Success Stories

Bits N Pieces

Shannon Arick standing in her store

Shannon Arick is an Army Veterans having served overseas in Korea, and Germany and combat deployments to Iraq and Kuwait.

Shannon’s business concept was to purchase and revitalize “Bits N Pieces” which is a Thrift/Used Merchandise Store that has operated since 2006 in historic district of downtown West Point, Mississippi.  “Bits N Pieces” focusses on Consignment, Booth Lease, Antiques, Vintage Items, Unique Gifts, Furniture, Arts & Crafts, Re-purpose, Do-It-Yourself, and Home Décor.

Shannon conducted research at the SBA Website for Veteran resources and found the VBOC page.  She contacted the VBOC at MSU and requested assistance reference purchasing a business and developing a business plan.  After initial virtual conference, the VBOC at MSU and Shannon developed a path forward to be “lender ready” with her business plan.  The plan included attending Virtual Boots to Business Reboot in July 2020. Shannon worked with VBOC business counselors to complete a business plan using LivePlan to develop a “Lender Ready” business plan.

Shannon successfully obtained funding and a Grand Opening was held on 2 October 2020!

Visit Bits and Pieces on Facebook: 

Pool Scouts | Huntsville, Alabama

Pool Scouts by work trucks

Rontario Hicks, Owner of Pool Scouts of Huntsville, is a retired Army Veteran who served 24 years at 12 different duty stations and had 4 deployments. In 2022, he started his small business in Huntsville, Alabama.

Rontario’s Testimony:

“When I initially contacted the Small Business Administration (SBA), my primary objective was to secure a business mentor as I had just signed my FDD without much insight. Transitioning from the military had left me feeling anxious, and I was keen on finding employment opportunities that could leverage my retirement benefits. With time pressing, I dedicated countless hours after work to researching avenues for securing capital to fuel my entrepreneurial aspirations especially after I took the leap and signed my FDD. Amidst this uncertainty, I found myself grappling with the absence of a clear roadmap or standardized procedures for the entrepreneurial journey. 

My foremost concern centered around understanding the intricacies of the SBA loan program. The prospect of embarking on a franchise venture was particularly daunting, compounded by the absence of individuals within my social and professional circles with relevant experience in this domain. However, as I began engaging with the SBA, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the multitude of programs offered by the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC).

Learning about the comprehensive support services provided by the VBOC was truly uplifting. My mentor's guidance steered me towards participating in the Boots to Business program, marking a significant milestone in my journey as I transitioned from exploration to actively initiating and finalizing the rest of the franchise process. Through this engagement, I unearthed a wealth of resources and assistance beyond my initial expectations.

As the VBOC continues to extend their support, I am profoundly grateful for their ongoing guidance in fostering the growth of my business endeavors. We now discuss strategic planning and spending which was another program I didn't know existed.  Thanks to the whole team for continuing to mentor me showing me a multitude of tools that help me reach next steps as I grow.” 

The Veterans Business Outreach Center at Mississippi State University is proud of Rontario’s progress and success! We are looking forward to seeing what the future has for his business. Check out his website here!

The Jamaican Spot

Restaurant owners stand in front of the Jamaican Spot sign

The Jamaican Spot located in Leesville, LA is a restaurant opened by Romeo and Anette Thompson. The restaurant opened in August 2018. Romeo retired from the Army after serving from 1998-2018.

“I am committed to getting the job done after working long hours in different environmental conditions. Taking lead on a new project and working with a team to develop my vision was easy because I understand the roles and responsibilities of being a leader,” -Romeo Thompson

Romeo was able to attend the Boots to Business workshop at Fort Polk.

“It was inspiring. I learned the benefits and challenges of owning a restaurant business,” -Romeo Thompson

The Jamaican Spot now has five employees and is open for business!