Nestled on a quiet side street in the welcoming town of Warwick, NY, you will find Andrea's Day Spa. Here you can get a facial, your nails done or even your makeup. Andrea, the owner, is a self-funded 23 year old entrepreneur who is the first feature in my new series. I first met her last December when she helped us with my sister's wedding and I was immediately inspired by her. Whenever I share my business diaries, it seems that so many of you connect with it. When I first started to share our journey on starting our family business, so many of you loved it. I began to realize that the main element that many of you seemed to be connecting with is that there is the option of taking a different path. I think previous generations were taught, go to college, get a job at a good company and work your way up that ladder. But what happens when that path doesn't work for you? What happens when college is not the right fit for you (or your child)? The barriers to entry to start your own business in today's world have come close to disappearing. If you have an idea, a dream, or a passion, you can make a living and life doing it. Of course, I do recognize that this is not for everyone. Even if it is not something you plan on doing, I think there are lessons to be learned from entrepreneurs and their courage in forging new paths. After meeting Andrea, she inspired this series because I knew her perspective and approach would be so valuable to share with others. So without further adieu, meet Andrea. After a few years of working at different spas and salons, Andrea made the leap and opened her own salon about five months ago. Now, I realize that opening a spa or salon is not something new or revolutionary. However, I think opening one on your own at the age of 23 is. I think Andrea's laser focus from such a young age on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to get there is what makes this story even more interesting. For her, what she does is an expression of her creativity that she has always been drawn to. From the age of four, she was doing her brother's hair and nails (what a good brother). When she entered high school, she knew she would sign up for cosmetology through the trade program. However, when she went to sign up, it was full and she was devastated. At her mother's suggestion, she tried aesthetics instead and is so thankful now that the cosmetology program was full. She finds the ability to create such a relaxing environment for her clients and to make them feel good about themselves so rewarding. Andrea stands out because not only did she have a passion for beauty but she had a passion to work. She started working and saving her money from the age of fourteen. When she was even younger than that, she was doing what ever kid does, selling lemonade and rocks. But for Andrea, it wasn't just about the fun of selling on a summer day, she meant business. She started building her confident foundation from an early age so that last year she knew, "I can do this, I can do this now." After high school, Andrea took business management classes so that she had the fundamentals and continued to learn the details of her trade at salons. She told me that she always had a plan and that this was always the direction. I think it is this part that drew me the most to Andrea's story. Her confidence and clear direction is what sets her apart and puts her where she is today. I asked Andrea a series of questions about where she is now. What has been the hardest part? Waiting. She is ready to be swamped. Her business is steady and she no longer "in the red", but she is ready for the days to be even fuller with more customers and a higher income. What has been the most surprising? How fast her business has grown. Although she is not "swamped" yet, she is surprised with how well it has done all ready. What has been your marketing strategy? Word of mouth and a referral program have been the biggest component, plus a web site, old school yellow pages and local donations to fund raisers. What are your future plans and goals? Expanding into body scrubs and bringing in a massage therapist. In the future, she wants to move into a bigger space and manage a staff. How to you balance your personal life? She still has a typical social life of a young woman, but her thoughts are consumed with growing her business and finding strategies for increasing her income. As I sat with Andrea, I found myself balancing between a peer perspective and a parent perspective. As a parent, I would be so pleased to see my children doing what they love and being willing to take risks like Andrea. I think it is a great lesson for all parents, that the four year college plan is not for everyone. Without it, Andrea has proven that with a laser focus, she can still be successful in doing what she has always loved. When I asked her about what her parents thought, she shared that her father was not overly pleased with it to start because he wanted her to take a more traditional path. Recently, they were out together and she had to stop at the beauty supply store. She knew he had come around when he was suggesting nail polish colors for her to select! I hope you enjoyed the first post as part of this new series. I have a fun idea for the next one that I am hoping works out. Do you have someone you would like me to try and profile and share with you? Thanks so much for reading!