PCSing With Your Military Spouse Small Business

Military spouses know the challenges of a military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move don’t end with the packing and unpacking. Relocating a career or a small business adds an entirely new layer of complexity.

Fortunately, highly successful military spouses like Marine Corps spouse Lakesha Cole are willing to pass on what they’ve learned to make life a little bit easier for the next person. In this episode, Lakesha skips the how-tos on paperwork and goes straight to the things business owners need to think about that may not have even made the to-do list.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with Military.com.

Amy Bushatz 0:00

Military spouses and family members know that military moves are just a part of life, and that they have to keep their personal lives and careers on a plug and play basis if they want to succeed. But some things are easier to move across the nation or world than others. For example, making new friends is one thing, but relocating your entire business is something entirely different. And yet, entrepreneurship is a really attractive option for military spouses and families because it relies on your own personal hustle instead of someone hiring you. How you develop something that can pack up and move with you is more art than science. To help us with tips and tricks for that art is the Lakesha Cole, a Marine Corps spouse whose family recently retired to the Tampa, Florida area. rakeesha, a former Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year is one of my favorite people to talk to you, because she’s full of amazing ideas and vision has the success to backup what she says and never does anything janky she’s even PCSed an entire brick and mortar business from one side of the world to the other. That’s some crazy magic. Lakesha, welcome to PCS with Military.com.

Lakesha Cole 1:12

Hi, Amy. Thank you for having me.

Amy Bushatz 1:15

No jankiness here today because we’ve got you on the pod. Alright, tell us how many times have you moved both with and without the military?

Lakesha Cole 1:31

Oh, wow. Um, I actually so I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. And I didn’t move until I was about 14, we moved to the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina area. My mom was a federal government worker. And that was actually my first move ever. And then from there. We’ve probably PCSed six times five, six times.

Amy Bushatz 1:54

Yeah. It’s, it’s crazy. Because in this life, we lose track of that stuff. You know? How many other people lose track of how many times? No one?

Lakesha Cole 2:05

No one.

Amy Bushatz 2:06

But you guys were also stationed overseas. So one of the at least one of those moves was to Japan and then one of them was back from Japan. Right. All right. And did you do any OCONUS to OCONUS PCS? Which is like a whole different situation.

Lakesha Cole 2:20

That was my first out of country experience. Yes. Right. Um, I there’s really nothing that can really prepare you for that, for that experience. Not that I had a bad experience. We had a I had an awesome experience. I know, you hear a lot of the horror stories of PCSing overseas. And while I did have my challenges, especially when it comes to business, and I’m sure we’ll talk about that a little later. My experience was great.

Amy Bushatz 2:47

Cool. All right. So we are here to talk about moving a business. That’s what we’re doing. So how many of those times that we just talked about have you move with the business in tow?

Lakesha Cole 2:58

I’ve moved with my business in tow three times. So from the Quantico, Virginia area Camp Pendleton in Okinawa, Japan. Well, I guess you can count to and from, so that would be six.

Amy Bushatz 3:13

So, yeah, so a lot of times, yeah. So you know, you’re doing now with this. Okay. So with that in mind, give us some background, what is what in your military life journey led you to start your own business? How did you get to the point where you were trying to move stuff like that?

Lakesha Cole 3:32

I was frustrated. Like so many of spouses who are probably listening to this recording, I found myself in a situation of not being able to find the job that I desire. We PCSed from Virginia to California, I did everything that my parents told me to do go to college, get good grades, you’ll get a great job, great salary, and all as well, right. And I did all of that. PCSed to California and just cannot land a job in my field that was of decent pay. And that was frustrating to me. Because I had never been in a situation of where I wasn’t able to sort of nail a job anywhere where where we were stationed.

Amy Bushatz 4:21

And what was your field at that point?

