Young professionals at work
As the economy continues to change, people are looking at different alternatives for employment. Some go back to school to earn a degree and some start their own business.
For Dot Wright, the latter was her ticket to a career she loves.
Since 2009, Wright has been the president of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. But during her college years, being involved in business wasn’t her plan. She was majoring in math education, with the goal of being a math teacher. That plan quickly changed once she started working for a company on the East Coast.
“I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I started to work at a small distribution company as their office manager,“ said Wright, 38. “Soon I was running every aspect of the company and then went on to work for an even bigger company and that’s where I learned everything I know about running a business, from these two organizations.”
Wright bought her first business in 2006 when she moved to Colorado. After three years she was able to sell it for three times the amount she bought it for, all in the beginning of her career. She also started her own event planning business.
Others in the community are taking the same approach to their careers.
Glenn Plagens is the director of the Small Business Development Center at the Front Range Community College campus in Westminster.
The center is a resource for students, community members and Colorado small businesses seeking customized skills training, consulting services, business development and ongoing professional development.
Plagens works with young entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses, and since the recession, he said he’s seen a boost in interest from people wanting to start new businesses.
“We see a whole spectrum of different businesses being started by young entrepreneurs many times out of necessity because they are not getting employed,” he said “Since I have been on the job for the last two years we have increased our business advising by 70 percent.”
The center provides free business advising classes and business start-up classes, as well as help with marketing, to name a few.
Plagens said he also encourages entrepreneurs and business owners to get involved in their local chamber of commerce’s.
“Especially for the younger generation, it’s important to make those face-to-face relationships because so many young people communicate through technology,” he said “The chamber is a great place to start to leverage those relationships.”
When Wright joined the Arvada Chamber of Commerce in 2006 she had no idea that decision would change her life.
“I was just helping out the chamber, but soon I realized I loved the job so much,” she said. “I told myself that I needed to apply for this job because I love it so much, and I did. Now I get to help businesses all day be successful. How cool is that?”
Plagens also can’t complain about his job. After running a small business for 20 years, he said it’s nice to pass on the experience he’s learned to other business owners.
“I get to help people overcome their problems and that has been really rewarding,” he said. “I think it’s a privilege to share my small business experience and knowledge in a place where I can be an advocate for people.”