Classroom Study Turned Translated Into Business Success for Artricia James-Heard

Artricia James-Heard

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

Artricia James-Heard's two-dozen years in the U.S. Navy gave her the tools she needed to spark up an entrepreneurial business career.

Learning how to use those tools, including discipline, understanding the value of a good education and reaping the rewards of hard work was the result of attending the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business.

James-Heard, 53, founded A Right Way Credit Counseling, which helps individuals change their financial behavior, build assets and become financially stable through individualized coaching and counseling. The goal is to improve credit scores, learn to budget and save for the future.

"My 24-year military experience has been the foundation on which I've built my business," she said. "On a daily basis I have the opportunity to affect lives in a positive way. I serve my clients in the same manner I've served this country: with integrity.

"The success of my business would not have been possible if I had not interviewed with Center Director Michael Fountain to discuss how to accomplish my desire for higher education in business and to take that education and make it applicable to my military and business experience," she said. "This program was a natural fit for my pursuit of a strong education that I could easily apply to the real world challenges of starting and growing a business."

She said a marketing course, for example, challenged her "to think outside the box for solutions to develop creative ways to introduce a concept to the marketplace that might become a viable solution to generate revenue streams ... to learn about and from one's competitors."

Determining whether or not to pursue an idea also was something she learned at USF, through understanding the importance of analyzing research and taking a look at other similar products already in the marketplace.

The center recently was ranked No. 10 in the nation for graduate entrepreneurship programs and was deemed the best program in the Southeast by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. The center also won the Global Achievement Award from USF World for extending USF's global footprint.

As her business grew, James-Heard continued to use the center as a resource. The faculty and staff were there whenever she needed support, information and direction, she said.

"Each semester added the right layer to my foundation," she said. "The program opened up a world of limitless opportunities and a world of available resources.

"The USF Center for Entrepreneurship program afforded me an incredible opportunity to work with a culturally diverse group of people at different stages in their careers," she said, "which have blossomed into lasting friendships I continue to enjoy today.

The 2011 graduate is grateful for that network.

"I am proud to say that while I am in business I'm not alone, thanks to the support from the center."