All posts by refactor

A Veteran’s Guide to Starting an Online Business (Building a Website)

Starting a business is tough. Chances are you have a great idea that all you’re friends told you is, and now you want to put it into motion… Now it’s time to start looking at how to build a website and get your products available to the public.

In my last post, I gave an overview of getting started. Here we will focus on how to build a website and get your company to have a physical footprint.

Now, if you are looking for one quick takeaway from this post, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND INVESTING IN A GOOD WEBSITE. I can’t emphasize with how important this is… The most common mistake I see is that someone wants to get their product out there, so they end up slapping together some shit website to get their product up. The problem is that when you do that you are now showing your product to the public and they are getting a glimpse of your company for the first time. These people don’t know you, they don’t know your story, and they don’t know your product (yet), all they know is that you have a garbage website. That age-old adage that “first impressions matter” is true! More likely than not you’re not going to make a sale, but instead, you’re going to get a ton of people come to your website and remember that you have a garbage website and won’t want to return in the future. This right here was one of my biggest mistakes starting out.

 

A great way to approach your website is treat it as those it’s your place of business… because it is. If you had a brick and mortar store, you wouldn’t have it be dirty, with paint all over, or one product in the same section as some different unrelated product or pictures of product that you offer that won’t be in stock for months. In theory, your store would be clean, easy to walk through, the checkout process would be quick, and your customers would feel good about being there. The same goes for your online store.  Make it nice, make people want to stay there for a while. Remember, this is your gateway to your customers and the only chance you have to make that sale.

Here are a few steps I’d recommend taking to getting your online store set-up

Step 1- Find a good web developer/web designer.

We personally use a company called BitMotive.  We’ve been through probably ten different web developers, and these guys are hands down the best. We’ve been with them for about two years so far, and they designed and developed our current website. They also maintain that website on a monthly basis. If that’s not enough of benefits for you, they also do Black Rifle Coffee’s website. So if you want a good recommendation, there you go. Regardless of whom you go through I strongly recommend you do some real research because who you choose matters. The wrong person will leave you in a world of headaches. Also, if someone says “I have a friend who does websites”…. run, don’t walk, run away, because of that the fastest way to hate life.

Step 2- Find a Good eCommerce Platform.

At first, I didn’t realize the importance of a good eCommerce platform, and I ended up just going with the cheapest option… big mistake. The problem is that when you set up your website, you will build it into an eCommerce platform. Basically, the platform is the part that only you see. This is the part that manages inventory, processes the payments and allows you to manage your products.  If you choose a lousy eCommerce platform at the start, you will soon need to restructure it, and then you’ll end up having to get a new eCommerce platform which will take time and money.
I suggest finding the right eCommerce platform at the start, so you don’t have to go through the headache that I did.  I started on Gold Cart, went to BigCommerce, then to Volusion, then to WooCommerce and finally to Shopify. Personally, I am a fan of Shopify but do your research.

The Best eCommerce Platform (according to me)

Shopify
I like Shopify because they seem to have the best integration. What I mean by this is they have great apps that allow you to optimize your website to your needs. They are also really well integrated with Amazon, Facebook Shopping, Google Shopping and more.  They do a great job of building business relationships, and since we changed to them about a year ago, I have been very impressed.  They also have a very reasonable price point.
BigCommerce
We went from BigCommerce awhile back, but I’d say of all the ones we used they were the second best after Shopify.  BigCommerce is an excellent option for starting out because they do have decent prices and they also have some nice website templates that you could use to get started. Like Shopify, they also do an excellent job of going out and building integrations to ensure you are maximizing your reach.
Volusion
If for any reason the second two don’t work I’d say look at Volusion. Like BigCommerce and Shopify they have great integrations and templates.  However, we had some back-end issues that made us switch. This was a few years back, and I have heard that they have since improved their backend experience a lot.

Step 3- Build your website, but keep it simple!

Another one of my starting mistakes was wanting a super complex website that had lots of bells and whistles. This was expensive, caused a ton of issues and ended up not doing me any good. KEEP YOUR WEBSITE SIMPLE! I can’t say this enough. Look at every well to do company out there, and you will see they all have one thing in common… their websites are simple.

Step 4- Find a website you like and then copy it.

What I did was go to all of the websites I liked to shop with, and I jacked their ideas on how to set it up. Anytime I shopped somewhere, and I liked their checkout, or navigation or about us section I noted it and then sent it to the web developer. The reality is that there are thousands of webstores out there, there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Just find what you like and mimic it.

Step 5- Find a good domain.

A good domain is important and something that I messed up on. Let’s be honest, refactortactical.com isn’t the best domain. It’s complicated, nobody pronounces it properly and it nobody remembers it. Your domain, like your website, should be simple. Let’s say you sell holsters…  Holsters.com is always going to be your best domain. If your company name is Molon Labe Holsters (just throwing out random names here, please don’t use that as a name of a holster company bc it’s super cheesy), don’t make your domain molonlabeholsters.com. The reason is that it’s hard to spell and remember. Molon is not an English word, neither is able, and both could be misspelled easily. The reality is that your company name DOEST NOT need to match your domain.
A great example of this is Peanut Butter and Co. They could use the domain peanutbutterandco.com, but that’s complicated.  Instead, they went with ilovepeanutbutter.com which is a great domain. That domain is easy to remember, hard to not spell correctly and ties in well with their company name.
We ended up buying the domain tacticalequipment.com because we had so many issues with our original domain. Now if you type that in it will redirect to our website. I can put that domain on our product or in marketing and people can easily remember it.  Again, look to other successful companies as an example.  Blackriflecoffee.com, nike.com, adidas.com, ford.com, skdtac.com…. I can go on… However, all of these are domains that are easy to remember.

