Spokane Journal of Business

Two-day program set for veteran entrepreneurs

ReBoot Spokane training scheduled March 21-22 at Carl Maxey Center

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A free entrepreneurship training course for veterans will be offered March 21-22, in Spokane, by Business Impact NW, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and its Region X Veteran’s Business Outreach Center.

The training, titled Boots to Business: ReBoot, will be hosted by Spokane’s Carl Maxey Center, a community-based organization that provides programs and services focused on addressing the needs of Spokane’s Black community and, in this case, Spokane’s veteran community.

In the two-day ReBoot Spokane course, participants will learn the various paths to business ownership, including franchising as a great fit for veteran ownership, how to define the value their business brings as it solves a pain point for their customers, and the importance of good market research. It also will cover industry analysis, how that market analysis and research fits into their business plan, the contents of a business plan, and the free resources available to them as they start and/or grow their businesses.

Participants also will learn how the U.S. government can be a lucrative customer and that 23% of federal contract dollars are set aside for certain small businesses, including 3% that must go to service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses. Workshop attendees will learn the requirements to get lawfully designated as a veteran-owned small business.

Veterans and their family members make some of the best small business owners. When veterans take the skills they learned in the military to the civilian business world, their businesses tend to outlast companies run by civilians with no military experience in similar industries.

According to recent census data and polling, veterans own about 5.9% of small businesses in the U.S. Those veteran-owned small businesses generate nearly $950 billion in receipts, employ nearly 4 million employees, and pay $177.7 billion in annual payroll. Veterans’ skill sets translate well into business ownership. 

It is for these reasons that the SBA works in conjunction with resource partners such as Business Impact NW’s Veterans Business Outreach Center to provide entrepreneurial training and advising to current and aspiring business owners from the military community.

Business Impact NW is a nonprofit community development financial institution dedicated to serving people of color, women, veteran, immigrant, refugee, LGBTQ, and low-income entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest through financial services, free business coaching, and training.

Anette Washington, a recipient of Veterans Business Outreach Center services, has turned her military skills into a small-business success as the owner of businesses in both the food and marketing sectors. Washington illustrates the important role of small businesses in our community this way: “If you have 500 small businesses and one closes, you still have 499 businesses and jobs. If one big business with 500 employees closes, you’ve lost that business and 500 jobs.”

This newest ReBoot training from the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the SBA’s Spokane office, and other resource partners will occur at the Carl Maxey Center, at 3114 E. Fifth, in Spokane. It’s an expansion of the Boots to Business training provided on military installations for transitioning service members and their spouses.

Participants will leave the workshop knowing their next steps and which SBA-funded resource partners are available to work alongside them on their entrepreneurial journey. Of past workshop participants, 92% stated that the workshop increased their confidence in starting a business after the class. That’s an increase in confidence from 73% of participants when asked how confident they were at the beginning of the workshop.

The Boots to Business: Reboot workshop also improves how informed the workshop attendees feel they are in starting a business to 92% by the end of the workshop from 75% at the beginning of the workshop.

Some workshop attendees have reported applying for their business license by the end of the second day of the workshop.

Workshop participants who attend both days will become eligible to take a free, online, six-week follow-up course through Mississippi State University. The follow-up course, Revenue Readiness, delves deeper into the areas covered in the Reboot workshop. At the end of the Revenue Readiness course, the “graduates” will have a good start on their business plan using the LivePlan platform. Upon graduation, the team at Mississippi State reconnects the participant with the nearest SBA resource partner and initiates a transfer of the participant’s business plan to a business adviser at that closest center.

For ReBoot Spokane registration information and assistance, contact Joel Nania, manager of SBA’s Spokane office, at 509.353.2810.

Steve Watts-Oelrich, is the director of the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center at Business Impact NW and 2018 National Instructor of the Year for the Boots to Business: ReBoot program.

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