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Do It Yourself
Reap the rewards of being your own boss

“The number one way to create wealth in America is to be a successful small business owner,” says Braun Mincher, quoting a concept from the book “The Millionaire Next Door.” Mincher ought to know:

He started a company that grew to be the largest ground transportation company in the state when he was a senior at Littleton’s Chatfield High School. Mincher and other entrepreneurs offer their advice on the risks and rewards of pursuing an entrepreneurial purpose.

After merging his company, Express Charters, with a Fort Collins firm, Mincher became president of an enterprise with annual revenues of $4.5 million that employed 128 people. Five years later, he sold his interest for over seven figures.
“In high school, I was active in DECA (Distributed Education Clubs of America) and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and participated in their local, state, and national competitions,” Mincher, now 30, recalls. “I encourage would-be entrepreneurs to be as active as possible in school classes and clubs. It builds confidence, provides learning, and creates a network of contacts.”
Mincher, who attended university at night while running his company full-time during the day, won the Ernst & Young/Inc. Magazine
“Entrepreneur of the Year” award at the state level in 1994.
Now co-founder of a Fort Collins firm that sells telecommunications systems and services, Mincher advises students, “Whatever you choose to do, be passionate about it! Work hard, persevere, and go that extra step. It takes time and sacrifices, but entrepreneurship brings fulfillment with self and control over your life, as well as financial benefits.”

When Tiffany Cruz, then a 15-year-old student at School Without Walls in Grand Junction, couldn’t find a handbag she liked, she decided to make her own. Her one-of-a-kind Fish Bags were such a hit, first one local boutique and then others asked to sell them. So, with help from many sources, she turned her original crafts into a real business, Bags by Tiffany.
Her dad and aunt, both small business owners, were initial mentors. They also put her in touch with the local business incubator and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for suggestions on writing her business plan. In September 2003, Cruz won the Young Americans Center’s Young Entrepreneurs competition. She received a $1000 award to help her business, a mentoring relationship with a successful businessperson, great publicity, and the opportunity to sell her wares through the YAC Marketplace.
For anyone starting a business, Cruz recommends, “Test your idea in the marketplace and identify trends. Get advice from people with businesses and from resources like the incubator. Find people who will support you for free; I have received plastic, leather, Web site hosting, and many other items that I could not afford.”
Cruz, now a sophomore majoring in art with a minor in business at Mesa State College, runs her business despite the challenges of keeping up with deadlines. She dreams big: “My goal is to go to New York, get famous, and open my own stores.”

While most 11-year-olds were playing soccer after school, Jonathan Lasatar started his first business. He sold the assets of the gardening and landscaping company when he was 15, but by then he had the entrepreneurial bug.
“I took business classes at Boulder High School and got support,” Lasatar, who graduated in May 2004, says. “Mr. Kozlowski, my business teacher, used the Junior Achievement approach in his courses to start and run a real business. He encouraged me to participate in JA Business Week. I also read lots of business books.”
Lasatar started his current business, Detail Master, in May 2003. “The SBDC was a huge support. They offered courses and seminars,” he explains. Now with six employees and large dealership contracts to detail high-end cars, Lasatar beams, “Entrepreneurship is incredible. There is so much freedom. Just do it!”

There are many paths to entrepreneurial success. I didn’t realize when graduating high school that eventually I would co-found and grow a technology-based company, Radish
Communications Systems, that would eventually sell for over $40 million. My career goals evolved along the way — from being an engineer to an international marketer then an entrepreneur — and continued to develop to being a mother, business consultant, professional speaker and author.
As they say, variety is the spice of life. It helps to get a strong education to strengthen your expertise and flexibility; this is something that no one can ever take from you, no matter what you do. Gain lots of practical work experience from established companies; continue your education on their time card.
It is also essential to get to know yourself. What provides meaning to you? What are your gifts and talents? What are your passions? Use both your head and heart to find and then follow your dreams. Be prepared to change as you pursue your passionate purpose and to give it your all. Success requires relentless determination focused toward your vision.
— Theresa M. Szczurek ( is author of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose.

People between the ages of 24 and 44 account for half of the entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. and there is one female entrepreneur for every 1.5 male entrepreneurs.
SOURCE: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2001 Executive Report.

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