Name: Denise Uzzelle
Business Name/Occupation: Starting Point Human Capital Advisors, LLC
When did you know starting a business was right for you? Tell us about your business: For me, being laid off due to a company restructure forced me to take stock of what I wanted for my career and for my family’s future. I recently married a U.S. Army Veteran who is disabled and suffers from PTSD, TBI and other injuries. After meeting my husband I experienced how difficult it is for some veterans to transition and find employment as a civilian. I was told of my impending layoff while preparing to take Military Caregiver Leave to accompany my husband out of state to be with his father, an Air Force Veteran, who was on life support due to a short illness. I hated to share such bad news on top of the family issues, so quietly worked on starting the company in the evenings at Fisher House after we spent the days at the hospital. We buried his father on Memorial Day and after finally sharing the situation and weighing options with my husband, I made a decision to use the skills I developed over the past 12 years to start my own company delivering HR & recruitment services.
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in business?: In October, 2014 I remember being in a meeting with a group of women CEO’s and being told that large corporations would not use my little startup company because they already had prime vendors. The highlight of my career was 18 days later when I finalized negotiations and signed my first contract for Starting Point Human Capital Advisors, my little startup company, to provide services to a Fortune 100 company.
What is the most disheartening thing you have encountered in your career as a military spouse?: Having the VA remove us from the Family Caregiver program when my husband has a 90% disability rating . The program was helpful but now I face the challenges of being an independent caregiver.
What advice would you give a military spouse, interested in starting their own business?: Do it! There is so much support and so many resources out there for milspouses to start a business.
What is the most challenging thing about being a military spouse and business owner? What is the most rewarding thing?: We have good days and bad days. When things are bad, we're in the ER overnight or longer. The rewarding thing is that because I now work for myself, I don't have to deal with anyone questioning my productivity or effort, nor do I have the threat of losing my job hanging over my head. I can work from the hospital waiting room if I need to and because this is our family business and not someone else's, I'm always valued and happy to put in 200% to make this a success.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?: I actually negotiated my first contract while waiting in the ER. I felt empowered, relieved and happy to be off to a good start.
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?: Two things - first, I miss the structure and administrative support that was there for me in the corporate world. Secondly, I didn't realize how much collections is a part of running a small business.
What is one business goal you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?: I will launch a strategic HR initiative to help Veterans maintain civilian employment, called Operation Vet Works. I hope to make this one of my primary HR consulting focuses along with proving HR by Membership plans for startup and small businesses.
As a military spouse, or business owner, I know one thing for certain. It is . . .: Social entrepreneurship is the most rewarding type of business.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?: I am becoming more comfortable in public speaking. As an HR professional, my audience usually had no choice but to listen politely to what I was presenting. As a business owner, I am finding that I like to speak publicly. Also, I find that I want everyone to start a business! It is so empowering. I've started a support group on Facebook called the Stiletto Business Network to encourage women in Texas to start their own businesses and help them do so, especially those that are in the conceptual phase and aren't sure what to do next.
My biggest fear is . . . : making it through that phase when you have more work than money so have to do everything possible yourself without burning out.
My greatest accomplishment is . . .: raising a successful daughter as a single parent. I was also recently selected from over 100 women nationwide as one of 3 finalists to compete in MSNBC's Grow Your Value competition. The contest is part of the Know Your Value conference for women taking place in Philadelphia.
When I grow up I want to be . . . : a successful business owner known for helping others and loving my family
In 2050 I hope military spouses are/can/have/achieve . . .: have families that not torn apart by loss, wars and lasting injuries, seen and unseen. I hope we have peace.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs?: We make great entrepreneurs because we face personal fears and challenges every day and still find a way to keep it together.
What is your legacy?: My daughter is an extremely hard worker but I want her to know what it is like to love what you do and work for yourself without having to struggle like we did when I was raising her as a single parent. My legacy is to build a company that I can leave to her that is not just a financial success but also a social endeavor that delivers positive change for others.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/StartingPointStaffing