As a military spouse entrepreneur, you have a range of challenges you have to face every day. From moving around different parts of the globe to finding new ways to support your spouse, it’s not always easy to hold down a stable career. However, this is the perfect community for the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive and grow.
Being a military spouse entrepreneur comes with perks that are particularly useful. You can build a career that’s portable, flexible, and a positive outlet for your creativity. It’s a great way to carve out something special for yourself aside from your partner, and you can even get help from the government along the way thanks to your spouse’s network.
However, before you strike it out on your own as a business owner, you’ll want to review some of these important tips. Like starting any business, it’s not going to be easy. You’ll need to put the work in if you want to build something successful. Before you turn in your two-week notice to your day job, make sure you have what it takes to start something from the ground up.
It can be highly rewarding to grow your own business as a military spouse entrepreneur. If the entrepreneurial spirit calling you, here are three tips to help you answer it.
1. Look for Military Spouse Resources
Did you know there’s an entire network of resources intended for military spouses? The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development encourages entrepreneurs within military families by providing the same training, investment opportunities, and counseling as service members and veterans. You can also look into resources through the Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities which includes monthly webinars about starting a business.
All of these resources are there already waiting for you to take advantage of them. You can find access to funding, investment opportunities, and counseling programs that will get your business launched and off the ground. While we all know it’s important to have your accounting in place, a military spouse entrepreneur will also need a strong safety net of resources like these national organizations above.
Yes, you need a degree of talent and passion to make it in the business world. But, you also need to take advantage of the resources available for military families. Don’t be afraid to ask about your options as a military spouse. You never know what you might find.
2. Use Your Network
Aside from military resources, you can’t do this alone. You need a strong team to turn your dream into a reality. There’s no such thing as an overnight success in the business world. These things will take time, hard work, and a lot of energy. Remind yourself that you aren’t in this alone.
If you’re stationed with your spouse, ask them for support. Even if that’s not an option, you still have a strong network. This is one of the most valuable assets of any business, and it’s built into the military lifestyle. Your personal and professional network will get you far.
Don’t be afraid to ask around to find the right connections. Talk to those in your local community. Ask your spouse who they can connect you with that has experience in your field. Look into the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veteran’s Families for networking opportunities. Most importantly, remember this isn’t a one-way street. You’ll need to both give and take if you want to go far.
3. Think Outside the Military
It’s easy to fall prey to the “military bubble,” especially if you’re living on base full-time. This is a great network and one you should use to your advantage. However, it’s not the only tool at your disposal. At the end of the day, you’re the same as any other business owner.
Time is the great equalizer. All entrepreneurs struggle to find enough time in the day to get their work done. This is only more of a challenge when we add families and military responsibilities to the mix. Look for support systems outside the military, whether it’s a women’s entrepreneurial group or a local industry event. At the end of the day, we’re all just business owners fighting for our dreams.
When in doubt, fall back on the basics of entrepreneurship:
- Money – Use your resources as a military spouse to source capital for your business. Aside from this, consider crowdfunding, investing, and credit unions as a way to fund your endeavors.
- Time – Make the most of the time you have by sticking to a clear schedule and conducting regular time audits. Family and responsibilities will get in the way, so make sure you find a healthy work/life balance. Know when it’s time to take a break.
- Planning – You need a strong business plan to find the path to success. Work with a mentor in your field or a business counselor to create a plan that’s right for you.
- Marketing and Branding – Your business won’t get far if nobody knows about it. Push beyond your military boundaries with unique marketing and branding that helps you stand out. You can work on self-branding by gifting challenge coins to your customers or by starting a new promotion online.
- Goals – Finally, you need to set goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Think big, but try to be realistic. You’ll feel amazing when you accomplish something new.
Grow Your Business
Like any new skill, learning how to be an entrepreneur takes time. Don’t get down on yourself if things don’t work out perfectly right away. That just comes with the territory. Luckily, you have a lot of resources to help you along the way as a military family.
Take advantage of the tools at your disposal, but don’t let them distract you from the hard work. There’s no easy way out in the world of business, only passion and hard work. As long as you’re willing to show up every day and try your best, you’ll find success.
Guest post:: Stephanie Bates is the founder of Military Travel Mama. She is the wife of a military professional and mother to two children. Follow her blog for more about military life, military discounts, family trips, healthy eating, and parenthood.