‘Military Spouse of the Year’ Talks Helping Others Become Successful Entrepreneurs
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

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(Image: Lakesha Cole)

Describe some of the challenges and benefits of being a military spouse?

There’s no question that the toughest part of being a military spouse is the uncertainty of deployments. The emotional cycle of deployment before, during and after war is draining. There’s a range of intense emotions and feelings–anger, fear, loneliness, sadness, overwhelmed helplessness–while taking care of the home front.

Frequent moves also tops my list, making it hard for military spouses to pursue a single career or accumulate the desired experience employer’s want. I was luckier than most. I was fortunate and strategic enough to develop my own career path and hold a variety of mid-level positions, even through five relocations.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a military spouse? My biggest challenge was maintaining my own identity. Don’t let your title as a military spouse become your entire identity. It’s only part of who you are, not the totality. It’s very easy to give up your hobbies, career and old friends. Don’t. I overcame this by continuing to nurture the parts of me that I think make me a better person. I’m always looking to learn new things. Saying “I did it” gives me a huge boost of confidence that carries over into my other roles.

As a mentor and business coach for budding military spouse entrepreneurs, what are some of the services you provide? I have a passion for retail. As The Milspouse Retail Coach, I help military spouses develop business confidence and understand their business style; gain insight into how to ensure their independent retail start-up is a success; optimize how to present their product to the market; work on how to make a positive impact quickly; and integrate a range of business start-up tools into your business.

Did you always have a desire to pursue entrepreneurship or did the role fall into your lap? Yes, I did. I always knew entrepreneurship would be my career path. Early on I simply didn’t have the resources or confidence to take that leap. So I worked full-time the first three years while building and running my business. I didn’t make the transition from employee to employer until I moved to Japan.

Think back to when you first launched your business, if you knew then what you knew today, what things would you do differently? I would make every decision with growth in mind. I would hire an accountant and bookkeeper on day one. You will thank yourself later. Get by with the bare minimum for as long as you can. Establish your presence, gain customers and cash flow and then expand cautiously.

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