Before the age of 30, Felicia Joy was a high-powered executive in Corporate America making $167,000 a year. For most, that would signal success; but Joy, who was public relations specialist for the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in 2003, wasn’t quite fulfilled. “I felt I wasn’t using my full set of talents,” she says. “I was getting bored and I just felt like there was so much more that I could do.”
Always driven to start her own business, Joy left her position and, with her former business partner, launched a seminar company offering daylong seminars in hotel conference centers. Unfortunately, six months later, the businesses failed. “That experience shook me to my core, but it also gave me strength. It was not that I could not pursue it, but I needed to be smart about it.” Second time around, Joy re-entered Corporate America and decided to keep her regular paycheck as a Director of Corporate Communications at the Mirant Corp while pursuing her business–becoming what she has dubbed as a “Hybrid Entrepreneur.” Since then she has been able to own and represent a diverse portfolio of companies, including Ms. CEO Media, Inc., a fast-growing media enterprise that creates actionable, inspirational content to enable women entrepreneurs to achieve their greatest potential.
In her new book Hybrid Entrepreneurship: How the Middle Class Can Beat the Slow Economy, Earn Extra Income and Reclaim the American Dream ($20, Joy Group Press), Joy shows readers how to overcome fear and self-doubt and how to get additional income that gives you the confidence in your ability to thrive through various economic conditions. Here, she offers a few tips on how you can walk the line effectively.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: What is hybrid entrepreneurship?
Felicia Joy: Hybrid Entrepreneurship is the act of working a full time job while building a business part-time. The philosophy is that you’re going to leverage your job in a way that helps you in your business but will also help you at your job.
Being entrepreneurial on your job (also called an intraprenuer) will help you create the skills that will help you grow your business and will help you get further in your job because you stand out as a leader. A lot of people spend a lot of time at work talking and socializing. [Instead] do your work quickly and do it well and ask for more responsibility. We are often fearful of our supervisors, our bosses, CEO’s, the leaders but they’re looking for good people, they need help thinking through those problems. A lot of times we wait to be given direction but leaders are looking for people who can help them think and strategize. For example, my natural talents and gifting are in the space of communications and more verbal so I shied away from working with numbers, but you have to run a business by the numbers. So I also started asking for more budget responsibility and once I started managing those budgets it gave me experience in crunching the numbers; a skill-set I also used to run my business.
What does it take to be successful at hybrid entrepreneurship?
There are four steps to success. 1. Start: The world is full of people talking about what they want to do, what they should do, what they could have done, all the ideas they have but there is never any action. Just make a decision and get started. 2. Struggle: There may be some tough times but if you commit yourself to becoming a student of your business and if you’ll commit yourself to a strong work ethic then you can get through the struggle. 3. Wise up: Learn from your mistake and do better. 4. Win: Not everyone will everyone be successful because not everyone will go all the way through the struggle. That was me the first time. I got to the struggle and felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I quit, but it was temporarily. I recovered and went back stronger and better.
That takes a certain type of mindset.
Yes, the mentality of person who will be successful in this business is one that in the mist of turbulence and stress and what seems to be a disaster they see opportunity; that’s what I call the OOO mindset. You look for Options, Opportunity and know that you can always Overcome. Whereas a person when as soon as anything comes against them they fold and don’t see a way around or over the obstacle has an X mindset. It is important to develop within yourself that OOO mindset because even when the economy was tanking people who were skilled entrepreneurs started looking at other options and opportunities.
How do you find those opportunities? Should you follow your passion?
No, no, no. People make the mistake of thinking that your business has to be your passion. You just need passion to build the business. Passion is definitely necessary but what passion does is gives you energy and you defiantly need energy to build a business. You have to research the trends and learn about the area that you want to start your business in. If you do want to start with what you’re passionate about write a list and research is those areas of passion are trending upward? If they are not trending upward is there a way you can put a unique spin on it and create a new opportunity? Sometimes you won’t have a unique spin on it and it just won’t fly.
Once you choose a business, what are some creative ways to fund your enterprise?
There has been an explosion of ways to be able to invest in other people’s businesses or loan to other people. This is what I refer to as being a Samaritan in the book. You can go on sites such as prosper.com and loan money to entrepreneurs in any small increment that you want or as much as $25,000. If you know someone who wants to start a business and you want to loan them some money but you don’t just want to loan it to them directly and then have to follow up on it you can do it through prosper.com. They even have a collections function if that becomes necessary.
Looking for more tips on launching your business? Join us at Black Enterprise’s annual Entrepreneurs Conference, taking place May 22-25, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit blackenterprise.com/ec for more details. As an incentive BE is offering you a discount on early registration: Just enter code BEDG295 and receive $200 off.