What I Did
In the beginning of 2015, I accepted a franchise owner position with College Pro Painters, the largest exterior painting business in the country. As I knew I would not be guaranteed a salary I decided to use my STEP money to finance my living expenses while I ran my franchise. Franchise owners were responsible for every aspect of their business, from marketing in the winter/spring, hiring painters, estimating houses, buying materials, training workers and selling the product. The 9 months I worked for College Pro were the hardest of my life. I always thought I was good at time management, I’m a first born, type A personality, but College Pro taught me how to plan my days down to the minute and use every moment of my time efficiently (during Spring semester I was working 50 hours a week and taking 17 credit hours; during the summer I worked over 80 hours). I learned how to deal with confrontation, both with customers, painters and fellow franchisees, a skill I know most people my age do not possess. As a business owner, responsible for my financials, I had to learn early on how to balance my budget and keep my overhead, labor and paint costs low. In the beginning of the season I lost money due to overspending but after making some changes I was able to bring paint and labor down to an acceptable range and ended up turning a slight profit. I ended the summer having ran an 80 thousand dollar business, gained immeasurable business expertise and won Rookie Entrepreneur of the Year for my division.
What it Means
The business experience I gained with College Pro I hope will be a stepping stone toward my future business endeavors. I want to eventually run my own business so the skills I learned are going to be extremely applicable in my future. I will be able to multitask efficiently, handle any customer complaints in any industry and most importantly problem solve to keep financials in check. I have already been offered several sales positions, as companies are impressed with my hands on experience at such a young age. I am extremely interested in pursuing a career in the cannabis industry in Oregon and I hope my business experience will make me a prime candidate for management positions in the industry. Eventually, my boyfriend and I would like to establish our own grow operation but this will take several years.
After graduation, I hope to move to Oregon and find a business position either in sales or account management, preferably in the cannabis industry. The business skills I learned in College Pro are applicable for pretty much any avenue I choose to go down as time management skills, customer service and confrontation skills are needed in any harmonious work environment. I now know just how much overhead is involved in starting a business so it will be important for me to save up for several years before I set out to get my own grow license. The most important thing I learned is that, in sales, one is never really selling a product but rather selling oneself. We were taught to be continuously building rapport with customers and potential customers, as trust is the most important aspect of sales. I plan on using this knowledge and rapport building skills in all of my future business opportunities.