Income inequality in the U.S. has grown, with inequality showing up along race lines. Statistics on income inequality from the Pew Research Center show that as of 2018 the median income in black households is 61% of the median income in white households.
This disparity is the result of years of wealth generation by white people in the U.S. at the expense of POC. Fortunately, the digital space has created opportunities for POC to make money with our skills, be an entrepreneur, and start closing the wealth gap.
This purpose is at the core of Jakiya Brown Thiaw’s work whose business is rooted in activism. Jakiya joined me for the last episode of my Transition: From Corporate to Entrepreneurship series to talk about how people can make money online using their skillset.
Entrepreneurship as Self-Care for POC
During our talk, Jakiya shared her experience quitting corporate twice, but entrepreneurship was not her goal. As a black woman, Jakiya dealt with microaggressions and was overworked, which led to burnout.
Her decision: quit and rest.
When she returned to corporate a second time, it was at a time when the killings of Black people at the hands of the police and protests headlined the news. This was around 2014 during the murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice among others.
Hearing the protests while working and hearing her co-workers ask what was happening made her realize she was not where she wanted to be.
All these factors led her to think she could not be herself in corporate. While she knows better now, having her own business has given her the freedom to be herself.
In a world where professionalism is dictated by elitist ideals of whiteness this type of freedom is a form of rest for POC. It is resting from having to talk or act a certain way.
Entrepreneurship, then, becomes a form of self-care for many POC like Jakiya and myself.
To maintain this lifestyle, however, it is crucial to monetize your skills in a sustainable way.
Leverage Your Skills to Make Money
Like Manu’s advice on how to build a successful business, Jakiya says to start with skills you already have. What do you know to do that you can start doing right now? From here, you can package your skills into offers by doing the following:
1. Have a Clear Solution and Offer
Having a skill alone is not enough. You need to be clear about what you want to do. Like Jakiya says, you do not have to get everything perfect, but you do need to have clarity.
Do you know your industry, your avatar (i.e. your ideal client), have a clear message, and offer a solution?
Even if you are great at doing what you do, if you are not solving someone’s problem, people will not buy from you. Having a clear vision, voice, and solution transforms your skills into offers you can sell.
If you do not have these, it does not mean you cannot make money using your skills. Use your abilities doing freelance work. This will pay off in the end since you will gain experience, which translates to charging more.
2. Master Your Skill
If you are going to sell something, master it!
Mastery of your skill is not only about honing your craft. It is about creating the right processes to replicate results.
Jakiya mentions how she did not create products and services around traveling even though people asked her how she did it. Why?
Because it was not “a proven concept that [she could] copy, paste, and replicate”.
To sell your skills, you need to “make sure the processes can be replicated and proven”, and then you can sell. To do this, you need to try it out with different people. [Read: test out your skills].
You can do this by offering something for free or for a lower cost, so you can gain the experience and testimonials.
Entrepreneurship as a Practice of Liberation
One aspect of monetization few talk about is that monetization is more than just hitting some ideal number [Read: 100K should not be your goal].
You will often hear people say they hit 100k or have a six figure income as a sign of success. These claims ignore that these numbers are arbitrary.
As Jakiya notes, the six-figure goal is simply “a figure that was made up by corporate America to keep us in a construct of working towards that”.
Jakiya makes an insightful point in saying that “it is a ceiling . . . [and your goals should be] about your lifestyle” as well as the impact you want to make.
During our discussion we talked about how you may not even need 100k to live the lifestyle you want. For some, 200k may be enough if they get to live a life that makes them feel wealthy in other ways like spending time with family, traveling, or just having a slow morning. So why is the focus money?
Focus on increasing your quality of life instead.
Monetization is also about making an impact. Jakiya uses entrepreneurship as a tool for activism to uplift her community and close the wealth gap.
I had to ask myself these questions in my own journey. While at first I wanted to share my story simply to share it, I eventually had to sit with the questions of: “How does sharing my lifestyle help other people get there? How can I help take people with me there too?”
Like Jakiya says, “If I’m winning, and they’re winning, and, like, we all are out here winning”.
An entrepreneurial journey rooted in activism means having a real conversation with yourself about the impact you want to make in the world and the legacy you want to leave.
For me, it is a legacy that centers freedom for women. I want other women to know the freedom I know because of my personal brand.
Owning my freedom and showing others how they can attain theirs is the motivation behind my brand development program: to help women develop brands that are profitable and true-to-self.
If you are ready to level up your entrepreneurial journey and focus your messaging to uplift your community, join the brand development program wait list or sign up for your customized social media branding kit.
Remember to watch the complete interview with Jakiya and the rest of the Transition: From Corporate to Entrepreneurship series of interviews with six amazing women who are experts in their fields and are creating a positive impact in the world.