The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is an initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that provides entrepreneurial development services to veterans and the military. SBA’s VBOCs offer workshops, training, counseling, and mentorship opportunities in your area. VBOCs can also help you navigate SBA’s extensive resource partner network and refer you to a community partner, lender, or SBA program. The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. SBA has 28 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as VBOCs.
VBOCs work closely with SBA district offices and Transition Service Managers at military installations to conduct Boots to Business classes for transitioning service members and military spouses. VBOCs also help conduct B2B Reboot classes off installations for veterans of all eras, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses. Boots to Business (B2B) is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The course provides an overview of entrepreneurship and applicable business ownership fundamentals. Active Duty Service members (including National Guard and Reserve), Veterans of all eras, and spouses are eligible to participate.
The “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course is the foundational piece of Boots to Business (B2B). Participants are introduced to the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to launch a business, including steps for developing business concepts, how to develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources available to help. This two-day in-person program is facilitated by subject matter experts from the SBA and their extensive network of skilled business advisors.
After completing the “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course, participants can elect to further their study through the B2B Revenue Readiness online course, delivered through a partnership with Mississippi State University (MSU). This course is offered at no cost to Service members, Veterans and military spouses. We also recommend the STRIVE program offered by the NACCA, National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship and administered for the 5-Star veterans program IVMF located at Syracuse University.
Your editor had the privilege serving as an instructor and mentor in the founding STRIVE course at Hillsborough Community College along with Dr. Andy Gold, Beth Kerly, MBA and Greta Kisbaugh, MBA and can attest as to it value. The STRIVE program, Startup Training Resources to Inspire Veteran Entrepreneurship built in partnership with the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University leverages networks and education resources in local communities to support and advance veteran owned businesses. It has a hybrid format that have proven to successfully start small businesses through funding, mentorship, and focused online and in-residence instruction over an eight week period. It is designed for the person that is willing to put the time and effort into developing an idea or early stage business. In residence is generally on Saturdays with occasional Monday night session, always meeting to complement online studies.
It has been my experience that veterans make very good entrepreneurs. They have all been trained in leadership, learned to work well in team, and surprisingly for entrepreneurship, have had to overcome obstacles to fulfill assigned missions. I personally used my military training and experience in Vietnam to start, build and successfully sell three small insurance agencies and speak from first-hand knowledge.