Lakesha Cole 4:24

Marketing communications, that was my field. Yes. So we are in this so I’m on the west coast. It was actually my first time living in California visiting California being away from my friends and family. Had a great resume. I thought I had great referrals work experience at that point, and just couldn’t land anything. And then when I finally got an interview, that was when it was actually my second interview is when the whole question of being a military spouse started to play into the the questions I was being asked on my interview and that was my first introduction of this whole conversation, okay, what is this? What is happening? Why did they ask me this? Why do they care who I’m married to? And what difference is that really going to make? Right? So that was that was my first introduction to that. So I couldn’t find a job. I did end up finding some contract work that tide me over during the time that I was there. But prior to that, I already decided I was going to start my business because I never wanted to be in a position of where I had to rely on someone else to pay me to do a job, right. Well, my husband was deployed. This was actually one of the roughest duty stations for us because he was gone a lot. Six months home, six months gone. Kaylee was two at the time, again, no friends and family on the west coast.

Amy Bushatz 5:48

And she’s, she’s how old now?

Lakesha Cole 5:50

She’s 15, she’s 15. Yeah. So and no friends and family there. So it’s really just me solo parenting it as best as I could. While he was deployed, I decided I was going to take $500 from our checking account, I drove myself to Los Angeles, the garment district, I taught myself how to be a buyer on the fly. I went and bought some merchandise wholesale and found someone on at the time, it was called Bookoo, which is like Craigslist, like Facebook marketplace, like way back in the day where you can just find people who can do random things. And I found that he wanted to build a website for like, $200, he set up my whole e-commerce site, and boom, that was my very first business. My first customer, actually, my first three orders were from my mom. And then I started to, you know, wear the garments to work and introduce these, what I was selling to my co-workers and they became customers and their friends became customers. And it just kind of snowballed into this brand that, you know, over the course of eight years has traveled to all 50 states, we’ve served clients in about seven different countries. And I was able to build something that not only contributed to the financial well being of my household, but I was able to hire other military spouses and help them gain employment and help them grow their business as well.

AB 7:09

Yeah. So we are focusing today on running a business and how to relocate with it. So you didn’t stay in California, you then get PCSed somewhere else.

Lakesha Cole 7:19

Yeah.

Amy Bushatz 7:20

So when you set up your business, did you design it to be something that could move was that part of your initial planning,

Lakesha Cole 7:28

That was never part of my initial plan. And actually, longevity was never part of the initial planning. It was a job, I couldn’t find work. I know how to make money. Let me go and figure out how to do that. And that was my initial plan. I didn’t have a business plan. I didn’t have any business experience, don’t have a business degree. Never. I worked in retail for what maybe two weeks at a shoe store. And then I realized I really disliked feet. And that was not the job for me. So that was the extent of my retail experience. So here I am walking into this world, because I believe that much in myself and my ability to learn whatever I need to learn to be successful at it. And I just ran with it. So no, it was never part of my strategy to build something that was portable, that I could take to every duty station.

Amy Bushatz 8:20

So okay, like I’m envisioning myself in your shoes, but no without feet talk because now we know we don’t like feet. I’m envisioning myself in your shoes. Okay, we get orders, I have a business and now I have to move it. What was that moment like that? You that you realize, okay, that’s what’s next. And we do what?

Lakesha Cole 8:44

Right? So I actually started doing a little bit of research and I couldn’t find anything that was related to our community and being an entrepreneur and business owner and how to to relocate your business. All the research that I found was actually like these large corporations that were like opening multiple locations and maybe closing one and relocating to another area. But that information didn’t apply to my business. I knew I was onto something. Because, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s one thing when you create a product, and you’re not sure who’s going to buy it, but it’s another thing where you create a product. And not only do people buy it, but they start to refer other people then they become repeat customers. That’s a whole nother high for, like product based business owners. So I knew I was onto something when people kept coming back and asking for more. And I knew I didn’t want to close it that I wanted to continue to explore that idea to figure out how far I could take this thing. So when I started to plan to move it was once we got to once we receive orders of where we were going, then I could actually sit down and kind of come up with a game plan. Okay, we’re going to be near Washington, D.C. This is like the mecca of, you know, fashion and successful people and professional people in all industries are here. So there’s so many different opportunities for me to tap into here. That was the first thing that came to mind, get to know where you’re moving to and figure out what opportunities are available there for you to potentially tap into. And I didn’t think past that it was really just me familiarizing myself with the new area. At that time. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz 10:22

Yeah. Okay, so what, so you, you end up moving it, um, and I want to talk about how to be successful in this first, but, but, or I want to talk about how to be successful in it. But first, rather, I’d like to talk about the biggest mistake maybe a mistake or two you made while exploring it because you really were in uncharted waters, as far as you knew. And, you know, when we go out on our own, and we try stuff, sometimes that involves some stumbles, and some making some some mistakes. So what is maybe the biggest mistake you made when trying to do that? Do that move.

