Veteran, educator, consultant, lecturer, writer, and whitetail hunter Paul Cwiklinski represents a new beginning for hunters in a nutritional way.
Located in Erie County, Whitetail Food Plots USA provides food plot training and instruction to hunters nationwide. “I was testing the waters of starting my own business in 2007 but was hesitant because I was not sure there was a market,” said Cwiklinski. “I saw an opportunity and took it!” Since 2010 Cwiklinski has presented his seminars at outdoor expositions and conventions across the United States. Hunters looking to manage their land for deer are common clients for Whitetail Food Plots.
“I’m a hunter providing nutritional land management services. One who enjoys educating hunters on how to create and maintain food plots for wildlife,” Cwiklinski says. “Hunters want to attract more deer and other wildlife, whether for viewing or hunting, they require the necessary education and consultation on useful recommendations in order to maintain a higher nutritional standard for wildlife.”
Despite the company’s educational mission and popularity among hunters, retired combat engineer and encore entrepreneur, Paul Cwiklinski was struggling financially and relied on consulting and presentations to stay in business. Help arrived in 2012 when Small Business Development Center Veteran Business Advisor John McKeone provided assistance, including materials on how to create a business plan. Cwiklinski also sought help from the Buffalo Chapter of SCORE, a non-profit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides free advice for small businesses. SCORE Chairman Steve Martin provided Cwilinski with his expertise, reviewed his business plan and offered encouragement.
Cwilinski also attended SBA’s Straight Talk Series, SBA U: Igniting Growth and Innovation and Operation Entrepreneurship to learn how to evaluate business concepts, and effective strategies for developing a business plan. He received help on everything from targeting other markets, supply chain management, expansion and alternative internet outlets.
“The assistance I received through SBA has contributed to my success,” says Cwiklinski. “The help and advice I received has been invaluable. SBDC and SCORE have many talented people and I am grateful for all of them. Do not pass by SBA’s programs and services. They are cost effective and free to veterans. Above all, stay focused and don’t be discouraged by obstacles along the way. Your mentor is there to help!”
With an airtight business plan, Cwilinski is now in the process of seeking financing with his financial institution. He plans to expand his business with the construction of a new facility that will allow him to mix wildlife food plotting seeds, and showcase other food plot and wildlife management products. He also has plans to create 2-3 new jobs.
“Veteran-owned businesses make significant contributions to the economy and because of their unique technical and leadership skills acquired through military service, they can become successful entrepreneurs,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “As we approach Independence Day, the SBA, salutes the nation’s veterans, our veteran entrepreneurs, and all the active duty servicemen and servicewomen.”
Each year SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists start and grow their small businesses. To learn more about opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit sba.gov/vets.
The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and resource partners. For more information, please contact your local SBA Buffalo district office at (716) 551-4301 or visit us online at sba.gov.