by Hannah Becker, Guest Contributor
8 a.m.: I breeze through my inbox and put the final touches on half a dozen outgoing articles.
10 a.m.: I hop on Skype to record an interview with fellow female entrepreneur on the other side of the country. We chat about career, family, education and societal issues.
11 a.m.: I stretch with 30 minutes of yoga and meet the hubby for a lunch date.
Rest of the afternoon is spent developing marketing strategies for start-up clients, intermittent with coffee breaks and dog walks. I wrap things up at 4 p.m. and hit the gym for some cardio.
Yes, this is a typical day in the life of this entrepreneur. Yes, I am a military spouse defying the depressing statistical report of 90% of military wives jobless or unemployed.
Like far too many military spouses, I encountered great challenges when pursuing more traditional professional goals. About the time I would find a new job, we’d move, yet again.
My professional contacts were scattered all across the country and my career development had been erratic to say the least. More often than not, I found myself attempting to pull that “perfect position” out of a hat every time we relocated.
In less than 2 years, I’d had 7 different jobs, none of which mirrored my advanced education or skill set. It wasn’t working.
Having failed at yet another attempt to integrate into a new location and find a job, I decided to take the plunge—employ myself. Starting a new business wasn’t easy, but it was very, very worth it. As an entrepreneur, I no longer had to spend hours as a discouraged, underemployed professional, longing for a life not filled with cardboard boxes and change of address forms.
Instead, I was able to enjoy and experience the places we traveled and the people we met, without buckling under the ever-looming fear of professional suicide.
Entrepreneurship saved my career and it might be able to do the same for you.
Given the unique lifestyle military spouses lead and the challenges encountered, military spouses are extremely suited for the demands of entrepreneurship. Check out these 4 reasons military spouses make awesome entrepreneurs and see if this unique career path is right for you:
The military community is more than an organization or affiliation; it’s a family. While every duty station may have its distinctions, its people all represent the same community–a community of patriotic families that provide a terrific segment of the consumer market to service.
One’s target market for children’s photography services at Naval Base San Diego, will be very similar to the target market identified at Naval Base Pensacola. Just because you change addresses, doesn’t mean your customers’ change face. Such continuity make transitioning from one physical location to the next occur without great disruption, if one’s consumer base includes part of the military community.
And let’s be honest, military families are fantastically loyal–we take care of our own! Veteran- and military spouse-owned businesses are rarely lacking in loyal patrons from the tight-knit military community. Don’t be afraid to let your affiliation known.
As military spouses, we all know the difficulty of maintaining a mailing address for more than 3 years, yet alone a consistent career. With the erratic training schedules, overwhelming deployments and all too frequent PCSing, military spouses’ careers often require immense flexibility, if a career is to even be a possibility.
Sound impossible? Think again…
Enter entrepreneurship: our society’s most flexible career option. It’s a profession that you can carry with you anywhere you go—whether you’re stationed in Alaska, Japan or anywhere in between! Like those wedding dishes you so carefully pack up for every PCS, your entrepreneurial career can be packed up and carried to your new destination.
Locations with high transition rates are often fertile ground for business opportunities. Base areas are transient. Service members, military families and civilian contractors are always coming and going. Every few months, base regions encounter a predictable influx of new consumers. These new consumers are all looking for new service providers, new retailers, new experiences.
Develop a business strategy that targets these highly transient consumers or addresses some of the unique need present in highly transient areas.
Here are a few examples to get the juices flowing:
- property management company to assist with rental houses
- residential cleaning agency offering services to the temp resident
- rental car or taxi service to aide in transporting new and passing arrivals
What these highly transient locations lack in customer loyalty potential, they make up for in a steady stream of new customers.
Theodore Roosevelt stated, “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” Halfway through my husband’s first deployment, I framed this quote over my bedside table; like many spouses’ “marching onward” while their loved one is stationed overseas, I felt I had very well reached the end of my rope.
Military spouses know how to “hold on,” even when life get tough. We weather the storm with a smile on our face, pour oodles of love into cardboard care packages and carry on—tackling all too many life crises–alone. We are strong. We are resilient. We are tenacious.
Starting a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it (like deployments) often involves many long days, limited resources, negligible support and a fair share of uncertainty.
But hey—who better to tackle those temporary hurdles than a tried-and-true, terrifyingly tenacious military spouse?! When we reach the end of our rope—personal or professional—we hold on.
The military spouse lifestyle presents a unique blend of skills and experiences wonderfully engineered to spell success for the ambitious entrepreneur. The tight-knit military community and highly transient geographical locations make for a consistent target market regardless of the ZIP code. The high degree of adaptability, perseverance and downright tenacious fervor that so often characterizes today’s military spouse makes for a fantastic entrepreneur.
If the career path of self-employment interests you, be sure to check out the Military Spouse Entrepreneur Spotlights on NextGen MilSpouse for inspiration and insight into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship.
Are you ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship? What questions do you have about entrepreneurship? Ask us in the comments. We’ll find the answers.
Hannah Becker is a serial entrepreneur, MBA grad and proud military spouse. Author of The Motivated Millennial: An Entrepreneurial Guidebook for Generation Y and Founder/Consultant at HCB Consulting, Hannah is committed to encouraging others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Learn more about Hannah’s career and publications at www.themotivatedmillennial.com. Follow Hannah on Twitter: @MotivatedGenY or on Facebook.