The New Government Initiative To Make Entrepreneurs Out Of Veterans

Boots to Business is a free, two-day workshop designed to teach separating or retired military members and their spouses how to start their own business. Offered by The Small Business Association and Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the program includes eight different modules to help participants identify and develop good businesses.
U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Jensen Stidham

Whether currently transitioning or already in the civilian world, veterans should be aware of the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business program. Boots to Business is a workshop and online training course intended to assist veterans in pursuing entrepreneurship. The program started in 2012 as an option during the classes required as part of service members’ transition out of active duty. As part of a focus on veterans entrepreneurship by the current administration, the program has been expanded as Boots to Business: Reboot to include veterans who have already separated.

Both the original program and the Reboot programs follow the same three steps. The first step is a video explaining the program and highlighting examples of traits shared by successful entrepreneurs. This video also helps participants understand what they need to put into the program and what they will get out of participating. The second step is a two-day workshop focused on the fundamentals of proving a business idea. The SBA organizes the presenters and the overall curriculum. In addition to thinking through your individual business idea, the SBA representatives provide information on all of the resources available to veterans who are thinking of starting a business. Having this information in one place is reason enough to attend. The third step in an eight week online course. The course is led by the Institute For Veterans and Military Families and is similar to the EBV course I recently wrote about. The online course helps participants complete a business plan and provide other tips for starting a company.

Active-duty service members can elect to participate in Boots to Business as part of the separation program. This is an excellent addition to the transition process and I highly encourage anyone considering entrepreneurship to participate.

For service members who have already separated from active duty, then Reboot is for you. The phases and curriculum are the same as the original program --- the only difference is the participants are already civilians. The first Reboot two-day workshop will be held on July 11-12 at the White House. (I recently attended an entrepreneurship workshop at the White House. I assure you that starting sentences with “…when I was at the White House…” is a lot of fun.) For those who cannot make it to the first workshop, there are 10 more opportunities across the United States through the end of August.

For service members attending, make sure to do some research before the two-day workshop. In my opinion, the in-person workshop will be the most beneficial portion of the program. Not only will participants gain some knowledge on entrepreneurship, but they will also be surrounded by like-minded veterans and facilitators. Make sure to take advantage of the incredible networking opportunities provided by these two days and let us know about the success of your new business.

Joshua Holley was an enlisted Marine from 2002 to 2006. After his military service, he obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University, respectively, and currently is a financial consultant with a Big Four accounting firm.


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