Entrepreneurship & Self-Employment

Phase 2: Prioritizing Professional Options

You’ve decided to take your skills and expertise on a path to entrepreneurship or self-employment. Making this decision is half the battle, but your brain is immediately going to all of the details you need to have nailed down before you can pursue this career path. You want to develop a business model that is both profitable and portable, which includes identifying the benefits and gaps in your existing network so you have a client pipeline, as well as all of the start-up costs associated with your new business. 

Phase 2: Prioritizing Professional Options


Milestone 3: Launching the business

You have developed a plan, assessed your needs, and have the funding in place to start your business.  Now, you are ready to offer your product or services to others! As you prepare for your launch, there are some actions that will ensure your business can legally operate and increase your business’s chances of success.

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Evaluate business readiness

Before you open your doors, check the boxes on registering your business name and any licenses or permits required to operate your business. Your business readiness appraisal also includes testing the technology needed to conduct your business, website usability, communication systems, shipping processes, and payment processing. Get some help with your checklist – have family, friends and mentors click through your new website, testing links and looking for errors, for instance.

  • Have you registered your business’s name?
    Register your business with the Small Business Administration
  • Have you or someone else developed your website?
    Hire a military spouse web designer or search Google for custom website builders. There are many to choose from based on your budget and comfort level with technology and web design.
  • Have you tested your website for accessibility and ease of use?
  • Are you aware of and/or do you understand the tax obligations and necessary documents you must prepare and/or file?
  • Have you opened a business bank account if necessary?
  • Have you evaluated your business insurance needs and obtained necessary insurance if applicable?
  • Have you tested the systems and processes customers and clients will use to contact you and access your goods or services to ensure they work properly and simply?

Ask multiple friends, family, and coworkers to complete an entire cycle of business with you.

  • Search for your business on the internet
  • Verify and test the phone number, email, or other messaging portal listed on your website
  • Make a purchase
  • Request a return
  • Ensure all processes are working as intended before going live

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Launch and market your business or self-employment enterprise

As an entrepreneur, it will be your responsibility to reach potential customers or clients. Marketing is essential to your business’s sustainability and growth, and it also gives you the chance to be creative. You have become an expert at seeing opportunities where others see obstacles, so this is your wheelhouse – whether or not you know it! Marketing your business will include creating and posting on social media platforms; developing materials such as business cards, brochures, and press kits or releases; and engaging in other outreach efforts in your community by leveraging your local, online, and military connections. Your ability to hardwire yourself quickly into a new community is going to serve your business well!

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Continuing with small business mentorship

Maintaining a successful small business is greatly assisted by connecting with the small business community. Maintain your engagement with and continuously seek additional mentors throughout your time as a business owner. Business mentors can offer you expert advice, encouragement, and accountability. By cultivating a variety of mentors, you can also expand your network and identify areas for personal and professional growth and development. The small business community is a supportive network – don’t forget to pay it forward and share your knowledge with other small business owners as well!

The 5 C’s of a “Good Fit” Mentor Relationship

Many entrepreneurs credit their success with having a mentor. A productive mentor relationship develops over time and is a two-way street. Following these five “C’s” can help you determine if your mentor relationship is meeting your needs:

  1. Context– Find your mentor match according to your desired area of expertise.
  2. Clarity– Mentor and mentee roles should be defined and both you and your mentor should agree on the goals of your mentor relationship.
  3. Compatibility– You and your mentor should have shared values and, if possible, similar interests. Your mentor is likely someone who inspires you and offers smart solutions and fresh perspectives. Your relationship should continue to grow with consistent interaction.
  4. Communication– You and your mentor should agree on the frequency and method of contact and communication.   
  5. Commitment– Mentors and mentees must be accountable to one another. Meaning, they meet when scheduled and follow through with commitments made to one another.

A mentor relationship, when managed properly, should benefit the mentor and the mentee. If your mentor relationship is not meeting your expectations or needs, an honest discussion with your mentor may help you understand why. You can then apply those lessons learned as you seek a more suitable mentor.

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Next Phase

Up Next: Phase 3: Finding a Rhythm