APU Business Careers Careers & Learning Leading Forward Podcast

Skills Working Professionals Can Use to Start Their Own Business

Featuring Dr. Aikyna FinchFaculty Training Developer, Center for Teaching & Learning and
Demishia Samuels, CEO, Corporate Hustle University

Corporate America can offer professionals a great arena to build a career, but it can just as quickly derail that career through downsizing and reassignments. In this episode, Demishia Samuels discusses the ways in which professionals can monetize the skills learned in the corporate realm.

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Dr. Aikyna Finch: Greetings and welcome to the podcast. I am Dr. Aikyna Finch, and today, I am honored to have Demishia Samuels. Demishia Samuels, also known as the Corporate Hustler, is the CEO of Corporate Hustle University, where they help working professionals monetize their skill sets. She has over 16 years in IT telecommunications and is a Six Sigma green belt and scrum master. Demishia is also the mom of four and an army wife. Welcome, Demishia.

Demishia Samuels: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Thank you so much for coming today. I am so excited to talk about different ways to get your business started when you’re a working professional. So, how did you get started in this arena?

Demishia Samuels: Well, actually, I got started because, just from a child, I always wanted to be … always about sales and always just … Since the Snoopy Sno-cone Machine, I’ve always been selling things. But what actually happened was, is I was pretty successful in corporate America. And then one day I got to work, and basically … actually, when I was getting my green belt in Six Sigma, and there was a book on our desk called Who Moved My Cheese? Essentially, my company decided that my entire department, my entire … that they were going to merge it with … basically, outsource us. But guess what? Half of you guys are going to stay at this company and the other half are going to go to the other company, or you just won’t have a job. So, you find yourself in a place like, “Oh, okay, so today somebody woke up and decided I don’t have a job.”

Now, I survived that merger. And just yesterday survived another merger, which is why I’ve been in my industry for 16 years. However, every single time I got promoted, I realized that somebody was controlling my income. Someone was controlling my child’s lifestyle. I just didn’t like that. So, what started to happen was every time I would get a promotion, I would create a side hustle that would account for that money. So, I found myself with several different businesses or ventures to make sure that, as I’m elevating my lifestyle or elevating my expenses, that if somebody came to work that day and decided, “Oh, I don’t want you to have a job anymore,” that my lifestyle would not be rocked. So now I encourage other corporate hustlers or other people in corporate America to always be able to thrive in every economic environment, by having additional streams of businesses. I’m not even going to say incomes, of businesses.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love how you say of businesses. Now that you’re a corporate hustler and you are striving in corporate, and you’re also striving in businesses, what made you decide to help others?

Demishia Samuels: Oh, I realized that was my natural gift. The thing is, ideas come to me all day, every day, twice on Sundays. I realized that just in a five-minute conversation, I had the ability to tell a working professional how they could take what they were doing at work and make it into a business. Or basically create another side hustle or anything of that nature. So just by talking to people like, “Oh, you know that people would pay you twice as much as you make if you just do X, Y, and Z as a consultant, or writing a book, or having a podcast,” or doing any of the other digital products that we are accustomed to now, that working professionals can clearly do that without leaving their homes and getting second jobs or being in the gig economy.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love that. I’m listening to you, and I’m thinking, “So what do you tell the people that feel that their job has them too busy or have them overwhelmed? They still are interested in starting a business, but they may not think that they have the time.”

Demishia Samuels: Oh, yeah. That good old thing, productivity. So, one, there’s a mindset shift that has to happen. You have to understand that you probably have the time, but you don’t have the energy. So, you have to then be real with yourself and decide, “When am I most productive?” If you’re most productive, let’s say, in the morning, because a lot of people are morning people, then I need you to shift … you kind of shift your workday, if you have the ability. Let’s say you’re used to coming into work at 8:00 AM, you got a 6:00 AM wake up, I actually need you to get up at like 5:00 AM. Work on your business for an hour, then begin your actual work morning routine, because you need to be able to give yourself your most productive time.

