The 2012 Military Family Lifestyle Survey conducted by Blue Star Families reports that 26% of the military spouse responders have been or currently are small business owners. Another 36% are interested in self-employment or in starting a business. 21% were unsure if they would like to start a business.
The Survey says 45% of the 26% in business engage in home-based retail businesses. I’ve personally been introduced by these retailers to Stella and Dot, Silpada, Longaberger Baskets, and the gorgeous handmade jewelry of Tussannee M. For the sales-savvy spouse, it’s easy to find a great product and then run with it. For the artistic spouses, it’s natural to sell unique creations. In the Other category, 40% have marketed their skills and talents in organization, administration, graphic design, branding, photography, coaching, business consulting, product design, to name just a few! Smaller categories include cosmetology and other personal services. Running a small business can be a good fit with the military lifestyle. Spouses can bring their businesses with them across state lines and are able to manage their clients via the Internet. More importantly, spouses have the flexibility to manage their business schedule around the military members’ deployments, PCS’s and other requirements and limitations unique to military life.
What of the 36 and the 21 Percenters? I’m with the Blue Star Families on this one. Their survey goes on to note that this group is prime target for entrepreneurship training. For the 21% and especially the 36% business ownership is not only a viable alternative to conventional employment and career choices but one that is easily within their grasp.
How do I propose to nudge these potential entrepreneurs to make that jump and to start their own businesses?
First of all, military spouses are no strangers to business management, even those who claim lack of experience or business acumen. Every military base or post of any significance will have a thrift shop run by spouses, and some even boast a separate retail gift shop. These non-profit business ventures fund college scholarships or other military family causes. Add to these the number of spouse groups who regularly fundraise for their own scholarship programs, for Family Readiness Group get-togethers and homecoming festivities and the base Parent Teacher Organizations and Booster Clubs. These substantial enterprises, their management teams and most staff members are full-time volunteers. Their time and efforts translate directly into hardcore management training, skills and expertise.
Secondly, recognizing that the military lifestyle may limit employment opportunities for spouses, resources are already being mobilized to prepare milspouses for entrepreneurship. Among the recommendations that the survey makes is calling for support to the milspouse entrepreneurs in government contracting and through the Small Business Administration. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’m participating in an SBA supported event for women entrepreneurs later this year. I’m also participating in the Military Spouse Foundation‘s very comprehensive Career Planning and Entrepreneurship Program.
So again, how can a budding entrepreneur, such as I currently am, make a significant and unique impact in this area where major organizations and agencies are already fully engaged and devoting substantial resources? Back in the day, I participated in the Navy spouse program Compass, an innovative peer-to-peer mentoring program that introduces new spouses and seasoned spouses alike to all aspects of Navy life. What I loved and gained the most from this program was its focus on spouses mentoring each other.
There is power in this learning model that I mirror in my coaching practice. This is where I make my impact on promoting milspouse entrepreneurship. As a personal readiness coach, I provide unique value and service that organizations and agencies cannot offer. I sit with clients, clarify their challenges and goals, then take them through a complete transformation process. What I find exciting about the time we are now in, is that effective tools abound for tapping into wealth, success, and personal transformation on all levels. So much so, in fact, there isn’t enough time in the world to access and absorb it all. That’s why a personal coach who resonates with one’s unique sense of self and direction is absolutely key. Once you find your perfect coach, the remaining questions turn to your personal readiness and commitment to transformation and success.
I’m so excited to be on the cutting edge of the field of coaching and passionate about sharing my powerful gifts with aspiring milspouse entrepreneurs! We are experiencing a level-playing field where technology coupled with advanced research and discoveries in the area of mind-body-emotion connection have converged to create unprecedented opportunities to create lives filled with compassion and wealth. It’s a world in which we can all have the audacity to envision and manifest the infinite possibility that surrounds us.