The landscape of women entrepreneurs is significantly changing with more entrepreneurs coming up. Dr. Williams-McMillan is a published thought leader in the most traditional sense while Erika Danina Williams is an accomplished leader with more than 25 years experience in the creative and financial services industries for many Fortune 100 corporations. The two founders of Color Your World Personal Development & Coaching, LLC are dedicated to making a difference in how women do business and live their lives. After nearly 20 years as a college professor, Dr. Williams-McMillans retired from teaching in the classroom and became IACC certified as a Life Coach, building a successful private practice. Drawing on her expertise and experience in the areas of adult education, professional training, coaching, e-learning & educational technologies, and curriculum design & assessment, she launched the company online in the Summer of 2017. Erika Danina Williams strives to apply McKinsey’s model of Centered Leadership to the practice — “having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and, in turn, inspires others to follow.” She believes that making the move from surviving to thriving takes deliberate effort and a well-thought-out plan — starting with the crucial first step of discovering your true purpose. Having found her purpose in helping others accomplish their goals, she embraces the mission & vision of the Personal Success Program and shares this passion with you. We had a chance to interview Dr. Williams-McMillan and Erika Danina Williams and asked about their story, how they started their business and the future of Color Your World Personal Development & Coaching, LLC.
Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?
Erika: Expectations were always high in my previous career in Finance and it shaped my view on life. I calculated return on any investment solely in terms of dollars and cents- especially my time. I always thought a bigger paycheck would create a better life for my family so twelve-hour workdays were the norm leaving me to multi-task in every “free” moment of my day, prepping and planning for the next. To call me ambitious was an understatement. As a black, single mom climbing the corporate ladder, I felt I had a lot to prove.
Over time, I found myself muscling in on Yvonne’s coaching calendar, taking up a lot of her time wrestling with the idea of success and how best to achieve it. Much of the advice I received outside of her sessions, implied that all my “challenges” were personal. That the only things holding me back from the type of professional success I envisioned were my own hang-ups. Although I was very much aware of how workplace policies disproportionately affected women and people of color – something never up for discussion with management – I disregarded its impact and pushed myself to work even harder.
With Yvonne’s help, I started to understand how the forces within my control (self-esteem, work ethic, resilience, etc.) and situational forces outside of my control (gender and racial bias, work/family balance, etc.) made this struggle very real. And how a strategy that addresses them both makes all the difference in the world in terms of competing and advancing at work.
Which got us thinking – how many other women are out there dealing with these same issues? How can we help them use their time and talents to create a better path forward for themselves?
Yvonne: We also felt it was a good time to extend our business beyond a private coaching practice because we could see that the business landscape was rapidly evolving and poised to benefit from a significant increase in women’s leadership. With all of the turbulence resulting from the many controversies rocking almost every industry, we could see that it was a crucial time for women to demonstrate that they are willing and able to step into these roles being vacated by men and be successful.
How did you come up with your business name?
Yvonne: The name Color Your World Personal Development and Coaching was the name of my coaching practice, and as a coach my mission and vision was to help women live colorful, vibrant lives and feel that they can be in charge both personally and professionally. When Erika came onboard and we decided to go digital, we remained true to these guiding principles and mission and really saw no reason to disrupt the brand. When we incorporated in 2017, we toyed with different names, but the inherent message was still the same and so it felt right to keep it.
Tell us about your products and services. How do you help your clients?
Yvonne: We specialize in teaching women to be strong, confident leaders. We offer a number of Personal Success Programs that help them develop their leadership qualities and demonstrate their capability personally, socially and professionally.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to engage our audience through interviews such as this one, feature articles for both online and print media, online courses, podcasts, workshops and webinars. We also have some plans to do live events in the near future and we’re looking to put out a book early next year.
What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition?
Erika: What makes us unique is our process, how our clients get the information they need. Our platform allows for online distribution, with 24/7 on-demand access, which is ideal for busy professional women.
Yvonne: Each of our Personal Success Programs are grounded in human development research, incorporates the best practices in asynchronous learning and adult online education, supports individual learning style preferences, and for the most part, circumvents most scheduling and geographic restrictions.
Where do you see your business in 3-5 years?
Yvonne: We’re hoping to build our clientele exponentially in the next few years. We are very active on social media and have amassed a broad audience, and we’re hoping to build on that to extend our reach, our message, and our services.
Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
Erika: My advice would be to have a good understanding of why you’re in business. As our businesses grow, the priorities, goals, and objectives will necessarily change, but our fundamental reason for doing it shouldn’t.
What is your favorite business quote and why?
Erika: My favorite quote is “Goals are dreams with deadlines” by Diana Scharf-Hunt. This quote has been stuck in my head since first hearing it while in college. It inspired me to dream big and follow through!
Yvonne: Last year I saw a photo of a woman in a group of demonstrators holding up a sign that read, “We don’t want to wear glass slippers; we want to break glass ceilings!” and that sign really resonated with me. It’s why we’re in business. We want to help women achieve the possible!
What have been some of your achievements that you are most proud of? Why?
Yvonne: We follow the advice we give our clients and celebrate small wins each and every day. Each article, interview, course we develop, and each and every person we help is an accomplishment and a milestone that we are grateful for and honor.