Name: Lauren Welch
Business Name/Occupation: Thrive Financial Counseling, LLC/Thrive Financial Counselor
When did you know starting a business was right for you? Tell us about your business: My husband deployed to Afghanistan July 2013 - January 2014. Right before he left, he had found out the child we were fostering was going to become permanent (we were going to be a forever family!). He left a week after the news and his adoption was final while my husband was gone. While not like giving birth, it was a lot of time away from home during the excitement for our family. I had always wanted to start my own business, decide the way I wanted to work and the clients I wanted to serve, so when my husband received orders while overseas, without a second thought - the time was now (well, then...). I knew I wanted flexibility in working and the ability to see more of my son and be available for his needs. I am so thankful I was able to and did - make the switch.
I am an accredited financial counselor. Through my business, Thrive Financial Accounting, I have chosen to focus on prospective and current small businesses and the direct financial service clients at non-profit organizations. I have been one and worked closely with the other and have seen the extreme value of my services to both. I provide financial education and advice through resources, accountability and one-on-one training and guidance. I can assist with that affects a client’s financial picture. I am grateful and blessed that all of my work can be done virtually. I think the important part is the relationship building, so that the virtual aspect is not a hindrance.
What is the most disheartening thing you have encountered in your career as a military spouse?: That is difficult. I have always worked hard and thought ahead to make the challenges of military life work for me, not against me, with my career as well. Networking is HUGE. I would probably say that the hardest thing so far has been starting my business and having a short PCS (9 months) where it was hard to get a of connections and planning utilized until we got to our next duty station. I had (and have...our move is in 4 weeks!) this list, with contacts and plans to attack and had to wait until we had a longer PCS to get to them. Isn't that ironic? I was waiting TO move to get started vs. the other way around!?
Now, I am building my career around being virtual to be able to build upon myself and not lose anything (or much, right?) with each move.
What career challenges have you faced because you are a woman?: To be honest, I think all my "woman challenges" in my career, have been self inflicted; like undercharging or doubting myself when I got started with my own business. Before I started my business, I did not face any challenges like that in the workforce or if I did, I paid no attention to them, for good reason!
What advice would you give a woman, in particular a military spouse, interested in starting her own business?: Go for it! I say "Go for it!" as another woman. Do not let your potential fears or doubts get in the way. Now, as a financial counselor who works with prospective business owners, do your due diligence, get your ducks in a row. Use all the wonderful resources available to you; The SBA, the local Small Business Development Centers, the EBV-F program at Syracuse University, the Military Spouse Business Association and other spouse business owners. Make sure you set up a business plan (including a SOUND financial plan! :)) Make sure it makes sense, others would buy it and give it a shot. Like most things, you never know until you try.
What is the most challenging thing about being a military spouse and business owner? What is the most rewarding thing?: I have met (that networking thing!) so many people that I would not have, would I not have been a military spouse - both professionally and personally, of course. I am able to connect and network with others through people I have met easier than I would have ever been able to do, without the military. My business and my training to become a financial counselor? All of it came to be because of opportunities afforded to me because of the military.
The most challenging is easily the costs associated with moving my LLC with each move. My business moved 3 times (3 states) in 12 months which equals high costs of business licenses locally and for the state.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?: I made a good choice. I am good at what I do. Someone liked me enough to pay me for my services. My services are needed. Now, go make another one!
It drove me to feel more confident about what I was doing and what I could do. It drove me to think about goals much bigger than I had previously imagined. All in that one small (undercharged!) sell.
What is one obstacle you have faced as a business owner, or on a personal level, as a military spouse, that you would have never expected?: When I first broached the topic of transferring businesses across state lines for military spouse business owners, I got absolutely no assistance or positive feedback. I even received a political response of "it is an all volunteer service, you do not have to sign up, continue and move...its your choice, deal". I had a written plan and speech for the right to transfer, based on time in location and no one would hear it. That was disheartening and the first time I felt that because I was a military spouse, I was out of luck, as all responses started with "as a military spouse..."
What is one business goal you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?: One?
I am working on an e-book that can be sold ongoing through my website and other avenues. This also ties into some of my other 2015 goals since it will help me to learn more about other social media websites and get my website updated and ready to sell.
I am going to give you two.
I am also getting ready to provide some additional opportunities to provide services to my target market both virtually and in person.
As a military spouse, or business owner, I know one thing for certain. It is . . .: always changing! For both the military spouse AND the business owner. My family moves in 4 weeks!
Social media and the business world is constantly changing as well. You have to be on your toes and "in the know" - reading and keeping up with changes - for your business to "keep up"
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?: To use less words.
That might sound strange, but I speak and write with a lot of words. I am a talker by nature. I had to learn to speak and write less and that I could get my point across the same way.
I now represent myself and only myself. No one else can take responsibility for me, but me. Everything I do reflects Thrive Financial Counseling.
My biggest fear is . . . : Failing - with my business, with my children, with my marriage... you know, no big deal, tiny little fear. :) Way to put me on a therapist's couch, right?
My greatest accomplishment is . . .: My family. I have the most supportive, giving and thoughtful husband who, with me, tracks the same family plan of adoption from day 1, to our family of 2 - our second greatest accomplishment - this one octave, high energy, smart and stubborn 5 year old, Tieryn Matthew.
When I grow up I want to be . . . : Exactly what I am. A wife, a mother and a business owner - rocking what I am rocking now, living the dream in every aspect of my life.
In 2050 I hope women are/can/have . . .: are/can/have whatever they want... without being criticized by anyone - but mostly those who love them the most and other Mom's. That stuff is getting old.
What is your legacy?: Kind to others, hilarious and made money fun and doable. Of course, best Mom and Wife (in my household!)
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/thrivefinancialcounseling