By Debbie Gregory.
Considering an exit strategy when moving from one career to another can be challenging, but for military personnel it may be much more complex. Servicemen and servicewomen know that they will be moving to civilian status in a given amount of time. The skills they acquired in the military may not easily translate to civilian careers, thus many veterans opt for entrepreneurial endeavors.
One program is making that transition easier, particularly for those considering business ownership when they leave the service. Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) as a training track within the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program.
SBA and Defense Department officials are now expanding the Boots to Business program beyond transitioning troops to any service member at any time in their career. The program offers courses that service members can utilize while they are still enlisted to begin their track to post-military self-employment opportunities. Officials advise that it is prudent to begin exploring post-military opportunities well before they separate. When space allows, the program is also available to military spouses.
The two-day Boots to Business course offers valuable information to any service member who wants to learn about business ownership. This insightful experience offers an overview of business fundamentals and techniques for evaluating their business concepts.
“It takes a while to learn the language of business,” said Barb Carson, Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development. “It’s not that troops can’t quickly learn if they have to. But it helps to have some exposure to market, time to get some capital together, time to test the idea out before launch.”
According to the SBA, veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans. Ten percent of all small businesses in America are veteran-owned. More than 27,000 separating service members have participated in Boots to Business training over the past three years.
Subsequent to the two-day session, an eight-week online course is an option through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. James Schmeling, co-founder of the institute, said that the courses allow students to use the information in months for short-term projects, or years later for long-term goals. He added that the extra planning time also can calm the military-to-civilian transition for many service members, allowing them to switch careers with a clearer vision of their path ahead.
“So for those who take the courses earlier, it gives them more time to identify business opportunities, look at ways to mitigate risk,” he said.
More information can be found at boots2business.org.
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