Vets go from ‘boots to business’
Veterans nationwide are using their business skills to start companies after serving their country via the Boots to Business Entrepreneurship program.
“Boots to Business is a two-day entrepreneurship elective track delivered to different bases in the region,” said Natalie Hall, economic development specialist and veterans representative at the Small Business Administration North Florida District Office.
“It’s an optional track veterans can choose to take in getting ready to transition to the civilian workforce. When individuals are wanting to get information about entrepreneurship and starting their own business, that’s where Boots to Business comes into play,” Hall said.
The entrepreneurial education initiative is offered by the Small Business Administration and, as announced by U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, has trained 25,000 transitioning service members to date.
“We know veterans have the courage and the determination to become great entrepreneurs and the United States is investing in them,” Contreras-Sweet said in a recent statement.
Boots to Business consists of three parts including an introductory video, a two-day class and additional training for future business owners. The class involves eight business related modules, Hall said, on topics such as financing, business plans, various markets, competing space, economics, legal matters and more.
While the program is geared towards transitioning veterans, it’s also open to military spouses, many of whom have already started their own companies and are looking for more resources to help boost their business, according to Hall.
“It’s the spouses who are the ones that have already started a business that I see most because many of the enlisted people still have a few months to go,” she said.
Regardless of whether a participant is an enlisted serviceman or woman, or spouse, they all either want more education on starting on a business or come into the program ready to actually start their company.
“They walk away with a lot of information,” Hall said. “Also, different partners — not just instructors — come in and help with the training. There’s people who teach specific subjects then are those who have come through Boots to Business, have started their businesses and want to share their stories and experiences. So it’s a good mix of people.”
Boots to Business hosts classes on more than 165 military installations worldwide including those in and around the Pensacola area. The program is available at no charge to service members and military spouses who are transitioning or retiring from the service.
“Everything is free,” Hall said. “It costs them nothing but their time and it is extremely helpful to those veterans thinking about starting a business.”
WANT TO GO?
The Boots to Business Entrepreneurship program will be offered at the following bases. Interested military enlisted and veterans, and their spouses are encouraged to contact their base Fleet and Family Support Center, or Airman and Family Readiness Center for more information.
•Eglin Air Force Base. Aug 4 and 5, and Nov. 3 and 4. Contact 882-9060 or 882-9061.
•Hurlburt Field. July 7 and 8, Aug. 17 and 18, and Oct. 13 and 14. Contact 884-5441.
•Pensacola Naval Air Station. Monday and June 30, Sept. 10 and 11, and Dec. 3 and 4. Contact 452-5991, ext. 3102, 3103 or 3124.
•Whiting Field Naval Air Station. July 27 and 28, and Oct 26 and 27. Contact 623-7177, 623-7234 or 623-7172.