A New Study Analyzes a Switch to Online Delivery of Boots to Business Course

Date: August 15, 2021

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Boots to Business (B2B) program is offered free of charge and helps transition service members from military to civilian life through entrepreneurship education and training. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person course rapidly transitioned to an instructor-led virtual course. A new study by Optimal Solutions Group LLC (Optimal) examines the implementation of the virtual delivery and the course quality results.

The study focuses on a two-day classroom course, “Introduction to Entrepreneurship,” part of a curriculum that provides foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan and introduces participants to available SBA resources. The transition of this course to a virtual environment allowed continued service to transitioning military, and the virtual delivery also increased access to those otherwise underserved by removing barriers to the physical location and in-person requirements of the course. Due to the rapid and unplanned transition, the SBA did not prescribe curriculum, delivery, or facilitation instruction changes to its resource partners. Optimal’s evaluation will help increase the SBA’s understanding of how it can effectively implement the B2B course in a virtual environment. The generalizable findings of the study will be used to inform programming and process improvements to increase the program’s effectiveness and may inform decision-making for future SBA virtual training offerings.

Optimal’s evaluation analyzes raw data from the course quality survey and performance data in order to answer evaluation questions such as, “How can the B2B course be most effectively implemented in a virtual environment?” and “Which best practices from the review of the literature and findings can the SBA incorporate to improve the delivery of this virtual training?” Results from the data analysis will be presented to the SBA in a detailed report in 2022.

Visit SBA’s Boots to Business program for more information.


Optimal Solutions Group, LLC

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and technical assistance firm that stands out for its quantitative expertise and innovative approaches to provide rigorous, data-driven research and technical assistance to government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic foundations. Located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park, Optimal is a leader in driving real-time public policy research. Optimal has 60+ employees, including multidisciplinary researchers with backgrounds in economics, education, health, housing, sociology, statistics, information management and entrepreneurship. Optimal has four research centers—Health, Education, Housing and Workforce Development, and Social Policy—as well as an International Practice, Analytics Group, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.