Step 6- Start by using good keywords in your website.

When you set up your website, make sure you start by using good keywords in your anchor text and products. If you’re selling holsters and you make a holster called the “Patriot,” don’t just make your product page consist of the product name. Instead, your product page and text should read the Patriot Kydex Holster. This is important because if the world Kydex or Holster is not on that specific page, you will never optimize in google. If all your page reads is “Patriot” google will think the page is about Patriot, not about holsters and won’t show it to people when they type in the word holster into google. It’s important to get your keyword into your webpage from the start so it can be appropriately categorized.

While this list isn’t definitive, it will help get you going! I hope this post helps a Veteran looking to start a business going and be successful. If there is anything you think needs to be added, I am all ears!  Good luck.

Pistol Shooting Drill: The Abbate

This pistol shooting drill is done in honor of  Sgt. Matthew Abbate who was killed in action in Sangin Afghanistan while serving as a Marine Scout Sniper with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during his tour of duty.

Overview 

The Abbate Drill can be found on page 60 of our Essential Shooting Guide in the Stress Drill section. To conduct this pistol drill, you will need one Essentials Target placed on a range that allows the shooter at least 25 yards with of vertical movement away from the target. The Abbate Drill is a moving drill and will require you to run from the 3-yard line to the 25-yard line and back to finish the drill. This drill is designed to work on the pistol draw, shot consistency, speed, accuracy, target transitions, split-times, and shooting with proper fundamentals with an accelerated heart rate. This pistol drill is for intermediate to advanced shooters and includes multiple target transitions, movement, and at least one magazine reload. We have also added a couple of alternate scoring variations to increase difficulty, emphasize accuracy, and challenge advanced shooters.

The Essentials Target 

The Essentials Target is designed to give you an essential set of drills that will maintain your current proficiency level. The drill takes 150 rounds to complete and covers multiple aspects of pistol marksmanship to include slow aimed fire, weak and off hand shooting, target transition, trigger speed changes, drawing, magazine reloads and controlled multiple shot groups.

The Essential Shooting Guide

The Essentials Shooting Guide is used in conjunction with our Essentials and Kill Zone Targets. The book starts with our Essentials Drill which is a 150 round drill designed to work on different aspects of shooting to include: basic marksmanship, drawing from the holster, reloads, target transitions, differing trigger manipulations and combat focused shooting. Upon completion of the drill, you will diagnose areas that need improvement. The book then offers chapters of different drills that are used in conjunction with our Essentials Targets as well as areas to mark your improvement. We strongly recommend using this book in conjunction with our Essentials Targets as the two items will offer a solid iteration of marksmanship.

Setup For This Pistol Drill

To conduct this drill, the shooter will begin on the 3-yard line facing downrange (facing the target) with their pistol holstered and a round chambered. This pistol shooting drill can require several reloads depending on the accuracy of the shooter so the shooter should have a few extra magazines on their person before beginning the drill. If the shooter completes the drill with zero misses the drill will require twenty-four (24) rounds. This drill requires a shot timer to be scored appropriately. The time begins with the sound of the buzzer and concludes when the number “6” target has been successfully shot four times.

The Pistol Drill

At the sound of the buzzer, the shooter will draw and fire two rounds into targets 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 in that order. The shooter must successfully hit each target with two rounds before transitioning to the next target. Once targets 1-6 have two rounds in them, the shooter will then turn in run to the twenty-five-yard line and then return to the 3 yard. The shooter will then repeat the same shot sequence by shooting the 1-6 targets with two rounds in order not moving on to the next target until the prior target has been successfully shot twice. The shooter can either holster their pistol during the running portion of the drill or maintain muzzle awareness and keep the weapon pointing in a safe direction (shooter/range preference).

The Purpose of this Shooting Drill

This shooting drill is designed to combine speed, pistol shooting accuracy and emphasizes precise fine motor skills by requiring a speed reload and multiple follow-on precision shots with an accelerated heart rate.

How to score This Pistol Shooting Drill

The shooters score is the total time it takes to complete the drill successfully.

Variation(s) of This Shooting Drill

If desired, the shooter can ensure that they have a total of 24 rounds and fire the same shot sequence with only two chances to hit each target. Fire the initial twelve rounds into the 1-6 targets, then run to the 25-yard line then return to the 3-yard line and fire the remaining twelve. Each miss will now count as a 4-second penalty and will be added to the total time. This version of the drill emphasizes accuracy differently because the shooter has an allotted number of rounds to make all 24 hits and the misses add additional time to the shooters total.

 

 

What are the Different Types of VA Loans?

