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30 Best Leaders to Watch 2022

A leading Veteran Owned Business Certification organization developed by Veterans, for Veterans: National Veteran Business Development Council

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If you are a veteran who owns a business, then make sure that you are certified. How many times have your customers asked you if your business is certified veteran-owned? A person is eligible for certification only when they have served in the military or have a service-related disability. According to The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, by having a certification, veteran-owned businesses can get up to 3 percent of prime federal contracts or subcontracts. Suppose you decide to sell to a major corporation or any government entity. In that case, a Veteran certification gives you several tools in your marketing arsenals— it may also play out as leverage in some contract bidding.

Globally, various companies are delivering excellent services to help Veteran businesses but National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) stands out from the rest. NVBDC has created a certification program that proves the applicant is, in fact, a veteran and that they have operational control and authority to make decisions and share in the profits of the company. NVBDC was the first group to develop a veteran certification program that met acceptable corporate “best practices” standards. The company has established a methodology to secure veteran documents from the National Record Center that, to this day, no other organization does. NVBDC has created a direct chain of custody directly to its office from the government. The company never accepts discharge documents from anyone. 

In conversation with Keith King, Founder, and CEO of National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

Q. What was the motivation behind starting National Veteran Business Development Council? 

As a disabled Vietnam Veteran, I started my first business in 1984. In 1999 the law that created veteran-owned businesses as legal entities eligible for Federal contracts was passed. The people who helped write and pass PL106-50 were my friends and fellow veterans. They called me and said as one of a few disabled veterans who own a business that they know; they asked me to start doing federal contracting. After 14 years of successful federal contracting, it became clear that corporations doing business with the federal government were not including veterans in their sub-contracting requirements. Having access to several corporations, I asked them why? Their answer was, “because you’re not certified.” In 2013 I suspended my business to create a non-profit corporate acceptable Veteran certification organization. I wanted to make sure that all of the veterans who served after Vietnam were going to have an opportunity to participate in the supplier diversity programs of America’s leading corporations. 

Q. ‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’ - How would you and your team interpret this saying? 

We are focused on the future. What we have and how we do it is always under review and scrutiny. What can we do bigger, better, faster and grow revenue, and cut expenses? We believe that our certification program is the one opportunity that will benefit every Veteran Business Owner, their family, their community, and the Nation by giving them the certification they will need to do business with State Governments, Federal agencies, and the leading corporations in America! We intend to expand our marketing and educational efforts to reach more veteran-owned businesses and have them become NVBDC certified. 

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful CEO?

Passion for the work or cause. The awareness that no one does everything alone; you must find the right people to help you. Willingness to be wrong, know that you will make mistakes, own them, have the courage to correct them, and keep moving forward.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting, what would it be?

Hire a CPA and a lawyer and learn the business of running a business. Most businesses fail, not because the product or service was wrong, but because the owner was not prepared for the realities of running a business.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

In August 2017 the NVBDC was named by the 28 members of the Billion Dollar Roundtable as the ONLY accepted Veteran certification 3rd party for capture and reporting of veteran spend. The results are we opened an $80 BILLION market that did not exist for our veteran business owners.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched? 

Our new services for 2022 include: Host live and virtual events that deliver ideas on our social justice initiative. Increase our corporate and veteran training webinars on government rules and regulations that determine “What is a Veteran”. Continue our key stakeholder role with the SBA to ensure that their certification program meets a higher standard and help them to stop the fraud. We plan to expand the three key non-certification programs listed below: 

  1. The 50 State JROTC scholarship program, including a $10,000 scholarship and high-level computer for each YEARLY WINNER.
  2. The NVBDC Military and Veteran Organization Task Force (MVOTF) brings together a wide range of organizations that support our mission.
  3. Services Committee, which provides webinars and in-person training to our corporations, and veterans. The committee launched a grant program to help Veteran Farmers, and those veterans facing financial hardship to cover certification fees and other direct aid.

Meet the leader behind the success of National Veteran Business Development Council

Keith King created the National Veteran Business Development Council at the age of 63. In this case, his age was a true benefit. By then he had held many leadership positions, owned several businesses, and had been the President of several non-profits. The adage of “with age comes wisdom” was at least partially true in his case. He just believed he could “do this” and he was financially stable enough that he knew he could survive a few years until the NVBDC either prospered or died. He also knew the key to his success was based on the men and women who were willing to lend their name, time, talent, and in some cases their money to the effort. He believes that he has been blessed with having people willing to believe in the cause and that includes the supplier diversity managers of the corporations that became our founding members. The one thing being older taught him was not to believe or listen to the “doubters”. He is not a fan of the word “can’t”. He has lived most of his life rejecting the idea that he “can’t” do something. Age also taught him not to be afraid of failure.

"The purpose is to provide a credible and reliable certifying authority for all size businesses ensuring that valid documentation exists of a Veterans status, ownership, and operational control”