Rachel Brenke is the founder of the Business Bites podcast and several successful legal niche brands, including TheLawTog®, FitLegally, and BlogLegally. She is also a mother of five, wife to an Army veteran, a practicing lawyer, an author, a cancer survivor, and a Team USA athlete.
Through her podcast, brands, and one-on-one services, Rachel helps creative entrepreneurs with business strategy and legal needs such as forming businesses, draft contracts, and business and intellectual property law.
What’s your military story?
Nathan was active duty at Fort Hood, and I was attending the University of Texas. We actually met online but found out after we got married that we had mutual friends from back home in Virginia. I have been a military dependent since 1984, with my father being a fighter jet copilot in the Air Force, then marrying Nathan for his 10.5 years of service with the Army. We lived primarily at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bliss, Texas. Nathan had a total of four deployments to Iraq (2003-04, 2005-07 <17 months>, 2008-09, 2010-11).
Tell us about your business.
I am an author, entrepreneur, lawyer, and master business consultant. My niche brands serve legal and business needs of specific industries, including TheLawTog (photography), FitLegally (fitness coaches), and BlogLegally (online entrepreneurs).
Each of these brands provides business and legal content specific to the industry. As an entrepreneur in each of these industries, I have a pulse on the pain points and needs of these fellow entrepreneurs.
When were you first “bitten” by the entrepreneurial bug?
I started business consulting in 2007 when realizing the need for business assistance. This arose out of the questions I received from fellow business owners as I was running an online apparel shop through a print-on-demand service. Around that time, I was diagnosed with cancer and wanted two major things: 1) to be around and present for my kids and 2) to never work on someone else’s terms for their gain.
What inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business?
Surviving cancer while my oldest kid was a baby, plus the continual deployments, training, and moving schedule of being a military spouse inspired self-employment.
How has the military community and experience influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
Being an active member of Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN), a network for military spouse lawyers, has helped to leverage my business while I’m able to provide employment to other spouses in between work. Employment tasks include virtual assistant tasks, ghost writing, guest writing, and other collaborative efforts.
What’s been the hardest part of starting your own business?
The hardest part, in the beginning, was not unlike other entrepreneurs — it was learning to manage it all. However, military spouses have another level of hardship when the spouse is continually in and out on the schedule of the military demands. It was difficult to get a consistent workday to grow the business.
What resources and programs have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
Facebook helped significantly grow my followers in the early years, but I’ve found developing a personality brand to sell a service/product is way more effective than just selling a service/product through social media and website.
Why do you think entrepreneurship is a good career opportunity for military spouses?
Entrepreneurship is probably one of the BEST ways a military spouse can achieve success as it can be portable. Depending on the industry, many can just pick up and go.
How has starting your business inspired growth in your professional life?
Think about this: Working a corporate job, you can feel down-trodden, and the last thing you want to think about is continuing-education courses or workshops or other professional development. But when you’re your own boss and have to do it all, you learn things you never would have thought you'd delve into, like speaking engagements and networking. If it weren’t for being an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t be speaking at national conferences today.
What’s currently on your radar? Tell us about your latest entrepreneurial project.
My goal this year is to broaden my reach through appearances such as Ted Talks and speaking on other large stages. While I love the online aspect of my niche sites, I really do love teaching in person.
What advice would you give to other military spouses who want to start a business?
Figure it out. When I started out, we didn’t have any money to spare. So I waited tables and poured all my income back into the business. It was imperative to me that I didn’t have to work on someone else’s terms — but that still meant working on someone else’s terms with a guaranteed income to support it in the beginning.
How can our readers connect with you?