As a Social Media Marketer, I approach business owners that have very little time to promote their businesses and I promote and grow their business through all social media platforms. In this day and age a lot of business owners want to focus on different aspects and in my passion for marketing in social media I take care of this aspect of people's businesses so they know their business is getting the exposure it needs without consuming their day.
Kallie Shoes, LLC is a Not-Just-For-Profit-Company; our mission is to to provide comfortable and affordable shoes that never sacrifice style. At Kallie Shoes, we believe in the importance of making a difference in our communities. Which is why, we proudly support wounded veterans of the Semper Fi Fund by donating a percentage of our profits. Our company is PETA Approved Vegan; we do not use any animal products in the production of our shoes.
MilSO Box is a subscription box company that delivers a monthly box of gifts to female Military Significant Others. All of the products in the MilSO Box are Made in America, and sourced as much as possible from MilSO's and Veterans. The aim of MilSO Box is to inspire, encourage, and delight MilSO's with this monthly delivery, and to simply brighten their day. The business was inspired by my very dear friend who is the MilSO of an Army soldier. After having a conversation with her where she was stressed and upset about her husband's current absence during training and impending deployment, all I wanted to do was support her and make her happy. This led me to think that it would be wonderful to do the same for as many other MilSO's as I could. Thus, MilSO Box was born!
Tell us about your business! My business is up close and personal. In a world of technology at our fingertips, people often forget how to communicate with words or believe they do not possess the correct words. We listen and say exactly what you want using your words. We also help with motivational speaking, personal letters, wedding vows etc. Whispered Thoughts is a book of inspirational quotes.
Tell us about your business! Since 2010, we have been focused on working with businesses of all shapes and sizes to have an effective presence on social media. While some agencies try to do it all, we are focused on all things social. As the social landscape has changed, we have kept businesses current so they can connect with their followers and customers making sure their business's products and services are always top of mind.
Name: Carmen Westbrook
Business Name/Occupation: Aina
Tell us about your business! Aina is an online community for people that want to have an impact - those of us that want to leave the world a better place. Aina is the place for people that see the pain and hurt in the world and feel that a solution is possible - if only we had the tools available. Through crowdsourcing and training of community members, Aina provides those tools to make it possible for any person, anywhere, to connect with and help groups in need. How does that happen? Our highly trained liaison corps identifies issues in need of change in their area (e.g. child orphanage slavery in Kenya), identifies and heavily vets ngo's to find the best organization addressing the issue, and then develops a partnership with the organization to offer projects that people all over the world can do to make an impact (e.g. make a pencil case for a child in an orphanage, as often this $7 mandatory school item is all that stands between them and fostering with an aunt/uncle/grandparent). These projects are offered to our community members, as is the background on the issue and updated blogging by the liaison. Moreover, we offer the opportunity for our members to connect online with those people that they have helped.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? Well, actually, entrepreneurship chose me. Truly, I was going to go back to school to get my MBA (that's in the process of happening) and I was planning on working for USAID/UNICEF/some other big organization. Through a series of events, however, I became frustrated by the lack of an easy mechanism to actually DO something to help people around the world (as opposed to giving money), and I started investigating how to do this. Over the past 2 years it's developed into Aina, with an amazing crew to support the business.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? I think it's out of a) necessity, b) a heart for service, and c) the ability to work out of the box. Invention is born from necessity, and when you move around all the time and still want to have a career, it becomes necessary to invent something that fits into that lifestyle. Often that invention is either an incredibly understanding boss or striking out on your own. I think that milspos tend more toward striking out on their own because they're so global, and they're so intimately involved with global issues as those issues really affect their day-to-day lives. This global viewpoint tends to make for the ability to see issues from many different angles, to shift the paradigm and answer the question outside of the box - thus providing a solution that is truly their own, and not something that can be found in a regular day job. Moreover, most milspos I know have INCREDIBLE hearts for service - their spouse has chosen to serve their whole life, but milspos are the unsung heroes in the background. That incredible heart for service translates into owning your own business, because every business owner is, in the end, in the business of serving others.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? Ahhh! Everything!! From my kids (who are FANTASTIC, really) to doing the wifely support for my husband's job to keeping distant family happy with massive phone calls/Facetimes/vacations to figuring out for the hundredth time which new dentist is the perfect one for our family, good grief. It's like there's never enough time for my own passion. I truly love all of the things I listed, and they make my life so incredibly full and fantastic, but there is a constant juggling act to have everyone settled, happy, supported, and frankly, just fed food on a regular basis. Finding time to grow my own business is a constant struggle.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? Oh my, in so many ways. I get to live all over the world and experience life in so many different cultures. I get to make new friends and develop new passions every couple of years, and I now have friends scattered all over the globe. My children get to experience SO much of life that I didn't have growing up. I get to be constantly pushed, constantly challenged to grow and change - I know I wouldn't have done half of the things I have if I hadn't been forced into it by moving around so much. I have been able to be a part of some really big events in our modern history, and while there's been a lot of pain associated with some of it, pain pushes us to grow and evolve, and I now have a much different view of the world than I did when I was younger.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur? Perseverance. I knew that I was really stubborn, but I thought I had an issue with seeing projects through to their completion. I now know that that's just because I'm a perfectionist, and that my stubbornness translates into sticking with this business until they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Also humor. People keep telling me I'm funny, which is weird because I've never seen myself as funny - I always thought my hubs was the awesomely hilarious one. Frankly it's weird to write down that I have humor as a strength, because the moment you write something like that down it tends to no longer be true, but there it is. It's on you if my sense of humor goes away.
