Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

A Moment with EDTP Graduate: Meet Sherrie Yvette Wilkins

Posted on 10/20/2016 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News

Sherrie Yvette Wilkins is the owner and operator of Best of Me, Y.E.S., and a graduate of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP). We had a chance to sit down with her to ask about her experience with entrepreneurship and LAEDA’s training program. Entrepreneurship is a very challenging path to take, with many different possible directions. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why did you choose your industry?

“I have always worked with children since I was old enough to have a job. So teaching is natural for me, which led me to be a public school teacher for almost 10 years. Through these experiences I have found that there is NOT enough time within the school day to deal with the many issues our youth are facing in the changing society riddled with peer pressure that has caused the population of at-risk youth to skyrocket. Teachers are busy and state mandates for testing create pressure and a rushed environment, which leaves little time to deal with the heart issues, and problems that our children are facing. So it's time; it's time for me to transition OUT of the classroom full-time to be able to provide Youth Enrichment Services (workshops, character education programs and assemblies) that will help build youth that are more resilient and equipped to handle the many stressors present in their daily lives. Building our youth isn't just a job for me; it's my life's purpose. What pushed me to operate my business full-time was meeting an increased number of suicidal children. This provided me with even more passion to help and I want to show our most at-risk children that there is HOPE for the future and that they have the power to change the trajectory of their lives.”

(2) Tell me about your experience while attending EDTP. What have the major takeaways been from the program? Have you had any “Ah-hah!” moments? How did the program help you?

“The staff of EDTP was the BEST part. Everyone was very helpful and created an environment that encouraged growth and partnership! The Ah-Ha moment for me was that I CAN DO THIS! I can write a successful business plan, then take the leap to operate this plan full scale, and that I would have support with the process. Everyone in the EDTP wants to see Best of Me, Y.E.S. become successful and value the mission to develop "the hearts of our youth." The major takeaway I got after completing each course or class was that operating a business that thrives takes time and that I should NOT expect it to happen over night; especially if I didn't put in the work. So I was pushed to WORK. WORK HARD for the success of my business and to reach the youth in our local communities by the masses.”

(3) Tell me about your journey on the road to business startup. What have been some of the challenges, successes, failures, etc.?

“The most difficult challenge I have faced in eradicating myself of FEAR. I have to convince myself over and over again that I have been given a vision from God that cannot fail. I remind myself daily that I have the gifts, talents, and education to operate a business that will have an impact on clients and participants who take advantage of the character education program, workshops, and assemblies. Of course, I want my business to bring in revenue, but more importantly, I seek to change lives as well as school and local communities. This summer the participants in my character development program, Best of Me were very vocal about how they were being transformed as a result of participating in the tailored lessons during our weekly sessions of the program. I felt successful because I knew that the program was doing exactly as it has been designed to do… impact lives and build resilient youth. One participant wrote, ‘I think while I was here, I learned to have a more positive attitude.’ When I read a line a participant's journal that said, ‘Mrs. Wilkins thanks for the motivation!’ I knew that my business was experiencing success.”

(4) Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?

“Best of Me, Y.E.S. is currently seeking new clients for a full-scale launch in December of 2016. Our character education program is operational in Burlington County and we are looking to expand to Mercer and Camden counties through partnerships with public & charter schools, recreation departments, and churches. This program has made an impact since 2008. We have successfully held large group assemblies infused with live music, poetry, and technology, especially during Black History Month and NJ State Testing Periods to teach and inspire participants. We have experiences and great success with our customized workshops for youth participants. We invite all that are interested to attend our upcoming launch party and information session scheduled for the end of 2016.”

(5) Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?

“If I were asked for advice about starting or running a business I would say to be ready to prioritize! If you want your vision (business plan) to manifest you have to trust that God has given you the tools to be able to do so. That means that if you have been given the tools to own and operate a wildly successful business then you must be ready to WORK, WORK, WORK and WORK for your success. Also, kick out FEAR and the voice that tells you that you don't have what it takes to be an entrepreneur! Kick it out as soon as it shows up and starting small is better than not starting at all. LAEDA EDTP was my small step that has catapulted me into operating my business FULL TIME!”

Congratulations to Sherrie Yvette Wilkins for completing EDTP and recommitting to her journey on the path of entrepreneurship. If you’d like to learn more about Sherrie Yvette and her business, please visit her on http://sherrieyvette.com/best-of-me/

The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) is a free, nine-week business skills training course offered in Camden, NJ in the Winter, Spring, and Fall each year. Qualified entrepreneurs receive 72+ hours of training from industry professionals, business planning, and one year of technical assistance. Apply online at www.LAEDA.com