63: Military Spouse Business Checklist

Military Spouse Business Checklist

Episode 63 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of It: So you’re ready to get into business? Join Rachel and Anna Blanch Rabe as they walk you through legal business set up as a military spouse!

What you will learn:

  • Which business entity Rachel and Anna recommend
  • What foreign entity registration is and why you may need to consider it
  • The advantages of having an EIN
  • Why it is important to keep personal and business as separate as possible
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Rachel Brenke: -this episode of The Business Bites Podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke. I am joined today with another attorney and a fellow military spouse, Anna Blanch Rabe. She’s an Australian-born speaker, writer, attorney, like I said, and social entrepreneur. She is one of my favorites in the online sphere. I met her virtually, and then we worked together online and in person together. In 2016, she founded her own boutique communications consulting company which services law firms, socially responsible businesses, and social enterprises with high quality strategy, research, and content services and products. You guys are probably seeing some of her guest posts on the different brands that I have because I trust her knowledge, her perspective, and her content. Her mission, just like mine as well, is to help make the legal legalese easy to understand, to share meaningful stories and empower those who are building communities. Anna, thanks so much for joining us.

Anna Blanch Rabe: It’s great to be with you, Rachel. It’s kind of fun that we get to do this now-

Rachel: I know, I know, normally when we’re talking we’re going through content creation, which I guess this kind of is too. Now, we get to take our experiences as entrepreneurs, as attorneys, and military spouses and help the other military spouses listening that may be overwhelmed with setting up their business and then having to dismantle and reset it up again. So thank you for coming on, I’m excited to talk about this topic.

Anna Blanch: Yep, let’s get into it.

Rachel: Alright, so, one of the biggest things that Anna and I, we have discussions all the time about what you guys need to know. Of course, as military spouses, we get the questions all the time about, “Well how am I supposed to set up my business?” Or, “What state do I set up my business and what are the implications of that?” So this little checklist in this quick episode is going to help you guys kind of understand a little bit more and give it to you in a straight fashion.

It is really not that difficult. I know it sounds overwhelming. I don’t say that it’s not difficult from a lawyer’s perspective. I’m saying this as an entrepreneur, as a military spouse, who has been in your shoes, that if you just take this bit by bit, like Anna and I are gonna break it down for you, you can do this. You guys can. It’s well worth it, especially when you are married to a military member and you’re gonna be moving. You either have to suck it up and take this check list and do it over and over, or just give up the business. We don’t want you guys to do that. So Anna, let’s go ahead and kick in to the first step of what they need to do.

Anna Blanch: Yup. We’re gonna assume in this conversation that you haven’t done anything yet, but even if you have, this is a good checklist to go through. The very first step is gonna be entity choice. So that’s gonna be choosing between things like LLC, so limited liability company, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a C corp, and then of course we have a S Corp election [inaudible 00:03:04]-

Rachel: I think what’s important, one of the distinctions, and we’re gonna talk about this a little bit later, is to know that when you’re choosing an entity, this is actually creating a legal entity. Don’t get confused when you start Googling and researching for the new location and having to get business licenses and business permits. Those are in addition to choosing this entity choice. This is just creating a legal entity. It’s not actually giving you permission to do a certain activity. You have to set up as the entity and then later on, depending on where you live, you’ll end up getting a license or a permit, if you need, which we can talk about a little bit later on. But Anna, what is your recommendation for many of the military spouses that are listening, to what entity should they choose?

Anna Blanch: So, I think the very first thing to say about that is doing nothing doesn’t mean you haven’t made a decision. So that’s really the first thing to say. So the default-

Rachel: That’s a great point.

Anna Blanch: Yeah, the default entity is going to be sole proprietorship. But I think genuinely, for most military spouses, the best bet’s probably going to be starting with an LLC. There’s a couple of reasons for that for mil spouses. The first one is, you want to make sure that you are limiting your personal liability and also the liability that your spouse, especially if he’s been married in or lived in a community property state might have. The responsibility they might have for any business debts. You want to shield them from that, so that’s one of the first reasons that I’ll say.