You probably have been at your position and can do it with your eyes closed. You can do it. And because you are obligated to someone else, you’ll still perform. Most of us are anxiety-driven, stress-driven performers. So, we’re going to perform at work whether we’re tired or not tired. However, when it’s time to show up for yourself, we make every excuse to tell ourselves why we don’t have the energy and time. So, it really is a mindset shift first. And then, of course, with technologies, there’s plenty of tools and people that can help us still get this done. I like to tell working professionals that you can buy your time back by outsourcing.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Oh, buy your time back by outsourcing. Tell us more.

Demishia Samuels: Yeah, sure. There’re virtual assistants. Let’s say, I like to talk to my working moms, wives, if you know you have a skill set that makes more than that of a housekeeper, then you need to then hire the housekeeper to do all the things that you would be doing in your home to keep it nice and pristine, anybody who’s like one of those people, you would get a housekeeper. Outsource that, so that when she’s cleaning your home, then you have to dedicate yourself to actually doing your business. If you’re someone who is afraid of the … Basically, “I don’t have time to build out my websites and I don’t have time to actually create the thing,” then you need to hire the person that is skilled at doing that so that you can bring in the income. So, a lot of times, working professionals, you do have to invest in yourself, and invest in delegation and automation in order to actually be a successful person at running a business and having a career.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, you have given two great tips right there. Let’s say, “Okay, Demishia, you sold me.” What are the first things that I need to do to start?

Demishia Samuels: Well, the first thing I start you out on is let’s find those soft skills that you have that can be monetized. Because I believe in creating online businesses based on your soft natural skills, that you have, that others don’t have. That’s your unique formula. So, although I might have a Six Sigma green belt, and I’m a scrum master, it’s my ability to think quickly that distinguishes me in the workplace. And that is what will distinguish me also as an entrepreneur. So now you just need to find out, who needs that skill set? Who and where is that skill set needed? And then we create the product or service that’s needed in that particular niche and industry. It definitely sounds easier than it is. Let me say that.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, now that … let’s say they have the idea, they’ve gotten the skill set together, they’ve outlined what they want to do, so, what can they do next with that?

Demishia Samuels: Basically, I would start to tell you to show up, if you’re not already. Let’s back it up to the other question you asked me, “What could they do first?” If you’re not showing up as an expert in your industry, you need to do that. Prior to any creation of a product or service, your industry, your peers need to know that you know what you’re talking about. So, you know that I preach the gospel of LinkedIn. This is a place where you can go and show up as the expert that I already know that you are. So, show up there and start to do those posts. Start to show your thought leadership. Start to talk about how you would do something. What is your methodology? What are your beliefs? What are your thoughts when it comes to this particular thing that you know eventually people will need and serve? So that once you build that product and service, one, you already know it’s needed, and two, you already know who needs it, so that the marketing on the other end becomes easier.

Because a lot of people fear, “I don’t know what to post on social media. I don’t know what to say.” It’s because you should only be saying the thoughts that come into your head that are related to your industry and your expertise. This should be the thing that you nerd out in, that you’ll read even if nobody makes you read about it. You’ll study it even if nobody makes you study it. This is what your businesses, to me, should be built around when you are a corporate hustler. So that when it’s time to market, people are already asking you, “Do you do this? Can you help me with this?” Naturally. That’s where the fear of sales and the fear of marketing comes into play, but we are already kind of squashing that ahead of time by becoming experts in our markets.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love that. You know I love social presence.

Demishia Samuels: Exactly.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Yes.

Demishia Samuels: Build that personal brand, regardless of if you want to build a business.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Now, you were speaking about the social presence, the social proof, how that can already build yourself as an expert. Demishia, the question on the table when we left for break was, how do we get that social proof going?

Demishia Samuels: So, the social proof, definitely, I would tell people to choose LinkedIn. They don’t pay me or anything, but I would tell you to choose LinkedIn first. One, because you already know that people are there not to hear the gossip, not to see the latest shenanigans, but to actually … they’re in their business mindset, they’re in their industry mindset, they’re in their nerd out mindset. And so it’s a place for you to begin conversations. So, I would start the social presence with you actually responding to others in your industry. Who do you look for in your industry for knowledge and information? Who are your mentors? What are they doing in this field? Are you corresponding with them? Are you seeing what other people are saying to them and asking them?

