10/19/2012 01:47 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2012

Marsha Haygood, Career Coach: 6 Things To Consider Before Making The Leap From Corporate To Creative

With black entrepreneurship on the rise and black women reporting harsher criticism than their peers within the corporate leadership ranks, it may be a more opportune time than ever to make a career change.

Human resources exec Marsha Haygood did it, leaving a 25-year run at companies like New Line Cinema to launch a career-coaching business, StepWise Associates, that would ultimately help women like her do the same.

"As an HR person doing coaching, I could hear a situation, hear what people were going through, understand what their needs were, and come back and help them think of solutions and alternatives," Haygood told The Huffington Post. "What I didn't always have the opportunity to do was [work] with people who were less senior," she said, explaining how her idea for StepWise came about.

Haygood's insight would position her ahead of the curve. Researchers reported this week that a lack of mentorship is what's keeping African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and Latino talent from corporate America's top spots.

According to the study, conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation, nearly 35 percent of African-Americans, nearly half of Asians and 42 percent of Hispanics are “willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top” compared with 31 percent of Caucasians.

Despite high levels of ambition, however, people of color continue to be under-sponsored with only 9 percent of African Americans, 8 percent of Asians and 5 percent of Hispanics having a sponsor, compared to 13 percent of Caucasians. In addition, a third of African Americans said they believe that a “person of color would never get a top position at my company.”

But Haygood's affinity for helping others didn't turn into a successful entrepreneurial endeavor overnight. "[It] was a build up because I am a planner," Haygood said, recalling how she gave her company six months notice and used the time to make some headway on what she planned to do next.

"I could give notice, still work and help them find a new person ... I could also tell people outside what I was doing so they could visualize it, because I needed clients," Haygood explains.

Here, she details how her dream career ensued and what advice she'd give clients to come.

6 Steps For Making The Corporate To Creative Leap

From how to distinguish yourself from the masses, to the best way to ask for a raise, check back as Haygood offers up her sage career advice. Got a question? Tell us in the comments section below.