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'Power Hour' Helps Military Spouse Entrepreneurs

Sometimes it isn't until other people start showing up that you learn what you have is truly a great idea.

That's how it worked for Army spouse Alana Le. Like many Army wives, Alana married her soldier not long before he left for a six-month deployment. With a new home in a new Washington State town, no job and few friends, she turned to her small consulting business to keep her busy. When she met a friend in her husband's unit who also was running a small business, they met together for work sessions at a local Starbucks.

Soon another friend joined them for their work sessions.

"Quite honestly I did not think anyone else would be remotely interested because I didn't promote it," Lee said. "It's something really special talking to another military spouse who gets it. We have a lot of friends who are not interested in business, but it's great to have those friends who ... can really identify."

But before long Lee realized other women were interested in what they were doing. So she started to add structure to their weekly "Power Hour" sessions," including business exercises like strategy sessions. Soon eight women were attending their Wednesday morning meetings.

"It is a huge encouragement for me to see that, actually, there are a lot of military spouses who are interested in entrepreneurship."

And it's not just spouses who have come up with their own business idea. While Lee said her passion is for creative business, she knows that many spouses, especially those without a business background, find fulfillment in home sales businesses, like Jamberry. She said those spouses are welcomed in their group, as well.

Lee said her group is different from other military spouse career focused programs, like In Gear Career. Power Hour, she said, is focused only on entrepreneurs and sticks to a consistent meeting structure. Other groups are more focused on networking, may not meet as often and change what they do at each meeting.

"It's more like a workshop than an actual networking event," she said. "The actual hour itself is very, very participation heavy and a structured workshop. It's for the individual to consider how to grow their business."

Power Hour currently offers a morning meeting and evening meeting every Wednesday at a coffee shop near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., plus a Google Hangout on Mondays.

But they are hoping to expand. Lee said someone based at Fort Bragg, N.C. has contacted her about starting a Power Hour there, as well as a spouse based in Okinawa, Japan.

If you're interested in getting trained to run your own local Power Hour, Lee would love to connect with you. You can contact her easily through her website.

Photo courtesy of Intel Free Press under the Creative Commons license.

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