Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

Boots to Business: Air Force family launches local BBQ business

Boots to Business:  Air Force family launches local BBQ business


[THEME MUSIC] MELISSA HEINTZ: Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, to support transitioning servicemembers and Veterans. Here’s a look at one of their success stories. CHANDLER LYLES: my name’s Chandler Lyles and I’m one of the owners of Lyle’s BBQ company located in Lexington, Kentucky. Lyles BBQ is different than every other barbecue joint out there because not
only do we have excellent service in a friendly environment, but we really focus
on the food here. So that’s everything from making the meats in an authentic
slow-smoked, southern way, to all of our sides are
made from scratch daily. GREG LYLES: Chandler kind of caught the bug from me and his mom doing
barbecue on the weekends, and he learned a lot by our trial and error. CHANDLER LYLES: And then
when I separated and my dad and mom retired from the Air Force, we all moved
back to Lexington, and we had always wanted to be business owners — we were
looking for our own thing, so we decided to open up a little roadside barbecue
stand. GREG LYLES: Transitioning out of the Air Force Boots to Business gave us the
foundational knowledge that we needed to understand how to manage budgets and
cash flow and marketing inventory management — all those things, you know,
allowed us to not make as many mistakes as we probably would have without the
course. The great thing about the SBA is that they’re a strategic partner in
helping small businesses grow their business. CHANDLER LYLES: In business you’ve got to get into the trenches and really do the day-to-day stuff to see if you can make
it, but you have a lot better chance of survival if you have a really strong
foundation — and that’s what a program like Boots to Business with the SBA
did for us. GREG LYLES: Some of the best advice I could share with individuals getting
ready to separate from service, and they’re thinking about starting a
business: start trying to prove your concept now. See if someone will actually
buy your product, or service. CHANDLER LYLES: Start as small and as narrow
as you can in the beginning. It’s going to do two things for you: one, it’s going to prove to
yourself if you even want to do that business with this little risk as possible. And the second thing is the market is going to tell you if your
products worth it or not. We started in a tent three years ago. In just this short amount of time we’ve built business from nothing to over a
million dollars in sales. With almost no debt on it at all. GREG LYLES: If
you’re thinking about starting a family owned and operated business then the key
is defining everyone’s roles, and understanding that, you know, there’s
somebody in charge or somebody that’s gonna be the ultimate decision-maker. JENNIFER LYLES: I am the ultimate decider. [LAUGHING] Not hardly. Unfortunately, not ever. I have to definitely listen to Chandler, which is kind of an odd… dynamic, but, at
the same time, you know, that’s kind of our personalities. And the beautiful thing
about our family is that everybody really brought something different to
the table. CHANDLER LYLES: My mom is the heart of the
business. She does all the operations stuff, day-to-day. All of our managers report to her, and
she’s really cultivating that environment of when you eating here
you’re eating at her house. My dad is a jack-of-all-trades guy without him our
company wouldn’t be to this point because he saved us a ton of money doing
maintenance. He has helped us do deliveries and without that support, and
being able to bounce ideas off of him, from my position of, ‘hey what do you
think about doing this? what do you thing about doing that?’ that’s
invaluable — having that sort of experience come to the table. And then my
role is the storyteller of the brand my job is to give you a reason, as a
first-time customer, to connect with us, and then get into the door. We’ve done
almost zero advertising outside of social media. We’ve got a full-time video
guy that has a ton of work for us; we take a ton of photos on our phones,
making our product look good; we show our staff. You know, we’re all about every day
telling little stories, so that it adds up, over the course of time, to a big
story that your customers connect with. I wouldn’t trade the hours spent cooking
barbecue with my family on the weekends, back in high school, for anything. And then, to be able to take that feeling, and bring it to a larger audience, every day,
at our actual restaurants, is really what’s made us successful. Running a business
is like being on a roller coaster. You know it’s gonna be
fun, and you know it’s gonna be awesome, and then once you’re on it, it’s up and down, and it’s scary, and then it’s the best, and then it’s the worst, and it’s
really all over the place, but by the time 60 years from now, the ride ends, I’m
going to look back and go ‘I’m really glad I got on.’ BARBARA CARSON: SBA provides all kinds of services to Veterans, military family members and
members of the Guard and Reserve who want to start and grow a business. Those include the training program: Boots to Business, but it also includes other
training programs specifically for service disabled Veterans, women Veterans
and military spouses. And, business acumen doesn’t come with just training —
you also need some opportunities. Opportunities that can be introduced
through federal contracting, where the government is going to spend 3% of an
entire spend with service disabled Veterans. We can get you ready for those
opportunities as well. And finally money. Everyone wants to know about what money is
available for business. SBA.GOV will tell you more about it, and Veterans and
service members and military spouses are eligible for fee relief on the loans
that SBA guarantees. HEINTZ: To learn more about Boots to Business and other SBA resources for Veterans, visit SBA . GOV / VETS


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