Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Well friends, our first official deployment as a submarine family has begun. There have been many ups and downs over the last few weeks and much to blog about (though I’ve had much less time to do it as you might imagine). I have a backlog of thoughts and events to catch you up on, in fact, but today, as a follow up to my last post about Casting Your Vision, and as what I hope will be the first in a series of spotlights on military spouse entrepreneurs out there “running this mother”, I am very excited to have the opportunity to blog as part of Red, White and Blue Pages‘ OPERATION: Create Your Own Path series.
Dreaming big, casting a vision, and making it reality often require the dreamer to create their own path to success. Military spouses are strong, resilient, and have the remarkable privilege of choosing, in some cases, to stay home and out of an “office” to take care of their families while pursuing their dreams. Charlotte Moore, founder of MyActiveChild.com, is one such military spouse who saw a need for something important in her community (identifying what activities were available for children in the area) and turned it into a business that she now runs from home, wherever home may be. This is what she shared with me about her entrepreneurial experience.
1. Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?
I started MyActiveChild.com when I was looking for activities for my daughter after a military relocation to Hampton Roads. I had many conversations just within our own playgroup about what activities there were for what age groups and how to find them. There are so many great activities but they can be hard to track down. I decided there had to be an easier way! It is also important to me to have the ability to contribute to our family’s finances now, and building a brand to continue to do so in the future.
2. Is there anyone or any event that made you choose this particular business?
I have always loved connecting people with great resources. Having said that. I’m not sure I would have discovered the need for MyActiveChild.com without the help of my own active children. Having children really changes the landscape and reorganizes your priorities. MyActiveChild.com has been a great fit for me, I love being of assistance to local families, and being able to work on something outside of my own day schedule.
3. What do you enjoy most about your business?
I have been able to start and grow a business while being home with my kids, which for our family was important. It makes me so happy when I hear from my readers that they love information I posted, or have used the website to find activities. I especially love hearing from my advertisers that my readers are coming out to support their businesses. I love doing something that makes it easier for others to find what they want or need in their community.
4. What aspects do you wish to change or improve?
I would love to be able to help even more families and small businesses, especially families and businesses like mine that move around a lot and are always looking for new information as they set up their home in a new location.
5. What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome so far?
Balance! Juggling the roles of Mom, Military Spouse and Business Owner can be difficult. I often wish I was more organized, or could be in 5 places at the same time.
6. What makes your business a great one for a military spouse?
When I set up MyActiveChild.com I did it so it can be operated from anywhere in the world. I’m glad I did because we promptly got orders out of the Hampton Roads area and I now run the website from Northern Virginia. It takes some creativity and consistency but even though I have posted several times about my move, I don’t think that many of my readers mind (or even realize!) that I’m not geographically there with them!
7. What part of being a military spouse makes your business challenging to operate?
Deployments and travel are difficult for everyone and yes, they have been difficult for us. I make the most of the time my husband is home, or on shore orders! Not always living in the area that the business focuses on has been a challenge, but at the same time we feel so connected to Hampton Roads, and the community there. I’m sure we will eventually be back!
Relocating the physical business, getting the needed business licenses and re-establishing the business with every move does add another layer of stress to a PCS.
8. What is the best advice you can offer someone who is just starting out on their own?
Not everything that you try to do is going to work. Learn from your mistakes and move on to craft your business in a better way. That being said, work on finding a mentor or group of people who are doing something similar and build a support system as you build your business. Having someone, or a group, to bounce ideas off of is better than trying to figure everything out on your own, especially when it comes to troubleshooting the problems and decisions that will inevitably come up!
Also, be aware of your competition but don’t focus on them. This can be difficult! I always try to to do this by reminding myself that I am working to be the best at what I do. As long as you are focused on creating the best possible product or experience, the rest will follow.
To learn more about Charlotte and her wonderful business, visit MyActiveChild.com.