As a military spouse, one of the most challenging factors is our career. Speaking to other military spouses, I see a trend: we get this really great job and then we have to give it up when we move. Or even worse (and in my experience), you get a part-time job that doesn't utilize the skills or any of your past work experience. You're really just doing it to bring in more money to do the “fun things” for your family.
A year after I married my husband, I came to this fork in my career path. I could keep having part-time or full-time jobs in every duty station we were at and collect job experience or I could start my own business and be my own boss at home. I liked the second option A LOT! I was so tired of working for someone else and building their dream. I wanted to be in control of what I did wherever we ended up. After working out our finances, I started my business, KR Design, in 2010.
I realize that many military spouses may want to start a business but just don't know where to start. A question I hear frequently is “What kind of business do I start?” The truth is, it's up to you. What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? So, I thought I'd list 7 businesses military spouses can start right away and maybe you'll come up with some ideas of your own.
1. Virtual Assistant
I thought it would only be fair to get the most obvious one out of the way. Believe it or not, I find this type of business in the most demand out of my list. My colleagues always ask where they can find a good virtual assistant (VA). Where military spouses can be successful in this type of business is to offer a few complimentary services, i.e. calendar management, appointment setting, and follow-up. Where most military spouses (and entrepreneurs too!) get tripped up is that they want to offer as many services as they can so they can attract many clients. Take it from me as someone who's on the other side of the fence, we really want someone who is specialized. So, pick a couple of things, package them up, and you're open for business!
2. Anything In Online Marketing
I can say this because I am in the industry. There are so many businesses that you could start right away: content marketer (someone who writes the stuff that businesses post on social media), landing page expert (someone who sets up the sign-up pages for businesses), Google Ad expert (someone who sets up Google Ads), eBook design covers (trust me, I've seen it!), social media graphics (yes, there are people who only do Facebook Timeline photos and make great money at it!), and the list goes on and on. The point is that most entrepreneurs who do business online don't like to deal with the technical things. If you're someone who geeks out over new software and applications (like me!), then you can start a business in this field. The key is to be VERY specific on what your business offers so your customers aren't confused and know what to hire you for.
3. Proof-reading and/or Transcriptionist
I combined these two because most of the time if you're a transcriptionist, you make sure what you typed makes sense and that's a form of proof-reading. In the online marketing world, new content is constantly being created and it always helps to have someone look it over. What makes this type of business profitable is that most entrepreneurs are looking for someone they can count on and give all of their work to. In other words, they test a couple of people out and then pick their “go-to” person. What I love about this type of business is that it's really flexible and you can scale this type of business however you like (i.e. large or small).
4. Event Management
Did I mention that all of these businesses are location-independent? That you can start and operate a business regardless of where you and your family are stationed? You may not think so with event management but it can be! Many of my colleagues hire event planners whom they've never seen and meet them for the first time at their event. Now of course I'm talking about business event planning because you don't have to be onsite for the event. It's your choice: You can actually plan the event from afar and not be there! But, if you'd like to be there, keep in mind that you'll have to include that in your fee (if the client wants you there as well) and make time to be at the event. If this up your alley, by all means give it a try!
5. Customer Service Support
This is a good one because I don't think most military spouses think about this one. Your own customer service support company? I know, it sounds odd but trust me you'll love this! Many businesses want to cut cost and are now looking at online customer support. Companies also know it's a bonus if they can find people who are based in the United States. This is where your company steps in! Also, think a little outside of the box as well. There are MANY small businesses that would love to have their own customer service department. They want someone that they can rely on who knows their products and services well and also takes that burden off their plate. Oh, and a bonus tip for this business: start out with ZenDesk. Many businesses use that software and if you can master it, you'll be in demand!
6. TV Show/Radio Host
We all know podcasting is in and so are Google Hangouts. Now, Periscope is on the scene (if you don't have it, download the app for iPhone or Android, and then follow me @KRDMarketing on Periscope). In this day and age, it's so easy to broadcast a TV or radio show. If you're reading this blog post, you probably have everything you need: Internet, some type of laptop, computer, tablet, or smartphone, and Skype or Google Hangouts. If you love interviewing people or just yakking away, this could be a profitable business. The key is to build up a following and be SPECIFIC about the topic of your show and the type of people listening/watching. For example, my radio show is Military Women In Business Radio. My show is dedicated to the military spouse entrepreneur (you!) on taking the next step in their business. My audience is so specific that it's easy to get businesses who want to advertise on my show. We aired our first episode back in February 2015 and gained interested advertisers about a month later. So, go for it!
7. Coaching (Business, Life, Career, or Relationships)
At the end of the day, most entrepreneurs go into business because of something personal they dealt with. KR Design was born because I was tired of seeing other entrepreneurs struggle with marketing their business. The most basic type of business you can have is one where you make money from your experience. Business coaching, life coaching, career coaching, and relationship coaching are the 4 most profitable areas of coaching. Those are very broad areas but find the area that best fits you and figure out what you would like to coach. KR Design fits in the business coaching category but we specifically offer social media services. So, what area best fits you and what triumph experience did you have that you would want to help others with? The one thing that you have to be careful with is that when you're starting out, you'll have to share your story of how you triumphed to build credibility. If you're not comfortable sharing that, think of what parts you can share or think of another area.
So, my fellow military spouse, what business have you decided to start? What business do you currently have? Comment below and let me know!