By Lizann Lightfoot
After 9 years as a military spouse, seeking part-time employment here and there every time we moved to a new duty station, I decided it was time to work for myself. This year, I launched a blog and became a freelance writer. It has been a journey filled with excitement, frustration, and sometimes loneliness. But it has been even more successful than I originally hoped.
Maybe the ability to adapt to challenges is what makes veterans and spouses such great entrepreneurs. Veterans are increasingly transitioning into careers as small business entrepreneurs. Of the 27 million small businesses in the U.S., 9% are veteran-owned. 383,000 of those small businesses are owned by female veterans.
Whether you want to become a professional photographer, work as a medical assistant, or run your own home cleaning service, getting started is going to take some work. And patience. And a few networking connections, too. These resources can help you get started and find support along the way:
Starting your own business always requires money. Whether you are applying for a license, going back to school for a degree, or starting your own Etsy shop, you will have to invest before you start making an income. The National Military Family Association can help! They offer military spouses $500 in career funding, $1,000 scholarships for degrees, and up to $2,500 for clinical supervision in mental health. Apply now because their next application deadline is January 15!
This is a a global network of military spouse entrepreneurs. Their major annual event is a convention called Embark. It is a two-day conference designed to be both informative and inspirational. Throughout the year, there are local member meetups and workshops.
This part of the U. S. Small Business Administration focuses on veterans. Their Boots to Business seminar focuses on entrepreneurial training. The annual V-Wise conference is aimed at female veterans and military spouses and was created to help them find their passion and turn it into a successful business.
This is a great resource and networking option available to any veteran or military spouse with their own business. They offer everything from legal and tax advice to one-on-one peer mentoring and business webinars. Their Red White & Blue Pages list military veteran or spouse entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds.
The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers this one-stop shop for any veteran considering starting their own business. You can explore financing options, government contracting programs, and local resources all aimed towards veterans in the small business community.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce started this initiative a few years ago to improve veteran and spouse employment. They offer business networking events online and at locations around the country. Transition Summits prepare veterans and their families for employment after the military. In Gear Career connects military spouses with local business leaders to make it easier to find a job at a new duty station. There are also LinkedIn groups and opportunities for career mentoring.
The Blue Star Families organization has a variety of resources for active duty military families. SpouseForce is an eight-week training program offered for free, which prepares military spouses for the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam. The training, valued at over $4,000, could launch you into a high-demand, high-paying, high-growth career. If you are a military spouse looking for a portable career in the corporate world, this could be a great opportunity.
Their mission is to provide veterans and military spouses with franchise opportunities. Running a franchise is not just about owning your own restaurant. VetFran members own a wide variety of franchises such as Juice it Up, You’ve Got Maids, Mr. Electric, Home Team Inspection, Five Star Painters, Dream Vacation, and Tint World. VetFran offers guides to help you decide what franchise is a good fit for you. There is a free “Franchise Basics” course and guides to buying or managing your franchise.
If you are a military spouse stationed overseas, you will face unique challenges and legal obstacles for your business. You may not be able to use the base post office or advertise on base. Milspousepreneur helps military spouse entrepreneurs living abroad to explore their potential and pursue their dreams. Membership gives you entrance to a supportive online community and local chapter meetings.