Anna Blanch: The second is just that, as I said, basic personal liability. You don’t want business mistakes that you might make, or potentially things that happen in business, result in your losing your house. That is not the way, you know, it’s very [inaudible 00:04:51]. So yes, definitely, if you’re a partnership, you can also do that as an LLC, as well. That’s probably the baseline.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s one thing that I want to address here. Some people may be thinking, especially military spouses, as many families may choose to not purchase a home, they’re probably thinking, “Well, I may not have many assets that I don’t need to be concerned about separating out my personal assets from my business.” But, I always tell small business owners, or ask them rather, “Are you making money or do you plan to make money?” That’s an asset. Your money can be touched. It doesn’t even have to be a home. It can be a car. You’ve got a variety of assets. That can happen.

When you’re putting yourself out there in business, you are opening yourself up for liability. I can’t honestly recall any small business owner that I would ever recommend to be a sole proprietor because there is no division of liability between yourself, your personal assets, and your business assets. 100% your personal self can be touched.

Anna, I don’t know if you can think of any, but I’ve had this conversation with many entrepreneurs. LLCs are so low cost and easy to maintain and relatively easy to set up and tear down and reset up. I can’t think of any time that a sole proprietorship would really be an okay entity choice.

Anna Blanch: Okay, so I’m gonna say two words that is another reason why mil spouses should not go the sole proprietor route. That’s gonna be security clearance, genuinely. When you have a service member, the other reason that I’m gonna say you want to shield yourself personally, and your service member from anything to do with the business definitely has to do with how things at the business does and in debts that the business might accrue might impact your service member. As you may or may not know, personal debts can impact security clearances. They can make you vulnerable.

Rachel: That is a great point, I love that.

Anna Blanch: Right, It’s not something people talk about. We have to tell each other these stories because this is not something that even the absolute best resources out there, and there are some great resources out there to help mil spouses start businesses, but they don’t talk about these things. They’re not thinking that it’s the life you have. For me, it’s a no-brainer. As you said, it is such a low cost. Rachel’s not gonna say this, but for those who might know, Rachel as a DIY LLC that I think is a great place to start on this as well. But otherwise, speak to your local attorney about it.

Rachel: Yeah definitely. So basically, I would just take sole proprietorship or partnership off the table. Look into either an LLC or be in a corporation. We strongly recommend that you talk to, obviously, an attorney that you can get some information from on deciding which of those structures for you. But also, pair that with a CPA, or a tax professional, who can look at your combined finances and decide which is the best structure for tax benefits for you. Please don’t just go to a CPA. I have another episode on this that I can link in the show notes. Just know that CPAs have their place. Lawyers have their place. We need to work in tandem, together.

But overall, like Anna said, LLC is probably one of the best ways to start. If you’re not planning on having investors or an extensive amount of people involved in running of the business, then LLC is probably a really good place to set up. This is done on a state level. No matter what state that you’re in, it is typically through the secretary of state or the corporations commission. They can walk you through, giving you the documents. They can’t advise you on what entity. That’s oftentimes where the small business administration offices can give you great information, but they’re only giving you part of it because they can’t actually legally advise you on the steps to take.

Which actually brings me to another question, Anna, that I know you and I see a lot in military spouse online communities. We always are asked, “Where should I set up my LLC?” What is your response whenever people ask that.

Anna Blanch: It depends. Which is, on one level, it’s [crosstalk 00:09:17]-

Rachel: The typical lawyer answer.

Anna Blanch: But honestly, in relation to military spouses particularly, this is 100% an area where military spouses need to think much more deeply and really think through their own personal situation and circumstances before they make that decision. That’s largely because we do move around. Because, as Rachel said, it’s a state-based registration system for legally forming their business entity, choosing what state you make as the home original formation state is an important decision.

