For Marnice Miller, founder of Human Capital Resources and Concepts Inc., her "nudge" into entrepreneurship came from two separate and unique sources. "I've been married to an entrepreneur for 10 years," she said. "He always encouraged me to start my own business”. That, combined with my previous employer Defense Intelligence Agency offering an early retirement incentive for the third time in three years, is what did it for me. The first time it was offered I thought about it, but I didn’t meet the years in service requirement, the 2nd time I talked myself out of it because my son was still in college and I needed a for sure paycheck, the 3rd time everything appeared to be aligned and I took the plunge!"
"Deep down I wanted something new, and wanted to do it while I was still young enough to feel like pursing it. Still having a passion for the work I was doing in my previous career. The idea to start a consulting business, where the federal government was our primary client, would allow me to continue working in a familiar field, but on my own terms."
In February of 2015, Miller launched Human Capital Resources and Concepts. Her business is unique in many ways. It's 100% woman owned and is considered 'economically disadvantaged' because of her socio-economic category, her firm is also certified by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as minority owned business operating in a within a Historically Underutilized Business Zone. These programs are referred to in small business as, 8(a) and HUBZone respectively. These classifications, coupled with her Federal Clearance and 23 year extensive background working with the federal government, puts Miller in a uniquely prime position to bid on the many opportunities to work with the federal government. In fact, there aren't a whole lot of consulting companies in Polk County with these type of credentials.
Human Capital Resources and Concepts provides expertise in the areas of resources management, intelligence support, mission support and information technology. Through these efforts, they're able to provide an array of services including, analytical support, collection management, planning, human capital, training, program management, database consultants, project managers and end-user services. They also work with other small companies providing HR needs. "When you're a small company, you don't have the luxury of being able to hire full-time HR staff," Miller said. "Also, you'd be surprised at how much people, just getting started as small business owners, don't know the first thing about HR. We offer training and outsourced HR services for owners in these situations."
Miller admitted that working for the federal government and working for yourself, as a small business owner, couldn't be more distinct from one another. “As a federal employee your job duties rarely change, in fact you can most times perform your duties with your eyes closed, that’s just how repetitive they can be," she said. "In the entrepreneur world, you always have to think about your next step. You can't just sit back and coast. It's driven primarily by relationships so there is a daily effort to develop and foster them. Initially, I had to get the company name circulating within the industry and begin developing relationships with other firms. Once I obtained work, I also needed financing. These were some of my biggest challenges during the startup phase."
What does Miller like most about being her own boss? "I get to manage my own time," she said. "I can work as hard or as little as I want. A 12-14 hour day doesn't seem long when you're doing it for yourself. I also like the fact that I'm growing something that exudes professionalism and integrity. That's what matters most to me. I can also employ people and positively affect their lives. It warms my heart to have a team working to achieve our core values. The work is sometimes tedious but the payoff is definitely greater as an entrepreneur.”
Looking ahead to five years down the road, Miller hopes to be at annual revenues of approx. $5 million with a staff of 50 employees. She plans to remain in Polk County, but anticipates needing more space in the near future. She's also working on implementing an intern program to bring in college level students on a quarterly basis. She's doing this in conjunction with her brother-n-law’s non-profit charity called “Filling The Lane”.
Miller offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those looking to leave a steady job to pursue their own idea. "For me, leaving was a tough decision," she said. "I walked away from six figures. I would encourage anyone looking to do the same to plan in advance. Do a lot of market research on your industry. Develop relationships before you make the leap. Don't go into it blind. Talk to business owners that have done it before. Knock on doors. Eventually, you'll find someone that will talk to you. Also, you have to be the person that's willing to take a chance. It's not a sure thing, even if you know the industry. I thought I knew everything about the federal government, but it's an entirely different world when you step out on your own. I would go to Washington DC to prospect with different companies. I would often leave feeling defeated, but those relationships eventually paid off. You have to stick with it. Lastly, if you can pull it off, keep your day job while you build out your new business."