Guam military spouses take a leap on entrepreneurship: Roxanne Augusta
Years as a military spouse: 6 years
Service: Coast Guard
What type of business do you own? How long?
I started a photography business four years ago that specializes in portrait sessions for couples and individuals as well as nature photography.
Is Guam where you started your business?
If not, where did you start it and was it an easy business to transition to your spouse’s new duty station? My business started in California but the first year was really spent experimenting and figuring out what made my heart sing. Thankfully, the transition to Guam was smooth. Prior to the move, I reached out to other business owners, so I knew exactly what I needed to get started here… Networking can be the foundation for your success and help with the transition between places.
What was your occupation before starting your own business?
I worked as a server/bartender, nanny, and office aide while in college and when my husband first joined the Coast Guard. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. My dream job was to do research at a museum (nerd alert!) but I quickly realized it wouldn’t be an easy career field to transition every few years.
Why did you decide to open your own business and why, specifically, did you choose this particular type of business?
I knew that I would never be satisfied if I didn’t have a career path of my own. It was important to find something that I didn’t have to start from scratch every time we moved but I never really thought I was going to own a business. I had a passion for photography, loved meeting new people and wanted to create meaningful images. Once I realized that my portfolio could move with me, I decided to really focus and put more energy into developing my photography.
Explain some of the difficulties military spouses have in finding a job and/or starting a business that civilians may not know about.
There are many challenges when you live a life of fluidity based off your significant other’s career. It is really hard picking up your life, much less your business, every few years… Everyone knows the challenges of moving but I think it is important to also focus on the advantages. First, you can pull inspiration from new places, people and experiences. Second, you get to expand your client base every few years. Not many people have that opportunity to reach new people and locations.
What are some of challenges you’ve encountered in going out on your own and starting a business?
Some of the challenges that I have had to overcome is valuing one’s self and craft. It is very easy to succumb to self-doubt, especially in a field where there are so many talented people. That self-doubt and competition can lead to poor business practices, like not pricing yourself for profit and over working yourself, which eventually causes really talented people to give up their love. The biggest challenge that I have had to overcome was to learn what it takes to run a successful business. Knowing all the boring stuff like expenses, taxes, business licenses, but most importantly learning to price yourself to make a livable wage. I defiantly thought I would be focusing more on photography, but I quickly learned that in order to pursue photography as a career, I first had to learn how to run a business.
What advice would you give other military spouses looking to start their own businesses?
My advice is to make sure you are passionate about whatever it is you want to do. It is very easy to give up motivation and call it quits, especially during the transition periods. If you love it without a doubt, you will not be working but pursuing your passion. Also take a business/marketing course or two so you set yourself up for success. Just remember that you can do it!
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