Name: Melanie Brassfield
Business Name/Occupation: Career Wordsmith, LLC
When did you know starting a business was right for you? Tell us about your business: Career Wordsmith, LLC develops resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and just about any other career documentation that you could ever possibly need. I launched the business in 2014 after many years of working in the career counseling and resume writing field. I always knew I was in the right field because I LOVED my job. Helping other people achieve success in their careers is an incredibly rewarding experience and makes me smile at work every day. However...after 5 PCS moves in 7 years, I was tired or reinventing and re-establishing myself in a new job every single time.
With 3 children under the age of 5 I began to realize that while I loved to work, the traditional 8 to 5 was a not a great fit. My friends had been prodding me to start a business for years, however my "a-ha" moment only came when I realized that the work-life issue was only going to get worse when my children went to school. I want the opportunity to spend some quality time with my children every day and if that means taking a pause from 2pm to 7pm and working for an hour or so after they go to bed in the evening –that's the perfect arrangement! When we received 3-year orders to Hawaii, I knew that fate was trying to say something and it was time to get that business underway.
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in business?: Without doubt, the most amazing thing for me has been the outpouring of support and encouragement from other military spouses. When I first considered going into business I contacted Amy Schofield, a military spouse and fellow resume writer that I did not know but had been following out of interest for the preceding few years. She could not have been more helpful in mentoring and assisting me as I started exploring the opportunity of moving into business. My military spouse friends have been my unpaid marketing team, enthusiastically getting the word out at every opportunity. It has been a very humbling experience.
What is the most disheartening thing you have encountered in your career as a military spouse?: I think the most disheartening aspect of my career as a military spouse has been the feeling that up until now I have never had the chance to leave a legacy. I feel that I have made an incredible impact in each position that I have held, but because my time in each position has been so short, that impact is lost and forgotten a month after I walk out the door. I am excited about the opportunity to build a business that sticks with me every time I move!
What advice would you give a military spouse, interested in starting their own business?: To the military spouse moms out there who are considering their own business, I would say...if it is the field of work you love, do it. It will give you the flexibility to do the work you love and have a schedule that allows you to spend more quality time with those kiddos in their precious years. However, it is also very hard as a mom. Finding that energy to build and create something new can be daunting and murphy's law will always dictate that you have one of "those nights" when the husband is deployed and you are meeting an important client the next day. There are times that working an 8 to 5 for someone else seems like an easier option and I think that is why you need to really love the field of work. Those days pass and you realize you are definitely on the right road!
What is the most challenging thing about being a military spouse and business owner? What is the most rewarding thing?: For me, the most challenging aspect of business ownership has been striving to find that balance between business and family life. When you have a job outside the home it is a little easier to leave it at the end of the day and be fully engaged with your family. Working from home I still find that pull in the evening to check emails or get a bit more work done, even if I worked a full 8 hours during the day. On the upside, the most rewarding aspect has been the flexibility. Knowing that I can take the stand-up paddle board out in the morning because the weather is perfect or go on the school field trip without angst is wonderful as I know that I can catch up those hours in the evening or on the weekend. I can take my job anywhere – to Australia for a month while I visit family, or to my next PCS station without too much issue.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?: Honestly, I was worried that the check would bounce...it seemed too good to be true. I did something I enjoyed doing and someone was happy to pay!
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?: I think the major obstacle I have faced as a business owner is sorting the "must-haves" from the "nice-to-haves." I never realized that there were so many businesses out there geared solely toward selling services or products to small business owners. As a new business owner all these products, services, software, and techniques sound fantastic, however I have to remind myself that I am on a very tight budget and have to focus on my priorities...are they offering me something that would be "nice-to-have" or is this something I really should consider investing in?
What is one business goal you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?: My 2015 business goal is to be receiving 90% of my business through word of mouth. I want my work to speak for itself so I'm aiming to gain new clients because of my reputation rather than a fancy advertisement!
As a military spouse, or business owner, I know one thing for certain. It is . . .: Murphy's Law...I was in the final phase of my resume certification process, unexpectedly received 2 clients I couldn't turn away, had the husband deployed in Korea, 2 children with gastro, and a refrigerator that stopped working and flooded the kitchen. I wish I was making this up!
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?: I think I have discovered the ability to learn things I never imagined I would. From website design, to client management, to marketing, to budgeting. Starting a business on a shoestring forced me to research and find a way to do things I never imagined I could.
My biggest fear is . . . : That I will have regrets in life. I hope that by starting my business now I will never look back and wonder "what would my career look like if...." I will only be looking forward!
My greatest accomplishment is . . .: I feel like it is my new "greatest accomplishment" every time I hear from a resume client who has an interview. This is an incredibly rewarding business to be in!
When I grow up I want to be . . . : Finding time to jog or stand-up paddle board every morning and then spending the rest of the day helping people get jobs!
In 2050 I hope military spouses are/can/have/achieve . . .: I have the same wish for the military spouses of 2050 as I do for the military spouses of today – that they can achieve financial security and personal happiness through whichever career they choose to pursue.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs?: I think military spouses make great entrepreneurs because they are so used to being thrown a few curve balls in life. They adapt, they are not easily phased, and they have a great support structure to make things happen.
What is your legacy?: I don't know that I have a legacy yet, but I hope that my legacy will be children that grow up believing it is possible to seek out a career they love that provides them with the quality of life they deserve.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/careerwordsmith