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? Go drink some wine. Ha! No, but really, find something that lights your buttons and just GO DO IT. If that's shopping for some rad new clothes (um, yep, that's me), go shop for some rad new clothes. And DON'T feel guilty about it, because holy cow you spend your life supporting other people. If drinking coffee with your ladies rings your bell, drop everything for two hours and go drink some freaking coffee. If your version of heaven is a glass of wine and Game of Thrones, go find yourself some Rob Stark. We ALL have those moments of discouragement, we all go through time periods of suck, so don't feel like it's just you. Every single other entrepreneur has been right there with you, sister. So go find some fantastic Netflix, go run 8 miles, go do something that is JUST FOR YOU. Let it all go for a while, and remember that literally everyone (Steve Jobs included) has gone through the doubts and tears - often both at least 4 times per day - and that most often those huge blocks happen right before a huge breakthrough. So have faith! And drink wine. It'll happen.
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur?
- My entrepreneur podcasts: EntreLeadership, The limitless Business Podcast, and Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
- My iPad. Makes it poss to take kids to everything and still work.
- My standing desk. Epic. 'Nuff said.
- God. For. Reals.
- My girlfriends. They get me through everything.
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? The sheer number of people that have said they want to help out. It's been awesome to have people - both friends and strangers - feeling the same passion I do and jumping in. Amazing.
How do you want to be remembered? As someone that always brought people together in love, faith, and hope.
Facebook Page: AinaGiving
I am an Army spouse, going on 14 years (and 9 PCS moves), and mom to two #milbrats who keep life energized and on the go! I started out my professional career as a child development specialist for Army MWR but after 10 years of moving around as a military spouse had to get creative with a way to find fulfillment and income that meshed well with the transient and unpredictable military lifestyle. Military. Families. Fitness. Start Ups. That's my jam.
Tell us about your business!: Initial Focus, LLC was built on the belief that anyone can do anything they want, and that every single person has a story worth telling. We believe that life is not about the money you make or job title you have. It is not about how good your resume is or if you have a degree. It is simply about experiences. We believe that every day should be a step towards your highest dreams and passions. It is exactly that in which we want to capture for you. Whether it be graduating from high school or college. Maybe its building a business, falling in love and getting married or moving into a new home. Whatever the occasion is, we care deeply and passionately about making sure you have something to remember. Something to be proud of.
We are not just photographers, filmmakers or designers -- We are storytellers.
Name: Naseem Matteson
Business Name/Occupation: Small Business ABCs,LLC
Tell us about your business! I offer Quickbooks consulting, training, bookkeeping, accounting and payroll services to small businesses. I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor with many QuickBooks Products discounts. I provide various bookkeeping and payroll packages to my clients per their budgets and needs.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? Just following my dreams and listening to my heart made me an Entrepreneur.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? We can multi-task, have agility and the mobility for many tasks at once. I find all these as a required qualities for great entrepreneurs.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? It is my husband's work hours and duty, right now holding me back, but I still do great for the time, I have in the day to concentrate on my business.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? We can multi-task, have agility and the mobility for many tasks at once, which makes us better every day.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur? The attitude that I CAN do: Networking, meet new people everyday, and make my own schedule of business and be an independent contractor!
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? One day at a time, and never give up. Stay positive!
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur? Network of all milspouses, job security, military benefits, access to fun activities on Base, Medical benfits
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? I have met so many business owners who have admired my services, and each day feels like a new day!
How do you want to be remembered? A positive, faithful and sincere bookkeeper.