Lakesha Cole 10:59

Um, I will probably say not doing enough homework and not preparing myself on the financial side of it. You know, most spouses in our space don’t like to talk about the money, they don’t want to have the money conversation. But it has to happen when you’re talking about growing your business. Because, yes, we are entrepreneurs, we’re natural problem solvers. And that’s why so many of us start businesses, right. But if your business isn’t profitable, is it really a business, like we’re all in the business of, of making money and making a living? And I just felt like I needed to say that because there’s so much harshness around, you know, spouses wanting to have a profitable business, and it’s okay, to want to have a profitable business. So some of the mistakes that I made early on, was not looking close enough at the numbers, does this business financially make sense? Am I going to turn a profit? Is it going to be successful? And I didn’t examine that information early on. Had I done that early on, I would have scaled to six figures much quicker than I did.

AB 12:08

It’s interesting that you say that, because when you started, saying, had I done that early on, I’m like, my brain goes to and I, you know, I would have not wasted money or whatever. Right. But what you’re saying is, had I done that early on, I would have been way more successful.

Lakesha Cole 12:23

Yes, I would have been way more successful. Had I looked at the financials early on the financials, meaning what the what, how much money do I really need to pour into this business to one, grow it into a recognizable household brand, right, you got to have your brand and intact gotta have your marketing in place, you want to make sure you’re not paying too much for product want to make sure your profit margins are good. Like all of that, it was just me going buying some garments, and then me reselling it. And even the upcharge, and I was charging on the merchandise wasn’t even enough to really sustain or grow the business, it was just what I thought I’d do, right. So learning more about your industry, learning more about your products, having the sales process in place, having marketing in place, like there is enough information. And this was way before Facebook way before you could go to YouTube University and figure out how to learn anything, right. So this was really back in the day of you really, when they say you started your business from scratch, you really did start from scratch. We, you don’t have that now, right, you can go online and find any information that you need. And you don’t have to have some of the same growing pains that a lot of us did 10, 15 years ago, learn your industry, learn what’s working, learn what other people are doing, and take cues from them. Don’t be out here unprepared for what that next step is going to be for you.

Amy Bushatz 13:54

So okay, so I want you to pair this with the moving aspect, because I suspect that when you look at the financials, right, you’re in place a you’re going to play speed, how does the that move impact that I mean, there’s obviously there’s getting to and from I don’t mean that right I mean, in in a bigger picture way.

Lakesha Cole 14:16

So it can have a significant impact. Your customer base at Camp Pendleton is not going to be the same at Camp Lejeune. Right? You won’t you don’t make the same amount of money and the job opportunities are not the same at those two locations and three, your customer base if you’re targeting a local customer base, you have you want to know what that household median income is and what type of disposable income that that they have to still be able to support your business. So yeah, you definitely want to determine the costs when you’re relocating, and the cost includes more than just expenses. The expect expected expenses of physically moving your household goods and equipment. You want to find out what the tax advantages or disadvantages you might have in your new state or country. In most cases, your sales tax rate will change, which could lead to an increase in prices for your customers, you want to know all these things before you start selling them before you, you know, start taking in new customers, shipping costs will change as well, again, I was an hour away from the LA Garment District, so I could just drive up the road and restock. Well, now that I’m I moved from California to Virginia to North Carolina, now I have to factor in how much it’s going to cost to get my goods shipped, right, which also will affect the price. And operating overseas may also require you to pay duty taxes on importing goods. So you want to make sure you learn the process and follow whatever the regulations are in your state or country accordingly.

