Boots to Business program sends vets to entrepreneurial bootcamp
With a Navy vet at the helm, the Columbus district Small Business Administration office is focused on turning veterans into entrepreneurs.
“We just tailored our program so that we have some initiatives that are specifically veteran-oriented,” says Martin Goldman, district director of the Columbus SBA. Golden met with Columbus CEO following his appointment to the position in June to discuss, among other things, developing Central Ohio military veterans into business leaders.
“Vets in general--and I say this not as an SBA district director but as somebody who was in the military—don’t understand or don’t know how to go about marketing and promoting themselves,” says Golden. Military culture discourages soldiers from talking themselves up, and that discipline can hamper success in the business world, he says.
“They speak a little bit of a different language, especially some of the younger ones who have only been in the military, or some of the vets who have been in ten or fifteen years,” says Golden. “It’s okay to go out and try to get meetings and sell a product. I think that we can help provide programs that will help ease that transition.”
According to SBA/census data, 2.45 American businesses--9% of all U.S. firms--are owned by veterans.
In 2012, the Columbus SBA approved a total of 97 loans totaling $28,177,600 to veteran-owned businesses. By July 2013, the office had already approved $22,798,290 in loans to 73 veterans’ businesses.
In addition to loans, the Columbus SBA offers programs in Columbus targeted towards veterans interested in opening businesses. The SBA launched Operation Boots to Business, a training program designed to take vets “from service to startup,” in Spring 2012. Veterans can access the SBA’s online resources to find veteran loans and grants, veteran business outreach centers, and entrepreneurial bootcamps designed for disabled vets.