Name: Lauren Rothlisberger
Name of Company: MILLIE
Year Started: 2015
Based In: Company is based in Arlington, I live in Germany.
Military Affiliation: Army
Lauren Rothlisberger is the Director of Marketing and one of the masterminds behind MILLIE, an amazing new company that helps military families through the PCS process. Whether you need help researching a new duty station or help finding your next home, MILLIE is there to make your military move feel less like...well, how a military move typically feels. We sat down with Lauren to learn a little more about her, and what has helped her become a successful entrepreneur.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand/company.
I live with my husband and four kids in Germany. I love design, development, marketing, small businesses, and the process of trying to make all those things flow together. I started MILLIE, and also have a tiny side hustle of consulting with small businesses. My journey to MILLIE started when myself and another military spouse decided to launch a business called Military Property Project. We put together an on-demand network of military spouses that can be tasked out in a location you can’t (for example, have someone check out a potential rental property for you). As we grew that network we decided to merge with AgentHero and develop the MILLIE brand.
How has being a military spouse affected your journey and your business?
I know for a lot people, being a military spouse really complicates their career. I never really saw myself having a traditional career, so I think being a military spouse almost forced me to really step into the role I hoped to be in.
What were some of the big challenges you faced along the way?
The biggest challenges stem from many things. It comes from being a military spouse, being a Mom (and sometimes a Mom and Dad), and moving around often. But also from things that are typical for any business owner. The ups and downs of growing something from nothing can be very trying. There is a lot of two-steps-forward and one-step-back. I think you have to constantly reevaluate what is working and what is not. What is the challenge? Is it really a 9 foot wall or just a few, small 3 foot walls? Find a way to make 3 foot walls.
Were you nervous about starting your own business or did it come naturally?
I have started several businesses, but when I started Military Property Project (now MILLIE) with my business partner it was so clear that military families needed help. We both found a lot of friends coming to us with questions and that is always the sure sign of a problem. We felt we could offer a solution. I have never been nervous about starting a business, but I think most people are nervous about actually sharing their business with the world. There is a fear, “what if nobody cares”, “what if nobody likes this”. And if that happens don’t let it discourage you, figure out how to shift.
How do you balance family life and your business?
This is hard. Now that my kids are at school, I try and time-block work into parts of the day they aren’t around. It used to be nap time and night time, but every season is different. Working from home can be tough. Work is always there in front of you, and there is always one more thing to do. Generally, I subscribe to the early riser method and try and knock out as much work as I can early, so I can focus on family later in the day. I wish there was some magic answer, but probably one of the best habits I put in place is to set three daily targets. If those get done, then I can walk away from work feeling accomplished. The real challenge of course is when they don’t get done and you still need to walk away.
What are some pieces of advice you can share with other women entrepreneurs?
Just start something. There is a lot of talk in the startup world about a MVP, a minimum viable product. If you strip away everything, all the bells and whistles, the features you could have, or the packaging you “should” have, what is left? Get a quick core product or service out, see what people react to, then build from there. Don’t overthink it.
Who are some of your entrepreneurial heroes?
I have loved Jason Fried from Basecamp (used to be called 37Signals) for a long time. His team’s approach to work, life, and the balance just make so much sense to me. I love their story of bootstrapping and how they have built something great without adding every feature requested. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx is a very fun, down to earth entrepreneur. Her story of drive and creativity to get her product out is very inspiring. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, created a business in such an organic way. It is a cool story and I particularly love the way the company has integrated families into the business. Lastly, and I say this not because he is R.Riveter’s Shark Tank investor, but Mark Cuban. I have read his blog for years, long before he became TV famous. He always seems to break his lessons down into simple common sense.
What is one of the most proud achievements of your career this far?
I don’t think there is any one or two proud achievements. I think it is all the small ones that string together to make something happen. A series of small victories.
Starbucks order? Tall, black, coffee.
Go-to workout? When time is short (which is always), I do a 25 minute bodyweight workout or go for a run.
Guilty pleasure? Saturday Mimosas, preferably on a bright sunny warm day while sitting on our front patio.
Your phone camera is filled with photos of… Well the first answer is my kids, because I have four of them and they consume a lot of my camera roll. But after that would be cool items, fonts, designs, signs I see that I just like the look of.
If you could have dinner with any woman, who would it be and why? Brene Brown, she seems so fun and I would love to talk to her about my life and get all her insight.