Maryland Small Business Development Center

Corridor Success Stories

Serving Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's Counties in Maryland

Big Mouth Creative Studio

Date: 05/03/21
Type of Business: Graphic Design
Client Name: Lauren Hamilton, Big Mouth Creative Studio

Boots to Business workshop targets budding entrepreneurs

Rich Moulton believes he has a gem of an idea.
A government contractor who retired from the Air Force last year after two decades in uniform, Moulton wants to create a luxury jewelry brand. Moulton came up with the idea after his wife, Zahide, expressed frustration about seeing the same mass-produced jewelry virtually everywhere.
"For a woman with refined, exotic tastes, this would be jewelry from around the world and it would be unique handmade silver and gold jewelry," said Moulton, a combat veteran and father of two who lives in Odenton.

"I stayed in the military for 20 years because I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm happy with my current job, but I'd like more freedom to carve my own path. I want to eventually be my own boss with my own entity and resources."

Moulton and 13 other active-duty and retired service members, mostly in their 20s and 30s, attended the Operation Boots to Business workshops offered Aug. 26-27 at the Fleet and Family Support Center.

Started in 2013, Boots to Business provides education, training and resources on entrepreneurship to transitioning service members, retirees and their spouses at military installations around the world. The program is administered through the Small Business Administration, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of DoD's Transition Assistance Program.

The curriculum includes steps on assessing the viability of business concepts, the foundational knowledge required for a business plan, and information on resources for start-up capital and technical assistance.

"The people in the military are sacrificing a lot, and we owe it to them to do our best for them," said Mark Williams, veterans business development officer for the SBA's Baltimore office.
Williams is the coordinator of the Boots to Business workshops held six to seven times annually at Fort Meade. The free workshops are also presented regularly at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick, Naval Air Station Patuxent River and the Naval Academy.

A retired Marine and former Defense Information School instructor, Williams said transitioning service members often are unaware of all the resources available to them for starting their own businesses. Such information is crucial.

"The two main things they need to know are what it takes to start a business and how to find the resources," Williams said. "Being a veteran doesn't give you much weight when you borrow money. It has to be a good business decision or a bank won't lend you money. The lenders try to give leeway to veterans, but it can't be a bad deal."

Among the topics at the workshops were an introduction to the entrepreneurial experience; understanding how to conduct market research and competitive strategy/analysis; an overview of the legal considerations affecting veteran-owned businesses; how to finance a start-up venture; locating resources to support a successful launch and sustainable growth; the pros and cons of franchising; and creating a viable business plan.

Williams said the SBA, in conjunction with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University also offers a free, eight-week online business-plan development course as part of Boots to Business.

In addition to Williams, guest speakers and instructors at last week's workshops were David Buck of The Entrepreneur's Source, Bonnie Barresi of the Maryland Capital Enterprises Women's Business Center, and Gabe Omaru of the Corridor Region Small Business Development Center.

Omaru said he enjoys talking to service members and veterans about entrepreneurship.
"It's very rewarding," he said. "A lot of people take early retirement and want to run a business for the next 20 or 30 years.


Maryland SBDC helps, ‘Flavor’ becomes an iconic spot for Baltimorean looking for an upscale eatery spot.

Early 2015 after being first denied a business loan to start a restaurant, Flavor owners Julia and Vanna came to the Baltimore city SBDC Center for assistance and guidance to secure a business loan and launch their ‘lifetime’ dream: a full upscale restaurant.

Irish Seams restarts with help from the SBDC

Elizabeth Mason, President/Founder, affectionately known as “BJ”, with motivation and information from attending the classes at the SBDC and coaching from Melissa Dent, Business Consultant, restarted Irish Seams as an LLC in 2013. Initially, BJ had been working the business as a hobby and a sole proprietorship, since 2009.

Keffa Coffee

Keffa Coffee, LLC is importers of specialty-grade Ethiopian coffee, headquartered near the Port of Baltimore. We are proud to offer the most extraordinary and unique selection of Ethiopian coffees. With our strong commitment to sustainability, transparency, and the improvement of farmer livelihoods, our business focuses on the needs of our partners--specialty growers at origin and roasters in the United States who share our commitment and our passion for great coffee.

KOL Foods

As she has stated, Devora Kimelman-Block became a businesswoman by chance. An idea for a business dropped into her lap and she decided to quit her non-profit job in the education sector and take a chance with the new business venture. KOL Foods, Devora’s company, is selling Kosher grass fed beef, and other Kosher animal products on line. She has established suppliers in the USA and in foreign markets. She established a fulfillment location in Pennsylvania. She has grown her revenues each year in business.

Communication Apptitude

Communication Apptitude’s owners first came to the SBTDC in April 2013 for business plan training. Additional needs including some special business needs surfaced and were addressed in subsequent business counseling sessions.

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