Home-Based Business – A Portable Career Option for Military Spouses

Woman frosting a cake in the shape of a large building

A home business can be the perfect solution for a military spouse on the move. Before you start writing that business plan, here are a few things you should consider:

Will a home business work for you?

A self-assessment and career assessment can help you decide if it's the right move for you. While thinking about the possibilities, you'll also want to consider the following:

  • Personal and business goals. Determine the type of home business that's best for you and your goals. Writing down your goals will help you focus on what's important.
  • Abilities and interests. Do you have experience or a skill that works well in a home business setting?
  • Marketing and networking skills. Whether you're selling products or providing a service, you'll need to market your business to potential customers.
  • Investment required versus funds available. Most home businesses require at least some money on hand up front. The amount depends on the type of business.
  • Family support. Having the support of your family will go a long way toward making your business successful.

What kind of business will work best for your family and schedule?


the Small Business Administration’s website for a detailed explanation of business ownership types.

Virtual work. Working virtually allows you to easily work from anywhere in the world, so you can take your job wherever the military takes your family. There are many telecommuting opportunities available, including:

  • Administrative services, such as scheduling, data entry and bookkeeping
  • Computer programming, database maintenance or website design
  • Medical transcribing
  • Test grading
  • Writing, editing or proofreading
  • Graphic design
  • Translation services
  • Call center services

Traditional services. With traditional services, you probably won't be able to take your client base with you when you move to a new duty station. But if you can make your business successful in one location, you'll be more likely to be able to do it again. These businesses can include:

  • Child care
  • Catering
  • Photography
  • Tailoring or sewing
  • Housecleaning, lawn care or painting
  • Lessons, such as piano, dance or a foreign language

What rules and regulations should you be familiar with?


your local small business development center to schedule a free business consultation.

As you set up your business, you'll need to understand the rules and regulations for home businesses:

  • Licenses and permits. To find out if you need a license or permit, check with your local Small Business Administration office.
  • Taxes. As a business owner, you'll need to withhold taxes from your income, such as federal, state, self-employment, local and usage taxes. Your installation's financial counselor can give you more information on the tax requirements for your business.
  • Zoning. Your local SBA office can explain zoning ordinances in your area, which may limit the use of signs or how many people can visit your home for business reasons.
  • Installation housing regulations. Installation housing regulations vary by location. In overseas locations, a Status of Forces Agreement may affect the type of business you can run. Requests are usually approved as long as they don't compromise security in the housing area or compete with installation services.
  • Types of business ownership. Most home-based businesses are sole proprietorships, meaning you use your Social Security number for the business and assume all liability. Some businesses are set up as Limited Liability Companies, or "LLCs." LLCs are more expensive to set up but limit your personal liability.


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