Stories and friendships are the current of military life. They keep us moving. The stories connect us. Inspire us. Humble us. And friendships are the creators, fuelers, and deliverers of those stories.
A new neighbor is just going to know someone in your past or hook you up with a new friend in the future. It’s inevitable. Some of the connections will be lasting. Immediate, like the strongest glue on the market. Others will be casual, perhaps fade or re-emerge when you least expect and take on a whole new life of their own.
Sometimes, these connections move past community and into business. Liza and I are both Army spouses. We really were just your run of the mill, casual military acquaintances for many years until one idea, a unified passion, and similar soul fires came together.
In the fall of 2014, I had just landed in a civilian neighborhood outside of Richmond, VA for an 11 month assignment. I knew no one, we weren’t close to the base, and we were like fish out of water in our big civilian neighborhood. We had moved three times in three years by that point, a job was hard find. I jumped full throttle into a health and wellness coaching business and was reaching out to local military spouses on social media.
I was still working on my postpartum recovery, struggling a bit still through postpartum depression, but slowly feeling my personal business goals and girl boss passions revived. Liza reached out one afternoon about joining on of my challenges. I was also 2 years into my journey as a community manager for a few companies out in California that eventually paved the path to my full time remote career.
Liza and I quickly made a connection as work from home military spouses and mommas to littles feeling a bit lost in a huge civilian neighborhood. It turned out we were living less than a mile away from each other too. I was fascinated by Liza’s technical background and business savvy and inspired by her desire to mentor, educate, and support women in business ventures.
We met maybe only 2-3 times in person the last 6 months we were in Richmond and then defaulted into the familiar status of friends that shuffle by each other’s chaotic daily lives on Facebook. (I knew when she didn’t unfriend me after taking out the corner of the brick facade surrounding the mailbox of their rental house that we’d be friends for the long haul.)
A Business Is Born
Hop, Skip, and a jump to early 2016: I had an idea. I had had it for awhile. And it wasn’t letting me go. As I joined more and more military focused career groups, grew my own business, attended community meet ups, and met spouses through my business ventures the same phrase kept popping up over and over again, “There’s just no EASY way.”
There are so many incredible community partners, career support sites, employment counseling, blogs, etc…that all gear towards military spouse employment but the knowledge and actual facilitation of remote work is not readily available in one simple location. I prayed. I stewed. I prayed some more. Liza kept popping up in the forefront as I imagined a team to help make this dream possible.
I messaged her one afternoon, very casually on Facebook, pitched the idea, and we set up a Zoom call to chat. Within 25 minutes into that call, we had a value proposition, a timeline for execution, and a marketing plan in place. No messing around. Military spouses know how to get IT DONE. MadSkills was born.
Six Kids and a Business Trip? We’ve Got This!
So we fervently worked over the course of the summer (of course, also PCSing between June – July) to get tech development and business infrastructure rock solid. We took a week long trip out to Silicon Valley in August (which was quite the tale itself as military spouses with six kids between us) to meet with our accelerator and then launched our platform the last week of August!
In true military spouse fashion, it’s been hustle, growth, community, connections, networking, and strategy day in and day out. It’s incredible to watch pieces of the community being stitched together to create one strong launching point for military spouses.
We are honored to be a part of this growing movement, awareness, and ACTION happening not just FOR military spouses by happening BECAUSE of military spouses. Military spouses are taking action.
The more we share our stories, step outside of the comfort box we create for ourselves, and teach and support each other – the trickle effect of seeing things change and happen will continue to spark entrepreneurial fires, inspire new ideas, and bring employment back into the hands of military spouses.
Learn more at www.hiremadskills.com
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Erica McMannes is an Army Spouse, mom to two boys, CEO and co-founder of MadSkills, Inc and Silicon Valley start up consultant. You can find her professional spouse profile and resume and connect with her at www.hiremadskills.com – an interactive platform created by military spouses offering the connection for professional military spouses to find remote jobs.