Richmond, Virginia, surrounded by a number and variety of camps and posts, has had a very large military citizenry all during the war. The townspeople, working through the Chamber of Commerce and their local Committee for Economic Development, have taken advantage of this situation to learn some interesting things about their servicemen. Among other things, they found that:
About 70 percent of the local officers, up to and including the rank of major, were under 30 years of age.
Most of these men were earning more money and held more responsible positions than they had in civilian life.
Many of them had gone directly into the Army from high school or college and therefore had no actual employment or business experience.
Other servicemen, on the contrary, had prewar business experience which was being amplified by their military duties.
Of the total group, many of the officers, as well as a number of enlisted men, wanted to go into business in Richmond after the war.
What they found set Richmond businessmen thinking. They saw in the situation both an opportunity and a responsibility. There was an opportunity to help a number of potential future small businessmen in Richmond and a responsibility, both to the servicemen and to the community, to see that such small new businesses got started on a sound basis right from the planning stage.
They recognized further that these men, upon demobilization, would need information and advice as to their general qualifications for going into business and would want and need actual assistance in getting started.
Richmond business clinic
After talking the entire problem over with the local veterans’ placement bureau and the U. S. Employment Service, the backers of the idea set up a “Business Clinic” which operates as follows
Whenever a demobilized serviceman, calling at either the Richmond U. S. Employment Service or Veterans’ Placement Bureau, indicates a desire to go into business for him-self, he is referred to the Business Clinic. He is also given a small pamphlet to read. It contains 12 very realistic questions which any man thinking of going into business might well ask himself, and 10 items of good advice on such practical matters as sound credit, careful record keeping, and so on.
If, after reading this booklet, the serviceman still believes he has what it takes to go into business, he calls at the Business Clinic.
Here he first talks to a three-man panel of experienced local businessmen drawn from a revolving group of volunteers. They talk over in detail with him such matters as his experience; incentives, choice of business, and some of the problems involved.
If the panel thinks the serviceman is qualified to undertake the business venture he has in mind or some other business agreed upon, he then meets with a second group. This is a committee of businessmen in the special field which he wishes to enter-garage, retail store, restaurant, insurance, appliance dealer, or what have you.
Men who, after the first general interview, are not considered sufficiently qualified to undertake a business venture are referred to a file of employment opportunities and manpower requirements maintained by the 167 member firms of the Richmond Sales Executive Club and a number of individual cooperating companies.
If possible, the man is placed in a line of work where he can gain additional experience pointing toward going into business for himself later on.
As for those showing definite promise and good qualifications for Richmond small businessmen—after they have met and passed muster with the panel of advisers in their own chosen field—they are then referred to banking representatives in order to establish the necessary line of credit and to a real-estate advisory group which assists each prospective new businessman in obtaining the proper location with respect to rent, budget, market, and other factors.
In summary, the purposes and methods of the Richmond Business Clinic are: to seek out the facts—the real qualifications and sincerity of the applicant; to encourage, advise, and assist servicemen who seem qualified to go into business for themselves; to discourage those who are not yet qualified, thus preventing a potential business failure; and to assist these less qualified candidates to find jobs in which they will gain experience aiming toward later businesses for themselves.