• Christina Pruitt puts the finishing touches on a White House cake May 17 at her home in Yelm. Pruitt, originally from Georgia, started Cake Creations by Christina last November after her husband enlisted in the Army and the family relocated to JBLM.

    Spouses1

    Christina Pruitt puts the finishing touches on a White House cake May 17 at her home in Yelm. Pruitt, originally from Georgia, started Cake Creations by Christina last November after her husband enlisted in the Army and the family relocated to JBLM.

  • Valerie Zorn hopes to use her interior decorating skills to make on base living more comfortable. “It’s hard to move often and keep it feeling fresh,” Zorn says. “That’s what I want to be able to do for the military. In addition to operating the full spec

    Spouses2

    Valerie Zorn hopes to use her interior decorating skills to make on base living more comfortable. “It’s hard to move often and keep it feeling fresh,” Zorn says. “That’s what I want to be able to do for the military. In addition to operating...

  • Yvette Esparza-Barajas runs Household 6 Stitching from her Lacey home. From pacifier blankets and pillows to aprons and wall decorations, Esparza-Barajas sews unique handcrafted gifts with a “hooah touch.”

    Spouses3

    Yvette Esparza-Barajas runs Household 6 Stitching from her Lacey home. From pacifier blankets and pillows to aprons and wall decorations, Esparza-Barajas sews unique handcrafted gifts with a “hooah touch.”

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- It might seem out of reach for some people, but owning a business does not have to be a farfetched idea or dream to be put off " even for those challenged by being married to servicemembers.

Military spouses are often successful entrepreneurs by using organizational skills developed by living busy lifestyles and tapping into substantial customer bases. With careful planning and research, family members can start and own businesses.

Spouses Christina Pruitt, Valerie Zorn and Yvette Esparza-Barajas are mothers of young children and proof that it’s possible, can be lucrative and even enjoyable.

“They have contacts in the military community they can go to and maintain those contacts, so that they’re able to develop a business and even market it worldwide,” said Carolyn Bennett, Employment Readiness Program manager on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The secret to starting a business, Bennett said, is to develop a unique product or service that is in demand, even if it is already being offered by a commercial entity. The trick is to find a twist.
“The key is really being creative, and then once you know what you want to do, look and see if there are other people doing that same type of business.”

Too much competition can hamstring the small businesss owner’s ability to sell the product or service.

Enjoying what they’re doing is a big common trait among successful entrepreneurs. Whether a hobby, service or craft, the key is to develop a personalized version of the product.

Bennett suggested aspiring entrepreneurs consider starting a service-related business that would help military families " cleaning, pet sitting or packing household goods, for example. Other service ideas that allow for creativity include party catering, creating floral displays, makeup application and hosting events like weddings in the backyard during warmer months.

Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Fortunately for spouses on JBLM, the ERP has staff trained to coach and answer questions.

“It’s not the type of thing that can be done in one or two weeks, but a person who is really determined could have a business up and running within a month,” Bennett said.

Laura M. Levering: laura.may.levering@us.army.mil

Page last updated Thu May 26th, 2011 at 00:00