Amy Bushatz 15:46

And for a digital business, right? So because so many of us are now the digital entrepreneurs, right word, we’ve got writing or we don’t have a physical product, because we use drop shipping or whatever. Right? What How did you and I know you have a lot of experience in this too. So tell us how do you what are like, what’s the financial considerations of the digital based business? Well, the same thing?

Lakesha Cole 16:12

And I would say yes, it’s the same thing. But you don’t have the burden of a lot of the overhead that those of us with product based businesses would have, right? You don’t have to worry about the overhead of inventory. If you move into a physical space, you don’t have to worry about that unless you choose to have an office outside of your home. So I would say yes, it’s the same thing. Um, I would just say just be mindful of what those regulations are in the area that you’re relocating to. particularly around taxes.

Amy Bushatz 16:41

Hmm, yeah, man. Things I don’t like thinking about. Yeah. Taxes. I mean, I think everyone can agree with that. So not the controversial statement. Okay.

AB 18:50

So can you give us some steps that people can take to move their business um, and and you also have like a very unique experience of moving a brick and mortar business from overseas to stateside which I still sit here, like when I say that about you, I’m like how to do that. Even though you have called me a bunch of times. I did that very carefully. And by looking at the financials, but you know, maybe talk about some of these practical steps, you know, while keeping in mind that we’re talking about both brick and mortar and a digital digital experience.

Lakesha Cole 19:28

Yeah. So first, you want to know your base. The rules and regulations differ from base to base, in our case, relocating overseas to open our change how we operate it, particularly with distribution right. Choosing to live on base it’s important to follow your local housing authorities policies and guidance, as well as any state and local requirements. Just because we’re military spouses does not mean we are exempt or have any type of privilege over any of those rules and regulations. So that should be your first step is knowing what your responsibility is as a business owner in that location. And if you’re unsure, you can contact your housing office for assistance to ensure that you’re in compliance with regulations and specific requirements for your installation. And if you’re overseas, you want to check that Status of Forces Agreement that specifically talks about how you can and cannot conduct commercial activity, I was able to find a loophole, a working solution is what I like to call it. It I pushed it to the limit, but we were operating within regulations, right, and we were able to get done. So fine, figure out what that line is for you, and pursue it. And then, of course, I would say you want to determine the costs we talked about, you know, making sure that you have a separate budget from the expenses, you’re going to require to move and then expenses that you’re going to need to relocate your business, those should not be one of the same, you should have two separate budgets for the two, again, finding out what your tax advantages and disadvantages are in the different areas and stay on top of those tax requirements for yourself and for your business.

Amy Bushatz 21:13

I’m sorry, to interrupt — why two separate considerations removing the physical act of moving your business and then the, you know, ramifications of doing so right?

Lakesha Cole 21:24

Well, you shouldn’t be commingling your business funds with your personal funds anyway. Right. So one, keep that in mind. Also, when your PCS and and I don’t know if this have changed, but when we were PCS, and TMO is not allowed to pack and move your business assets. Some of the things that you own, you may have to ship on your own. That’s an expense that you may not be aware of that you have to take on. But you want to make sure that you know what that policy is before TMO pulls up to your house and get ready you know, for packout. And then there are things that they just can’t take right and you want to be caught off guard. So I always say set up the budget for your household and then set the budget for your for your business to separate entities treat them as such.

Amy Bushatz 22:10

Okay, other considerations? Yeah, apologies.