If you’re looking to purchase a new home or even refinance your house, consider looking into a VA Loan.  While there are a couple of different types of VA Loans, most of them are fairly straight forward. VA Loans are a great way to finance your house and come with some great benefits.  Some of the benefits of a VA Loan include:

  • 0% Down Payment
  • No PMI (Primary Mortgage Insurance)
  • Streamlined Loan Process
  • Higher DTI (debt to income) Ratios can be accepted
  • Lower Closing Costs than traditional loans
  • Typically easier to qualify for (if you’re a veteran)

If you’ve decided to look into a VA Loan, chances are you’re wondering about what different types of VA Loans might exist.

Top 5 Lenders For a VA Purchase Loan:

  1. Veteran’s United
  2. JG Wentworth
  3. Quicken Loans
  4. Lending Tree
  5. NASB

The Different Types of VA Loans:

VA Purchase Loans

A VA purchase loan is offered to Veterans who qualify with a specific credit score and financial history.  The loans are a great alternative to a conventional loan.

VA Purchase Loans Requirements

  • Must be a veteran
  • Must meet financial requirements (typically a FICO credit score of 620 or above
  • Must have a qualifying debt to income ratio (DTI)
  • Must have qualifying VA income

VA Refinance Loans

VA Refinance Loans are designed to give the homeowner cash for any specific needs such as home improvement.  VA Loans are great because the homeowner can refinance up to 100% of the home’s value and they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance.  Conventional loans often require some sort of equity on the house.  If you are looking to get locked into a lower available rate, this is something important to consider.

VA Refinance Loans Requirements

  • Must meet financial requirements (typically a FICO credit score of 620 or above
  • Must have a qualifying debt to income ratio (DTI)
  • Must be a Veteran
  • Must have an existing loan
  • Must have qualifying payment history on current loan
  • Must have qualifying VA income

VA Streamline Refinance Loans

VA Streamline Refinance Loans or IRRRL are available for anyone who has an existing VA Loan.  These tend to act in the same way as a VA Refinance Loan, however, it’s geared for existing VA Loan holders in an effort to streamline the process.

VA Streamline Refinance Requirements

  • Must have an existing VA Loan
  • Must have qualifying credit score
  • Must have qualifying payment history
  • Must have qualifying income

What is Considered Qualifying VA Income?

The VA only considers some of your income as qualifying income.  For example, the VA will accept military pay as qualifying income, however, they will not accept income made from gambling as qualifying income.  This is important when they look at your debt to income ratio.

VA Qualifying Income

  • Full Time Salary Income
  • Part Time Salary Income
  • Bonus or Overtime Income
  • Seasonal Employment
  • Income from a divorce (such as alimony or child support)
  • Income from commissions
  • Income from Active Duty/National Guard/Reserve Service
  • Income from rental properties (restrictions apply)
  • Automobile allowances (restrictions apply)

VA Disqualifying Income

  • Gambling Income
  • One-time Payments (such as a bonus)
  • Income from Unemployment
  • Inconsistent Income

When it comes to refinancing a VA Loan or even obtaining a streamlined Refinance Loan there are few companies we’d suggest looking at.

Veteran’s United

Veteran’s United is one of the largest VA lenders in the United States.  In 2017 they financed over $10 Billion in VA loans which makes them experts in the VA Loan process.  We recommend them mainly because of their unique focus on VA loans rather than other lenders who focus on a large variety of loans.

Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans is the nation’s largest lender and for a very good reason.  In 2017 they close $400 Billion in loans across the US. They also ranked highest in customer satisfaction for “Primary Mortgage Origination”.  While they aren’t as specialized as Veteran’s United, they still have an excellent track record and may be able to assist you in more than just VA Home Loans.

Want more info on VA Blogs? Be sure to checkout our VA Buying Guide! 

 

 

 

Why a VA Loan is Better Than a Traditional Loan?

After going through some extensive heartaches while applying for a loan recently, we have decided to put out information to our customers that might help them in the event they want to get a new home loan.  Because most of our customers/readers are Veterans, we think this information on the differences between a VA Loan and a traditional loan might be helpful since it was confusing to us starting out.

There are some big differences between a VA Loan and a Traditional Loan and you may be asking what makes a VA Loan better?  The reality is, that a VA Loan might not actually be the best loan for you, however, if you’re a veteran chances are that it’s probably your best option.

So what makes a VA Loan Better?

  1. VA Loans require a 0% down payment- This is big for most home buyers, especially first time home buyers.  Most traditional loans require a 20-30% down payment on a house which can be a deal breaker for a lot of individuals.  By not having to put down any money you may be able to get yourself into a home early on rather than having to spending years saving up.
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)- Traditional loans charge PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance.  This is typically .3-1.15% of the entire loan amount each year which can add around $150-200/mo in charges depending on your loan amount.  However, VA Loans do not require any PMI since they are backed by the federal government.  This piece alone could save you thousands a year.
  3. Pre-approval- One of the best things about going with a VA Home Loan is once you’re approved for a VA Loan you can set out and find the house you want.  This makes closing time a lot easier and makes you a much more competitive buyer.  When a real estate agent and or seller find out you have a VA Home Loan guarantee they can often be more willing to work with you when it comes to closing.

