Q&A with Renee Bobb, Veteran Entrepreneur
and PWBC Member
The first week in November has been designated National Veterans Small Business Week. To honor all the amazing veteran and active duty entrepreneurs we serve and their families, we interviewed a female veteran entrepreneur that most of our members should recognize from classes and coaching – Renee Bobb of RBI Enterprise Inc:
- Briefly explain the business/entrepreneurial endeavors you’re involved in.
Currently, I teach quite a few classes: the Nashville Book Publishing Workshop Series, Financial Empowerment and Entrepreneur training classes for MDHA via Pathway WBC (I also teach these classes for Tennessee Prison for Women). I teach entrepreneur training classes to low income individuals that are 50 and over via AARP, and I facilitate Boots to Business: REBOOT, an entrepreneurship training class for Military Veterans and their families via Pathway WBC. I coach women veterans on opportunities for business growth and training like V-WISE. I also conduct outreach in the community and one-on-one business coaching sessions to empower people start and grow their own businesses.
- What was your biggest challenge in transitioning from the military service into your role as an entrepreneur?
One of my biggest challenges was not having a strong support system when I made the transition. I joined the Military in Brooklyn, New York and I got out of the Military in Norfolk, Virginia. Most of my support system was still in NYC. It took me a few years to really figure out the business culture in Virginia and to connect with people who really had my best interest at heart and wanted to see me thrive as a Veteran Entrepreneur. Once I cultivated those relationships, my business really took off. I started speaking and teaching, and that really changed everything for me.
- What is one resource you wish you would have had at the start of your journey?
Money, money and more money. Because I did not have the money or great credit, it was very challenging to secure financing. I spend the first four years bootstrapping it. Every dollar I generated with the business went back into the business until I was able to get in the black.
Truth be told I really learned a lot about myself and my ability to grow a company by growing the company organically. It made me very creative in the ways I marketed and grew my business – for that I would not have changed a thing.
- How do you think networking with other female veteran entrepreneurs benefits you and your business?
Last night, I taught the Business Planning Class focused on How to Market Your Business, a class sponsored by MDHA and Pathway. All of the workshop participants were women and the excitement and hunger that the women displayed was so inspirational. The key message that I teach all my women entrepreneurs is to support and empower one another – there is so much power in that.
As a female Veteran there is one thing I know for sure, and that is the power of supporting and defending your sister Veterans. We have been trained that you look out for your sister in peace and in battle. Knowing that your sister Veteran has your back makes all the difference in the world. It’s like having a band of sisters, focused on one goal: to help each other succeed in life and in business.
- What piece of advice would you give another female veteran just starting out as an entrepreneur?
First, it is critical that you build up your support system of mentors that can help coach you through the step-by-step process of starting and growing a business. There are so many resources available (like Pathway WBC’s classes) to help, and it is vitally important to the success of your business that you take advantage of all the help you can get.
Second, invest in yourself and continue learn. The business world is changing daily and in order for you to remain relevant in the market place you have to educate yourself consistently. Don’t be afraid to invest in continuing education classes and training. When you are educated, you can compete with the best of the best.
Lastly, surround yourself with supportive people. People who have your best interest at heart. People who have something to contribute to your life and your business. You should have at least 3 people that you can call at any time who know where you want to go, and are open to helping you to get there. Even though you may be in business by yourself, you don’t have to take the journey of entrepreneurship alone.
Like this interview? Check out our earlier Q&A with another incredible women veteran – Corrisa Wiest. For more information about female veteran entrepreneur resources, memberships and business classes available through Pathway WBC, subscribe to our weekly newsletter and like our Facebook page.