Military Families Make the Best Entrepreneurs!
Thirty-two military family-owned businesses attended Inc. Magazine's annual Grow Your Company conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Omni Hotel in Nashville on April 7-9. The conference featured powerful and engaging speakers, such as USMC veteran Jay Rogers whose company created the first 3D printed vehicle to Marcus Lemonis from ABC's The Profit, Daymond John from Shark Tank, and Johnny Earle from Johnny Cupcakes.
Inc. shows their support for military families through the Inc. Military Entrepreneur program, a program run by their columnist and veteran Norm Brodsky and his wife Elaine, both of whom also own successful businesses. The program sponsors veteran and military spouse-owned companies to attend their events alongside the CEOs of highly successful companies. As part of each conference, CEOs volunteer to mentor veterans and spouses, providing priceless advice to young companies.
The support for military families could not come at a better time.
We've covered the impact of sequestration on military families a lot over the last couple of years. From the job insecurity created by Reduction in Force boards to the real estate insecurity created by BRAC proposals, sequestration has hit military families hard. When you have a mortgage (or two) to cover and see tangible threats to the financial security of your family, you have one of two options that you can take:
- Hope that the financial strains on the military budget don't hit your family.
- Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
If you picked option two, then you're in good company. Military families from Kadena to Ramstein are finding ways to supplement their family's income with second jobs, employment for the spouse, or by starting a business.
These options come with their own set of problems, though. Second jobs are tough for service members; they have long and often unpredictable schedules, and most employers don't really appreciate playing second fiddle to the military. It's also no secret that military spouses are vastly underemployed, which means that they either cannot find enough work or they work in positions below their level of qualification. Business ownership, however, addresses both of those issues: It allows service members to create their own schedules and allows spouses to use their expertise.
Just because starting a business addresses military families’ needs for flexible employment and additional income doesn't mean that it's the best option for every family. Starting a business is tough and, in the words of speaker and author Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, entrepreneurs can expect a guaranteed annual income of zero. Success, he explained, requires daily accountability and a dedication to a plan that overpowers the many distractions and excuses that keep us from achieving our dreams.
Inc., however, has shown that it believes military families can overcome the challenges of entrepreneurship. And really, who better to serve again in positions that require creative problem solving, resilience, and dedication than military families?
Below you'll find a short synopsis of several of the Inc. Military Entrepreneurs along with their Twitter handles, but if you want to read more about them at the conference, check out #incvets and #growco15 on Twitter!
The Aggie Gold Star Network
Founded by surviving spouse Nikki Altmann, the Aggie Gold Star Network aims to support surviving military families starting in the Bryan/College Station area.
Mai Tais and Monet
Navy spouse Tamara Bruce provides mobile painting parties taught by fellow military spouses in Oahu and Texas. Check out Tammy’s Twitter feed to see pictures of celebrity serial entrepreneur, Marcus Lemonis grilling her on her numbers in front of the entire conference audience!
Marine Corps spouse Bridget Platt personalizes products for military children. Her line includes personalized books to help explain the emotional impact of a parent deploying.
Patriot Commercial Cleaning
Army Veteran Tim Smith and his wife created a commercial cleaning company in Missouri with an aim to provide employment to fellow veterans and spouses. Smith wanted in particular to help transitioning and retired veterans "feel like part of a team again."
Image created by military spouse Ashley Thompson, Pressed Branding, used with permission