If you are looking to get pre-approved for a VA Home Loan you can go to:

What makes a VA Home Loan Worse?

  1. Stricter FICO Credit Score standards- On average, VA Home Loan lenders are looking for a credit score of 620 or higher.  FHA Loans typically look for a credit score of +580 and Conventional Loans look for a credit score of +620.
  2. Mandatory Funding Fee- VA Loans require a Mandatory Funding Fee.  This fee is 2.15% fee for active duty personnel and 2.4% for National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.  This is a one time fee paid up front at closing and is a percentage of the total value of the home.  The downside of this one time payment is that, unlike a down-payment on a conventional loan, the payment does not go towards your home’s principle.
  3. It’s not available to everyone- VA Home Loans are only available to actual Veterans.  So if you haven’t served, you are ineligible for the loan.

What Credit Score Do I need for a VA Home Loan?

As mentioned above, a FICO credit score of 620 or higher is generally what most VA lenders are looking for when it comes to potential buyers.  While this score is traditionally higher than the credit score needed for a conventional loan, you don’t have to put down a down-payment.

Looking for more information about VA Home Loans?  You can visit our full VA Home Loan Guide here.

 

 

 

A Veteran’s Guide on How to Start an Online Business (Getting Started)

So here’s the reality…  If you’re a Veteran, chances are you’ve thought about starting a business as a means of transitioning into civilian life.  Starting a business is tough, trust me, but I want to offer a few tips to get you going.  I personally love to see Veterans be successful in any area of life, but even more so when it comes to business.  You guys did a lot of your country, you deserve to run a successful business more than anyone. I hope that these posts offer you some insight on how to get started and be successful.

When I initially started RE Factor Tactical, I had no idea where to begin.  Being a Veteran I knew I had a lot of resources to help me with, but I didn’t know where to begin.  I started off by making t-shirts just so I could learn about supply and demand, but every single thing I came across was new territory.  I had to learn from my mistakes, and even today I am continually learning new things and venturing into new territory.  Business is an unbelievably stressful and will test your will and patience daily.  You will most likely go for years without making a profit and work 80-90 hours a week just so you can keep from working 40 hours a week.  But if you’re successful, the pain and agony will be worth it.  So here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I suggest anyone looking to get into business consider before getting started.

 

 

Choose a Profitable Industry

This one is the most important of all which is why it’s first.  Here’s the reality…  Tactical gear isn’t the most profitable industry around.  I always like to use this analogy: if I walk into a restaurant with all of my company’s product in a bag and I showed it to every person in the restaurant, chances are only a small group of people there MIGHT be interested in a couple of products that I sell.  However, if I walked into a restaurant with let’s say a belt or a bag of coffee, EVERYONE in that restaurant would be interested in the product and I’d have a good chance of making a sale.  If I could go back and talk to the younger me, I would talk myself out of starting a tactical gear business.  This is primarily because for me to make a sale in this industry takes A LOT of work.  I am only selling to a fraction of America and of the people that I can sell to I am swimming in a saturated market.  I think an easy way to look at is; when was the last time you saw a tactical gear company be a fortune 500 company?  The answer is you haven’t.  There aren’t any.  Maybe Lockheed Martin, but they sell Jets, and rockets and billion-dollar projects.  Sorry but you’re not going to get there by selling the same nylon pouches as everyone else.
So what product should you be selling???  Think of something that everyone needs, that’s a consumable that also has excellent margins.  That’s where the money is.  Think about it… What companies are on that Fortune 500 list? Coca-Cola, Apple, Ford… All sell items that anyone could want are consumable and have high margins.  So when you start to look at that online business start asking yourself, “what does everyone want and need?”.   One of our company’s best selling items is t-shirts, only because everyone needs them and they are consumable.  Now, that doesn’t mean I’d recommend starting a t-shirt business, it’s another super tough industry to compete in, but it’s a great example of a profitable product.

Get Involved in the Veteran Community

Throughout my time as a business owner I’ve worked continuously with other companies whether through collaborations or through retail sales, the ones that have helped me out the most have always been Veteran business owners.  That’s not to say that non-veteran business owners aren’t great.  Companies like Black Point Tactical, Ferro Concepts, and Tactical Distributors have been some of our best associates and are excellent business owners with outstanding morals.  But it seems like a lot of Veteran business owners tend to be “in it together.”  We have a brotherhood that now extends the military and into the business world.  Guys like Jeff from Readyman, Evan from Black Rifle and Sam from Quantico Tactical have been some of my most prominent advocates.  They often place my company’s success before their own which is a trait you’ll rarely find in the civilian world.  With that being said, I always advocate treading lightly.  Some Veteran companies have also been my biggest enemy.  For some reason a lot of Veteran companies will see my company’s success and rather than help out, they will copy my company product and use my ideas for their own profit.  Chances are they are reading this blog and know exactly who they are.  Hats off to you turds for being THAT guy even after getting out of the military.
But in general, the Veteran community is a great place to start.  Before you get too far down the business path ensure you register as a Veteran Owned Business and start looking at getting a VA Business Loan.  This is especially important if you plan to do any sort of contracting with the US Government.
One thing I do suggest is when it’s all said and done, and you are rolling in the doe…  Don’t forget about the community you came from.  Always donate back to the guys still in the fight.  Once you are crushing it in the business world, turn around and offer some assistance to your brotherhood.  Whether it’s through jobs, donations or mentorship, you have a duty to help others.

