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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Today was the day the latest effort by DoD to help military spouses with their employment issues was officially unveiled.  The Military Spouse Employment Partnership .

 The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) is developing partnerships with local, national and international businesses to support the workforce needs of both the military spouses and the companies with which we partner. Through MSEP, not only does the military spouse benefit, but so do our company partners.

This program was originally the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, but as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy) Robert L. Gordon III, said – all the services took a look at this program and  jumped aboard.  The program has been connecting military spouses and employers, and encouraging employers to work with military spouses to get them jobs that are not just entry level, but are career level jobs.

Mrs. Deborah Mullen was introduced by Secretary Gordon as a titan  – as a voice of the military spouses.  (and you all know that I stand in absolute awe of Mrs. Mullen, and couldn’t agree with Secretary Gordon more)  She, as always, said it succinctly.  She told her audience that military spouses aren’t asking for rules to be broken, they know the economy is tough, this isn’t about entitlement, it’s about opportunity; they want a chance to get a foot in the door.   As she said, a job isn’t just a job, it’s respect, self empowerment and the defeat of impoverishment of the spirit.   The lady can turn a phrase!

Dr. Biden was on hand to reiterate that this is also an important issue for herself and the First Lady, that they are Joining Forces with this initiative as well.

I was on a followup roundtable phone call this afternoon with Secretary Gordon and his team.  There were some great questions and information.  Did you know that the wage gap between what a military spouse and the equivalent civilian earns is 25%?  We earn 25% less than our civilian contemporaries…  That just sucks.

Secretary Gordon talked about the vetting process – how the employers become partners and how the program will be checking up on them, it’s been streamlined but it’s still “robust” – they can’t just stand there and say we support military spouses, they will have to prove it!

The question of how the site works, they are still working on it (did you know the site was designed by a milspouse?  Money where the mouth is, in practice!)  and a few of us were hoping it might integrate with USAJobs.  (btw, we are all encouraged to head over to the site, kick the tires, and if there’s a problem, let them know)   A resume that is sent to an employer from MSEP’s site will go straight to that company’s HR department, no middleman involved, and with a “watermark” that shows it’s from MSEP.  The HR departments (where we all know the final decisions are made as to which applications are accepted or not) are being or have been trained in what military spouse resumes look like, (as in we aren’t  job hopping because our resume shows 9 jobs in 12 years!)

We talked a bit about how to market this new program to milspouses.  After all, I can hear some of you from HERE

Another program.. more talk, less action.

After MyCAA, you think I’m going to trust these people?

Yeah Yeah, DoD really cares about me, they just screwed up my employment history again…

And I’ve thought the same.  So I’m going to take Secretary Gordon up on his challenge to hold their feet to the fire.  If this isn’t working, we’ll need to make some noise.    BUT, we also need to give them a chance.  So let’s get the word out that this site is here, that there are some pretty big companies out there who have signed this agreement to hire us, to work with us to help us stay employed and help support our families.   Some of the jobs are going to be entry level, but the partners have committed to not just filling jobs, but to helping spouses with continuing sustainable employment.

I asked about the certification/licensure aspect of employment for milspouses.  This has been a huge issue for many of us.  MSEP isn’t specifically set up for that, but Secretary Gordon told us that there is a group in his office working on this with the States themselves, on the legislative level and with Governors’ offices.  There are some states that have partnered with them, to streamline the process.  There’s a website that is working on many issues that were determined to be quality of life issues, not just spouse employment – USA4 Military Families    If you head over to the site, you’ll see the list of 10 issues, and certification/licensure is number 5.  There is suggested language for bills etc.  Might be a good call to your local/state/federal legislator?

Do I think this is the silver bullet that will magically change the dire employment issue for military spouses?  Oh hell no.  Do I think it’s a start?  Am I cautiously optimistic that this program might help some spouses get jobs?  Yes.  We’ll see.

KESF

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A few weeks ago we were waiting for PCS orders, and went through the usual you will be going to this fort, that fort, over here, over there… I am one of those people who makes arrangements – I research everything [ yes, alright, sometimes I am obsessive.. or I can’t make up my mind because I need to research just one more thing] So I started the usual… planning the trip [ get cat friendly hotels… get a big traveling cage for cranky cat] emailed some friends to find out what they knew about Fort Whatsis. The online house hunting started then and after checking the area, BAH rates, and getting on Military By Owner – the stark realization that actually at that place, it might actually be better to live on post. We’ve done the whole trailer park thing, and as for apartments – we are sick of hearing everything from the side upper and lower neighbours!

