Army, Navy Wives Team Up to Make Spouse Licensing Their New Mission

Army, Navy Wives Team Up to Make Spouse Licensing Their New Mission
Josie Beets (left photo, with husband Maj. Sean Zehtab, USA) and Libby Jamison (right photo, with husband Cmdr. Brian Jamison, USN) are the co-founders of MissionLICENSE. (Courtesy photos)

By Hannah Becker

Josie Beets is a licensed attorney, a nonprofit executive, an Army spouse, and a mom. She is passionate about helping people find ways to make licensing work with their mobile lifestyles. For the past decade, she has put her extensive expertise in comprehensive problem solving, strategic communications, and regulatory frameworks to transform the landscape of licensing for mobile military spouses. Her karaoke go-to song is “Fancy” by Reba McEntire, with “We Belong” by Pat Benatar in a close second. In other words, she used to be cool.

Libby Jamison is a proud Navy spouse, an attorney, and a serial volunteer. She has a decade of experience working in both the private and public sectors, and in nonprofit roles focused on advocacy, problem solving, and strategic communications. Libby currently volunteers as the chair of the San Diego Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone. She has presented on military family issues and occupational licensing to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bar Association, and National Conference of Bar Presidents. Libby believes the secret to a happy life is cheese. You can usually find her tweeting about the Seahawks, occupational licensing reform, and of course, cheese.

What’s your military story?

Josie met her husband, an Army JAG officer, while volunteering in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Libby met her husband, a Navy helicopter pilot, during her undergraduate studies at the University of Washington. Between Josie and Libby, they have almost 10 PCSs and over 30 years as military spouses. Josie currently lives in Northern Virginia, while Libby recently moved to Southern California.

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Tell us about your business.

In February 2019, Josie and Libby launched MissionLICENSE based on their experiences as military spouses who faced significant career disruptions due to re-licensing challenges with each military move. After years of successfully advocating for changes with various nonprofits, they started the consulting firm to serve those dealing with licensing barriers through individual counseling and assistance.

MissionLICENSE provides one-on-one counseling on licensing applications or transfers, advice on legislative and regulatory affairs, and workforce solutions for businesses. While the company helps all professionals dealing with occupational licensing challenges, these services are particularly valuable to military spouses seeking to continue in a regulated occupation after relocating to a new jurisdiction.

What inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business?

As military spouses and licensed professionals, our mobile lives mean that we have experienced the personal and financial disruption caused by overly burdensome licensing requirements. Subject to relocations every two to three years, we have moved across state lines more times than we can count, invested thousands of dollars in relicensing and job hunting, and struggled to navigate complex and repetitive licensing schemes.

More than 25% of U.S. workers now require a license to practice their professions, compared with only 5% who needed a license in the 1950s. Through our own experiences, we developed a passion for supporting others dealing with licensing frustrations. We saw firsthand how licensing schemes lacked clarity or common sense, and primarily serve those already licensed, not the greater public good.

We were inspired to start MissionLICENSE to encourage freedom to work, reduce barriers to employment, and reform occupational licensing laws. We want to take the solutions being applied to help military families and work to remove hurdles for the greater U.S. workforce.

[RELATED: This Military Spouse’s Growing Business Helps Mothers-to-Be]

How has having a business partner influenced your entrepreneurial journey?

This journey would not have been possible without our partnership. We both need an accountability partner, someone who will push us when things seem impossible. It helps that we are both completely obsessed with all things licensing — we have spent more than one long evening talking about the peculiarities and absurdity of the licensing regimes across the country. That obsessiveness now helps us craft solutions for our clients.

What’s been the hardest part of starting your own business?

Taking that first step really is the hardest! We talked about the idea for months before taking the plunge because we knew that we weren’t ready to give up our day jobs, meaning we would be working on MissionLICENSE in our precious free time on top of parenting, volunteering, and life. We have a lot of ideas about where we want to take the business to better serve our community and the workforce, but are also balancing where we need to grow with our capacity to expand given our crazy military lives.

[RELATED: Meet the Air Force Spouse Dubbed the ‘Marie Kondo’ of Military Families]

What resources and programs have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?

With one of us on each coast, separated by three time zones, using collaboration tools like Google Docs and Google Drive are essential to our success and allow us to communicate and plan whenever and wherever. Also, with our busy schedules and competing projects, it’s important to know when to outsource. We depend on professional help to keep us on track and love working with FreedomMakers to utilize a military spouse virtual assistant.

Why do you think entrepreneurship is a good career opportunity for military spouses?

Being your own boss is a great option for military spouses who face discrimination on the job hunt. Entrepreneurship can offer military families a second income with much-needed flexibility. Libby ran her own law firm for several years to avoid obstacles experienced by many military spouses when relocating, like resume gaps and relicensing fees. But entrepreneurship isn’t without its challenges.

We’ve heard from many military spouses about the struggles of relocating a business from one state to another. Through MissionLICENSE, we are working to make it easier for business owners to make a mobile lifestyle possible.

Tell us about your latest business project.

We are working on a couple of top secret projects to help people understand the impact moving has on career continuity. Our goal is to make moving a license easier when possible through educating decision makers about why they should make common sense reforms to licensing regimes to prevent obstacles to employment and promote business growth in their jurisdictions.

[RELATED: 5 Tips for Finding Career Connections]

What advice would you give to other military spouses who want to start a business?

If you have an idea of a business to start, the best thing you can do first is to do your market research. Identify who your competitors might be and how you can set yourself apart. When we decided to start MissionLICENSE, we first did our research to learn who was already providing help to individuals looking to navigate occupational licensing issues. We spent months looking for competitors and analyzing those working in the space. We found several think tanks and advocacy organizations who were talking about how to change systemic issues around licensing, but no one offering the type of individual support we wanted to provide.

How can our readers connect with you?

Hannah Becker is a marketing professional, tech innovator, and military spouse. She currently works as the Creative Director for Becker Digital and is an Adjunct Instructor of business, computer science, and economics. 

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