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5 Things My Husband’s Deployment Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

My husband deployed earlier this year. It was the second one we’ve been through since we got married two years ago, so that meant by the time he got home, a few days before our 2nd anniversary, he had been gone for well over half of our marriage.

It wasn’t a fun deployment. But I survived it, and so did he, and so did we. As I take some time off with him over the holidays I’ve been reflecting on what a tough but wonderful year we’ve had, and I realized that I’ve actually become a better business owner because of it. That’s right – this deployment taught me some things I hope I’ll never forget, and I wanted to share a few of them with you.

Here are some things my husband’s recent deployment taught me about running a business:

There are no shortcuts to your destination

Deployments suck.

Really, they just do.

“Staying busy,” while it may be a good idea, will not actually make that deployment go by faster.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the allotted days of that deployment will go by exactly as they are. You can’t press a magic button to speed through to the end or experience a single day less of that separation and loneliness.

And you know what? Since I was building my business during the deployment, I realized the two things actually have that in common.

There is absolutely not a shortcut to business success.

There’s no magic switch to flip.

I don’t know when you’re going to break even, or be able to afford another employee, or open that new branch, or take that vacation you’ve been saving up for.

But I do know that there will be a certain number of days between now and then – and not a single day less.

You’re just going to have to get through it. Thankfully, I’ve found those days will contain lessons that you will need when you reach the next level of success.

When I look back on the last few years of entrepreneurship, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with all the things I wish I had done differently.

But I never would have known to do those things in the moment, because I learned them all the hard way. And that is how most of entrepreneurship goes.

You can read all the blogs, business books, and articles you want, but some lessons you are going to have to learn the hard way. All you can do is keep an open mind, try to learn from your mistakes, and keep on taking new risks. 

Communication is a survival skill

When you are separated from your spouse for months at a time, the only thing connecting the two of you is your communication. Suddenly, the quality (and quantity) of your communication is brought into stark focus. What do you have to talk about? What updates do you share? What opinions do you discuss? How do you handle disagreement when you can’t kiss and makeup afterward?

Communication is a survival skill during a deployment, and it’s the same in business.

I used to think that only English majors needed to care about their writing skills. These days, nearly every job requires writing, even if it’s just exchanging emails with customers. You don’t have to be a poet. But you do need to be able to communicate clearly, respectfully, and frequently, or your business isn’t going to make it very far.

Routine helps mitigate the chaos

While my husband was on this last trip I was also taking care of our newborn daughter. I was nursing every 2 hours, dealing with her night wakings, sleep regressions, colds, gas, and more. On a good day, our lives felt a bit chaotic; on a bad day, completely and utterly out of control.

But against all odds, I incorporated a few routines into my life and they made a huge difference. Yes, you can have routines when you have a newborn – you just need to find the right balance between being flexible and being consistent.

I started every morning with coffee, breakfast and “quiet time” with my Bible and prayer. I ended every evening on the couch with a good book or something funny like Parks and Rec on TV. I started and ended my day with two things I absolutely loved, which meant I always had something to look forward to. This helped me avoid burning out, made the lonely evenings without my husband a little more bearable, and made me feel at least a little less out of control.

I believe routines are just as helpful when you’re running a small business. After all, our lives as entrepreneurs often feel out of control. But we have to do what we can to stay organized and on the ball even when things seem to be falling down around our ears.

A simple routine – like starting every morning by writing a new blog post or replying to emails for an hour every day after lunch – could go a long way toward making you feel a bit more under control when the tough things hit.

You don’t have to be strong

“You’re so strong. I could never do what you do.”

Every military spouse who has gone through a deployment has heard this phrase, I guarantee you. I think it’s meant as a compliment. But we milspouses know it’s one of the hardest things to hear. Why? Because we know we’re not strong. We know we would never choose to have our spouse deployed if we had a choice in the matter. We know every day drags on in slow motion and every night alone in bed is cold and lonely. But when people tell us how strong we are, we just smile and keep our mouths shut.

The truth is you don’t have to be strong during a deployment. It’s okay to call your best friend crying about how much you hate the military or break down when you see a couple holding hands.

And when you are running a business that seems like it’s always two inches away from utter failure, it’s okay to admit that you’re really stressed out. It’s okay to cry when you lose a major customer or screw up something really important. You don’t have to always be strong.

But you do have to keep trying

The biggest thing I learned during the last deployment was to persevere. Never, ever, ever give up. Don’t give in to bitterness. Don’t resign yourself to having a distant marriage or having to do everything on your own, forever. Yes, it’s hard in the moment, but, God willing, the moment won’t last forever. You have to make it to the end and welcome him home with joy in your heart and willingness to get reacquainted all over again. It isn’t easy, it won’t be perfect, but the only thing you can do is keep going. Just. Keep. Trying. As many times as it takes.

And when you’re feeling like a failure in your business, it’s okay to admit that you’re not strong. It’s okay to fall down once, twice, or a hundred times. But you have to keep getting back up.

Sometimes I wonder what people will say about me at the end of my life. That I was successful? That I was kind and generous? That I worked hard?

I’d love for all those things to be true.

But I’ll be okay if there’s only one thing they can say about me: That I never gave up. 

2 thoughts on “5 Things My Husband’s Deployment Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

  1. Alana, my heart’s to you girl.

    I’m not quite sure how I landed on your blog, but here I am, and there are so many things that I already love and can appreciate.

    Thinking about it, I believed I Googled “blog post template” earlier. Yes, I did. I was actually looking for something from byRegina and somehow ended up being graced by your just as valuable/ incredible/ powerful presence instead! Thank you for your authenticity.

    Thank you for not holding back. Thank you for creating posts and templates with real insight that can move people…and with ease.

    I’m grateful for you girl!

    I’m really looking forward to utilizing your 21 Day Blog Post Challenge in conjunction with your editable word doc blog post templates.

    Your genuineness serves as a silver platter for earning trust 🙂 After reading your challenge, the templates and this post, I was looking to your menu bar for “shop,” or rather, “course.”

    You’ve got a gift girl! Thank you for sharing it.

    Love + light,
    Sheree Clark

    1. Wow, Sheree, thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement!!! It means a lot to hear you say that so THANK YOU for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. I hope you find everything helpful and actually, stay tuned, because I have a shop launching in 2017 and a bunch more resources like the blog templates and 21 Day Challenge coming out soon. 😉 xoxo

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