Friday, July 11, 2014

Veterans - Marching towards Entrepreneurship

By: Kenneth Lujan
Branch Manager
SBA - Guam

Did you know that veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners?  According to the most recent U.S. Census Data, veteran-owned firms represent 9 percent of all U.S. firms. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employed 5.793 million individuals.  In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

As we welcome back our returning troops and wish a fond farewell to those retiring from military service, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Operation Boots to Business (B2B) Program, an initiative to train veterans and transitioning service members in business entrepreneurship. Transitioning veterans are natural entrepreneurs, possessing the training, experience, and leadership skills to start businesses and create jobs.

B2B Group Photo: (Front row, seated, left-right):  My-Randa Quinata, Kay Harris, Rona Baluyot, Tyana Thayer, Teri Mendiola
(2nd row, left-right):  Frank Crisostomo-Kaaihue – Guam VBOC, Jorge Rivera, Richard Taitague – Navy Base Guam TAP, Conrad Baluyot,  Cleon Huskinson, Tony Mendiola, Angel Mamanta & Jorge Ramirez
(back row, left-right):  Ken Lujan – Manager, SBA Guam Branch Office, Doug Payne, Samuel Jones, Reinhard Sponseller, John Pangelinan, Robert Sherman, Fred Granillo – Guam SBDC, and Darroll Wiltz – Guam PTAC.
Boots to Business, or B2B, began as a pilot program in July 2012 and began to be fully implemented, with a rolling start across the nation starting January 2013. B2B is being implemented as a nationwide program to standardize entrepreneurial training to veterans coming off of active duty and re-entering the civilian workforce. The national rollout of Operation Boots to Business: from Service to Startup aims to provide exposure to entrepreneurship to the 250,000 service members who transition every year.

The SBA is a government sponsor of B2B offered in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s redesigned Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Part of the redesign is a new curriculum known as Transition Goals, Plans, Success (Transition GPS). Transition GPS is offered to service members separating from military service and provides preparation for transitioning to civilian life, including benefits information. Additionally, each service member may elect entrepreneurship as an optional training track.

B2B has been specially designed for currently transitioning service members. It caters to all paygrades, Enlisted and Officers, as well as military spouses and dependents.

SBA is always looking for volunteers to help mentor veteran entrepreneurs. If you are a veteran entrepreneur and/or enjoy working with veterans and would like to volunteer time toward this effort, please contact Kenneth Lujan at the SBA Guam Branch Office at 671-472-7277 to find out how! For additional information on other business services offered to veterans, please contact Frank Crisostomo-Kaaihue at the Guam Veterans Business Outreach Center (Guam VBOC) at 671-475-4900 or Richard Taitague at the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Office at 671-333-2056/7.  Please visit