Editor’s Note: MilSpouse Entrepreneur Spotlight is a monthly Q&A designed to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the challenges of a milspouse entrepreneur. In the past, we have highlighted Bridget Platt of Daddy’s Deployed, Stefanie Weakley of Abby Maddy, Patricia Marzella Mathisen of Nutrisha, Rosemary O’Brien of Pocket Parks Publishing and Kristine Schellhaas of USMC Life. This month, NextGen MilSpouse features Vista Bartholomew of VistaPix Media.
Your Name: Vista Bartholomew
Military Branch Affiliation: Air Force
Years as a Military Spouse: 14 Years
Business Name: VistaPix Media
Year Established: 2012
Tell us about your business: VistaPix Media is a family-owned and -operated company that offers a wide-range of photo scanning, slide scanning, film/video transfer and photo slideshow services. Clients can choose from a number of packages that fit the needs of the services they are looking for. We then send them a box with return shipping included to send their items back to us. We scan their photos/slides/video and transfer the images to disc/USB so they can not only preserve the images, but share them with their family and friends.
We pride ourselves on offering customers the best service, pricing and quality in the industry.
My background as a military spouse is a selling point and major reason many people choose us over a larger competitor.
When they are searching for a company to send their most prized possessions, knowing they can speak to the owner directly, have their emails/phone calls answered immediately and get their photos back in a timely manner are all reasons they choose us.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, I had worked in the travel industry, then earned my degree in Business Management and worked in Human Resources. Based on the last job I held as a Senior HR Administrator, I saw myself working in the corporate world for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t until I had moved to a small town with a limited job market that I decided to start my own business.
What motivated you to start your own business? I was a mom to two small children and struggling with a recent move to a small town. I also had just left a job that I was successful at and wanted to have something to continue challenging myself personally and professionally. Coupling that with my love of photos and desire to help others preserve theirs, VistaPix Media was born.
What is the best part of being an entrepreneur? The best part of being an entrepreneur is knowing the successes you experience are because of your own hard work and dedication. It is incredibly rewarding to see a business grow using your own ideas, marketing strategies and management style. My employees are also incredibly important to VistaPix and the level of productivity we are able to accomplish, so being able to hand-pick them is a privilege as well.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur? Just as successes are of your own doing, so are the failures. Although every failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, being an entrepreneur keeps you accountable for every decision made; good or bad.
It’s also very hard work! I am the owner, bookkeeper, secretary, photo scanner, human resources manager, marketing manager and any other position that needs filling. Self-education is key to learning every aspect running a business.
Do you find that being an entrepreneur fits well with your role as a military spouse (or does it even factor in)?
Being a military wife is one of the key reasons I started this business. It’s because we have moved so often that I found photo preservation to be so important. Military life has also taught me to be adaptable to changing situations, multitask and to deal with stress a little differently (hopefully better).
How do you blend working from home and your family relationships? Working from home has afforded me the opportunity to balance work and family beautifully. Even if work needs to be done beyond a typical work day (which is quite often), my kids are still able to have me at home and accessible to them.
The downside is that work never “goes away” when I leave the office. But, I find that is still outweighed by the fact that I am able to interact with my family while still running a successful business.
Biggest lesson learned so far as an entrepreneur? There’s so much more to running a business than just what it is you “do.” The amount of time spent learning other aspects like accounting, technology, tax requirements, and employee relations/training is quite surprising. Finding a time management system that works is imperative to balance all of the tasks of an entrepreneur.
Best piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur: My advice is directed toward other military spouses.
- Follow your heart. Find what it is that excites you! Even if it’s not “conventional” or easy to relocate, sometimes the struggle is worth it for the reward of doing something you love and that fulfills you.
- Be ready to WORK! Owning your own business is like no other job I’ve held. You are the boss, the workhorse, the bookkeeper, the admin, the EVERYTHING! There’s an accountability that is unique to being an entrepreneur and that’s what makes it such a fulfilling career…the successes are because of YOU!
- Involve your spouse. I can guarantee that they have military experience behind them that will help you achieve your goals. Whether it is providing technical support, helping you present a business plan (if they give briefings often) or just helping you plan things out by being a sounding board. They have a vested interest in your success and will likely appreciate doing something “out of the box” too!
- Involve other military spouses. They offer a wealth of experience and willingness to help like no other group of women I’ve met!