As creatives, entrepreneurs, and overall hardworking, and ambitious millennials, we are constantly looking to check boxes.
You know those “found my dream job, landed a competitive benefits package, and scored a 401(k) plan” boxes. And while there’s nothing wrong with crossing those things off your list when landing a career, you have to ask yourself an important question: “Are you being fulfilled?
When approached with this same question, Jay Veal, Founder/CEO INC Tutoring and the Jay Veal Brand, answered with a switch from a profitable career in the IT industry into a journey in education teaching high school mathematics. After an eight-year stint teaching high school math at every level, Jay has since taken a dive into the entrepreneurial space creating the southern region’s #1 African-American owned private tutoring company, INC (It’s Not Complicated) Tutoring, amid juggling two other brands [The Jay Veal Brand and INC Beauty] from day-to-day.
In an exclusive fireside chat with Jay, we learned more about his trajectory into entrepreneurship, some of his hardest lessons, and the value of listening to your own heart when doing what you love.
80% of people in life don’t know what they’re put on Earth to do.
What made you make the switch into entrepreneurship?
I loved teaching, but at that point I’d learned everything I was going to learn in the field from teaching, instructional coaching, intervention, and administration. I’d done everything in education. So now the question was, “What’s next?” From there I became an instructional coach, teaching teachers for three years for math at the campus level in Dallas. It [the venture] did very well, raising students from 62% passing to 92% passing in a year. I taught at the university level, and even became an adjunct professor.
In mid-2013, I noticed there was a gap with students of color in the classroom. They weren’t getting what they needed [academically] in class or after class, teachers weren’t tailoring content to the demographics in the classroom, and minority students weren’t able to identify with their teachers since there were none that looked like them. They felt lost.
I noticed students weren’t performing at a level that I felt comfortable with, and I wanted to change that. That’s how INC Tutoring began.
What is INC Tutoring?
It started as a grassroots type of initiative with no funding or venture capital support. I knocked door-to-door in different parts of Dallas for a year, left business cards, and didn’t even have a sales pitch. With persistence and some luck, INC Tutoring gathered some traction and was featured in Black Enterprise. From there it took off, and spread like wildfire.
We are a tutoring company that focuses on tutoring national and international students from age five to the doctorate level in STEM subjects, test prep, English, reading, writing and foreign languages. We teach students at home, virtually, or in a comfortable coffee-shop setting. In addition, we pride ourselves on meeting our clients right where they are.
We are a 90% millennial-based – mostly minority at 89% — team, with 52 tutors nationwide (Dallas, DC, Chicago, Austin, with Atlanta and Charlotte coming in the winter) who collectively hold over 100 academic degrees. I also have an internal high school team built with hand-picked students — all within the top 7% of their classes.
Why did you build your team this way?
I built my team this way because I wanted students to be able to relate to their tutors in an impactful way, and to provide an elite scenario that students can feel confident about. Tutoring is an art because there are so many moving parts involved, and you still need to drive results. I needed a team that could reflect that.
Our retention rate is pretty high when it comes to keeping talent. We all have a really great dynamic. Our entire team is part-time, working in elite careers like engineering, medicine, education, cybersecurity, and more, and all as young millennials! It gives our clients a lot to look up to because their tutors have jobs and careers that they may want to have or aspire to. I couldn’t ask for a better team.
What impact are you hoping to make on the black millennial community?
We’re hoping to move the black business movement forward by impacting students of color in ways no one else has been able to do with quick results unseen until now; and by supporting a successful track record of black businesses that speak to an elevated level of success and community mentorship.
How did you know this was the path for you?
I never would’ve thought I’d become an entrepreneur. I liked tech and IT, and I followed that throughout my academic career and into my professional career. But once I was introduced into education, I took a leap of faith. It was a huge risk, but I knew this was my calling.
And it turns out that after my first couple of years, I was making more income teaching than I was in my corporate IT position due to me rising through the ranks quickly. I’ve done very well so far, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities, but I’ve also had plenty of support throughout.
How do you maintain your success?
Honestly, I wanted to be so good at what I was doing that I was indispensable. Even though I have a tutoring company, I still maintained my other professional relationships so well that they didn’t want to lose me. It all worked out in my favor in the long-run, and there’s no ill-will or conflicts of interest even now.
Also, you have to be willing to learn more about your craft.
We can’t run things if we don’t have the right knowledge. Educate yourself. Read and implement.
Be the best so they have to carve out a space for you.
What would you say was your hardest lesson?
When you’re starting a business, you have to be very careful about who you bring on your team. Don’t be so blindsided about profiting from your business that you forget what’s important behind the scenes. The team is very important to help build and scale. I’ve made some hires that weren’t the right fit for the direction we were headed into, and it slowed down our progression. Be mindful and strategic about who you bring into your circle.
What are your top three or four nuggets of advice?
- Have self-awareness about who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Also, take the time to really figure out what steps are needed to get there. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but they don’t have the stamina to maintain the proper focus. You can’t change the world or be impactful if you’re not willing to put in the work to make it happen.
- Listen to yourself and tune everyone else out. The moment you listen to somebody else about what you’re supposed to be doing in your life, you’ve already lost. Figure out what’s in your heart, and know what your desire is to impact the world.
- Don’t do it for the money. Only do it for the impact you want to make and because you love it. If you’re not getting paid to do something and you still do it, that’s your calling. That’s what you’re meant to do.
- Know your systems and build a solid team. The team is what’s most important, and they help to drive the revenue. Recruit people that are of like-mind, but also those that are smarter than you and have a plethora of skills. It’s okay not to be the smartest person in the room.
For more information on INC Tutoring, visit http://linktr.ee/INCTutoring. Also, be sure to keep up with Jay and his other entrepreneurial endeavors by following him on social media.
Instagram: @inctutoring, @incceo.thetutor, @incbeauty.co, @thejayvealbrand
Facebook Page: Jay Veal