Because success leaves clues, and this is your step one into finding out how I should move and flow in social media, is by observing those that you look up to, how do they move and flow from that standpoint? And then you take it and you’ll put your own spin on it as you begin to create your own posts and build your own community, create your own lane. But I always say look to the past so that you don’t have to replicate and build it all over again.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Now, let’s say they’re getting their social proof together. They’re starting to post about the things that they are good at, their expertise, and they’re doing it on LinkedIn. You know, believe it or not, LinkedIn was my very first platform. You know I’m on all the things now.

Demishia Samuels: Yes.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: But now that they’re on LinkedIn, they’re sharing, they’re socializing with others, they’re making those connections, now they’re ready to launch that business. So, what are the basic things that every business needs to get started?

Demishia Samuels: Well, most of our corporate hustlers, we want to be as professional as possible. So of course, check with your local state in government rules. But you want to go ahead and set up your business foundation, so your EIN, maybe your LLC, depending on … I’m all about tax breaks, but your LLCs, whatever those basic foundations. I don’t know exactly where everybody lives, but of course, those foundational things, your bank account. You want to be able to get paid. You need your Stripe, your PayPal. You want to be able to get paid from people. So, I’d say the three basic things you need is a way to collect email addresses, and a way to get paid and to schedule a meeting with people.

Because I truly believe that the first thing that most corporate hustler needs to be, it’s probably either a consultant or some type of strategy person, where you’re using the skill sets that you have. So, if you can schedule an appointment with me and you can pay me to do so, those are the foundational things that you will need in order to run a business, is get paid and schedule people. Schedule people, get paid, and then you can build out your tech from there. Oh, one more, I know because you’ll kill me, Dr. Finch, the ability to go live. You have to be able to go live on the actual Internet. I would say one more tool, and that going live. You can do that from your phone.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love all of those. So, I’m going to tell you what I got from it, and you tell me if I’m on the right track. Okay? So, a way for them to pay you, find you, then see you, and then connect with you.

Demishia Samuels: Oh, yeah. I love that. That’s perfect. Yeah. You got to be able to find me. LinkedIn, the reason that we are choosing LinkedIn is because the SEO will be your friend, and you don’t have to learn it yourself because LinkedIn is doing it for you.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Yes. I’ve noticed that when I Google myself from time to time, and that’s always a trick that I recommend to anybody in the industry, first is usually my website, and second is usually LinkedIn. So yes, LinkedIn is definitely your friend for sure, as far as the SEO is concerned. So why did you choose LinkedIn as your social media of choice?

Demishia Samuels: It’s funny how I chose LinkedIn. I chose LinkedIn because everybody would be talking about either Periscope or Facebook, and kind of Instagram. I was like, “I’m a corporate professional. I’m going to talk about LinkedIn.” Because at the time it was a place where people just thought their resumes went to go die. I was able to reach senior leadership or talk to so many people beyond just my company. I just wanted to expose that to other working professionals. That it still is a quiet place that you can easily reach who you want because there’s just not as much noise. So, if you actually have something to say or you actually want to network with people, it is still, to me, the number one place to do so, when you are intentional and strategic about it. That’s whether you’re building a business or not.

So, if there’s that team that you want to find in your company, and you want to connect with, if you want to talk to your CEO, I promise you, nobody’s commenting under his public posts all the time on LinkedIn. But if you do, he’ll see you. Like, “Oh, yay, somebody finally responded to my post.” You can get visibility easily.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, now that they have the social presence, they want to get their Stripe or their PayPal, or their bank account, and/or bank account, let’s say that they have a little website so that … or landing page so that people can sign up for their email list and they could communicate to them. What do they need to start doing next?

Demishia Samuels: Promote yourself. Promote, promote, promote, promote, promote, promote, promote, promote yourself. It’s one of the hardest things that I see corporate professionals do, because we’re used to coming to work, having our set task and things to do, and waiting for someone to say good job. In the land of entrepreneurship, nobody’s coming to rescue you. Nobody’s coming to promote you. You have to promote yourself. You have to be the person, your biggest cheerleader. Unfortunately, our moms aren’t here to be our biggest cheerleaders in this entrepreneur space. So, you have to do it. So now it’s time to tell people why you should be their number one choice, why you should be at the top of their minds, why you should be the one they listen to, and they follow.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: You know the question’s coming up, what do we say to the people that feel like, “Eh, I’m just like everybody else,” or “I’m just ordinary,” or “Nobody’s really interested in hearing what I have to say? “

