Navy League Spearheads Campaign to Shore up Military Funding

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Navy League is launching a grassroots campaign to generate public support for bolstering the budget of the Navy and the Marine Corps.The initiative comes as the 2011 Budget Control Act spending caps are slated to be fully imposed for the first time since the legislation was enacted and the military is grappling with a variety of global threats even as it no longer is engaged in combat operations in Iraq and is in the midst of drawing down from Afghanistan.“Since 2001, the pace of Navy and Marine Corps operations has not slowed down,” said Sheila McNeill, who is chairing the national campaign and is a former Navy League president.“Yet because the work of the Navy-Marine Corps team is out of sight, over the horizon on the vast oceans of the world, many are unaware of their work or the strain that they are under. The ‘America’s Strength’ campaign will work to ensure that Congress and the American people understand the dire consequences of a Navy-Marine Corps team unable to fulfill its mission,” said McNeil, president of the Camden Partnership, a community-based group that supports Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in southeastern Georgia.McNeill said the campaign will include ads, editorials and letters to the editors in newspapers across the nation, reported the Brunswick News.“We are saying get with our military and fund them so they can do their jobs,” she said. “It is important it come out in our communities. We will have ads all over the country.”Navy officials have said the service suffers a $10 billion shortfall annually, forcing it to delay maintenance and modernization of the fleet and curtail training for its personnel.“As threats to our allies and partners increase in the future, this shortfall will likely grow higher,” said Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “The nation will need to decide if we are going to maintain our alliances and prevent conflict away from our shores, or if we want a strategy that reduces America’s role in the world, and we wait until trouble comes to our hemisphere.”last_img read more

Want a New Website You May Have to Put in a Lot

first_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. June 17, 2015 Three of Venture for America’s fellows — Mike Wilner, Taylor Sundali, and Matt Fulton — noticed that over 50 percent of small businesses don’t have a website, and of those that do, over 90 percent aren’t optimized for mobile visitors. So, they started a company, Compass, to address this. Related: 3 Ways to Improve Conversions on Your WebsiteI believe that Compass is going to become a multi-million dollar business in the coming years. I know what you’re thinking: “A ‘website company’ is a good opportunity? Isn’t it 2015?” Or maybe you’re asking, “How the heck do so many businesses not have websites? Isn’t that the first thing you’d do nowadays?” Especially now that there are so many do-it-yourself services like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly. Understanding the answers to these questions requires some context. I’m going to start close to home, with my 67-year-old mom. She’s an artist, and she recently wanted to build a website to display her paintings and sell prints. So she called me, her (theoretically) tech-savvy, 40-year-old entrepreneur son and asked for my help. What did I do? I didn’t build her a website. I didn’t want to sit there and figure out Squarespace and produce something she wouldn’t like anyway. I didn’t recommend her to an agency. I knew she didn’t want to spend much money, and website creators generally cost at least $5,000. Instead, I thought to myself, “Hmm, what human beings do I know that build websites that won’t rip my mom off?” The truth is that most independent businesspeople are in their 30s or older, and most of those people don’t have the time to figure out how to build a website on their own. The proportion of people who start trying to build a website on Wix and actually finish is only 2 percent. That means that 98 percent of people give it a whirl and quit. That’s a lot of unbuilt websites and a lot of businesses that still need them. I could have told my mom to use a freelance platform like Elance, Upwork or 99designs. But these platforms require you to submit specs, vet submissions, decide on pricing, provide content, etc. It’s a whole project-management exercise. I would have been punting my mom into a maw of complexity. How does Compass surmount these difficulties? It builds customized websites for $800 to $1,800 and has a network of highly curated freelancers (many of whom are Venture for America Fellows). It also has a well-designed process to get the info needed from the business owner, in order to deliver a quality product quickly and reliably. Related: 10 Options for Hosting Your Startup WebsiteWhat’s more, its freelancers are paid $40-plus an hour and don’t have to do all of the meta-work that makes this kind of thing painful for creatives (sell, negotiate, educate, gather content and info, etc.). Freelancers generally want as friction-free an engagement as possible. And Compass smoothes out the friction. The market is enormous: $12 billion a year is spent by small businesses on web services each year. And there’s more: It’s not just websites, but search engine optimization, email marketing, social media, analytics and everything else a small business would want to do online. So, many companies today are saying, “Here are the tools; we’ve made it easier than ever (for you to do)!” And if you’re a small business, it’s easy to understand that approach. Those companies can go big and keep costs down by minimizing the services component. Yet, just providing better tools is not going to solve this particular problem. The vast majority of small business owners want nothing to do with figuring out a website. They are neck-deep in their business trying to keep it going. If that business is catering, they’re in a kitchen, or shopping for supplies or sending thank-you notes, etc. If the business is in landscape, the owners are hiring people, mowing lawns, maintaining equipment, etc.In short, business owners are time-starved and trying to move things off their plate. So, the key isn’t better tools; it’s accessibility, ease, convenience, process and, above all, service. I myself ran an education company that became the leader in its category. Theoretically, our customers could have gone out and taxonomized the primary materials or found a freelance tutor; our instructors could have hung out their own shingles and tried to attract students.Instead, we made things accessible and easy by curating the best instructors, packaging the materials in a digestible form and format and delivering a high-quality service. The company subsequently grew to tens of millions in revenue, and continues to grow to this day. (Yes, even though educational content online is now theoretically “free” online and ubiquitous. It turns out that the completion rate for those open online courses is only about 4 percent.)At our company, we never raised any money; investors probably wouldn’t have liked the business model anyway. Too many people involved. So, there’s a lesson here for entrepreneurs looking for opportunities: Technology is transforming industries and enabling unprecedented levels of both reach and access. It’s getting better all of the time. But each new toolset or means of communication requires another investment on the part of businesses and individuals that may not be in a position to make that investment.And clearly when people approach a transaction or task they don’t necessarily want to equip themselves or become experts. There’s a reason that headhunters still thrive, despite LinkedIn; and real estate brokers still make money, despite Zillow. If you go deep into a problem, most all of the time you’ll find more problems that need to be solved from the ground up. Yet technology can create needs, even as it addresses them. Sometimes solving the base problems requires a lot of work — and that is where opportunity lies. Related: 7 Things You Need to Know About SEO to Remain Relevant in 2015 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals 6 min read Register Now »last_img read more