Wanting more freedom and flexibility to match my busy lifestyle as a military spouse, I longed for an opportunity to earn a steady income while utilizing my years of executive office experience. Upon learning about the option of a portable career as a Virtual Assistant (VA), I resigned from my day job, donned an entrepreneurial hat, and didn’t look back. That was over a decade ago. Being involved and invested in my military spouse community, I am keenly aware of the challenges military families face.
I have discovered three employment myths that plague today’s military spouse.
Myth # 1. Military Life and Earning a Consistent Income Don’t Go Together
Myth # 2. Military Spouses Move Too Frequently to Have a Business
Myth # 3. Work/life Balance Can’t Exist in the Military
My goal is to bust these common myths, and to share how starting your own business as a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a viable portable career option for military spouses.
The survey says…
Blue Star Families, an organization whose mission is to strengthen military families and connect America to the military, conducts an annual Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey in which military spouse employment consistently falls within the top five concerns. Of the respondents to the 2016 survey: 79% feel military spouse status has a negative impact on the ability to pursue a career. Military spouses are educated and eager to work, but experience limitations in employment options given the unique demands of a military lifestyle.
A Virtual Assistant or VA is an independent contractor who handles any number of administrative, creative or technical tasks for a business. As a virtual assistant, a military spouse can achieve goals, use his or her education and employment experiences, and create a flexible small business that fits within the constraints of a military lifestyle.
The 2016 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey also addressed entrepreneurship revealing that 1 in 4 military spouses are currently or previously self-employed. Additionally, the survey showed that 3 in 4 military spouses are not aware of small business resources available to them.
The good news is that military spouses can consider combining their education and skills with today’s technology to become self-employed as a part time or full-time endeavor. You convert your skills to paid services. #entrepreneur
As an independent contractor, a VA is a small business owner. Launching a Virtual Assistant (VA) business requires the same startup steps as any other business but with minimal startup costs and low operating expenses.
Living On Base or Off Base?
Talk about the ability to work where you live—whether you’re on base or off base or you get orders to move. A career as a VA gives you the ability to earn a steady income wherever you live. Whether you live On Base or Off Base, each scenario has its own set of requirements for registering your small business. There are additional regulations regarding employment and business ownership OCONUS (outside the continental United States)/overseas. Begin your inquiries ahead of your move, creating a checklist as you go in order to set your business up for a smooth transition from location to location. Keep track of all business relocation costs to share with your tax preparer. Read more on LinkedIn “Prosper Where You Are Planted.”
Making Money on the Move…
A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) disrupts our households and personal life, but they are seamless for our clients and revenue stream. As a VA, your ability to work from anywhere supports continuity of income. There is typically enough advance notice leading into a move to allow time to notify clients, if necessary, of any adjustments to your availability during the relocation. To date, I have moved five times with my business and I have always found it grounding to continue to work through our moves handling routine client work to give myself some semblance of normalcy through the chaos.
Each PCS is another opportunity to broaden your professional network and, in turn, reach new customers to build your business.
Control Over Your Calendar…
As a Virtual Assistant (VA) and solopreneur, balancing business ownership with family time may be challenging. You may work with one client or multiple clients on a daily basis. However, you have the ability to adjust your work time around projects and other obligations. While being your own boss sounds liberating, establishing structure by managing your calendar is a win/win/win for your clients, your family, and yourself. A small business owner operating with a structured schedule keeps work time on track and gives one the ability to control the calendar while managing a home-based business and household.
In conclusion, by becoming a Virtual Assistant (VA), a military spouse can:
- Own a small business
- Earn a consistent income
- Experience a flexible work schedule
Wishing those of you in the Admin Industry a Happy Administrative Professionals Week, April 23-29, 2017!
Work with a force multiplier! Melissa St. Clair launched Paper Chaser to support small businesses as a Virtual Assistant (VA). Her experience and expertise in small business ownership are an asset to her clients. Follow Melissa on social media @paperchaserbiz.
Looking for Small Business Startup Resources?
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Military Spouse Business Association (MSBA)