There’s something that I’ve discovered not a lot of business owners, especially military spouse business owners, know about. That is the difference between a straight legal formation in one state, and what they call foreign entity registration, right?

Rachel: Yeah.

Anna Blanch: So, I think that’s something that’s important. Once you choose that anchor state, as it were, to form your company, as we move around as military spouses, we have the capacity to, in a sense, set up temporary residency in another state. It’s not so much temporary residency. It’s like we do when we PCS. We stay in a state for three or four years. Well, our business can do that. You have to see the business as a separate person. [inaudible 00:10:38]. It is its own entity, and we have to be aware of that, just like unique.

Rachel: Well, some of the problems that I see here is that oftentimes… Guys, when I say this, I’m saying this as someone who also thought this when I first came into business. I wasn’t an attorney when I became an entrepreneur, so I’m not saying it from a place of judgment. I’m saying this from a place that I get it. I know that it can be confusing, and that’s why we’re doing this podcast. Many military spouses will say, “Oh, we’re living in Texas, but we’re residents of Florida. So, I’m just gonna set up in Florida, and everything is good to go.”

Well, the problem with that is, if you were doing business in Texas, you still are gonna need to do, and Anna just touched on it, you’re still gonna need to address in Texas that you’re doing business. So, that set up would be domestic LLC in Florida, which is where you say you want to maybe retire to, where you’re from, but then you’d also be setting up as a foreign LLC in Texas. Honestly, my recommendation, because of the way that LLCs are relatively to set up and to dissolve, is just to set up in each state that you’re gonna be in. That’s not always cost effective or administratively feasible, if you are in one of those situations where maybe you’re going to Georgia to a post for a couple of months, and then you’re moving on. That’s not always a feasible way to go about it.

The important thing to keep in mind is no matter the entity choice, whether you go with LLC or corporation, whatever state that you’re in, you’re gonna need to still set up and register with them, whether that’s your main, your domestic location, or if it’s gonna be the foreign one. In the case of having a foreign, then you’re balancing not only the administrative requirements, but also the financial cost of supporting that domestic LLC in Florida and then the foreign LLC in Texas. You’ll be balancing both.

Anna Blanch: Well, I think for a lot of mil spouses that’s what they’re gonna end up doing otherwise. It’s so interesting that you talk about maybe resetting it up each time, Rachel. I know that I have heard that some people have had that advice. I think it is gonna depend on your situation. Another thing that you often hear is this blanket recommendation for people setting up in either Delaware or Nevada as that domestic LLC. For some people, that might be a good plan, if you don’t want to set up in that state where you want to retire or the state where you have residency, but you don’t want to establish tax residency and subvert the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, which many of us rely on for our tax residency.

That’s one of the reasons people choose Delaware or Nevada. It’s why I chose Delaware as where my domestic LLC is. My company’s registered as a foreign entity in expo. We did partly because we didn’t want to affect our residency under MSRA with Washington state. So, I think it’s gonna depend on your situation.

Rachel: Right, one thing, without us going on too long on this and down another rabbit trail, the thing to keep in mind is if you do, much like Anna said, or the Texas-Florida domestic-foreign set up that I talked about, wherever you have a legal entity created, you are going to be availing yourself of that state. So say, for example, God forbid, you end up having a claim against you. Say you’re set up, like Anna was just saying, in Nevada or in Delaware, even though you’re doing business maybe in Massachusetts, setting up in those other states allows that to be a location where you could potentially be sued.

If you have no intention of ever going back there, and you have no intention of going there, or you’re not doing business there, it’s something I would really consider whether or not it’s worth it. You have to balance that. This is what we talked about earlier, the use of having a CPA and a lawyer both in tandem. Then also, taking that information, like Anna just said, about the tax relief stuff, and decide is the risk worth it to potentially being subjected to a suit in that state.

