How to Build a Business as a Military Spouse Entrepreneur

Written by TeLeah Thurston

Throughout my journey as a military spouse, I’ve come to realize that versatility is my greatest superpower. During the seven years of my husband’s contract and having four children, we have mostly survived on one solid income. This was quite an adjustment — not just financially but emotionally as well. Before becoming parents, we were both working, going to school, and part-time soldiers. I was accustomed to helping in and outside of our home. It was essential to both of us that our children had someone home and available most of the time and with this change, I gradually found my passion and became a military spouse entrepreneur.

Here are some helpful tips on how to build a business that I’ve picked up along the way, specifically tailored for fellow military spouses managing the unique challenges of military life:

1. Your Passion Makes Room For You

Passion knows no boundaries; it doesn’t matter whether you have children or a college degree. Each of us has unique skill sets, talents, and areas of passion. I never dreamed of military spouse entrepreneurship, but after a few years of feeling stuck and unhappy, I decided to get creative. I had to be honest with myself and my spouse. I love being available for our children, but I missed working.

As many spouses do, I started out bringing in extra income simply from network marketing. Unfortunately, some companies have given the field a bad reputation however much of my community came from the people I met at the start of my journey. I do suggest military spouses try it out by finding a product they enjoy using daily. For example, if you don’t care for makeup or things of that nature don’t go join a beauty industry company. Consider something in your everyday life that you would naturally recommend to someone and refer it to others. Since then, I’ve joined the health and beauty industries, which fall in line with my everyday life. I didn’t have to become a salesperson or start up a new lifestyle, and I learned valuable lessons on how to build a business that aligned with my interests.

2. Properly Manage Your Finances

One invaluable lesson I’ve learned from my military spouse’s entrepreneurship is that no matter how much money you have coming in, you must maintain a budget. My husband and I had the opportunity to take a financial workshop and it helped us not only understand each other when it came to our relationships with money but also with how to eliminate much of our overwhelming debt before I started generating income. Many families get into financial crises for many different reasons and the realities of spousal unemployment often make it difficult for both partners to work full-time jobs. However, if you’re able to manage one income, then you will be able to better reap the benefits of having multiple income streams.

When launching any business do your research and avoid spending too much money on bells and whistles. As a perfectionist, I can attest that I spent a lot of unnecessary funds on programs, apps, and marketing tools because I didn’t research affordable or free alternatives.

3. Remain Authentic

Financial stress sometimes breeds poor decision-making. All too often people get into career fields because of the pay and end up becoming bitter or even more overwhelmed because they’re doing something they don’t have any interest or passion in. When considering entrepreneurship, choose something you genuinely love. Even if you think someone else is already doing it, remember that there are many bread brands; everyone has their preference. Someone is waiting on what you uniquely offer.

4. Plan and Start

Don’t assume that friends and family will be your first and biggest supporters or customers — they often wait to see your initial successes. Beyond a catchy business name and an appealing logo, you’ll need a business plan and a clear vision. Identify your target audience and ideal customers/clients. The Small Business Association (SBA) for military spouses is an excellent resource for getting started.

Don’t focus on getting everything just right and picture-perfect — just start somewhere.

5. Utilize Your Resources

As previously mentioned, I never imagined starting a business, but as my military spouse’s entrepreneurship journey continues, I am so glad I didn’t rule it out. From blogging to network marketing and coaching, my primary goal was to support fellow moms facing similar challenges. Blogging was a therapeutic outlet that allowed me to build a parenting community. This experience eventually led me to the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA)’s Military Spouse Writing Program. Thanks to the knowledge and skills gained from this program, including social media copywriting and on-page optimization training, I now confidently offer freelance copywriting services to small business owners, all from the comfort of my own home.

In my community, I am the listening ear, encourager, motivator, and advocate for those around me. This inspired me to become a certified life coach, where I now help mothers discover independence, regain confidence, and foster a sense of community. As military spouses, we do face many challenges, but there are numerous resources available to help us achieve our goals, including learning how to build a business.

Perhaps you don’t wish to monetize your lifestyle, become a writer, or coach others through life’s challenges. However, I hope these steps can inspire you to create something enjoyable for yourself that can benefit both your finances and your family. Let this serve as motivation to connect with your local ASYMCA and explore the resources available to you in your community.

6. Lean on ASYMCA

While being an entrepreneur isn’t always a walk in the park, it has brought my family additional income as well as the flexibility we desire for family time and adventures. I believe there’s an entrepreneur in all of us.

I will forever be grateful for how much ASYMCA has continuously assisted my family on this journey. If it was not for Operation Heroes providing quality and affordable childcare, I wouldn’t have the time or mental energy to manage the responsibilities of having a military spouse home-based business. During times of financial hardship, they’ve also provided us with food assistance, and the Military Spouse Writing Program has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth.

ASYMCA is dedicated to empowering service members, military spouses, and their children, being the constant source of support they can rely on. Learn more about ASYMCA below.


Learn More about ASYMCA