefore, it's important for them to have some sort of identification badge. So we created one. It's the veteran-owned business badge that can be placed on business cards, in advertisements, storefronts, and different places.
Veterans, unlike other diverse business classes, come from a training institution. And so, when you think about a veteran — they're military alumni. And so, there's a lot to be said for that. They're graduates of one of the best business training schools in the country. You learn leadership and discipline and work ethic and teamwork and accountability that can't be taught anywhere else.