Obviously, everyone listening, I surely hope that you will never end up in that position, but you never have an issue until you have an issue. You just don’t know when it’s gonna occur. Just keep that in mind. You don’t just want to blindly set up your LLC. So, sit down and go through, and it could be a corporation as well, but sit down and go through the points that Anna and I just talked about on the creation of this legal entity. We’re not gonna go into the steps of necessarily how to specifically do it. These are more items for you to take into consideration when you are deciding where to set it up, and also which structure you’re gonna choose.

Go ahead. Pause, rewind, make the more checklists. Scribble as fast as you can, but you guys can rewind and listen to this as much as you need. We also do have a Business Bites Facebook group that you can jump into. Anna and I are both in there, and we’re happy to help answer as many as questions as we’re able.

Do you have any other points on legal entity stuff, Anna, before we move on?

Anna Blanch: The other thing I can say is that, when you are moving around, do your research on what constitutes needing to register as a foreign entity. I know, particularly, there’s a couple of business owners that have been telling me recently that they’re moving to certain west states at the moment for less than 12 months, for a specific school or course. They’re finding that there is actually what’s referred to as a temporary entity type of registration in that state, which is actually even cheaper than doing a foreign entity. So, do your research. Ask the questions because it actually may not be as expensive as you think to legally move your business with you.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know, I know it’s scary talking to attorneys sometimes, but this is where even just doing a consult with a local attorney would be a really good place to start, to give you a sense. The reason I recommend that over the SBA type offices, like I’ve already mentioned before, is that they can’t really legally advise you. Many of them are not attorneys, if not all of them. They may not be looking at it, especially from the military spouse perspective like we’ve talked through here. So, pair that. Get into and talk to someone who’s knowledgeable. The problem with it is, if you do a little bit of research, you rely on what a non-professional tells you, and then you end up getting in trouble, you can run into penalties. It just ends up costing a lot more time and money than if you’d done the right research up front.

All right, so moving on. That was legal entity in a nutshell. Let’s go on to the next step of applying for the employer identification number.

Anna Blanch: Yeah, this one’s actually super simple, and it’s free, in fact. Don’t ever let anyone make you pay for this.

Rachel: Yeah, we love free.

Anna Blanch: The employer identification number, you get it from the IRS, so irs.gov and you apply for that. It means that you don’t have to provide your social security number. If you are starting as that sole proprietor and forming your LLC, you’re gonna need that EIN for the company. It’s a super simple step, and it’s an absolutely essential step. You won’t be able to set up a business bank account without it.

Rachel: Yeah, exactly. The thing is, too, I recognize that as military spouses we’re so used to throwing around our sponsor’s SSN, or even our own, that it just is commonplace in life. If you talk to a civilian, oftentimes they would be appalled that an SSN is asked for so many things. Out in the real world, you’re typically, the real world, you’re typically gonna be asked for an EIN. So, we want to get the legal entity created first because all the steps going forward are all going to sit on the foundation of that legal entity, and then EIN, and also setting up a business banking account. What tips do you have for that?

Anna Blanch: I really think that it’s important that you choose a bank that will move with you. So, while a local bank might be super attractive in the location where you are right now, what happens when you move? You know, the American banking system’s not really set up for that kind of moveable banking feast. So, set yourself up for success from the beginning. Choose a bank that has that great national and international network. That’s something that’s turned out to pay dividends, definitely for me, and I’m sure it has for you, too, Rachel. But the biggest tip, yeah.

Rachel: Yeah. Something I want to caution here. At the time of this recording, USAA doesn’t have business banking accounts available.

Anna Blanch: Right.

Rachel: Even if you’re a sole proprietor, and you’re doing business through a checking account, even if you set up a separate checking account, they can and will shut that account down if they start seeing business activities. They may eventually get the business accounts rolling. I heard that there was some talk about that, but I’m not really sure where they’re at on the roll out. For me, looking at it from a liability perspective, because we want to try to insulate our personal stuff as much as possible, putting it at a completely different bank, as long as it has a large presence like Anna was talking about, is really important for you to be able to access and work with the banking system, but also, to keep everything clean.

