From the Army to Veteran Owned Small Business

How can you take the skills the military taught you and use them as a veteran-owned small business? Beth served in the Army for ten years. She bounced around from a few different jobs after completing a job and ended up back in Minnesota so she could be close to her family. After her first child, she had the idea to create a Busy Baby Mat. Today she runs Busy Baby, a veteran-owned small business (seen of Shark Tank) and uses the skills she learned from the military to navigate the ups and downs of military life.

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From the Army to Veteran-Owned Small Business


Beth was looking for a way to pay for college and dreaming of enjoying Spring Break like the rest of her friends. An Army recruiter cold-called her and asked her if she wanted a way to pay for college and to see the world. That was all it took for her to sign up and join the Army and head off to Bootcamp days later. It was 1996. The Army was looking for people. Her recruiter prepared her for BootCamp mentally. And luckily, she was already in pretty good physical shape.

She began her career learning Russian but never actually used it. Then she went back to Defense Language Institute to learn Serbian/Croatian and deployed to Bosnia. She spent time being the only American on a Polish/Danish base. From that, she learned the history of her last name. While in Bosnia, she met a guy and was planning to marry him and leave the military at the end of her enlistment. He left before her and ended up cheating on her. This left her without a plan. So, instead of leaving the military she re-enlisted as a broadcast journalist and went to Italy.

Off to Italy

While in Italy she was the one manning the radio station for the local troops and informed them about the September 11th attacks on the US. She talked about how they knew they would likely deploy soon and she eventually deployed but to Iraq and not Afghanistan. She was the first embedded female journalist during the invasion of Iraq and shared about her experience there. At the end of her second enlistment, she decided to leave the military and go back to school and finish her degree. She graduated college in 2008 during the height of the recession and struggled to find a job.

Leaving the military behind

She bounced around a few places and eventually ended up back home. She wanted to be around while her brother raised a family. There she also met her fiancee. They quickly started their family since she was already forty. Today she runs Busy Baby. She has created a no-slip silicone placemat for babies that is designed to keep them occupied at the table. As Beth explained on Shark Tank in Season 12, there are similar placemats on the market, but none of them have toys attached.

She said the military has helped her as a business owner because she doesn’t quit she just finds a new path forward. She recommends people join the military and talked about how there are great advantages to joining.

Connect with Beth:

Mentioned in this episode:

Shark Tank Appearance

Related Episodes:

How a care package created a business – Episode 74

An Army Helicopter Pilot – Episode 143

The onset of female engagement teams – Episode 104

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