Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Home-Based Businesses – Portable Career Option for Military Spouses

Ready to become a self-employed entrepreneur, or solopreneur, working from home? For military spouses looking for portable careers, this choice can offer a level of flexibility and independence few portable employment options can match. Might this be the right path for you?

Perhaps. Establishing and running your own home-based business takes planning, organization, attention to all the details (after all, you’re in charge!), and a willingness and ability to market your product or service. Essentially, you’re responsible for creating all your opportunities, which can be a bit daunting.

On the other hand, having the freedom to build those opportunities and benefit from the money they bring in can be incredibly rewarding and – speaking from experience here – just a heck of a lot of fun. If becoming a home-based entrepreneur might be of interest, here’s a starter list of questions to help you explore this option.

What product or service will you offer? The options here are nearly endless, but it should be work that you enjoy, that you’re good at, or that you can easily learn to become good at, and for which there is an identifiable market. If no one’s willing to pay you for your product/service, then it’s a hobby.

To whom will you offer your product/service? What need will your product or service address, and for whom? A certain type of business? Individuals? Community groups? This is an important question to answer because part of your market research will be asking potential customers about your idea – would they pay for it, how often might they use it, how you could make it more attractive to them, etc.

Are there others in your community who offer similar products/services? If so, these people are your competition and you’ll want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of what they offer so you’ll be able to decide how to differentiate your offering from theirs.

What will you price your product/service at? If there is local competition, you’ll also want to learn what their pricing structure is so you don’t price your product/service too high to be competitive. Or, you can decide to add additional value to justify a higher price or discounts for multiple purchases. Your goal will be to set a price that is competitive but covers any costs you may have plus provides a profit.

How will you market your product/service? Depending on what you’re offering, you may market via word-of-mouth, networking, advertising, social media visibility, free samples or other options. There are many, many effective ways to market your business, but the important thing will be that you have thought this through before launching. Remember to include marketing costs when you price your product/service.

What materials, technology, or other items will you need to start? These start-up costs might include office technology, a lawyer to draw up incorporation papers (if you choose to incorporate), a bookkeeper to set up your books, etc. What additional, ongoing costs do you need to consider? Association dues? Professional subscriptions? Creative materials?

Do you have (or can you create) space in your home to work on your business? Depending on what product/service you’re offering, you may need dedicated space where you can make and store things (jewelry, fabric, gift-basket materials), computer space, or storage space for multiple client files, among other business-related items.

How much time per week could you devote to your business? “Scalability” is a big issue for solopreneurs. You want to understand how much time you realistically can devote to your business efforts so that you don’t “scale up” too quickly. Doing so will not only make you miserable, it will also mean you’ll be unable to meet your client commitments.

Where can you find answers to any questions you’re not sure about? Two free go-to resources for start-up answers are your local public library and you local chapter of SCORE, which stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives. The public library can recommend books and online resources on every possible aspect of starting a solo business, from coming up with ideas to developing a marketing plan to home-office tax deductions. Supported by the Small Business Administration, SCORE is a national group of volunteer mentors who, via local chapters, share their expertise across a broad range of start-up issues, providing an invaluable source of business advice.

Three other resources for start-up info are professional associations in your field of interest (your librarian can help you identify them if you’re not sure), business courses offered through your local community college (or online), and if available in your community, the local Small Business Development Center.

If you’d like to explore becoming a home-based solopreneur in more depth, the following resources will help you get started:

Home-Based Business for Dummies / by Paul Edwards, Sarah Edwards, and Peter Economy. For Dummies, 2010. 384p. ISBN 0470538058.

Will Work from Home: Earn the Cash – Without the Commute / by Tory Johnson and Robyn Freedman Spizman, Berkley, 2008. 272p. ISBN 0425222853.

Starting a Business: Home-Based Businesses

Guidance and resources from the Small Business Administration

National Military Family Association: Home-Based Business

Information and resources, especially for those living abroad

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

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