Lakesha Cole 22:14

Currency is another factor to consider, especially when you’re relocating overseas, that currency value fluctuates daily, I knew nothing about the end rate and exchange. And all of that became an expert, by the time we left, four years later, but anything can swing it, political and economic events, or even unexpected natural disasters can change that currency rate. And now your prices are all out of whack. And you have to figure out how to how to make the numbers make sense. We buy supplies and our local economy when we were there. And the currency rate determines how little or how much we could purchase. So you want to make sure that you’re always in tune with what that rate is and how, and even picking up the trends on when it fluctuates. And when it and when it doesn’t, so that you can prepare properly on your end, we also participate in events where we are required to conduct transactions in here and we will in open our so no one when you have to accept that currency ahead of time allows you to for better strategic planning on your in terms of your bottom line. So you just want to consider these factors. When you’re determining price points to protect your bottom line against any fluctuations. Then you want to start networking, always like to say your business should arrive before you do. Whether you sell a product or service. networking with other business owners, is really the key to your success. Again, when I started this, we didn’t have Facebook, any of this social media stuff. Now you can find a group or start a community in any location. So and I’m pretty sure that every single base there’s there’s a Facebook group or something that’s specifically for military spouse entrepreneurs, you want to join those groups, you want to start asking questions, you want to start introducing yourself to know other people in the group. And then once you feel comfortable with where you are, then you start to introduce your business to that group. So you want to connect with other spouses on these different social media platforms reach out to a diverse group of professionals with various skills and experience to help you gain insight on the customer demographic, the demands of the community, as well as your competitors. So that could be your local Chamber of Commerce. That could be your local military, Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Network Group. There’s so many different little organizational groups in these areas and on these installations that can help you figure out what this information should be for your business. So again, you can make your business plan makes sense for you at that new duty station.

Amy Bushatz 24:58

I love networking, as you know, but I think that people often discredit the idea of a network within a network that you can build a network of people who you can go to, and then leverage their networks for you. Yeah, um, and like, we didn’t talk about this in the intro. I just want to give you a second though to talk about make her because that is such a good example of this very thing. And you as you know, I am a big fan of what you guys do with that. So talk to us about maker, what is it?

Lakesha Cole 25:35

We have our Make Her MilSpouse retreat that is coming up on April 29.

Amy Bushatz 25:42

And that will have passed by the time people hear this pod. But 2022 exists.

Lakesha Cole 25:48

Yeah, it does. But it’s a three day, two night work in virtual wellness experience created for today’s modern military spouse, entrepreneur. So the retreat is an extension of the influential military spouse, our friend, lifestyle blogger, Armywife101 and the mill spouse, influencer network house SoFluential Media where digital influence entrepreneurships are popular focal points. One of the things that people will love about MakeHeris that it’s very diverse, is very inclusive is a very intimate, it’s learning, impactful business experience. For those who are ready to level up in their business. If you’re just starting out, this could be a great place for you as well. But if you’re also looking to to scale, this is also a home for you. So we bring in top notch CEOs to come and teach you this this session, we’re teaching you about money, we’re teaching you about sales and marketing and social media, and just really giving you some actionable education, money making tools for you to grow in your business. And for those of you who are, you know, still active duty, and you know, you’re still in a place where you’re having to relocate your businesses, MakeHer gives you the tools that you need to be successful at that. So you should definitely look out for our retreat next year. And you can go to our website MilSpouseRetreat.com you’ll be able to find any other opportunities for you to maybe go back and kind of listen at this retreat, since this is going to air afterwards. And stay on the lookout get on the email list to get details for the next event that we have. But it is it is truly a one of a kind experience. You just kind of have to experience it for yourself. You were at the lot you had our inaugural event Amy.

Amy Bushatz 27:43

And I’m emceeing the 2021 event. So everybody can just trust me that I think this is great, because I, because I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t love what you guys are doing. But yeah, what I said earlier that, that you don’t do anything janky that’s how I know for sure. Because there was no jankiness here. And it really does do you know, like what we were talking about here, like it did provide me even somebody who has been in this space for a really long time. And I know so many people, I met people I had never even you know, like, encountered at all before. Which is not my normal experience. I’ve just been in the space for so long. That doesn’t happen very often.

Lakesha Cole 28:29

And that was intentional on our part, we wanted to make sure we were finding some really dope military spouse in this space. I don’t want to say that no one’s checking for, but that that flies under the radar enough to where, you know, their names aren’t splashed everywhere, but they are mega successful in their businesses in their industries, and just really kicking butt out there.

