The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Boots to Business (B2B) program is a business education and training course to aid service members and their spouses in their shifts to civilian life.
Below, we’ll discuss what Boots to Business is; how it works; who qualifies for it; provide details on the Boots to Business Reboot course; and answer some frequently asked questions about the program.
- Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program facilitated by the SBA.
- It aims to teach transitioning service members and their spouses, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, the essentials of starting a business and information about available resources.
- Service members who have already transitioned to civilian life can take advantage of a similar course called Boots to Business Reboot, which is open to veterans of all eras, National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses.
- Both participants of the Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot courses can further their business education with a six-week online Revenue Readiness program provided by Mississippi State University.
What Is Boots to Business?
Boots to Business is a free education and training course administered by the SBA as a component of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Its purpose is to help provide transitioning service members and their spouses with the business knowledge necessary to pursue entrepreneurship in their shift to civilian life. The course also offers information about the many resources available to veterans and how they can access them. The B2B program is offered at more than 180 military installations globally.
Veterans often have many of the qualities necessary to thrive in business. In fact, about 2.4 million small businesses in the country—almost one in 10—are veteran-owned, according to data provided by the SBA.
How Boots to Business Works
There are three parts to the B2B program:
- Entrepreneurship Track Overview: An introductory video shown during a mandatory, five-day TAP course
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship: This is a two-day, in-person course that teaches the essentials of starting a business, and informs participants of the many resources available to them. The course is led by experienced professionals associated with the SBA.
- Foundations of Entrepreneurship: An eight-week, instructor-led online course that teaches the fundamentals of forming a business plan and tips and tools for starting a business
In addition to the core coursework, there is Boots to Business Revenue Readiness, a six-week online course provided by Mississippi State University. Participants are eligible to sign up for the program after finishing the B2B or Boots to Business Reboot courses. The Revenue Readiness curriculum focuses on guiding individuals in developing business ideas into actionable business models. The online program includes two interactive, instructor-led classes a week and relevant coursework.
As of 2019, the SBA reported that more than 100,000 individuals had taken the Boots to Business course since the program’s first full year in 2013.
How To Apply for Boots to Business
To sign up for the B2B Introduction to Entrepreneurship, those interested should reach out to the Transition Service Manager of their local military installation who is in charge of facilitating the program. Individuals also need to set up an online account with their full name, email address, and service status. Participants can use the online account to access additional class information.
Similarly, those who would like to take the Revenue Readiness classes must set up an account online with their basic personal information. Participants must also sign up through the Mississippi State University website, which provides individuals with step-by-step details on how to register.
Who Qualifies for Boots to Business?
Boots to Business is a free program created intentionally for transitioning service members and their spouses, including members of the National Guard and Reserve. Individuals of all pay grades, enlisted and officer, are able to participate.
Eligible individuals range from service members transitioning from their initial service engagements to participants retiring after a long career of service.
Boots to Business Reboot
The Boots to Business Reboot program is aimed to assist service members who have already made the transition to their civilian life. The one- or two-day session takes place off military installation or online, and is very similar to the foundational B2B course offered to transitioning individuals. The Reboot program is also free of charge and open to veterans of all eras, National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses.
To register for the Boots to Business Reboot classes, individuals must sign up for an online account and provide general personal information. Through the online portal, participants can enroll in a specific course and access class information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When did the SBA start the Boots to Business program?
After the success of the pilot initiative launched in 2012, the SBA grew the program and offered its first complete year of the course at military installations nationwide in 2013. The program received funding in the federal budget in 2014 to develop into Full Operational Capability, boosting its frequency and expanding its offerings to overseas areas.
Can you receive GI bill benefits while doing the Boots to Business program?
There is no cost for members of the military community to attend Boots to Business, Boots to Business Reboot, or the Revenue Readiness course. Therefore, participating in the Boots to Business programs has no impact on an attendee’s GI bill funds, an SBA spokesperson told The Balance in an email.