All your business money, all of it, no matter what, should all go through that business account. Then if you need to pay yourself back, pay yourself back out of that.

Anna Blanch: Yeah, I think that’s fabulous advice. Don’t commingle your personal and business. By putting them at completely different banks, you’re showing that to the IRS, too, that you’re more aware of that, and you’re doing that practice. If you’re looking for a bank like USAA, Navy Federal does have business banking accounts. They’re not paying either of us to say that. That happens to be the one I use.

Rachel: I wish they were.

Anna Blanch: The thing that I love about them is that they get the military lifestyle. They were able to work with me and do that from a distance. They understood the whole not scanning and emailing them my military ID. They had a way about that. So, that’s kind of important.

Rachel: Right, right. You know, another thing on that, too, is, and this is a little bit of a departure, but having liability or equipment insurance. Equipment, specifically, if anyone’s using a laptop for your business, you obviously want that to be insured. Typically, many individuals, not just military, I find that many individuals believe that if they have a home office, or they’re just using their laptop, it’ll automatically be covered under their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. But, if it is found to have been used in the course of business, that can be excluded. So, if you have a loss, you could end up losing out and not being paid for that equipment. Not just laptop, it can be anything that’s used in the course of your business.

So, don’t fall into that. I know that’s specific for USAA, as well. I don’t know about Navy Federal. But even some of the other big insurance companies that are out there, just ask them to see if there’s any riders, what they can put on top of your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance to add on for business stuff. They may not require a separate business insurance policy.

Anna Blanch: Rachel, do you recommend… I mean I know that I went with a completely separate insurer.

Rachel: You can do what piercing of the corporate veil. So, you may set up as an LLC. You may set up as a corporation. So, when we’re talking about wanting to have this separation of liability, we want to separate as much as we can, our bank accounts, our assets. If there should ever be an issue, some of the things that people are gonna look at, to see if they can sue you personally, is are all your funds together? Are all your contracts together? Are you signing contracts in the name of yourself, personally?

Let’s take, for example, maybe you get a cell phone contract just for your business. That cell phone’s gonna be just for business use. But, if you don’t put your legal entity on the contract and you put yourself, it’s technically tied to yourself. So, the same thing can also go, I feel like, for insurance policies. It may not completely pierce the veil, but it could be something that could be used against you in that argument of trying to pierce it. So, my bottom line recommendation is just try to keep everything as separate as possible.

I went for an external insurance policy company for my equipment, my liability, my worker’s comp and everything for that reason. But, they also just had better offerings than many of my existing insurances now. Don’t just do it based on convenience when it comes to banking or insurance, also look at what you’re getting for what you’re paying. That’s really important. Insurance is not fool-proof. That’s also why we have a legal entity, but insurance is not fool-proof. It won’t cover you 100% of the time for everything. You need to make sure that what you’re paying for is you’re getting sufficient coverage.

Anna Blanch: Absolutely. For me the next step we’re actually is building this advisory team. We’ve already talked about some of the members of this team. One is the attorney and the accountant that we mentioned. The third one is that insurance broker. Having someone that you can ask these questions of that is able to answer them, and maybe answer them in a way that makes you feel like they’re actually listening to you and talking to you about your business, rather than just wanting to recommend to you a product that has the highest commission.

But all of this, I really want to encourage you to find people who actually understand the complexity of military family lives and understand the complexity of being a military spouse business owner. I actually promise you that there are people out there. I mean you have people like Rachel. There are mil spouse accountants out there. You don’t have to just stay in the military spouse community. There are veterans, and then there are plenty of other people who do understand. But, ask those questions and make sure they get it, and get some of these differences.

Rachel: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s one of the most important things, that you just said, that if you guys learned nothing else in this entire episode to take away, is whatever professional or wherever you’re getting advice from, make sure they understand this lifestyle. Make sure they understand the complexities because that can make or break the advice. I get that legal entity formation and taxes and all of that is relatively the same for everyone, but we are in this really obscure one percent of the population, super small, that…

One percent, totally made up. I don’t even know what the percentage is of military spouse entrepreneurs. But, we’re such a sliver of the community that we want to make sure we’re having people that are properly guiding us. I love that we’ve included build your advisory team.

