This article was written as part of the Military Spouse Business Association’s Operation Create Your Own Path. This month long event features different military spouse business owners and uses military spouse bloggers to interview and write on these amazing business people. Read the rest of the series at www.milspousebiz.org/blog to learn about some really cool businesses and glean great information about topics such as getting started, finding funding, ethics, and career portability. And please check out the military spouse business listings in the Red, White, and Blue Pages to find a milspouse who is doing the work that you need!
I’m a big fan of simple. Because really – as a military spouse, stay-at-home-mother, and entrepreneur – I don’t have time for complicated. So when I hear about an idea that meets a true need, is brilliantly elegant in it’s simplicity, and also exceptionally efficient in it’s execution I want to know more! Recently I had an opportunity to talk with Lori Clinton, a Navy spouse of 19 years, about Your Yeoman, her concierge service for deployed service members, and I was thoroughly impressed.
Lori Clinton, Founder and CEO of Your Yeoman
Let’s face it – when our Service Members deploy their obligations on the home-front do not end and, because of the nature of deployments, it can be difficult for the Service Member to attend to those details well or in a timely fashion. Although many service members do have support on the home-front from spouses, parents, and friends sometimes the need surpasses what those at home are able to handle. So in steps Lori, and her team of military spouse professionals, to do the work required.
As a concierge service, Your Yeoman offers a wide range of options to meet most needs of deployed service members. It may be collecting mail, paying bills, doing weekly home check-ins, or even sending care-packages of necessaries to the deployed service member. They can also send reminders of important dates to the service member and can ensure that a spouse/significant other/parent/child receives a gift on their birthday or special occasion by helping the deployed service member pick one out and even sending it to the loved one. And these services are available for single or married service members.
Lori’s moment of inspiration came one day at lunch with a fellow military spouse who was lamenting about how her husband, who was deployed, wasn’t able to call, write, or even send a gift for her birthday. And even though she understood the nature of his job, and his limited accessibility to cards and gifts, she still felt “forgotten” on her day. Lori, who was already running a general concierge service (running errands, grocery shopping, and other services for anyone in the community who needed her help,) realized that with a few tweaks she could help deployed service members ensure that their home-front needs were met too.
That was 1 ½ years ago and now Your Yeoman has a staff of 5 part-time employees and is still growing. In fact it’s about to expand across state lines! Because Lori hires military spouses to work for Your Yeoman she has factored career portability into her business plan – as her employees move to new states they are able to take their work with them and establish new branches of Your Yeoman at the new duty stations. So, while the services are currently only available in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia – they are coming soon to Louisiana and maybe a duty station near you!
After learning all of that I asked Lori a few more questions about how she got started on her path:
1) Why did you decide to work for yourself and how did you decide on your current business?
I worked in the corporate world for over 20 years and specialized in Accounting and Human Resources. Because of difficulty with career portability I decided to use my knowledge and skill-sets to work for myself.
2) What has been the hardest part of working for yourself? What has been the best part?
The hardest part has been having the family adjust to my working from home. We all needed to understand that just because I am in the house I am not necessarily in “Mom” and “Wife” mode all the time. But the best part has been the flexibility to work around the family schedule.
3) Do you have plans to include your spouse into your business after they separate or retire from the military?
My husband recently retired after 24 years in the Navy. He’s actually sitting next to me now J He and our son do help with different aspects of my concierge business already – they especially love helping with pet sitting and dog walking!
4) Have there been any specific challenges to running a business as a result of your life as a military spouse?
Being a milspouse has helped me to really understand the life and needs of my clientele. After 19 years of military life I have amassed a diversity of experiences that can be applied to better helping my clients. One of the biggest challenges I have faced is marketing, though understanding the way the Navy operates has been helpful to finding ways of getting word to the right places and people at the right time about our services.
Check out Your Yeoman at www.youryeoman.com and even if you don’t have a need for their services, or aren’t in an area where they currently operate, you can choose to sponsor a service member – and that is a great way to help out our troops!
Don’t forget to read tomorrow’s interview with Sandra Sawyer about Ardyss International by Kaye Putnam on The Military Spouse Foundation blog.