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Education – How to Start a Business Classes Designed for Marines

Portable Skills Benefit Military On-the-Move

OCEANSIDE , The most pressing question for some soon-to-be-discharged Marines is what to do next. After four years for most, going from a steady income to no job can be tough.

Carole Enmark, director of the Small Business Development Center North San Diego County in Oceanside, was faced with a similar situation of helping people as a resident of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The 553-square-mile island was shredded on Sept. 11, 1992, by the 160-mph winds of Hurricane Iniki. The storm caused $1.8 billion in damage for Kauai’s 54,000 residents.

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“I got together with the small business development center folks over there and we tried to think about what kinds of businesses could be started there with very few resources,” Enmark said. “We weren’t terribly successful. People were pretty devastated, but later on , a few months down the road , the ideas caught on.”

As director of one of the newest and largest centers in California, Enmark has her hands full with 18 Indian reservations and Camp Pendleton within the business center’s 4,000-square-mile jurisdiction. But being based in Oceanside lets her assist those soon-to-be-discharged from the Marine base.

Starting the week of June 12, Enmark will lead four entrepreneurial classes a week for eight weeks. The series is called “Starting Your Own Portable Business,” and it’s designed to provide basic business skills in a way the skills can be used wherever they are.

“The challenge is when you’re in the military you never know where you’re going to wind up next,” she said. “So if you’re getting ready to get out, you might return to Illinois or wherever.”

The classes will cover the different types of business structures, partnerships, basic bookkeeping, how to collect debts, and “How do you find out what licenses and permits and things you’ll need in Illinois as opposed to California, or a small town as opposed to a large city?” Enmark said.

“If they’re going to actually stay here in San Diego County, then we can talk about how to transition this business opportunity from on-base to off-base.”

Because “most service businesses don’t take that much capital,” the classes focus on inexpensive, niche ventures. Enmark’s past students have dabbled in the common, like traveling pet grooming, to the complex, like event planning.

The classes for single and married Marines, spouses and on-base civilians are not industry specific, but general ‘how-to’ classes.

“I think you can teach, and I have taught, an entrepreneurial class that is industry specific, but of course you get only those people interested in that industry,” she said.

Workshops on ideal business ventures were already held. They, like the classes to be held in June, were three hours each, four times a week: one weeknight, one weekend and two midday, midweek.

“We wanted to be able to hit anyone that might be interested,” Enmark said.

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