After multiple jobs, Laura found a career that is aligned with her personal values and, as a result, feels more energy in what she does. And what she does as Founder & CEO of Freedom Makers is help military spouses gain freedom in their own life. Laura talks about how small businesses can benefit from working with military spouses, about how listeners can benefit by having their own virtual assistant, and a whole host of topics related to any military Veteran.
Laura Renner is the President and Founder of Freedom Makers, which creates freedom for small business owners by providing virtual assistance. Freedom Makers’ assistants are military spouses who also gain freedom because they can keep working no matter when or where the military moves their family. She served in the Air Force for six years as a Public Affairs Officer, earned an International MBA at the Chicago Booth School of Business, has worked in recruiting in the airline industry, and has started a few businesses.
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Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Oakland, CA is Laura Renner. Laura Renner is the President and Founder of Freedom Makers, which creates freedom for small business owners by providing virtual assistance. Freedom Makers’ assistants are military spouses who also gain freedom because they can keep working no matter when or where the military moves their family. She served in the Air Force for six years as a Public Affairs Officer, earned an International MBA at the Chicago Booth School of Business, has worked in recruiting in the airline industry, and has started a few businesses.
Why did you make the decision to leave the Air Force?
I grew up in the military so even though I joined the Air Force, I knew that at some point, I wanted to experience life outside the military.
When you left the Air Force, where did you go from there?
I went straight to business school at the Chicago Booth School.
How much do you think getting an MBA helped you get where you are now?
I didn’t know anything about business so I thought it would be a good idea. But I really didn’t know how to actually get the most out of the business school education.
It was a tremendous experience. But I don’t think it’s necessary to start your own business.
I would recommend that you really take the time before your transition to think about what you want to do. In the private sector, you need to know what you want and you have to figure out how to get experience in that field.
Try to reach out to people that work in fields that you’re interested in. Most people are going to be willing to give you a few minutes of their time to discuss their experience.
You studied abroad in China during your time at Booth. Can you talk about that?
I studied in Peking, China and then networked my way into doing an internship in China as well. It was a great opportunity to experience business outside the United States.
How do you describe what you do for a living?
Freedom Makers partners with small businesses to help small business owners take various tasking off their plates. These tasks are completed by qualified members of the military community.
At what point did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
I had worked in a few different places after business school and nothing was sticking. They really weren’t a fit for me.
In one of those positions, I was doing recruiting for small business. I was coming across a lot of small business owners that didn’t have the revenue stream to higher new employees but still had various tasking that needed to get done.
My brother is active duty military and I was talking to my sister-in-law. In a conversation that is all too familiar for military spouses, my sister-in-law was concerned about continuing her career at her husband’s next duty station.
I started thinking about connecting these two ideas. There are so many qualified military spouses out there that can help small business owners with the various tasks that they need done.
At first I wondered if this was a legitimate idea. I realized that the big deal for me was freedom. It needed to be completely virtual so that I could run the business from anywhere. That idea has guided the business. We try to bring those ideas to our clients as well. We never assign work to people, we let people decide what tasking and projects are most interesting to them.
How do you stay on track with projects you’re working on?
I came up with a phased plan. I’m not very time based so that whole SMART goal concept is tough for me. Instead, I stay focused on a goal and make sure I’m working toward milestones that will bring me toward that goal.
When I have a business idea, I give myself a few weeks to think about the idea and talk to other people about the idea. This has been a good test to see if an idea really has legs or not.
How can military spouses get involved with Freedom Writers?
Spouses should reach out to us and we can get them going with creating a profile for them in our database.
Once they get added, they can start going through our list of available jobs. We provide our clients with a list of qualified candidates and then the client is able to select who they want to work with.
We have a private Facebook group for participants so that they can share ideas and best practices.
What are typical projects like?
In order to get full-time work as a virtual assistant, you often need to work for multiple clients at once. Other people prefer to work less hours for just one client. And that’s fine too.
For us specifically, most of our clients are solo business owners. Virtual assistants are able to take care of some of that person's work so he or she can really focus on growing their business.
A lot of our Freedom Makers really like the flexibility. They can pick and choose what projects fit their time commitment needs.
How does it work for the person hiring the Freedom Maker?
I always advise the client to consider time management vs. energy management. You often want to hire out projects to virtual assistants that you would have found draining energy-wise.
When you’re thinking about what you want to delegate, you don’t necessarily want to delegate projects that are most time consuming but rather projects that are most energy consuming.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to start a company?
Build the company in a way that you want to live. I built my company to be completely virtual so I could run the company from anywhere. Other people will have different priorities for their business. You should match your company to what is important to you.