MilSpouse entrepreneurs face an uncertain and unprecedented economic environment. Like nearly all other creators, makers, and innovators, they need to find a clear way ahead in a murky situation.
Unfortunately, a path is unlikely to appear any time soon (if ever). However, a few strategies may help them navigate the current landscape. While pandemic life promises very few guarantees, smart decisions coupled with creativity may help business owners’ chances.
MilSpouse Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!
Many military spouses would agree that “community over competition” has never felt truer. Virtually every aspect of society changes almost daily, making independence nearly essential.
Like the meme says, “Some of you have never had the government cancel your plans, and it shows.”
Today’s constantly-changing climate, where the government keep moving the goal posts, feels eerily familiar to countless military family members. As any military spouse will tell you, in difficult times, the only way out is through. Furthermore, challenges become easier if you squad up.
Not the Time for “Survival of the Fittest”
While the traditional capitalist mindset might be fiercely individualistic and cutthroat, this M.O. might not be ideal for the present.
Service members know that working together to meet a challenge is better than going it alone. Why should milspouse entrepreneurs and small or local businesses be any different?
The most effective partnerships aren’t necessarily intuitive or conventional. Take, for example, the recent collab between NORMAL Ice Cream and Diabolical Records. Ice cream and vintage record fans took advantage of their highly original offer: 3 pints of ice cream and vintage vinyl ($30 worth!) for 50 bucks.
Within a few hours of announcing their alliance on social media, they’d sold out.
Do your research and get to know your clientele and customers a little bit. Look at your web and customer analytics and find out who they are. Once you know what they’re like (how old they are, their gender, when they’re online and why), you can better brainstorm potential partnerships.
MilSpouse Entrepreneurs Know How to Get Creative
One look around social media, and it’s apparent the milspouse entrepreneur community is a great example of community over competition. And military spouses practically wrote the book on networking. How many friends-of-a-friend have you hung out with at a new duty station, purely on the recommendation of your bestie from your last assignment?
So leverage your social and professional networks and get a little outside your comfort space!
Kindness Is Free (Advertising)
Many creators and businesses are offering free services and products, special offers, or reduced prices. This is partly out of economic necessity, and a recognition of the reality that many of their customers are experiencing financial hardship.
However, there may also be a couple of other things at work. The first factor, of course, is often genuine charity. We are all in this together, after all, and this crisis has brought out the best in people (as crises often do).
So many individuals and organizations are reaching out to give generously of themselves, their resources, and their abilities to help others. If there’s some way yours could be one of those businesses, you may want to consider joining their number.
Doing so keeps you visible and in the minds of clients and customers, both current and potential. Even better, they remember you for all the right reasons.
It Isn’t Cynical, It’s Smart
“Isn’t that a little cynical?” some may be asking.
Often, entrepreneurs launch a business because they identify some inadequately met need or desire. They use their creativity and ingenuity to create something that will benefit people. Their entrepreneurship becomes a form of service.
All the more reason, then, why milspouse entrepreneurs should consider deploying generosity to amplify their brand.
Offers, discounts, and giveaways will remind customers that a business exists because of a founder or owner’s passion to create and serve.
“For it is in Giving that We Receive” – St. Francis of Assisi
Perhaps the best way for business owners to think of these two paradigm shifts – collaboration and generosity in entrepreneurial spaces – is as a mutual gift. By helping others, whether it’s their customer base or their fellow milspouse entrepreneurs, they’re working to ensure a continued ability to serve.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., milspouse entrepreneurs must choose today between “the light of creative altruism” and “the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Generosity and collaboration always require creativity. Fortunately, however, creativity is right in the wheelhouse for military spouses and their families.