Name: Erica McMannes
Business Name/Occupation: Military Spouse Multi-Business Entrepreneur
Tell us about your business! My entrepreneurial spirit was kindled in 2012 when I joined a veteran owned startup in Silicon Valley as the community and marketing lead. The ability to create solutions for the military community from within the military community is a unique opportunity, one I couldn’t resist. The opportunities to engage, evolve, and innovate have continued to grow. I am currently a community and marketing consultant for www.guide-on.com (The Veteran Career Platform) and www.borrowshare.com(Military Community Marketplace). I have also co-founded a platform for military spouse employment (www.hiremadskills.com) and run a health and wellness support group for mommas (www.fb.com/coachericamcmannes).
Why did you choose entrepreneurship? 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.
Why do military spouses make great entrepreneurs? We have learned to create, thrive, adapt, and network in different environments, situations, and dynamics over and over again. These skills trickle into every are of life. It's only natural for the same networking, community building, and business opportunities to arise from those skill sets. We have keen eyes into the needs and gaps in our communities. As technology grows and our global connectivity increases we have an amazing capacity to create, innovate, and inspire right in our own homes and hands.
What is a "blocker" for you in business. What holds you back? Time and relocation. It's always a struggle to maintain full steam ahead during uprooting. PCS times are usually the most stressful but it's all a transition and routine will fall into place.
How has being a military spouse changed your for the better? Exposure to the world is something that changes people. It can make you fearful and stunted or it can make your thrive and grow. Over and over again we are given opportunities to sprout in new places. It's a new decision everytime. Reinventing ourselves, trying out new ideas, making new connections, finding new places and opportunities - that's the name of the milso game. Those are the moments I think people miss out on often. We know we are supporting our service member, caring for our families and neighbors, and have duties to our communities but we also possess innate possibilities to create and grow within ourselves. Being a milso has taught me this time and time again.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?: I didn't know I could be so brave. I am an introvert and have always had big ideas and dream milling around in my over processed introverted brain. Taking the first tiny step into the entrepreneurial scene has helped me learn that vulnerability and failures are how we learn and grow. Just because we are adults does not mean we are finished growing, learning, and changing. Entrepreneurialism is about being brave enough to voice an idea and taking the steps to bring it to fruition. I didn't know I could do this until I tried!
What would you tell a milspo entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged? Keep thinking. Keep talking. Keep reading. Keep working. Creating and innovating is never finished, complete, or fulfilled. Consistency and grit are always at play. Find an accountability partner or a mentor and be open to talking to others about your vision, passion, and mission.
What are your five favorite things that you can not live without as a milspo entrepreneur?Social Media. Accountability Partners. Personal Development. Daily Fitness. My iPhone.
What is the most amazing thing you have experienced in your business thus far? Possibility. I truly see the world as a land of possibility. The more you branch out, see your ideas and products and companies build and come to fruition, it's empowering.
How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as someone who kept moving. I haven't always felt confident as a person, mother, spouse - let alone a business woman in the entrepreneurial scene. People can always grow and change and succeed in their goals. I want to be remembered as someone who was positive, supportive, and always aimed to help the best in people shine. Whatever THEIR best was in it's raw form, not my interpretation of it or ideal for them but their own natural light!!