Name: Amy Rowland
Business Name/Occupation: Play Across America, LLC
Tell us about your business! 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..).
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? In some ways, the answer is simple: I couldn't find what I wanted to offer to families anywhere else so I figured I'd do it myself! I thought it would be great if there was a website exclusively dedicated to playgrounds and indoor play areas that didn't cost families a ton of money. I am passionate about play and wanted to help spread this passion to other families.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? We make great entrepreneurs because, as a military spouse, we already know what it's like to make sacrifices, to experience loneliness, to be flexible and open to the constant unknown, to adapt to new environments, and to know when it's time to make a change (or pivot) for the greater good, even if it means more sacrifice, more unknowns, and more change. We focus on the task at hand and get it done. Every. Time.
Entrepreneurs experience all of these elements in the course of their entrepreneurial endeavors. Any one of these can be enough to make a person want to give up but because it's so ingrained in our being, we confront these obstacles head on and refuse to let them get in our way.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? Time. I have four children ages 6, 4, 3, and 1, and I decided to tackle homeschooling the older two this year. I don't want to take away too much time with them to focus on my business but I realize there is a give and take. So, it means late nights and early mornings and sometimes even weekends holed up in my room working on the business while my husband takes the kids to all the "fun" activities. It can be difficult to balance business and family. Perhaps our growth may be slower because I don't want to sacrifice time with my kids, but I'm fortunate that a lot of my business incorporates my kids.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? Being a military spouse is a continual self-actualization process. Every time we move, every time our spouse changes jobs, it's a test of our true character. What are we made of and how do we handle ourselves in stressful, difficult situations? Will I crumble or will I conquer? Often, it reveals a lot of personal weaknesses that I might otherwise be able to hide or stifle if life was always predictable and comfortable. But, through the revelation of my weaknesses I'm given the opportunity to refine myself each time and work to become a better wife, mother, and entrepreneur. Being able to face my shortcomings, recognize them, and work to overcome them is how being a military spouse has changed me for the better.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur? Determination and passion. Until starting Play Across America, I honestly felt rather useless and bored. The last thing I thought I was, was "determined". If I was determined or passionate about anything, it was about getting a good night's sleep! But, once I started Play Across America I realized that discouragement and setbacks were not game enders even on the worst of days. I had enough passion and determination to keep going, even if it meant starting over, because I truly love what I'm doing and believe that it is a valuable resource for families.
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? Pause. Step away for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks. Reflect on why you started your business in the first place. Write it down and post it in a visible place. If you still feel passionate about why you started the business then harness this passion and use it to drive you forward. If the passion is gone, truly gone, then it's time for a pivot or time to close the door.
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur?
- My husband. He believes in me and in Play Across America. Without him supporting me every step of the way, Play Across America would not exist.
- My kids. Let's face it: without them I'd never go to a playground. Having 4 of them makes me all the more desperate to find them. :)
- Wine. Do I need to explain this one? ;)
- The MilSpo Community! Wow, is all I can say about what an amazing group of people I've had the privilege of getting to know of the past month. I feel honored to have met everyone and to be able to interact with this wonderful community.
- My faith. With God, all things are possible. Sometimes life can throw major curveballs our way but knowing that Someone greater than me is in control of my life allows me to let go of that control and trust that I know He has a plan for me, plans to prosper me not harm me. (Jeremiah 29:11)
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? There are actually two amazing things I've experienced so far: the Inc 500/5000 conference in Orlando and the Inc.com ICONIC conference in DC. I met such amazing, and inspiring, people through these two events that have truly changed the way I look at entrepreneurship. Getting the opportunity to sit down with successful entrepreneurs and have them mentor me was probably the best thing I've ever experienced in my professional career. A fire has been lit within me from these two conferences and I'm more determined than ever to see my business grow.
How do you want to be remembered? As a mom who truly loved her children with all her heart and wanted them to be happy and as a wife who loved and supported her husband through all the highs and lows. Nothing else really matters to me, but it would be nice to be remembered as the lady who helped families find their fun! ;)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Playacrossamerica/