Some 71 percent of military spouses reported being underemployed in a 2017 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That means they were working in a position below their pay grade or skill level, most likely because of the impact of frequent moves on their career paths.
And they were four times more likely than their peers to be without a job at all.
The solution for many of those spouses? Start their own business.
Military spouse entrepreneurs have joined the nationwide trend in recent years toward self-employment, instead of for someone who might not appreciate your skills or, more importantly, your life experience. Military spouses aren’t just looking for independence – they are looking for a portable career that actually makes money and is loaded with job satisfaction. Military spouse-owned businesses range from corporate enterprises to niche retailers to online shops to freelancers and contractors doing gig work from home.
Running a business takes time, self-discipline and the know-how to succeed. Luckily, there are lots of (free!) resources out there specifically to help spouse entrepreneurs, including the Small Business Administration, The Milspo Project, financial institutions and local colleges and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and more.
Here’s a checklist of resources, tips and tools to help you start – and keep – your business on the right track:
- Know before you launch. Do you have a business plan? Do you know your market? So many questions! This is where training comes in from (also free!) programs like Boots to Business and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Networking with local military entrepreneur groups and or business groups similar to what you hope to do can also open a lot of doors.
- Sometimes it seems like running a business has as many acronyms and terms as the military, starting with the kind of tax structure you choose to form. You’ll have to choose between an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, or partnership. Research the tax implications of each carefully. The SBA has a great breakdown.
- Many states, counties or municipalities require a business license for certain endeavors, especially those requiring a professional certification or license. A good place to start is on your state business department’s website.
- Money, money, money. If you need capital to launch or grow your enterprise, you can apply for a business loan, business line of credit or other forms of financing from most financial institutions lenders that work with the SBA. Additionally, Navy Federal Credit Union Business Services partnered with the International Franchise Association Foundation to help bring business and entrepreneurship opportunities to veterans across the country through IFA Foundation’s VetFran program.
- Whether you take out a loan or start with your own investment, you’ll need a business checking and/or savings account to handle your money.
- A business credit card can also help keep track of expenses and fund big purchases.
- Tracking expenses and income, including taxes, is a time-consuming chore for entrepreneurs. There are several online tools and apps that help make that process smoother.
- Check into other services offered by your financial institution, such as mobile deposit, bill pay and payroll and credit card processing.
And don’t forget to consult with your financial institution to find out what other kinds of small business support are offered. Navy Federal Credit Union Businesses Services, for example, has a host of solutions for both new and established businesses, including payroll and credit card processing to help make owning a small business easier. And, even better, Navy Federal business members are connected with their own personal business lending officer.
There’s never been a better time than now to be your own boss.
Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA.