Sheila Eldridge is a highly respected industry entrepreneur who has used her years in the entertainment industry to fill many necessary niches. After years of working in corporate America, she opted to start her first business, under the Miles Ahead Entertainment umbrella, called Orchid Communications. She worked with acts like Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the O’Jays, Ice T, En Vogue, Yolanda Adams and more. She has owned and run several businesses after that using her leverage as an industry vet to consistently propel her into new successful ventures. One of her latest projects is a nationally syndicated radio show called Café Mocha. The show, hosted by Loni Love, Angelique Perrin and Yo-Yo, is on in several markets in the country.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
My hours really vary based on my lifestyle at any given time. One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is that you can set you own schedule. For example, I’m best early in the morning when I can focus so by 9am I’ve already put in 4 to five hours go workout and start my day. For entrepreneurs there really no set hours…you do what it takes to get it done!
10 years ago I started a routine of working four days a week. Learned the hard way the importance of downtime to balance your mental, physical, and emotional health and not burn yourself out. It’s called my ‘mental health day’ that I dedicate to the personal business of being me.
Miles Ahead Entertainment offers a plethora of services how do you balance it all out?
Thirty years I started my first business, Miles Ahead Entertainment that’s a media marketing, public relations and special events agency that serves as the umbrella company for subsidiary Miles Ahead Broadcasting that has been syndicating ‘niche’ radio properties such as the Café Mocha show, AfroZons and B. Lifted for the last 10 years. Having two businesses is like raising two kids, both require nurturing to grow. Taking my ‘mental health days’ helps me maintain balance, allocate my time and keep a team motivated to help bring my ‘vision’ to fruition.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in Washington DC and like many Washingtonian, my first internship was in the Government. (Laughs) I learned early on I could be the traditional ‘nine to five’ person. Of course, it took some time to recognize that I was a natural for entrepreneurship but once I did, I was ready and courageous enough to embrace it. I’m driven by taking a concept and making it into something. My mother was an accountant (in the government) and my first investor who taught me money management skills that have been essential for longevity as an entrepreneur. .
Is being an entrepreneur in the industry easy?
Anything worth having is worth fighting for! Being an entrepreneur in any industry has challenges but understanding your industry, research and identifying a niche in the market lessen your risks. Believe in your ability to turn a vision into a profitable entity mitigates the stress and uncertainty that is inherent in running your own business. If you need a paycheck every two weeks it’s not for you!