Amy Bushatz 28:53

And now these people are in my network, you know, and so when I need something, I can go to them and leverage their networks. And because we spent a couple of super I mean, you know, you and I are both introverts. So we would never, we would never do a retreat that was going to exhaust us. But like, because we spent some time building relationships with those people. Now I like I trust them, and I know that I can go to them, right. And that’s the kind of thing that you have to have, if you are going to successfully PCS with your business because I don’t I know a lot of people but I don’t know everybody as evidenced right. And if I’m going to move from Alaska, to let’s say, Georgia, or somewhere really sort of far afield from my normal network. I’m not probably going to know anyone who right actually there. But I might know somebody who knows somebody who’s there. Mm hmm. And that’s huge. Yes. So huge.

Lakesha Cole 29:48

I always say build your network before you need it, because you’re going to need it. And whether you’re on the East Coast, West Coast or overseas, you know, you need to get out — I do say network in these Facebook groups, but also want you to come out of these Facebook groups and when we can and when it’s safe again, to start network with people in person as well. You’ll be surprised how how those paths will cross again, at some point. And you just and you don’t know who they know, right? And they don’t know, we know. And you guys can not only become great friends, but you can become great assets for each other as well. So build your network, you need it. And that’s not to say, you meet someone, and then you go for the ask, right? I don’t like that. That’s annoying. And and that’s the quickest way to get a no for me.

Amy Bushatz 30:37

It’s a little janky.

Lakesha Cole 30:39

Yes, a little janky, a little suspect. But when you meet people just show some interest in people and get to know people get to know their families, their kids get to know about their business. And once you both feel like you’ve reached a level of comfort within your friendship or business ship or whatever ship you’re on, then you can start to build in those assets to where it feels authentic. And it where it feels genuine, not opportunistic.

Amy Bushatz 31:07

Yeah, yeah. And so what I love about what we’re talking about here is that when people hear, you know, what do you need to know about moving your business, they are probably thinking, you’re gonna walk into this conversation, and we’re going to talk about you know, how to file your LLC and transfer your LLC to a new space or whatever. But but this is like, that’s the technical stuff. And that important, right? That depends on where you’re going. But this is like the universal meat of the matter. This is the stuff that people don’t automatically think of right does set you up for success. And I just I really appreciate these insights. Because I don’t think that if you hadn’t done this so many times, you would know this stuff. This is the stuff people don’t think about

Lakesha Cole 31:49

This is the stuff that you learn the hard way. And then you make it your mission for no one else to have to learn it the hard way. There is no reason why anyone, and I just say this jokingly, but if your station OCONUS or going to OCONUS you can have a successful business, I don’t care what that business is it, it can be successful in an OCONUS tour. You just have to find the right language and the regulation to be able to do that. But there’s just so many factors that play into relocating and successfully relocating. Because, again, your bottom line is always should always be top of mind, how is this going to affect my bottom line? But one of the things that we have not talked about, Amy, is that we PCS when to when to know to let the business go?

Amy Bushatz 32:36

Yeah, and I’m glad you bring us up because I was just about to ask you. Yeah, like, sometimes you find yourself facing a pivot? Yes. What do you do? How do you know? And I know you’re like, I have just always been so impressed with how you personally handled this subject. So I’m sitting here and waiting for your advice, give it to us.

Lakesha Cole 32:57

Yes. And to know when to let it go. For me it was the business was no longer one profitable and it did not bring me joy. And sometimes our ideas are outdated right? Are it’s just like you can outgrow a business idea you can outgrow a business. And I got to a point in my life to where I felt like I had outgrew my business, it was no longer profitable in the way that I wanted it to be. And then you I had to do what financially made the most sense, which was to close the business. But when you’re relocating to one location to the next, and that the local landscape matters, people think because I’m digital, and I, you know, serve people everywhere the local landscape still matters, you know, the saying, all politics is local. I believe all business is local. So you want to make sure you know what that local landscape is. And the reason why I say this is because when I relocated back from Okinawa to North Carolina, and I decided to open my first U.S. brick and mortar store, you know, I did my research, but what surprised me was how, what’s the what’s the right language I want to use it the town was not rooted in small business success as I thought it would be. And if you drive, if you just drive an hour and a half up the road to Fayetteville, their small business culture was a lot different. So not having a robust culture, for small businesses to thrive, will eventually impact your bottom line. And that’s what I experienced there. And that’s what so many other business owners experienced in that location. So you want to make sure that you’re in a place that supports your growth as a small business owner. And that really factored into when to close and when to pivot and do something else.

