- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: Taking Care of Business...Your Own Business

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: USAA

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Once upon a time, employment opportunities for military spouses were severely limited. Let’s refer to those times as the dark ages, shall we? Fortunately, that era is over. Thanks to evolving business attitudes, global corporate partnerships and advances in technology, military spouses today have more career enhancing options available to them than ever before.

One of those options is self-employment. There is no denying the potentially significant perks to being an enterprising entrepreneur. Perks, of course, may vary depending upon the nature of the exact business, but generally speaking:

• You never have to suck up to the boss again. You are the boss. You answer to yourself. You pay yourself. You evaluate your own work performance. Yay you. Give yourself a raise. You deserve it.

• You don’t have to deal with toxic co-workers ever again.

• You truly control your own fate. You get to decide when you go to work, where you go to work and how long you will work on any given day. Workplace flexibility, a once foreign concept, is an everyday occurrence. Ill-timed dental appointments and early weeknight soccer matches for everyone!

• If your business is a mobile one, you don’t have to quit your job and find a new one all over again when PCS orders move you from one duty station to the next. Do you hear angels singing? I distinctly heard angels singing!

• If you grow your business to be a thriving one, you develop a solid stream of income that can also help to alleviate some of your spouse’s military-to-civilian career transition angst when that time finally comes.

• You can channel your true passions, realizing your own career hopes and dreams in the process. You can wear your bunny slippers 24/7. That alone makes the whole idea totally worth it, right? Your dry cleaning and commuting costs could also see a drop.

Self-employment isn’t all fun and games, of course. Ironically, some of the very advantages can turn into disadvantages along the way.

• You are the boss. When things go wrong, you only have yourself to blame. A raise may be out of the question for some time. A paycheck may even be out of the questions for a while.

• You may not have to deal with toxic co-workers, but you still have to play nice with incompetent and annoying people who may be instrumental to the success of your business. Welcome to your new reality.

• Workplace flexibility may truly mean you’re free to work 24/7. After all, logic demands you have a business up and running smoothly in order to have a workplace from which you can be flexible.

Self-employment, however professionally exciting it may sound to you, is not the perfect career choice for everyone. However, it is one of many employment opportunities for military spouses.

According to the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs share some are fairly common characteristics and skills.

• They are calculated risk takers who embrace uncertainty and who aren’t afraid to make tough decisions when they need to be made.

• They are independent souls who trust their own gut and who can weather rejection when it does happen.

• They are smooth talkers - and not in a creepy way. They know how to effectively communicate their ideas to others and get them to buy into them.

• They are skilled negotiators who can say and do the right things needed to propel their businesses forward.

• They do not lack imagination. Instead they think creatively.

• They know how to build a strong support team and sustain and grow it for the benefit of their business.

If the budding entrepreneur inside you wants out, then give it a fighting chance. The following resources can help you further your future career transition:

• Small Business Administration (
• Military Spouse Business Association (
• National Association for the Self-Employed (

Janet Farley is a job search and workplace issues expert and the author of “The Military SpouseÕs Guide to Employment: Smart Job Choices for Mobile Lifestyles,” (Impact Pubs, 2013) and “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job,” (Jist, Inc. 2013).

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