Only Hire the Best 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is hiring a friend because he’s a friend.  In business, friends come second.  It sucks, but a friend can bring down your entire company.  You should strive to hire studs.  Hire the guy that is going to crush sales.  Hire the woman who won’t take no for an answer.  Who you surround yourself with is just as important as being a successful person yourself.  The people you surround yourself with can either make up for your deficiencies, or they can bring down your best assets because you’re always having to carry them. RE Factor is where it is today, not because of me, but because of my team of guys who work their asses off constantly.  Those are the guys that make up the company, and without them, the company wouldn’t be around at all.

Choose a Good eCommerce Website

Ok, I know this is getting particular, but this is something I wish I would have known off the bat.  I started off with WordPress Gold Cart, then went to Volusion, then to BigCommerce, then to WooCommerce, and I’ve finally settled on Volusion.  Each one of these took hours of redesign and work and cost tens of thousands of dollars in web development.  The bottom line is your online store is crucial to your success.  You can have the best product in the world, but if you have a garbage website, you will always struggle to sell it.  Think about it like this…  If you had a brick and mortar store where you sold a product would you have it be totally dirty with product strung all around?  No, because nobody would go in there.  The same principle applies to your website.  Make it clean.  Make people want to visit it.  If it’s difficult to make a sale, chances are you are losing a lot of money.  While it’s easy to argue which online eCommerce Platform is the best, I’d strongly recommend looking at them in this order:

1. Shopify (this is who we currently have)
2. BigCommerce
3. Volusion
4. 3D Cart (We’ve never used these guys but hear good things)
5. WooCommerce (inexpensive but can have lots of issues)Regardless of who you go with, do your research.  Also, when you go to invest your initial capital, spend some money on getting a really well-designed website.  Again, make your site look professional, make it easy to navigate and make your customers want to stay there.

Invest in Marketing

Ok, so you’re ready to get your product out there, it’s the best of the best, and you’re confident it’s going to sell… now it’s time to market the shit out of it.  No matter how excellent your product is, if people don’t know about it, they won’t buy it.  Period.  Besides, if you have a killer, revolutionary product and you don’t crush it on marketing, someone will take your idea and market it better and then take all your sales.  It happens constantly.  When you go for your initial loan or investment, make sure you earmark a substantial amount of it to marketing.  One company that crushes it at marketing is Black Rifle Coffee Company.  They have a great product which helps their business, and they have a good CEO who is driving the company in the right direction…  But where they absolutely crush it, is marketing.  There are a ton of other great coffee companies out there with excellent coffee.  But BRCC continually makes viral videos that get millions of views and therefore their coffee is purchased more often than a company that also has great coffee but doesn’t have good marketing.  In the end, your marketing will literally make you or break you, and in a world of social media, you have to make sure you’re on top.  If you don’t know how to get into marketing, I’d recommend hiring a marketing firm (we actually do marketing for a few different companies, just saying), or start by purchasing some good stock photography and use it to help make your website look legit.  If you’re looking for some good stock photography companies, I’d recommend
1. Adobe Stock
2. iStock Photo
3. 123RF
In the end a lot it doesn’t matter what company you go with, just use GOOD photography and stick with good marketing.  Spend the money for a photographer and don’t post pictures on your primary social media account of boring stuff, or what you ate, or some cool sunset.  That’s not what sells a product.  Good marketing sells the product so make sure you’re focusing on that!

Protect your Intellectual Property

If you come up with a good design, spend the money to protect it.  Patents, copyright and registered trademarks will help keep those turd business owners away, and it will help ensure you can profit off of your idea. Currently, I am having to get the copyright on a product I made a while back that was blatantly copied but another company.  Now I have to spend the money to first understand the copyright, and then I can go after them for damages, had I done the filing in the first place I wouldn’t be trying to play catch up.  The bottom line is a Patent, Patent Pending, Registered Trademark or a Copyright gives you some legal protection.  Of course, there is always a workaround to all of those, but it does give you a fighting chance of keeping your intellectual property.  The hard truth is that there are people out there that simply can’t come up with their own ideas.  So they look at others great ideas and then use it to make their own profit.  While these people are the scum that makes running a business a pain, they do exist, and they will force you to spends thousands to maintain your idea.  However, at the end of the day, it’s crucial that you take the time and spend the money to keep your ideas legally protected.

Hire an Accountant

This is another one of those big ones.  Make sure your books are in order and make sure you are diligently tracking money in and money out.  If you don’t, you can be hemorrhaging money somewhere and not even know it.  In hindsight, I wish I had done this part a lot better starting out.

Blog

That’s right, blog.  Get online and write blogs about your industry or product.  Blogs drive traffic.  Chances are you fell upon this blog either because we drove you here from social media, or because you typed something into google that made this article populate.  Blogging helps capture customers that you might not have captured because you are building your online presence.  This one is huge and something you should put a lot of time and effort into.

Write a business plan

Before you take the final plunge into starting your business take everything above and write it into a business plan.  Write out how you plan on making money, what your profit margins will look like, how big your industry is, where you might have issues and everything else that goes into a business.  I started the company fully thinking it would fail within a month and here we are 7 years later still chugging along.  But I never wrote out that business plan, and it took us years to figure out what kind of a company we wanted to be.  The sooner you can establish your “elevator speech” the better.  An elevator speech is basically what you would tell someone your company does in the course of an elevator ride.  It should be short, concise with clear objectives and goals.  Don’t say that you want to be a Kydex Holster company.  Say how you want to be a Kydex holster company.  Is it because you create some incredible new holster that nobody has thought of before?  Or is it a new way of making Kydex that somehow revolutionizes the industry?  If you just say you want to be a Kydex holster company, guess what, you’ll be swimming in a sea of Kydex holster companies.

Get a Small Business Loan

Even if you have the money to start a company, consider getting a small business loan first.  The reason is that if you take your life savings, put it into a business and then fail, you just lost your business and your life savings.  Small business loans are designed to give you a little bit of an out.  Also, if your company starts to fail and you started it with your own capital you have no fallback.  However, if you start the company with a small business loan and start to fail, you can pad your tougher times with a small business loan.  It’s always harder to go to the bank and ask for a small business loan once your company starts to falter than it is to get one right off the bat.  There are a ton of places to get a loan through, but if you want a few places to start looking I’d suggest:

1. Ondeck
2. Loan Builder
3. Blue Vine
4. Funding Circle
5. Seek Business Captial
6. National Funding

While this isn’t the definitive guide to building a business, it’s at least a place to get started.  Again, my goal here is to offer some ideas/info that I wish I had when I started RE Factor in 2011.  I hope that this blog helps a Veteran start something profitable so they can hire more veterans and help out the veteran community as a whole.

How to Speed Up Your Pistol Draw Speed

If you’re looking to speed up your pistol draw speed, there are a few things you can do that will help give you a quicker draw.  While practice is really the only way to get faster, how you practice matters.  Here are a few ideas to help you improve your pistol shooting/draw speed.

 

Do fast, what you can do fast- This may seem obvious, but a lot of shooters fail to reach their maximum draw speed because they slow down key elements of the draw for no reason.  A great example is when you see someone try to shoot a target from a long distance like the 25-yard line.  Often, they will draw the pistol slower in a subconscious effort to be more stable.  However, because they are drawing the pistol slower, they are losing valuable time in getting the weapon on target.  Your draw speed should be the same whether you’re shooting from the 3-yard line or the 25-yard line.  What this means is, the time it takes you to get the gun on target should be approximately the same.  What changes is that at the 3-yard line you can get your shot off quickly when you get a simple sight picture- while at the 25-yard line you will need to ensure you have a good sight picture and steady trigger pull to ensure proper shot placement.  However, in both cases, you should be getting the gun out of the holster as quickly as possible and onto the target.

Draw your gun out in a straight line- Now, I know I might be pooh-poohing on some super-high-speed pistol instructor’s 10 count draw sequence- and if you do something cool like that, then keep doing you boo boo.  But, if you want to speed up your draw, you need to get the pistol out of the holster and leveled up with the target as quickly as possible.  Many instructors teach the shooter a multi-count draw sequence where the gun comes out of the holster, then the shooter rotates the weapon while it’s still next to their hip, then they bring their hands together in front of their chest, then the shooter pushes the pistol out to the target and finally the shooter engages the target.  In the end, all of these small unnecessary movements take valuable time away from your draw.  Now, I realize that there are some tactical arguments to this idea and I will let you guys battle it out on the internet if you like.  But this article is how to speed up your draw and to get the pistol out in one smooth motion is a lot faster than doing a 10 count draw…. period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place your pistol in the same place every time- Muscle memory is a massive part of speeding up your draw.  If every time you go to the range, you place your pistol in a different spot, you will end up having to rework your muscle memory- which wastes valuable range time.  Your pistol should be placed on the exact same spot on your hip over and over again.  I like to mark on my belt exactly where I put mine so when I go back to the range, I know where it needs to go.  This means that your hand will get used to going to the exact same position over and over again and you will have a much smoother draw.

Dry Fire- This one probably helped out my own draw speed the most.  Dry firing is huge if you’re looking to get a lightning fast draw.  If you want to get into pistol shooting, set up an hour or two a day where you practice drawing your pistol over and over.
Use a shot timer- A great way to speed up your draw speed is to use a shot timer.  I like to set a par time on the timer and try and get the pistol out before the par time.  You can either purchase a shot timer for around $100 or download a free app from the app store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Build a Safe Room/Panic Room

How to build a Safe Room in an Existing Home

A safe room is a vital part of good home security and something that should exist in every household.  Safe rooms are easy to create and can be the difference between life or death in the event of a home invasion.  Here is a quick and easy guide on how to set up a Safe Room in your house.

What Room Should a Safe Room Be In?

