Workshop Targets Budding Entrepreneurs

By Alan H. Feiler
Soundoff! Laurel, Md.

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 U.S. Naval Academy.

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