From managing upwards of $25 million global media budgets and campaigns for the world’s most trusted brands to becoming a serial entrepreneur and editor-in-chief, Erica Nicole give Black, Fresh and 20-Somethings the need-to-know about entrepreneurship. Her plan was to deliver on content that was “smart, fresh, provocative and insanely addictive” for entrepreneurs via a global platform.
With a professional background in global communication and media, serial entrepreneur, Erica Nicole, has taken her love for informing, inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs and channeled it into YFS Magazine. But Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed Magazine was simply a natural progression for the strong-minded and action-oriented young woman. Prior to becoming a serial entrepreneur, conference speaker, founder and Editor-in-Chief of YFS, Erica was at the helm of managing upwards of $25 million plus global media budgets and campaigns for the world’s most trusted brands. She was so good at what she did that she “moved up the ranks very quickly” in corporate America. But entrepreneurship was always in her.
We sat down with the successful Black, Fresh and 20-Something to learn more about her journey and gain invaluable insight (and for some of us, inspiration and motivation) into the entrepreneurial experience.
EBONY: You’re a champion of sorts for entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial experience. What is behind your motivation to empower this community?
Erica Nicole: That’s a great question. Specifically with YSF magazine, I created the magazine to serve entrepreneurs. I had realized that going at it alone and starting a business is not for the faint of heart—definitely. But I believed that it was really important for me to be able to serve the global entrepreneurship community in a bigger way. So my motivation was to (a) serve and, (b) at the time I wanted to have a creative accountability mechanism—I knew that if I wasn’t learning and growing as an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t have anything to share and personally give back to the entrepreneurial community itself.
EBONY: There are major risks associated with pursuing entrepreneurship. How did you deal with those risks and any subsequent fear?
EN: Entrepreneurship is inherently risky: you’re taking on new challenges and you’re learning new things that are unfamiliar. For me I think, the fear was never about taking on the risk. It was more so: what if I don’t do this? I believe that everyone has a specific gift and if you don’t utilize your gift in life you are really doing yourself and the world a disservice. So my fear was just of not moving forward and not living out my full purpose.
EBONY: So what has the entrepreneurial journey been like for you?
EN: It has been amazing. The journey itself is rewarding, challenging [and] inspiring.YFS Magazine was really put in place to serve the global entrepreneurship community at large and being able to do that on such a large scale today having come from very humble beginnings—bootstrapping my company from day one—it’s been a real journey.
Entrepreneurship is definitely a roller coaster. You have to really believe in yourself. You have to persevere. You have to understand what your vision is. You have to capture that vision and incorporate the right knowledge. And most importantly you have to renew your mind. When you move forward on your vision everything comes together—it doesn’t come together immediately, but eventually it will.
EBONY: Agreed! I learned quite a bit while reading the YFS Mag; you’ve got produced some great content! How did you come up with the focus, direction and content of YFS Magazine?
EN: That’s an excellent question and I’d like to break that down into two key areas:
First, I wanted to serve people most importantly. [Second] It came out of a necessary need that I felt was in the marketplace. I knew as a young entrepreneur that the business media that was out there—and is out there today—is very high level. It didn’t offer the granular, practical application that most entrepreneurs need.
Most importantly as well, I didn’t feel there was a real offering for gen-y millennial media. They have a lot of things out there but I felt like there was not a really strong execution on hitting that sweet spot and giving them content that they could walk away from and take next steps.
So when I was starting this business I said to myself: I want to be able to read something and know what I can do as next steps. If you’re going to tell me something, I want to question why it’s important for me. If I don’t’ understand it now and you give me a why and practical application, I can be smarter in running my business.
My goal with the content was to create actionable, result-oriented information that would help people build epic companies that they could then share with the world.
EBONY: Building readership is one of the most challenging tasks associated with media—be it print or digital. How did you build your readership?
EN: There are no over night success stories.
It started one night, I believe it was in December 1st, 2009 when I got online over the weekend and started just writing. And really it began with me myself sharing the things that I had learned as an entrepreneur and giving insight and tips that I was learning along the way. It caught on. I believe [it did that] for two reasons: (1) when you have a purpose and you are clear about your purpose and your vision, you’re going to be successful. What that means practically is that I began to share it on social media networks; I believe the content aspect was a huge, huge driver. (2) Also, early on we developed a strong grassroots approach from a lot of our folks that championed our message to make entrepreneurship accessible—that’s pure and simple; we wanted to make it more accessible. From there it caught on traction. We then caught the eye of national advertisers like Google and started to develop partnerships
So I would say really focusing on strong content, being consistent as well as utilizing social media to grow your influence within a space is really critical to early success.
EBONY: What is one major mistake—or rather opportunity for learning—that you’ve made thus far when going about executing your entrepreneurial vision?
EN: The biggest lesson learned for me was to take more risks and execute non-stop. In this market, especially in the digital market, where things are changing so fast, it’s very important to execute non-stop: take action, take action, take action! Even if it’s not perfect it’s important to get your idea and your vision out into the marketplace, and then you’ll receive customer feedback that will help you to build on those ideas and help you to refine your offering.
So if you have that vision then you have everything within you that you need to bring it to pass. You just have to move forward.
EBONY: I love it! As a young black, female entrepreneur especially, would you say that you’ve encountered unique challenges as result of the aforementioned?
EN: I look at being a female, an African-American woman, and an entrepreneur as all opportunities. I don’t ever look at it from a negative standpoint. If anything, it gives us the ability to really make a mark in the marketplace. I’m sure there are stereotypes but I don’t concern myself with that; I move in my vision through my thoughts, I don’t move in anyone else’s thoughts.
EBONY: Chiie, I couldn’t have said it better! Do you have any advice for the Black, Fresh and 20-Something entrepreneur?
EN: Put your blinders on and focus on exactly what your vision is and everything that you want will come to pass if you don’t give up, persevere and execute non-stop. YFS Magazine is built on the proverb: Without a vision the people perish. That is the key, key thing for me. It helps guide me. You have to know that whatever you’re meant to do, in time, will manifest itself.
Are you a young entrepreneur? If so, visit www.yfsentrepreneur.com/ to check out YFS Magazine today!