Being a small business owner is hard but being a military spouse small business owner is even harder. As the Direction Diva you know that I call it like I see it, especially when it comes to business. And right now I believe that we military spouses all need a reality check when it comes to building our businesses and finding success.
We create, release, market and pitch all in an effort to make a difference and some of us even create a paycheck. Yes that’s right I said a paycheck. I hate that many of us who are providing incredible products and services are doing it at our own expense. It’s a mindset that seems to permeate throughout the community, almost making us feel guilty for charging for what we do. But the idea that we should work for free because we serve the military is just one of the realities that must change if we are to survive.
I don’t say this lightly and I’ll probably ruffle some feathers here, but something has to give and the paycheck issue isn’t the only thing that has to change. I can’t tell you how many conversations, emails and frustrated posts I am fielding every single day. We are a passionate bunch who LOVE what we do, but as a whole we are failing.
I’ll admit when I first started out I never really intended to grow a brand and maybe neither did you. The Direction Diva was more of a hobby where I could share my life with other military spouses hoping to help them navigate this crazy life with me. But like so many of us, what started out as something to do for a couple of hours a week, quickly caught fire and before I knew it my hobby had taken over my entire life and my family finances were a mess. I’ve changed how I run things these last 8 months and I’m happy to say I’m finally able to answer YES to the never ending inquiry of “Is this ever going to stop costing us money”!
I’m writing this post as much for myself as I write it for you because I learned one thing; If we don’t change the way we run our businesses we won’t make it. In fact, many fellow bloggers, authors, business owners and advocates are teetering a fine line on the verge of burn out thinking of quitting and I don’t want that.
Here is the reality:
- No one can stay in business without creating steady income streams.
- We can’t continue to spend our own money working 12 hour days without it affecting our drive and passion.
- Shame on those of us who expect others to help us for free because we are running our businesses without a budget or on a shoestring.
- If we are paying from our personal finances into our business month after month, year after year it isn’t a business it is an act of service.
- Things that work in the civilian business world don’t translate to the military marketplace so we must learn from each other and adjust.
- Collaboration not competition is the key to all of our success.
- If we don’t stop backstabbing, undermining and working against one another no one wins.
- Sequestration has changed the business environment and we need to accept that and find new and innovative funding sources.
- Our units, family support groups, command personnel, chaplains etc no longer have budgets for the programs and resources many of us have created. Military families still need them so…
- We need to educate our community helping to dispel the entitlement mentality.
- We must get creative and work together to develop partnerships that deliver products and services military families need.
- We MUST stop doing everything for free.
- We need to understand that exposure isn’t compensation and it doesn’t pay the bills. Standing together on this is a win!
- Until we value our work and what we do no one else will.
- We need to work together to reach out to the civilian community more effectively
I see so many of us burning the midnight oil, sacrificing our families and ourselves all for a smile and a thank you. I am guilty as well, in fact I have been doing it since I started. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent, how many times I’ve put my families needs aside.
I love what I do and want to keep doing it and sometimes a reality check is just what this Diva Needs.
What “Reality Check” would you share with another Military Business Owner?
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com