By: Bari Wald, Mil Spouse & Air Force Reservist
Recently, my civilian best friend Amy got married. About a month before the wedding she called to talk wedding details and during the conversation decided she wanted a videographer but had a limited budget. Immediately I told her “I got you. Let me reach out to a few people I know in the military and I’ll make the arrangements.”
Within a day, I was connected to a local videographer who was thrilled to have the opportunity to video her wedding. He was a young, active duty Marine who worked in public affairs and had the skillset, but was still honing those skills, and was trying to build his portfolio to start his own business.
The wedding day came and went, and the videographer and his assistant (another Marine), did an outstanding job and were the utmost of professionals. Fast forward two weeks and I’m at an annual food and wine soiree in San Diego and guess who the videographers were? The Marines! Another friend of mine who was at the wedding hired them for this event after being totally impressed. These two opportunities propelled their budding business off to a great start, and allowed them a connection to a civilian audience (and potential clients), they may never interact with otherwise.
So it got me thinking about how powerful our military network can be given that we have one of the most diverse sub-cultures as compared to the local community. We all know someone, know someone who knows someone, or maybe we are that someone that someone knows! So why not use these networks and help OUR military communities reap the financial benefits?
Think about if we all take a moment to look to our internal network before hiring someone off the street, or help connect a civilian friend to someone in our military network… think about how much that could elevate military spouses/service members/veterans as entrepreneurs. Not only that, but from my experience, hiring from our military network has proved to be cheaper as compared to market prices, with better customer service, and depending on your location, more convenient than trekking across town or off base.
To give you some ideas of who/what you could source from the military entrepreneur network, here are 20 services my husband and I have personally used by hiring a military spouse, service member, or veteran…in no particular order:
Dog Groomer – Hair Stylist – Makeup Artist – Photographer – Videographer – Pet Sitter – Nanny – Babysitter – House Cleaner – Custom Furniture Maker – Custom Craft Maker – Custom Clothes Maker – Informal Taxi Ride – Meal Prep – Product Seller – Mobile Spray Tanner – Fitness Coach – Lawn Mower – Seamstress – Barber
This list is not all encompassing and I’m sure, as you’ve read through this, other services come to mind that you could source via a military spouse/service member/veteran.
So before you or your civilian friends/family make your next purchase, or look to hire someone, put the “ask” out on your local base, spouse, yard sale, babysitter, or whatever social media pages you follow. You’ll quickly see how much talent resides around us and how you can do your part to help ELEVATE the military entrepreneur and #BuyMilitary to support a spouse, service member or veteran-owned business.