Demishia Samuels: Everybody has extraordinary gifts. So, in the very beginning, when I say you have to be confident and know that people need what you have, your unique set of skills, combined with your experiences, will give a path and there is a set of people in the world that will be able to relate to you and only you. If it’s called on you, then you need to bring forth that gift to others, or that product or that service. Because, essentially, what you’re saying is, “I want to be stingy with my gifts because I think that God didn’t make me special or I’m not special.” But in actuality, you have a unique set of skills. Like they say “I have a unique set of skills that only I have.” You are the one that can execute and help a set of people out there that need you. They are there. They do need you. They will only relate to you, and only you, because of your unique point of view and perspective and experiences.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Well, can you give us a few examples of how you promote?

Demishia Samuels: Sure. Like being on podcasts like this. If you don’t want to be seen, then podcasts are great. Blogs, writing, guest writing, collaborating with others, maybe going live in their Facebook groups. I have my own podcast, the Corporate Hustle Podcast. So interviewing people in your niche, in your industry, to me, is probably the most comfort driven way to do it for corporate professionals, is if you’re talking to others in your niche already. I mean, you’ll start to see things. Of course, I love summits, virtual or in person, live events, speaking. It’s just endless. But anything that lets you speak in the long form, to me, is the greatest way. I know you see all the TikToks and the Instagrams, and that is a great way to build tribe and visibility fast, but in the long game, if you want to go deep into your industry and you really want to niche down, then long form is your friend. So that’s your YouTubes, your blogs, your podcasts.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: What about people that are saying that books are the new business card? Do people need books?

Demishia Samuels: Oh, that’s a good, controversial topic. A book will make you an expert immediately. It’s something about the fact that you sat down and wrote out your thoughts that makes you an expert. If I tell people, “I am the author of 21 Questions You Must Answer To Succeed In Corporate America.” When I did that, I became a corporate influencer, an entrepreneur instantly, if I just tell people I wrote a book. I wrote a workbook on LinkedIn, so I’m a LinkedIn expert. So, writing a book is the fastest way that people, not even yourself, will deem you an expert.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, with all this information that you’ve given us today, can you put it in a nice, neat little bow and give us a nice summary?

Demishia Samuels: Yes. First, I want to let you know that corporate America itself is stable, but not loyal. Therefore, as a working professional, I want you to find a way to thrive in any economic situation, regardless of how a CEO or a bottom line feels that day. To do that, you’re going to have to monetize your skill sets, that you already have been accumulating in corporate America all these years, to create some type of product or service that you can feed to the marketplace. Once you do that, it’s just time to promote and market yourself. There are plenty of tools and automations to help you do it while you still thrive in your career. Because as corporate hustlers, we don’t hate our career, we just know that in any given moment, we want to always be able to thrive, and feed our families and live our lifestyles.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Well, thank you so much, Demishia, for everything that you’ve given us today. I know a lot of people’s wheels are turning now. They’re thinking about that next business that they’re going to create and that next book they’re going to write. So, I am so excited to have you today. Do you have any final closing words for the people today?

Demishia Samuels: I just want you to go out there and get it, get to this money, get to this thriving economics, and get inside of this wheelhouse. Come on to the online space. Come into our digital world.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, you heard it here from Demishia Samuels, come on over to the digital world and get this money. All right.

Demishia Samuels: Thank you for having me. It’s been great.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Thank you so much. To the audience, I just want you to listen to this podcast, explore your opportunities, and see what you can come up with in this digital space as a corporate hustler. Until next time, be safe and be well.

Dr. Aikyna Finch is a Faculty Member at American Public University. She received a Doctorate of Management, an MBA in Technology Management and an Executive MBA from Colorado Technical University. She has an M.S. in Management in Marketing, an M.S. in Information Systems in IT Project Management from Strayer University, and a B.S. in Aeronautical Technology in Industrial Electronics from the School of Engineering at Tennessee State University. She is a podcaster, social media coach and speaker. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a contributor to Huffington Post, Goalcast, Forbes and Thrive Global. She can be found at DrADFinch on all social media platforms.

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