Ever since I can remember, I wanted to own a business of my own. When I was a kid, there were a couple of different years when I got a cash register for Christmas. The newer one even made electronic noises. My friends would come over and we’d play “store”. We would pull my clothes out of my closet and pretend to sell items to make believe customers. Sometimes I would go down into my dad’s basement and sell off his tools and miscellaneous stuff on the shelves in my store call “Everything you need and more”.
The summer I turned 16, my first job was working at a Donut and Ice Cream Shop in Laurie, Mo. I enjoyed scooping ice creaming and exchanging food for money. Again, I got that cash register to play with, but this time it was real money and not play money!
In college, I had a hard time figuring out my major, like many young people do. I started off in Architecture and dropped out after my grades suffered the first semester. I went into business classes but later dropped out of college altogether. I moved in with my brother in Wichita, KS and started working for Boeing. It was a great paying job for an 18 year old girl but I could tell I didn’t want to work in that environment my whole life. I knew I was destined to do more, so I went back to school. I needed to get my grades up to par so my first semester back was at a junior college, no major required. Then I switched to Wichita State.
My first attempt was to enroll in computer science. PC’s were a fairly new thing in the late 80s and I had a knack for them. I love tinkering around on the devices trying to figure out how they worked. It was weird being a minority. First off, I was a female in the computer science program, but I was also American. Most of the students enrolled with me were from foreign countries and so were my professors! I was good with programming but I struggled with the language barriers of learning something so complex where the instructors didn’t have English as a first language. I switched programs again.
I went back into business and learned the basics of economics, statistics, accounting and all the typical general business courses. Luckily though, Wichita State started up an Entrepreneurship program in the 1990s, which hit on my curiosity nerve. I enrolled and had the best time the final years of school. The business plan I came up with for my senior project was a computer based training school called Strategic Innovations. I did hours of competitive analysis, research on where the business would be located, financial plans based on worst case, expected case and best case scenario models and finally had to present all of this back to my class. My professor loved the idea and gave me an A.
If I would have been smart, I would have proceeded with what I learned in college after graduation, and start right up with my own business. I knew I loved computers and I always thought that one day I’d own consulting firm with specialized programmers. Unfortunately, I continued with the workforce and trudged right along with my coworkers on a daily basis working the 9 to 5 job.
My technical abilities did land me a better paying job in the Kansas City area as a consultant and I jumped at the chance to move. I continued honing my craft for the next 15 years, gradually working my way up to Senior Programmer, Lead Programmer, Team Lead and Manager.