SmallBiz gives military entrepreneurs a hearing

When members of the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard are called up to active duty, what happens to the jobs and companies they leave behind? That's a tough scenario in the best of circumstances. But what if a soldier is also an entrepreneur? What happens when that single person is the living, breathing force that keeps a company going, and there is no one quite capable of taking his or her place?

In this issue of BusinessWeek SmallBiz, Staff Writer Jeremy Quittner takes a look at a group of entrepreneurs that have had surprisingly little attention: members of the Reserves and National Guard who also own businesses. Some 55,000 reservists and National Guard members are self-employed, and about twice that many work for small companies. For many of these soldiers, being called up comes with added layers of worry. Who will keep the business going? How will clients, employees, and suppliers react to the sudden absence of the CEO? And what will happen to the soldier's family if the business does fall on hard times?

The soldiers Jeremy spoke with managed their situation in a variety of ways, some more successfully than others. Most had concrete suggestions about how the adjustment and planning processes could be made at least a little easier. But what was perhaps most unexpected were the ways in which these soldiers refocused themselves and their businesses after their return, becoming better managers and more creative entrepreneurs as a result. That entrepreneurial spirit is something we continue to be encouraged by, and we hope you find it inspiring, too.

By Kimberly Weisul, Editor, BusinessWeek SmallBiz

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