Amy Bushatz 34:56

Yeah, yeah. But okay, so you talked, we’ve talked a lot About the financials here. But you said something really important a few minutes ago, which was about how it didn’t give you joy anymore. And, and I so much of what we do as military spouses and with our businesses, our passion driven, and it’s about, you know, giving yourself purpose. Yes, it’s about helping your family financially. Yes, it’s about, you know, all sorts of other things. But one of them is that it makes you happy it has to be. So can you just touch on that just just a little bit, and how that played in and how you advise other people to factor that in for themselves?

Lakesha Cole 35:33

Yes, when I started my business, my daughter was two, I had one kid, I now have three kids 15, six, and five. And the lifestyle that I had with that business and with one kid, it just no longer fits my world, I don’t want to be sitting in a store running the store 40, 50 hours a week overseeing, you know, a dozen employees having to worry about inventory, having to figure it out through a pandemic having to, it was just, it just it, you want to see somebody who was just completely unhappy, I was literally under my desk, saying, I do not want to do this anymore. This is just not where I want to be, this is not what I want to do. And, you know, it was kind of the perfect storm for me in a sense to where I was able to pivot from one and into a very successful business that that are not actually aligned with each other at all. But it was all because I made the decision to choose me and my happiness and my family first and not worry about what was going to happen next. Because I knew that the lessons that I’ve learned over the past eight years with this retail business, there is not another business that I can start that won’t be successful in my mind, they all would be successful, because I have the battle scars to prove it. I have the experience, I have the knowledge, I have the network, I have the resources. And I needed to experience that for me to be able to grow and flourish and do other things. That’s the thing. We’re all great at multiple things. And sometimes we get so married to ideas that we don’t even recognize when they’re no longer working. And I have to get up to a point where if it’s no longer working, why are you holding on to it? Why are you keeping it there are so many other things that you’re great at, you can just that you can be doing, go do those things. And that’s what I decided to do. So you know, you want to make so how did I make that decision? One it wasn’t profitable into it just did not bring me joy anymore. And there were just so many things that I wanted to do. And I couldn’t do it because I was tied down to this one business that I felt like I had to keep going. Because so many other people believed in it. They were still shopping, they were still supporting it. And it just wasn’t there for me anymore.

Amy Bushatz 37:56

And you had to make the decision to do something that was best for you. And, you know, we talk in this space a lot about self care. It’s I mean, it’s almost like this terribly overused phrase, right? resiliency and all of these things. But at the end of the day, what we mean by that is looking in the mirror and taking care of yourself. Yeah, and doing the things that are best for you. And that does not, I mean, I think it should include a spa day, sometimes it does not necessarily include a spa day, it includes asking yourself making tough questions, and making tough decisions that might hurt a little bit in that moment, like letting go of something that you are really dedicated to, and and you’re worried about letting other people down or whatever. And instead of worrying about that just worrying about yourself for a hot second. Yeah. And that’s okay.

Lakesha Cole 38:47

It is okay. It’s a lot of saying no, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable. And it’s saying no to sometimes people you care about, and you have a great deal of respect for. But saying no is for you is for your sanity it’s for your wellbeing it’s for your self care. And all you can do is hope that the other person understands that. And I experienced that several times over the past year of just, you know, just saying no and not feeling bad about and not having to apologize for it. And really just hoping that the person on the other ends can extend some grace and understand why I have to finally say no at this point, because it’s what’s best for me, it’s what’s best for my family, it’s what’s best for my business.

AB 39:32

Yeah, yeah. Oh, Lakesha, I am so so just loved it that you shared your expertise with us today. I’m so appreciative of that and of your time, and of your experience and that you’re gifting that to us. Thank you so much. Thank you for being on PCS with Military.com.

Lakesha Cole 39:50

Thank you for having me.

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