Facebook Page: /www.facebook.com/smallbusinessabcs
Name: Zaneta Padilla
Business Name/Occupation: Z. Padilla Video Production
Tell us about your business! I own a small video production company. I'm the sole proprietor, so I am a part of every aspect of preproduction, production and post production. My clients are usually entrepreneurs themselves, and my services are used to market their businesses, as well as themselves, online, reaching audiences globally. Using my passion for photography and recording special moments, I also film special events and create DVDs for my clients.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? I originally started my business because I was studying film, and there was nothing available to me. By starting my own business, I was able to create the opportunity I needed to get real world experience and apply my learned skills. While the occasional paycheck is nice, what I really value is just doing something I truly love and enjoy.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? Given the lifestyle of constant readiness and change, military spouses have learned to wear many hats at once, be independent and self sufficient. We are adaptable to any environment and are able to think quick on our feet, so that makes us excellent problem solvers. Being both sets of parents in one body, we rely on ourselves, so we are bootstrap women who work tirelessly and faithfully.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? Being overseas in a remote base, there is a very limited client market for me locally. While my business is digital, a lot of it still needs to be done face to face. Being in a foreign country too (with a rare industry) it's hard to find tools and resources locally.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? Being a military spouse has given me so many opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise. I've been to countries I never would have dreamed, and as a result, I've met people I never would have met. Being able to experience different locations and cultures has given me a well rounded world view, and I look forward to more international experiences.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur? I've always been a creative person, but those strengths have really shown themselves in my entrepreneurship journey. Since so much of my business is with helping others, my creative mind has been great not only in helping my business, but helping others. My creativity has been able to help tap into target markets and create creative ways to appeal to those markets.
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? Things may seem hard right now, but there is always a light at the end of the storm. Looking back after your success, you'll be thankful for this low period, because it's only made you better.
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur?
- My MacBook
- My Camera
- The Internet
- A friend to bounce ideas off of and proof read
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? Just recently, I won the bid for graduation photos/video with a photographer friend. When finalizing details with the ceremony coordinator, I was able to show her pictures of the hangar chosen that I had filmed a Change of Command ceremony prior. Her excitement at those pictures and relief when she saw all of her hard work would come together into that "really cool shot" (with the planes in the background) was a great moment for me. Any project I work on with a client, their feedback is very important to me, and those moments where they are genuinely happy with my services and it's something that helps them, really pushes me in my business.
I also really love it when I introduce myself and they mention they've seen my work before.
How do you want to be remembered? I pride myself on being a very personable person, a friend to anyone and everyone, and someone you can rely on. Whether I meet someone in a professional setting, or personal, I want to be remembered as being friendly and loyal. Any duty station I'm at, I hope when it's time to leave, i've left an impact and it's a better place when I leave it.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/ZPadillaVideo
Name: Karina Gafford
Business Name/Occupation: Tutors By Base
Tell us about your business! My husband and I have a tutoring company that hires military spouses, veterans and dependents to tutor both on and around military installations. We offer classes at several military installations through the Child, Youth, and School Services programs, and we just expanded to offer an online test prep platform for the SAT, ACT, and GRE.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? As an immigrant, I see the US as a land of boundless opportunity. My family moved to the US from Ireland when I was a teenager to open a business, and I had the good fortune to witness entrepreneurship and small business building from that early age. I began in hospitality management and then education management in my early 20's, but always had the desire to eventually embark on the adventure of the real American Dream--entrepreneurship--for myself.
Honestly, I chose to venture into entrepreneurship in the education space for multiple reasons. First, I truly believe that we are on the cusp of profound changes in education, and I want to do more than simply bear witness to this great transition; I want to help make the difficult and better changes for our children. Second, I began in tutoring because I couldn't find anyone else providing the service that I was looking for--a referral service within the military community of trusted, well-credentialed, and trained tutors. I saw the need, and--with a lot of support--moved to fill that need. Whether I was recruiting tutors for other companies or trying to find private tutors who provided the tutoring services that I did not for my current clients, I always looked first within my network of fellow military spouses. Without having a credential-specific searchable list of spouses with transcripts and resumes, though, helping to make a tutor match took an inordinately long time and yielded little positive results. Now when someone asks me if I can refer a tutor that fits their exact needs, I can answer a resounding "yes" about 99% of the time, and that feels great!