If you have a house or apartment building a Safe Room/Panic Room is relatively simple.  Your first step is to establish what room you’d like to put the Safe Room in.  You should be looking for a place that:

  • Has one doorway
  • Has an escape area (such as a window)
  • Has access to a phone (if you don’t have a cell phone)
  • Is quick and easily accessible from all areas of the house
  • Can fit your entire family
  • Has room for provisions
  • Has limited glass windows
  • Gets cellular reception
  • Safe Room Doors

When creating a Safe Room, you should be most concerned with the door separating the room from the rest of the house.  You should select a solid core metal or wood door.  These are available from your local Home Depot and are reasonably easy to install.  Next select at least two locks.  We recommend a deadbolt and a chain lock.  Chain locks are great because if the assailant kicks your door, it can break the deadbolt, however, it will most likely be stopped by the chain lock.  Also, Slide Locks can be attached to the top and or bottom.

Install a Home Security System

Having a security system installed in the house is a great way to help strengthen your saferoom.  A good idea is to install one of the security system panels in the saferoom so you can alert the authorities from the safety of the room.  While there are a lot of great security companies out there ADT probably has the best reputation at the moment and mainly because they are the largest in the nation.  Our top recommended home security systems are:

  1. ADT
  2. Protect America
  3. Life Shield
  4. Guardian Protection

Building Your Safe Room

  • Select the best room for your Safe Room
  • Install a solid core door with locks
  • Add a first aid kit
  • Add a form of self-defense (gun, taser, pepper spray, etc.)
  • Install shatter resistant windows or antitheft window film
  • Install a good security system and put the security system panel in your room
  • Install security cameras throughout the house with the viewing monitor in your safe room
  • Safe Rooms for Tornados/Hurricanes

Safe Room Criteria for home invasions tends to differ a bit from Safe Rooms from Tornados and Hurricanes.  In most cases, a Safe Rooms for home invasions will be a bedroom.  In many cases, a bedroom is located on upper levels of multistory houses.  In the event of a tornado, you will not want to be found on the second floor of a home but rather the first floor or basement.  These rooms should have a strong stone, brick or concrete wall and ceiling.  You will want to stock the room with ample supplies of water, food and first aid.  In addition, your room should have a radio that can transmit to local EMS (in the event of a big hurricane or tornado cell phones will most likely not work. Your safe room should also be out of a flood zone area, especially in the event of a hurricane.

Ideas of what to put in a Safe Room

When prepping your safe room for a tornado or hurricane, you will want to think a little more long term.  Prepare yourself to wait out the storm and then to wait days if not weeks until EMS can get to you.   You should be prepared to leave your safe room and walk to safety if needed.   Assume that the rest of your house will be destroyed and the only things you have in that room will be available to you to survive on.

  • Food and water (5-7 days worth)
  • Food for pets
  • Medical Supplies
  • Extra prescribed medicine for anyone in the house
  • Radio equipment
  • Battery charger for cell phone
  • Axe/pry bar (if you need to break out of your room)
  • Warm Clothes and Blankets
  • Hepa Filter Masks
  • Extra set of clothes and shoes for everyone in the house
  • Life jackets (if in a hurricane/flood zone)
  • Rain Jackets
  • Gloves
  • Extra boots for everyone in the house
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Multitool/knife
  • Rope

 

 

The Fastest Way to Learn a Language

So far in my life I have studied and or learned: Russian, German, Indonesia, Spanish and French.  I say studied and or learned because studied German and Russian at the same time for four years but never really learned how to speak the language.  However, one thing that studying all of these language has done is give me a great idea of what it takes to actually learn a language.  The quickest language I ever learned, French, was three weeks.  After that time I was proficient enough to hold a decent conversation, read and comprehend a newspaper and listen to the news and understand 70-80% of what was being said.  While actually mastering a language can be very tough, there are a few things you can do to be able to converse in a language and get around in a host country.  With that being said, here are a few tricks:

  1. Immerse yourself:

    Most people who learn languages well are fully immersed.  Anything less and you will be greatly prolonging your ability to learn.  I spoke better french after 3 weeks of immersion training with the military than I did after the first two years of high school.  The biggest thing was that we sat in a class room 8 hours a day learning the language.  I also listened to French tapes in my car on the hour long drive to and from class.  I then went home and did homework for 1-2 hours after class.  The full immersion allowed my brain to get used to actually hearing the language and learning the language.  In the end this was the only reason I was successful.

  2. Use a good language learning software:

    While you can’t learn a language by a learning software alone, you can help aid your learning with a good language learning program.  The reality is that no-one has ever learned a language from a computer program alone.  However, it does help you pick up the language a lot faster.  These programs are great at focusing on key phrases and then pounding them in your head so that you never forget them.  While there are a lot of great language programs out there I would recommend the following:
    1. Rosetta Stone
    2. Pimsleur
    3. Rocket Languages

  3. Watch TV, Read a Newspaper, Listen to the Radio:

    Again, immersion is huge.  And getting an ear for a language is even more important.  One thing that helps me is to take an article in a magazine or national newspaper like La Razon and translate it.  The process of seeing a word, looking up the word and then translating a word helps me to remember it.  Also, an article will often have the same word over and over which helps you remember that word.

