Almost three decades ago, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams fulfilled one of her entrepreneurial dreams–to launch a newspaper. The New York Trend has been publishing ever since.
And when Williams, who was one of the few African-American women to complete her doctorate at Columbia University 30 years ago and who is currently a professor of psychology at City University of New York, was blind-sided by a trio of personal crises, she knew she had to keep her business up and running.
A Network Journal 2010 recipient of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business” award, Williams has written about her experiences in her forthcoming memoir.
Here, Dr. Williams tells TNJ.com how she and her business survived.
TNJ.com: What was the biggest challenge in keeping your business running during your personal crisis?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: Ensuring that I provided the level of professional service to my clients that was representative of the services prior to my illness.
TNJ.com: Why did you decide to keep the business running?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: My newspaper is my legacy. It is the fourth child that I birthed. It was just a thought one day and decades later that this is a highly respected publication of quality – and in the Library of Congress!
The New York Trend was born from an idea I conceived while working at a community newspaper, where I fell in love with the art of publishing. Working at this community newspaper gave me the opportunity to learn the business of how to make a newspaper. I loved it. Even the stress of press day when the editorial department and the graphics and layout departments were running around like maniacs to get this issue to the printer was thrilling to me. And these were the days of the Varityper and wet, gluey print spinning out to be hung and dried.
When I decided I wanted to run my own newspaper, I developed a plan. Every day, I would go to the local Bob’s Big Boy restaurant and map out my strategy. When I was ready, I gathered a group of young journalists that I encountered through my tenure as the administrator for the community paper and we were off to the races.
I envisioned it to be an upscale, photographically attractive, dynamic historically Black newspaper with a fresh face. In 1989, New York Trend was born. I recall going to the printer and loading the first issues of New York Trend into my car. My mom was there for this historical moment.
Also, I not only wanted to continue The New York Trend because of my own efforts but because we have founded the New York Trend Internship Program that has provided opportunities for hundreds of college students, especially young women, who have followed their dreams to be journalists. I could not give up on this and them.
TNJ.com: What did you learn about yourself as business owner during this period?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: That I had numerous people counting on me to keep the paper running. Also, that I was respected for my position and my company and by my readership and peers.
TNJ.com: What, if any, decision you make businesswise during this period you would now have changed?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: I can’t identify anything in particular. There were times when members of my staff stepped in to assume additional responsibilities, but it was a blessing to have staff members who had compassion and extreme professionalism.
TNJ.com: What advice would you give to other business owners on how to manage a personal crisis while running a business?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: Trust your instincts that you have chosen to hire very competent staff members, and give them additional temporary duties. Be honest–inform your staff of enough details for them to respond accordingly and keep the operations running. Understand and accept the fact that you are not conceding, just temporarily relinquishing.
TNJ.com: What’s next for you?
Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams: Expanding my brand. Looking forward to the publication of my book, Death of the Good Girl, in which I tell my story in hopes of empowering other women; continuing to run New York Trend heading towards its third decade; writing my second book; seeking to expand my speaking opportunities; enjoying family; and thanking God every day that I am healthy.