On the note of having an accountant, let’s talk about registering for state taxes. This also is a bit of a complication that is a little bit tied into what we were talking about earlier. The question is “Where do I pay taxes?” It also is the logical question after you guys ask, “Where should I set up my business?” So, let’s talk a little bit about registering for those state sales tax.

Anna Blanch: So, we start with where you formed your domestic LLC. You need to look at the rules for that state. Some states will say that if you’re not physically located in the state, even if you have formed a domestic LLC in that state, then you don’t need to register for sales taxes. But then, sometimes you do. So, do your research starting with your domestic LLC. If you’ve also registered as a foreign entity, you need to look at the rules for state sales tax in that state where you’re registered as a foreign entity. You may be registered as a foreign entity in more than one state at the same time, which is a whole different discussion.

So, the states that you’re gonna be looking at are gonna be the state that you’re physically located in, that’s usually the state where you’re a foreign entity, or it could be that domestic LLC state, and potentially, that domestic LLC formation state. An accountant is going to be able to answer questions about the taxes, but just recognize that you may have to do this in more than one state, and they may have different deadlines for your tax payments. You’re gonna have to keep on top of it and make sure you develop a checklist of your own.

Rachel: Yeah. The important thing to note on that, that I have found in a lot of states, is even if you owe zero to the state that you’re registered to pay sales tax in, you still have to submit a report saying you don’t owe them anything, or you could end up getting a penalty on a zero dollar bill.

Anna Blanch: Oh yeah. I know that one of the states that I’m registered for sales tax in, if you don’t submit a zero dollar balance if it is zero dollars, then it’s a five dollar automatic penalty, and it just goes up from there, completely. So, that’s a low-hanging fruit, too, to get that stuff right.

Rachel: Right, it’s crazy.

Anna Blanch: I think the other thing that you need to remember for registration for sales taxes is learn your deductions. Every state has a different list of what you can deduct from your gross income for the purposes of sales tax labeling. Now, this is something I’m gonna encourage you to talk to your accountant about, but just be aware of that. There are different rules for different states. If you have a completely online business, that could work out to be in your favor. Now, the law around that may change a little because there’s just been a federal court decision on that specific topic, about selling online to another state. But, its overall application hasn’t been established yet, so we don’t need to talk about it so much yet.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). One thing to note, here, there’s a vast difference between a bookkeeper and a CPA. A CPA may offer bookkeeper services. But, unless a bookkeeper has the proper licensures, they may be knowledgeable, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they’re talking about, but for you guys to have any recourse should there be an issue that occurs with your taxes, it’s important to really consult a certified public accountant, someone that has been tested and is licensed to do this.

What I mean by recourse is, what if you get advisement on your taxes, or if someone files your taxes for you, and they were wrong. You end up with all these penalties to the IRS or the state. You could have recourse against a professional. This can also go if you have a lawyer that does your legal entity set up or your contract creation. It’s kind of an insurance policy in a way. By having a licensed professional do these steps for you, if an issue arises, then you have a claim against that person. You have someone that can help you out of the bad spot. You’re not just stuck.

If you DIY’d it yourself or got bad advice from someone, then you’re gonna be paying someone to help you out of it, whereas, if you had gone and invested. So, it can help you in the long run.

Anna Blanch: Absolutely, right. Doctors shouldn’t heal themselves. We need to be aware that we need expert advice, all of us.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative), agreed. All right. The last two things we have for you guys are, and again, this checklist is not a completely comprehensive one. This is good foundation for you guys to get started, but thinking about the beginning, you also need to think about the end, especially military spouse businesses. We need to think about, in the situations of crisis or emergencies or succession planning. So, let’s touch on that a bit, and then we’ll go into personal security for military spouse businesses.

