- What is your “day job” and how many hours do you work in a week?
I work full-time as the director of marketing for a U.S. international military program. It’s amazing! My background has always been military marketing and I have experience in the non-profit, corporate, and military sector.
- What is your business? (What do you sell/who do you serve and why?)
I am a military marketing and social media strategist for U.S. military spouse and veteran entrepreneurs. I help bridge the gap between military communities trying to market to the civilian sector (the way you market in the military is very different than civilian life!) and vice versa.
Since I have one foot in each world, I’m able to take an outside perspective and help each side understand how the other makes purchasing decisions. I’ve been nicknamed the social media guru and it stuck! Now I run a website as The Military Social Media Guru.
The interesting part of all of this is that I’m a civilian. I was not qualified for medical reasons to enlist in the military, but it was my dream. As a result, I decided that it would be my life’s mission to serve this community in another way.
I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve been given that allow me to immerse myself in this community. I was once a photojournalist for the military and lived in the barracks, rappelled down towers, participated in gas chamber training, and photographed training missions. That experience solidified my passion for what I do. I can’t imagine not serving the military community.
The truth is that so many military spouses and veterans are unemployed or underemployed because they have a difficult time either relocating due to military life or translating their military skills to the civilian sector. I believe that EVERY military community member has vital skills for this country and if I can support an entrepreneur who has found their path to a dream, then that is my new mission.
- For how many years have you run a business alongside your regular job?
I started my first venture at 19 years old and I’ve been an entrepreneur since!
- Why did you decide to start a business?
Starting a business was an accident for me! I started out as a photographer (which I still dabble in) doing photo sessions for my friends in my front yard. Soon after, someone asked me if I would take prom photos for their daughter. When I posted those online, I had a request for senior pictures soon after…and the ball started to roll! Next thing I knew, I was an entrepreneur!
That experience got my wheels spinning and after much success, I decided I needed to teach other entrepreneurs how to harness the power of social media, word-of-mouth, and marketing. It wasn’t long after that I began consulting.
- In your first 6 months of starting your business, please list out the top pain points you struggled with:
- I had previously consulted with companies after receiving referrals. This was great to have for years, but I did want to gain new followers and decided that it was time to launch a website and blog specifically for military clients. That was a tough challenge. Starting a website takes a lot of time and design (especially when you’re a one-woman-show!).
- Time – time to create content for my email list. This proved to be a lot of effort, as I wanted to be consistently present, but was also trying to launch a website, a blog, run a Facebook group, and have a full-time job!
- How did you overcome these pain points?
Prioritizing was key. I knew that there were specific things that needed to be accomplished before I could launch my website and blog. I created a list and made it my mission to accomplish each one.
As a perfectionist, I wanted each element to be flawless. What I realized was that it was more important to get my message “out there” than to wait until I had moved a graphic from the left side to the right side of a screen. Those details are part of my personality, but I had to remember that I could ALWAYS go back and tweak it once launched. I still tweak to this day (I probably always will!). However, the website has received a great response, so I’ve learned to make the important things happen.
- How good are you at delegating tasks to others?
Currently, I’m a one-woman-show. However, I did reach out for some coding assistance when I set-up my website. Entrepreneurs need to understand that people are going to buy your product or service because you’re good at what you do. If that’s your strong point, outsource the rest. If you stink at writing content, get some guest bloggers! If you are not great at coding, hire a website designer/coder. If you are not seeing the photography stock images you like online, hire a photographer. And if you just aren’t nailing your marketing strategy, hire me!
- Do you feel you have a good balance between your job, business and personal life? If yes, how did you achieve this? If no – why not?
This life would not be possible if I didn’t absolutely love it. Entrepreneurship is very hard. It’s time consuming, there are always ups and downs, and it’s a lot of work. But it’s worth it!
For me, the military is my world and I feel very at-home here. It’s important to keep a good work-life balance, but when you’re doing something you love, it shouldn’t seem like a job. My number one tip is that you need to find your biggest passion and make sure that’s what your business focuses on. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not going to be worth it if you hate what you’re doing.
- What are your top 3 tips for people starting a business alongside their regular jobs?
- Ask for help – If you can’t do it on your own, outsource it! The worst thing you can do is spend time away from your family because you couldn’t figure out a website error or how to file your taxes. Accept the help and pay someone else to do it for you. Nothing is worth time away from your family for things that can easily be given to someone else to do.
- Time Management – I can’t remember the last time I had time to watch television, but that’s one of the things I’ve given up working on my business (hey, cheaper cable bill now too!). If you don’t feel you have enough time, really analyze how much time you spend doing useless things. For me, I found that I spent way too much time watching TV, on my phone doing non-work things, and eating out (helloooo crockpot).
- Be strategic – You need to have a plan and be strategic about what you’re doing. The worst thing you can do is waste time because your vision isn’t fine-tuned.
- If you could change one thing about your start-up process when you started your business what would that be?
Have more content pre-created. I should have started writing email copy months before I launched. Instead, I wrote it alongside my launch and it made for some very long days.
- Do you have plans to transition to full-time business owner? Why?
I love working…a lot. I had nine jobs during my college years (yes, at once!). I can’t imagine not working multiple jobs at one time. For me, my mind needs to be challenged and being active in multiple careers keeps me focused and passionate.
Interested in one-on-one coaching, corporate office training, and social media/content/public relations management for your military-affiliated business? I can be found at www.jennyhale.com.