Lists were started – if we go here, then we store some of the stuff, need a climate controlled place… if we go there, we’ll need another car, or we’ll need a 4wd! Is there a branch of our favourite grocery store in the area? Is there a farmer’s market? A decent bakery? An LYS (Local Yarn Store)? How about the airports, can I get a direct flight to our son’s town, my parent’s town? Is there a good vet? Physical therapist for my back?

But this time, there was one less worry, one less thing to think about, to plan. I didn’t have to worry about leaving a job, or finding a new one. I’m a virtual assistant, my clients are in various places, and I don’t think they would care if I was in one place or another! I need a good computer connection, power… and that’s all. Everything is on my laptop. Or on the hard drive backup.

For a milspouse, this is a great feeling – we wouldn’t have the usual dip in the money flow during the move. The stress of unpacking, getting used to a new place, and job hunting [did I pack that suit, where are those shoes….] applying, interviewing, hoping that the employer doesn’t figure out I’m a milspouse, second interviews, waiting for news while unpacking some more.

Now I’m not saying it’s perfect – there’s the scrambling to find clients, doing a bunch of work that doesn’t bring in money, the jobs that fall through or that don’t work/happen.. lots of money going out for a website, cards, classes.. But it’s an option, that’s working for us right now.

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I’m a member of a couple of networks – and I like the give and take, the discussions we have about what we do, how we started, why we are doing this.   I did get a project from one and a project from the other (that I had to give up, I don’t DO HTML!!) I’ve gone to classes, events, and kept hoping for more work/projects/clients… I’ve sent I don’t know HOW many resumes to jobs on Craigslist, but gave up on Elance and ODesk , I can’t compete with folks in Bangalore or Dubai who will do a job for $3 an hour!

Yesterday, a post came through on a network I was directed to by an acquaintance from another network (yeah, circles within circles..) and I sent my resume and cover email (wow, so different from when I first started, when the type of paper was crucial..) Within an hour, I had talked to the person on the phone, and as of last night, I’ve got a new client!! It’s marvelous!

I am going to start going to the very very early morning breakfast networking events at the local Chamber and the local Women’s Business Center- they better have good donuts, it’s at 7:30 in the morning!!!

The moral of the story is, my dear few faithful readers, that it DOES work.  It takes a while, and after you have handed out your 234th card to someone, sent out your 943rd resume into the black hole of the Net… It just might happen to you.  So network, network, NETWORK!!

If you are a milspouse, National Military Spouse Network is a great place to  go.  Information, helpful articles, and other milspouses looking to network with you.  Go to your local Chamber of Commerce website, or Women’s Business Center, or Small Business Admin website to find other networking opportunities.  This is where you’ll find other people who are, like me, trying to have a home based business, classes to help you figure out what you need, and you’ll never know if your next client is sitting in there too!  Our local Women’s Business Center offers ABC and 1,2,3 of opening a small business – REALLY useful info, including city, county, state and federal requirements for filing, how to set up your books, etc.

KESF

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Here’s the latest and greatest to land on small business owners of which I am newly proud to be one,. As my friend Julie Pippert so beautifully points out in her post on the Momocrats, we are now subject to even more forms and tax paperwork.  Seriously folks, this is getting old.   From the Reuters story that a lot of us on Facebook have been reading:

The new rule requires all business to file 1099 forms for goods as well as services, if those goods cost over $600 annually (the current threshold). It also gets rid of the distinction between corporations, which previously did not need to receive 1099s, and unincorporated entities, which did. The rule is slated to go into effect in 2012.

This includes freelancers, bloggers, writers, virtual assistants (ahem, like me), consultants,  charities, and other tax exempt groups.  Yeah.  The sheer amount of paperwork, the complications – oh I can feel a migraine approaching!  So – what do we do?  Well, we start by reading up on it, figuring out who our Congress critters are (you may need to wait a couple of weeks for the House, until the elections are over) and then start calling, emailing etc.

Those of us who are military spouses and who are small business owners, need to make sure we figure out what we can do – and of course we have multiple  representatives to contact, right?!

A Facebook page has been started.  NO to 1099 Small Business Reform Join us.  Let’s start making some noise, share some information, get some calls made etc.

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