Business Owners Report: Career Valet

Name: Marcelle Yeager

How many years have you been living life in the Foreign Service?
3 years so far!

Where have you been posted?
Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Santiago, Chile.

Briefly describe your career path:
My career path has tied together two of my passions – languages and writing – but I certainly did not plan it that way. There were many naysayers who asked what I would do with an undergraduate degree in Russian, so I went to work in Moscow for two years following graduation. Upon returning to the U.S., I fell into the strategic communications/public affairs field consulting for Russian clients. This was a great job as I got to write a lot and work with clients on a variety of projects. My Russian language skills then brought me to my first federal government stint at the Department of Defense but I didn’t feel it was creative enough so I returned to the private sector consulting for the government in what I missed – strategic communications. I was lucky to get a job in public affairs at Embassy Tashkent and had a great experience.

What is the name of your business? Do you have a website?
Career Valet – find us at www.careervalet.com.

Briefly describe your business:
I help people in career transition create customized resumes/CVs and cover letters, conduct job searches, and develop interviewing skills. The most rewarding part of my work is hearing from clients that they’re proud of their resume, have received compliments on their resume from hiring managers, and/or landed a fulfilling job.

Why did you start this business? When?
I knew I wanted to start a business and work for myself so I decided to get an MBA to learn more about the best ways to get started and things to consider. As part of an independent study, I conducted research on portable careers as we were about to start our Foreign Service lifestyle. A book I had read during school asked readers to ponder what they would do for free. I then realized all along that I had been helping colleagues, friends, and family with career changes, and so I started Career Valet in 2011 with a former colleague.

How does your business fit into the Foreign Service lifestyle?
It’s completely portable because I talk to clients on Skype, email, and the phone.

What has been your biggest challenge with your business so far?
We had a fairly good idea from the beginning who our target markets were but couldn’t figure out how to reach them beyond word-of-mouth and referrals. The biggest challenge has been getting clients to find us.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Earlier this year, I began writing a weekly article on Thursdays for U.S. News and World Report’s On Careers blog. It has brought Career Valet a substantial increase in inquiries from potential clients and revenue.

Any advice for EFMs thinking about starting their own business?
Ask yourself what you would do for free. It’s probably something you are already doing but never thought about doing as a business.
You don’t need to go to business school or take classes to write a business plan. If you do some basic research on what’s already out there in the field you’re considering, and jot down ideas for what you envision and potential partners to talk to who do similar or complementary work, that’s all you need to get started. I typically like to have everything laid out before I begin something but I learned that takes up valuable time that you could be using to market yourself and your business. A lot of it is trial and error and making adjustments to your model but that’s the fun part.

What resources were particularly helpful to you when you were starting your business? Which resources do you use to maintain your business?
I liked www.Namecheap.com to buy my website domain name, www.Squarespace.com for creating my website, and www.Rackspace.com for my email server which also provides a SharePoint site to store and organize documents. I also use www.PayPal.com to request and receive client payments.

Career Valet

Career Valet logo

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