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? Military spouses make great entrepreneurs because they've already tackled some of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face: Uncertainty, financial instability (hello, goodbye, new job; it's time for a PCS!), networking (spouse's groups, anyone?), risk taking (you're seriously buying a house that you'll only live in for 2 years?!), and loneliness. TDYs, deployments, and separation from your traditional support groups of family and friends help prepare military spouses for the lonely venture of striking out by yourself. The great part about being a military spouse entrepreneur today, though, is that there are so many opportunities for us to network and share advice with one another through online forums and local groups.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? One major blocker for me is wanting to do too many things at once. When I get caught in a cycle of attempting multiple projects at time, I wind up not completing any of them as well as I would want to. A game changing moment for me came earlier this year at a conference in Nashville called GrowCo. Inc. Magazine sponsored about 30 military entrepreneurs to attend this event to help us learn about how to grow our business effectively, and the biggest takeaway I had from every single success story there--including AirBnB and the Honest Company--was to focus on ONE thing at a time and do it well. That's so tough to hear as both a female and a military spouse; I'm constantly multi-tasking. At any given time, I'm responding to work emails, on the phone with a real estate agent regarding an upcoming PCS, scanning my never-ending to do list, watching the timer on the oven, and maybe feeding the baby, too. It's tough to make the transition to focus on one thing single-mindedly, but when I do, I find that I make the most progress. This has meant that I've moved several projects that I'd like to be working on right now forward in my planner, but that's okay.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? I've learned so much more about the world, other people, and myself than if I had simply stayed in my adopted home state. I've been forced to step way outside my comfort zone on so many occasions in social situations that it has ultimately helped me grow in the confidence to do better in my professional life.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur? I'm a much better problem solver than I thought I was, and I have leadership skills I never even knew existed. Those are still a work in progress, but I've been borrowing my husband's leadership books to help myself out!
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? Generally I've found that discourage milspo entrepreneurs believe one of two things 1) That they can't achieve their goals, and 2) They're overwhelmed. I've believed both of these things, too. If it's the first, I share a quote from Henry Ford: "He who thinks he can and he who thinks he can't are generally both right." If it's the second, it's usually because of overcommitment, and what milspo isn't guilty of that at some time? I try to help make those spouses understand that they are available to their clients, their friends, and their family, but they're not on tap; when you're building a business and creating the life you want, you have to own your time.
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur?
- Coffee - does everyone write this one down? Green juice is great, but it can only get me so far in the day.
- A workout - I have to take care of me first or I won't be any use to anyone else in the future.
- My fellow military spouses - I wouldn't have had the confidence to even begin my business without them.
- My family - They hear all the ups and downs; it's important to have people to support you when you're down and celebrate with you when there's good news.
- My planner - Nothing happens without it. We're in multiple time zones now, and I am completely lost without having an hour-by-hour breakdown of the day to make sure that I'm calling people at the right time!
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? I was really excited when we got our first one-on-one tutoring client and then our first contract with a military installation, but the most amazing thing I've experienced is the support that we've received within the military community. I truly appreciate every single share of a social media post, every sign-up for our newsletter, every tutor who applies to help our students, and every piece of advice I receive to help us improve (and I get a lot!).
How do you want to be remembered? I'd like Tutors By Base to be known throughout the military as a great resource for both education and employment. As for me, I want my family and friends to remember me as someone who loved them and made them laugh.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/militarytutorsbybase
I'm a big believer in the "why" - especially as an entrepreneur. The passion is such a HUGE part of staying on a positive path (as a small business owner, anyway). If your heart isn't in it, let's talk through it. Was it once and it's not anymore? Can we make some tweaks to make you fall in love again? Sometimes, it's about teaching leverage - allow someone else to flourish in their passion if there's a task or facet that you can't stand handling. I promise - there is someone else out there that will enjoy that part! Sometimes, it's about how the business has grown in the wrong direction and needs to be reined in. Sometimes, it's just about a reminder that the grind doesn't last forever, but if you stay in it the success will come.
I like to tell people that Play Across America is the "TripAdvisor" of playgrounds. We help people find fun wherever they go, whether they are just looking for a different playground in their local community, on the road to their next vacation, in an airport, mall, or even on a military installation. We also make it possible for families to search for specific amenities that suit their family's specific needs (i.e. wheelchair accessible ramps, infant swings, fenced in, restrooms, etc..).
Activate Your Talent seeks to be a catalyst for positive change in clients’ physical fitness, professional careers, and financial lives. We provide Strengths-based Solutions (interactive group sessions, dynamic 1:1 coaching sessions, and online programs) that help our clients discover, understand and leverage their natural talents to become more effective and efficient in their personal and professional lives. Translated, the motto “Fit Via Vi” means, “strength is the way” or “strength leads the way” and is exactly what Activate Your Talent believes. We focus heavily on leveraging Gallup’s StrengthFinder assessment to help clients develop their physical, mental, and financial strength in order to live their best life!
As a military spouse, you learn to be a number of things very quickly. You learn to adapt, to be flexible, to be creative, to be independent and to be strong. In the almost 3 years we have been married, my husband and I have been apart for almost half of that. Although I hate the time we have been apart, I credit it to my self growth.