  4. Get a Good Dictionary/Training Aid:

    There are some great training aids out there for almost any language.  I used a Spanish Grammar Quick Study when learning Spanish and the Quick Guide to Learning French when learning French.  Both are great for quickly reminding yourself how to remember conjugation or simple words.  Usually if you know everything on those guides you are doing pretty well.

  5. Learn the verb “to be”/present simple tenses:

    The verb to be is “I am, you are, he/she is, they are, we are”.  This is the most common verb that is used in pretty much any language and the building block of any language.  If you want to learn any language, start here.  After that focus on the other tenses of the verb “to be” such as past simple (I was, you were etc.), past participle (been), present perfect (has been), past perfect (had been).  The sooner you can master this, the faster you can start to put together sentences.

  6. Learn the most common verbs:

    The 20 most commonly used verbs (in english, although it tends to be the same for most languages) are:

    1. to be
    2. to have
    3. to do
    4. to say
    5. to go
    6. to get
    7. to make
    8. to know
    9. to think
    10. to take
    11. to see
    12. to come
    13. to want
    14. to look
    15. to use
    16. to find
    17. to give
    18. to tell
    19. to work
    20. to call
  7. Lean the most common nouns:

    The 30 most common nouns of a language tend to vary based on the region of a language.  For example Prime Minister is a very common noun in one language and President is another common noun in another because of the country’s different political systems.  However, these do tend to be some of the most common nouns:

    1. time
    2. year
    3. people
    4. way
    5. day
    6. man
    7. thing
    8. woman
    9. life
    10. child
    11. world
    12. school
    13. state
    14. family
    15. student
    16. group
    17. country
    18. problem
    19. hand
    20. woman
    21. boy
    22. girl
    23. mother
    24. father
    25. number
    26. place
    27. house
    28. morning
    29. afternoon
    30. evening
  8. Learn how to count to 100:

    Obviously learning to count higher is essential, however, if you can at least count to 100 you can get by in almost any language.

  9. Learn these questions:

    There are a lot of questions that will help you but I have found memorizing these common questions will help you out a lot, especially if you’re using the language in real life:

    1. Where is the…
    2. How do you say…
    3. How much for….
    4. How far
    5. When
    6. Where
    7. How
    8. Why
    9. Who
    10. Do you speak English?
    11. Can you help me?
    12. How are you?
    13. Are you?
    14. Am I?
    15. Are they/we?

While the above is not a definitive guide it is a great place to get you started.  Generally if you know the above you are well on your way to learning a language.  The biggest thing missing from here is conjugation.  However, if you know how to conjugate the verbs above into at least the present tense you will be able to converse fairly well.

Can you learn a language at home?

I do have a lot of people ask me how to learn a language at home.  The answer is it’s really not possible.  You actually need that human interaction to actually learn a language.  I’d highly recommend taking classes if you’d like to learn a language.

Methods of learning a language

There are a lot of different methods to learning a language.  Some people try to learn a language through a language software program while others go to a class.  The quickest way to learn a language is to take an immersion course in a country.  You can learn a language in 3-4 weeks by going to a country and taking a language class in that actual country.

Best Custom Sticker Company

We are proud to announce that we now have the ability to make custom stickers!   Our large format printer has the ability to print stickers, posters or high resolution photos up to 58″ x 300″.  We keep a number of materials on hand to meet your custom printing needs.  All of our stickers are printed in Denver, CO by veterans.  Our goal is to offer a quality sticker solution that helps provide jobs to our local veteran community.

If you’re looking to get quoted on customer stickers please email, info@refactortactical.com.

We only require a 100 piece minimum and we can create your stickers in as little as one day.  In addition we can custom design your sticker with our in house design team.  Our profession staff of designers can take your idea and create a sticker that meets your needs.

All of our stickers are made with a high quality UV resistant coating that offers a long lasting sticker.

FAQ:

  1. Can I put these custom stickers on my car?
    A: Yes- All of our stickers are printed on a weather resistant, UV coated material that offers a long lasting sticker
  2. Can you print a die cut sticker?
    A: Yes- we can do die cut or any other cut you like!
  3. I already have my own sticker file, what format should I send you?
    A: We can accept any file as long as it’s high resolution. PDF or vector files are our preferred file. If you only have a low resolution file that we will need to work into a printable high resolution file we charge a small prep fee.
  4. How much for 1000 custom stickers?
    A- This is one of our most commonly asked questions!  Stickers will range in price depending on quantity and size of the sticker.  Please email info@refactortactical.com to get a formal quote!
  5. What do you need to custom design my sticker?
    A- Just a general idea!  We charge $50/hour as a design fee and most custom designs take around an hour to complete, depending on the complexity.
  6. What is your minimum order quantity for custom stickers?
    A- Our minimum order quantity is just 100 stickers!
  7. Why shouldn’t I choose one of the other million online sticker companies?
    A- a large number of sticker companies online are made overseas and by underpaid workers.  In addition, these one stop shop companies find the cheapest materials to print your stickers on to help save money and increase profits.  Our goal is to offer a competitive price that helps keeps jobs in America.  Our stickers are 100% printed in the USA by Veterans.