Meet Francilia Wilkins, Google's New Digital Coach in New York City

By Bill Reeve, Staff Writer | Product Inclusion

Francilia Wilkins, Google’s newest Digital Coach, has more than 13 years of multi-industry experience in strategy, integrated marketing, brand development, fundraising, project management, and crisis management.

In 2011, she applied her corporate expertise to build R.F. Wilkins Consultants, a management consulting firm dedicated to developing business success for her clients. Her firm manages diverse projects including commercial property developments, non-profit program expansion, new market entry, stakeholder engagement, and the development of targeted Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enteprise (MWBE) initiatives for the government.

Francilia serves as Vice Chair of Brooklyn’s Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District, Assistant Treasurer for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Queens Alumnae Chapter and the Vice Chair for I Am Acceptance, Inc. – a mental health non-profit. She has served as Director of Economic Development for the National Black MBA Association-New York Metro Chapter, and Chair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Queens Alumnae Chapter’s Economic Development Committee.

She holds both a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance and a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from St. John’s University. Francilia met with us recently to discuss how she applies her experience to coaching small business owners seeking to grow their enterprises and participate in the online economy.

What gets you going in the morning?

I started my firm R.F. Wilkins Consultants when I was 23 years old. I had no mentor, and I did not know anything about business development and growth, so I had to figure it out on my own.

I joke that Google was my tool of choice because I literally looked up every single thing. I was always the youngest in the room and usually the only female.

It was an independent journey for me, and seven years later, after our firm has raised close to nine hundred million dollars for our clients, I am excited about giving back. I enjoy working with Google to make the journey easier and less lonely for today’s small business entrepreneurs.

I love this environment of growth and support that we are building. That gets me going in the morning: the idea that we are a team, and the possibilities are endless.

What is your role as a Google Digital Coach?

Women- and minority-owned small businesses are the fastest growing segment in the United States. They are creating jobs and driving the country’s economy. However, women- and minority-owned businesses are disadvantaged relative to their majority counterparts because they are not using available digital resources to reach more customers who are already searching online for what they offer. My consulting role as a Google Digital Coach is to help bridge that gap.

Google Digital Coaches provide training and access to online resources in eight cities. Our Digital Coaches program is designed to provide equal opportunity for all business owners and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive online. There are tools available to help people grow their small businesses. We share available opportunities and tools so small business owners do not have to take this journey alone.

Imagine the change that could happen if you, as a business owner new to the online economy, had access to metrics that could guide your company’s growth. Imagine how fast you could grow if you leveraged online marketing platforms. Just imagine how much productivity and revenue your small business could achieve if it leveraged digital resources.

My goal, and my job as the New York City Google Digital Coach, is to be on the ground in the community speaking to business owners, speaking to people who are interested in starting their own small business, and sharing the available tools in a way that is comprehensive, fluid, and fun.

I want to make people feel like they have access to a team helping their company grow.

What inspires you most about this work?

When small businesses grow, they create jobs.

When I graduated Cum Laude with my MBA from St. John’s University, I had worked with large fortune 500 companies. I had good grades, good work experience, but the country was in the middle of a recession, and no one could find work. I applied to over 200 companies, and not one offered me a job.

The recession made me realize that if I could not find a job, I would have to create one for myself. I think many small businesses started up during that time for the same reason.

When I started my company, as an independent small-business owner I was alone. Today we have 5 full-time employees and 30 project-based staff members. Small businesses like mine have that same story. As you grow in capacity and as the capital coming into your company grows, you have the opportunity to do something that impacts the lives of people. By creating a job you are creating sustainable value for an individual and their family.

That is what excites and inspires me most about this work. I know that when I share information and resources with small business owners, the economic effects are double, triple, or quadruple beyond that one person I am speaking to.

Going beyond myself and changing the economics of the world inspires me every day.

What advice can you give to people who want to learn from a Google Digital Coach?

Reach out to a Google Digital Coach!

We are located in eight cities, and you can connect with the one that is most convenient for you. You can find our Coaches here.

And be sure to sign up for the workshops that we host in our communities. They are great networking opportunities.

You can connect with me, or any Google Digital Coach. We will insure that you get all the information you need.

Photo credit: Ryle Watson

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