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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Fall/Winter 2010

Young Entrepreneurs: Q & A with Becky Zwickl

Wednesday, November 03, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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What inspired you to start a spa?
Following my passion. With my business management classes at WNCC I found an inspiration to start my own business. I was one of the "pioneers” in Western Nebraska to offer massage therapy and spa services.

How much capital did you have to raise to start your business?
I moved home from college with $70 to my name. It took three to four years of hard work and growing pains to build the business collateral. My initial loan of $10,000 was for my first building venture. The key was to build slowly and not spend money I did not have or could not pay back at a worse case scenario.

How did you raise it?

Personal home equity as well as equipment equity for my first building. For my second building I was able to sell shares of my business stock to an investor. This took 10 years of building a fiscally sound business and financial statements.

What do you think are the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs?

Although WNCC did not have an entrepreneurial program at the time I attended, they have since incorporated E-ship courses for prospective entrepreneurs to learn everything from business plans, marketing, management, capital investments, etc. I think it is imperative that every aspiring entrepreneur participate in a program like this before starting their business.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting your business?

As a spa owner, my roles have changed drastically throughout my 10 years of operation. I never thought I would be crediting my inexperience and blissful naïveté as factors leading to my success, but if I had known then what it was going to take to make it in this industry, the fearful apprehension of failure would most assuredly have deterred my journey. Looking back, I truly wouldn’t change a thing. In an industry with overwhelming failure rates, my encounters with devastation and set backs along the way could easily have led to my demise, but it was times like these that were blessings in disguise. My moments of weakness were when I found my true strength. In every adversity lies the seed of equal or greater benefit. Working through challenges and difficult situations provides us with the ability to recognize strengths, abilities and insights…and more importantly, by resolving these issues, we find the greatest opportunity for growth.

What advice would you give to a community college student who has no entrepreneurship experience and wants to start a business?

Find your passion FIRST and FOREMOST! Find an E-ship program through a community college before taking the next step.

What do you think the key factors are that have helped you succeed?

Passion, commitment, responsibility, and most importantly the ability to give back to the community.

How were you able to balance being a single mother with growing a successful business?

It literally takes a village. I preach to my employees that family MUST come first, and we all take care of each other. I am so blessed to have my parents and sister close by as a support system. My children are also an active part of my business during the evenings when I have to go back. They have learned to help with tedious tasks such as laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc. It is BECAUSE of my children that I have the passion to continue. I want to teach them that you can achieve anything no matter the obstacles. They are so proud of me and have never felt neglected or ignored. This work ethic is something that will be instilled in them when they are ready to follow their dreams some day. I am so blessed to have both a career and family. The balance is an everyday commitment.

About Columnist

Michael Simmons is co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET), http://www.extremetour.org, and a past keynote speaker at NACCE. EET brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to college campuses to spread the entrepreneurial mindset during a half-day conference. Started in 2006, the tour has visited over 150 schools nation-wide. Michael’s organization also recently launched the JourneyPage Virtual Business Incubator (http://www.journeypage.com/vbi ) and the Virtual Speaker Series (http://www.virtualspeakerseries.org ) to further help entrepreneurship programs.

Becky Zwickl started her business, The Spa by TLC, while she was a student and a pregnant traveling therapist in Gering, NE, population 7,500. Starting with $70 and growing the business as a single parent, Becky now runs a company with three locations and a full-time staff of 20. She graduated from Western Nebraska Community College in 1997.


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