Eboni K. Williams is a national TV host, attorney, and author who wants you to “treat yourself like a business, regardless of your employment status.” Williams says, “…even if you’re working full time for a company, everyone should think of their employer as a client, and not necessarily their only client.”
We talked more with Williams about how people should function as their own business. Some of the advice she shared included establishing a personal brand independent of your employer, negotiating terms more aggressively, setting up a limited liability company, or LLC, for project work, and more.
Why is it important for people to treat themselves like a business?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I take a position that we’re all entrepreneurs. I don’t believe that any one of us can afford to be job candidates in this work environment in 2019. I encourage everyone, even if you have a day job, to really see yourself and assert yourself as a business owner. I think it’s critically important.
What does treating yourself like a business mean to you?
You have to see yourself as a decision-maker, as the CEO of whatever it is you’re doing. I don’t care if it’s cleaning toilets. But that company should be a client of yours. So, [that means] not being beholden to any one job, and seeing yourself as always having a skill set.
It also means always approaching every single business interaction from the skill [or] value correlation space, whether it’s working for your day job, side gig, side hustle, or if you’re in a freelance basis, or some combination of them all. [You should position] yourself as the chief executive of the decisions that are in your best interest.
Your book Pretty Powerful came out in 2017. What does the title suggest?
The book is a love letter to women, and I’m unapologetic about that. Pretty is a word that has been very manipulated in terms of the way we define it and understand it. I think it’s been perverted even. When I say pretty, I mean pretty. I mean something that all the ways that as people and as women particularly, we can construe pretty in our faith, in our confidence, in our comfortability as we show up in the world. That is what I mean by pretty. And that should look a million different ways.
When I say pretty powerful, I mean that. I mean the extraction of a literal power dynamic that comes from your assertion of your comfortability in the way you show up in the world. So, it is not a pun or a play on words. It is a very literal interpretation by me: “Pretty Powerful.”
Is another book on the horizon?
Absolutely. [It’s] in the works. We’re a little ways away from it, but I will tell you it will be deeply personal and it’s going to be a different kind of personal love letter to people.
What other advice would you give, especially for women?
The more general you are, the more generic you are, and therefore the more difficult you make it to command specificity when it comes to, not just your pay, but your overall value. I have an Instagram post that was very well received, where I [posted] the hashtag #ValuableAF. It was my New Year’s post. I had come back from a trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe and really stepped into wholly valuing myself because of the way I felt valued in those spaces, in ways I did not necessarily feel valued here in the states, in my personal and business relationships and even within my own family structure.
So, just making sure as women in particular, they hold out on their value proposition and assert it, and perfect it. But at the same time, make sure they know what they’re clear about what their value is. Meaning, a lot of the times, some of these women’s empowerment mantras are about lady boss, I’m bossed up, I’m slaying, but what’s the underlying message? People have to do the work. You’re not valuable because you walk around with a vagina. You’re valuable because you’re offering something that is uniquely important and consequential to your community, to your family and to your society.