So, Anna, with crisis and succession planning what are your tips for that?

Anna Blanch: So, are we gonna ask, you know, as yourself from the beginning, are you looking at selling your company down the road? Are you looking at only establishing it for a set period of time, maybe until your service member retires or whatever else? Look at that and work backwards from that. I think it’s never too early to look at planning for your next PCS. Think about what would happen if you were out of action for a couple of weeks. How would you handle that? What would happen if a family member of yours, that you need to take care of, is out of action for a couple of weeks. How would you handle that? Do your contracts cover that sort of scenario?

Do they cover scenarios where, heaven forbid, you’re service member is injured and you need to take care of them? Having a look at things like how would you handle the period when deployment starts or when it ends? How would you handle that endpoint? Are you gonna hand your business down to your children? Or, is this something where you’re gonna set up the company legally so that it foresees within those incorporation documents what happens to sell the company? Those original documents can lay all of that out for you.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know, it’s interesting. As you’re talking, I’ve had many of those happen to me in my life. At 20, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was just me at the time. I didn’t have anything in place in order for me to be able to hand it off to somebody else to run with it. Luckily, I had really good clients at the time. I emailed them from my hospital bed after my surgery and said, “Hey, you know, I’m gonna be out of commission.” They were completely wonderful and great, but not all clients or customers are that gracious. It probably wasn’t the best way to do things.

Who would have thought, at 20 years old, that I would have had cancer. So, keep it in mind, not even just planning on the exit, but also what to do in these situations. Who is gonna help you out? Where are all your passwords? You write down, it’s much like a will for your business, except you’re not really giving it away. You’re just more of an action plan of what you want somebody else to do. It would have been a lifesaver just for me to be able to take a file and send the Dropbox link or an email, or even for my husband to do it, just say, “Hey, can you reach out to these clients for me and let them know about X, Y, and Z.”

That would have been a great load off my shoulders. Another thing you said you wanted to talk about or think about is, Do you want to sell the business eventually? It’s interesting. I came into the entrepreneurial world with no intention of ever selling. 100% was like, “I’ll do this to the day I die.” Now, it’s been over a decade. I’ve built some really good solid brands, and my eyes have been opened to the idea of selling it off eventually. I’m not there yet.

But I share that to say, maybe just for my practical perspective, especially if you’re someone who has multiple businesses or multiple brands like I do, separating everything out legally, separating everything out social media-wise, getting the handles and the branding and all the accounts, and just keeping all the organization as separate as possible, and setting it up as though you needed to hand it over to someone else, whether to help you in a crisis, or hand it over to sell, it’ll just keep you organized in general. But, it’s also giving you the benefit. If one of those situations occurs, you decide to sell or something happens, you have help. You’re not running around like a chicken with your head cut off, at that point.

Anna Blanch: Yeah, it sounds perfect, Rachel. I think we all need to do that. This is something that, even if you’ve already put those plans in place and written down your disaster or emergency plans, you need to review them every year. If you have PCS, review them then. Sometimes the plans you have in there relate to a specific location, and you need to change them up. This needs to be added to our list, as part of that what it takes to keep your business going in the long term.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Love it. All right, the last thing is personal security for military spouse businesses. It’s a huge concern for us, especially with the onslaught of so many social media platforms that we want to leverage for our businesses, but we have to consider the security. Go ahead and kick off the tips for that.

Anna Blanch: All right, so these are a few that I’ve come up with over the last few years. The first one is something that is used a lot, often, for corporations. Consider hiring a registered agent to help preserve your privacy, and really that’s easy as an LLC. There are lot’s of organizations. Do your research and make sure you’ve found someone reputable. But, especially if you have that domestic LLC in one state and a foreign entity in another, hiring a registered agent can help protect your home address and your phone numbers. So, instead of your information being on the public databases, it’s the registered agent’s information that’s on the public databases. That will allow you to protect your privacy just a little bit.

