Brittny Lee, Marketing Director sits down with Kyla Frye, Associate Director of the WT Enterprise Center to discuss her experience with young entrepreneurs in Amarillo and what makes them so important to our community! Stay tuned for upcoming blogs in our latest series, 4 Millennials by a Millennial!
Lee: Tell us about yourself and what this conversation is going to be about.
Frye: My name is Kyla Frye and I’m the Associate Director here at the WT Enterprise Center. I’ve been here six years and this is something that I’m really passionate about – I love working with entrepreneurs, especially hometown entrepreneurs, and getting to help them achieve their dreams.
Lee: Tell us about what you do at the EC and what your experience is with local entrepreneurs.
Frye: Currently, I oversee all the operations, services, staff, really just facilitating the needs of the Enterprise Center, and I do a little bit of coaching as well. Previously, I did most of the marketing, but now that’s Brittny’s role. My role now consists more of helping to develop our clients, being out in the community and leading the Enterprise Center.
Lee: Tell us about your experience with millennials, why they are so special in the workplace and also as entrepreneurs.
Frye: I think millennials have a lot of ambition and are in that stage of life where we’re building our careers and what we’re passionate about is on the forefront of what we’re doing. I think millennials play a big role in entrepreneurship because they are wanting to be their own bosses and to have the freedom of this mythological creature of work-life balance. They want to have a four-day workweek, travel, and the freedom to set their own schedule. Millennials have grown up in this “Shark Tank” era where entrepreneurship is more prevalent.
Lee: Why would you encourage millennials to take on the role of an entrepreneur?
Frye: Not all people are cut out for entrepreneurship, so I think it depends on the millennial, their personality, passion, and life goals. If they are somebody who wants to solve a problem, meet a need or they just have a creative brain where they’re able to think differently, then I would encourage them to look at entrepreneurship. It is not a go to work eight to five, go home, relax; it’s a consistent thing you’re working on. A lot of entrepreneurs work sixty to eighty hours a week depending on what stage their business is in, especially when you’re getting started. I would say to somebody if they’re interested in entrepreneurship to think about those factors. It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort before you get to being a Richard Branson and owning all these different companies with freedom. Just like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, it takes work upfront and time to get to where you want to be in the end.
Lee: What’s one piece of advice for millennial entrepreneurs?
Frye: I would encourage entrepreneurs to remember the value of in-person relationships and communication. We have grown up in a digital age where we can do a lot of things like reach out to people through LinkedIn, emails, and text messages, but I encourage them to never lose the value of having a face-to-face meeting or getting to know somebody on a personal level. There’s a lot to be said for being present with clients, staff members, partners, and venders. Don’t rely so heavily on digital apps and communication tools because you lose that in-person connection.
Lee: What is your favorite millennial misconception and what would you say to combat that?
Frye: There’s tons and tons of misconceptions out there. I think that all young professionals have faced these challenges across many generations. We’re not loyal to our companies – I can’t stand that misconception. It’s not so much about being disloyal, it’s about finding your passion and the thing that you’re going to stick with because that’s what you love to build and pursue. I feel like that’s something millennials are so good at. We want to do something that is going to make a difference and make us feel valuable. I think we realized from watching our parents and grandparents that work is forty hours a week that you’re away from your family and hobbies. If you’re going to spend your time working, why not do something you are passionate about and it feels less like work and more like enjoying life. Another one is that we’re lazy or that we don’t have initiative. I feel like we absolutely do, but we do things differently. We try to work smarter not harder, which puts off this perception of us being lazy when we just work differently.
Lee: What is the importance of having millennial entrepreneurs in Amarillo?
Frye: I think it’s really important for our community to retain our young talent. We have so many bright students graduating from our high schools that attend other universities, which is great, but they don’t return back to Amarillo. Then we have hundreds of amazing students going through WT and Amarillo College that leave to urban areas upon graduation. So, we’re losing a lot of our talent and I think that’s something we really need to work on – giving them opportunities. I love living in Amarillo so I’m a little biased, but what can we do as a community to keep our talent local and keep developing our workforce so that Amarillo can continue to grow? We have to have the workforce to attract more companies specifically in the industry of technology who need software developers, coding, and AI focused technicians. What are we doing as a community to keep our talent local and keep developing our workforce and making Amarillo grow so that we don’t become extinct in the future?
Lee: Tell us about your upcoming blog and what the readers can look forward to.
Frye: We are putting together a millennial blog series to educate young entrepreneurs that we have resources to help them, that they are not doing this alone, and that there are a lot of other young professionals in Amarillo that are trying to develop their skills and develop their business. We’re putting together some tips, information and resources for them to find value as they’re growing professionally and in their business.