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Office of Veterans Business Development | Resources

Entrepreneurship Exit Strategy: From Boots to Hometown Business

Just days after he completed his transition out of the military, Dr. Tony Turin opened the doors to his own business and fulfilled his dream of starting an optometry practice in his Oregon hometown.

While deployed in 2013, Dr. Turin started to think seriously about starting his own business and began drafting a business plan. When he returned to Fort Bragg, Turin enrolled in the Boots to Business Entrepreneurship Training Track as part of the Transition Assistance Program's Transition GPS curriculum. "So much of our lives in the military have been planned out for us," Turin said, "and it can be pretty intimidating knowing you're going to transition out and be on your own."

The Transition GPS curriculum gives transitioning service members education and training options to ensure their post-service career success. Boots to Business targets service members looking for non-traditional employment alternatives such as entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

The program helps participants evaluate the suitability of self-employment for their circumstances. It also provides business management education and provides tools and training for evaluating business concepts and preparing business plans.

"One of the most intimidating things when you start the process of thinking about going into business for yourself is 'how do I get started?' [Boots to Business] has really helped to break it down," Turin said. It helped him determine how to take "practical steps" to develop a business plan and gave him the confidence to succeed.

Service members who elect Boots to Business start with a two-day course taught in a classroom setting on a military installation. As a follow on, service members can complete an instructor-led eight-week online course offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

"This is the first time I've ever been involved with any type of online curriculum," Turin said. "I thought it was going to be just a cookie cutter scenario, where you get an assignment and submit it and never get any feedback, but that's truly not the case."

Turin says that he met with his professor during open office hours. The feedback he received on assignments was personalized, with specific comments about what his professor appreciated, questions he would have if he were an investor, and suggestions on ways to improve. "And you get feedback from [your classmates] as well," Turin adds. There are chat rooms where students not only post their own assignment, but are required to provide constructive criticism to their classmates as well. "It's pretty phenomenal," says Turin of the network and the tools that make it all possible.

While completing Boots to Business, Turin was able to improve and finalize the business plan he began writing when he was deployed. Boots to Business "helped me take what I had already established and learned, and really refine it and narrow it down. It gave me the nuts and bolts of what's important to business ownership, entrepreneurship and pointed me in the direction to find the resources I needed."

"I look at my classmates… and we range anywhere from me being a doctor of optometry to someone wanting to start a childcare business. There's a huge variety. It doesn't matter what your business idea is, [Boots to Business] is a great resource for all of us.

My advice to anyone, even if they have an inclination that [starting a business] might be something down the road, I would pursue it. Start early. Take advantage of [Boots to Business.] It's a great opportunity."

The Boots to Business entrepreneurship track is free of cost and open to all transitioning service members and their spouse/partner. For more information about the Boots to Business program, visit www.sba.gov/bootstobusiness.