The second one is consider renting a post office box. If you’re doing any kind of emailing out to your clients, especially if you’re using any of the email management software, you’re gonna have to include, and as part of the [inaudible 00:34:51] match, you’re gonna have to include a physical address. A post office box can be a great way, once again, to keep your home address private. It can also help you during moves, too. It’s a little bit easier to schedule that mail forwarding when it’s to a post office box. You don’t have to worry about someone new moving into the house and being given the key to your mail, all of that.

Then, the third one is looking at using phone technology and calendaring technology. By phone, I mean answering services and things like that. Calendaring technology, there’s a whole bunch of different applications that you can use. We can name a bunch of those. I’m sure Rachel knows a bunch, too, that allow for you to decide how much information you give to [inaudible 00:35:35]. So, I largely use that so that, somebody leaves a message, if I’m in a place where I can’t pick up, they leave a message, and it emails me the voicemail. So, this is a good way to be efficient in your business, too.

But, they don’t necessarily have my cell phone number. I’ve reserved that for people who’ve earned that trust.

Rachel: Yeah, we use that. It also keeps your customers from texting you at all hours.

Anna Blanch: Some customers. My clients, they don’t mind that problem. Did I say that out loud?

Rachel: Awesome. I was gonna say, Anna, I’m texting you at all hours. I forget that you’re a couple of hours behind me, so sorry about that.

Anna Blanch: You know, the other thing about this calendaring technology is actually that timezone issue, honestly. As a general business principle, calendaring technology is brilliant for not having to do the mental gymnastics of figuring out timezones. We all have to do that. Mil spouse businesses understand that more than most. But yeah, those are some tips. Rachel, do you have any others?

Rachel: No, I think just my recommendation on the calendaring stuff is to use something like Calendly, and I’ll stick it also into the show notes for you guys to have.

Anna Blanch: Yeah, I use [crosstalk 00:36:53], but it’s great, either way. It works great.

Rachel: Oh, yeah, I love either of them. It allows me to block off my time, so I don’t want stuff scheduled. It automatically gives it on timezones. But, I’ll link, actually, both of those resources into the show notes. It’s gonna be at rachelbrenke.com/epi63. We’re also on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and other places for you guys. Obviously, if you’re listening to this, you may be there, as well. If you’re already on Rachel Brenke, you can just scroll down, and you can find these resources there.

Well, Anna, thank you so much for helping with this military spouse business checklist. I feel like we actually could fill hours upon hours. If you guys listening would want to hear more, want to have Anna and I to flesh these out, help you guys, jump into the Facebook group. It’s called The Business Bites, just like the name of the podcast. We can help answer there. We can also gauge to see if there’s more information that you guys would like to know. I know there’s a lot more that you need to know. So, we’ll look at having a second or follow-up episode to this, or maybe we’ll do some more of a live format, depending on what the feedback you guys give us.

But again, Anna, thank you so much. It’s always great to talk to you, and we look forward to having you back on the podcast soon.

Anna Blanch: Oh, it’s great to do this with you Rachel. I’m really excited. Have a great day.

Announcer: Thanks for joining Rachel on this episode of The Business Bites. For show notes, a list of recommended tools, or referenced episodes, you can find them at businessbitespodcasts.com. Until next time…

Featured Guest & Resources

Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born speaker, writer, attorney and social entrepreneur. In 2016, she founded Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates, a boutique communications consulting company which serves Law Firms, socially-responsible businesses, and social enterprises with high quality strategy, research, and content services and products. Their mission is to making legalese easy to understand; to share meaningful stories; and to empower those who are building communities.

Currently living in the land of enchantment (New Mexico), she’s a proud United States Air Force Spouse and was honored to be named the recipient of the 2018 Joan Orr award for Air Combat Command. Together, she and her husband enjoy traveling, ultrarunning (that’s definitely her husband), and ticking off items from their bucket list. Anna can get vociferous when discussing international rugby and enjoys all the time she gets to spend with her six nieces.

You can find Anna online here:
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About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.

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