Column: Tory Johnson Explains How She Became Her Own Boss

My idea was to start a company that produced career fairs for women. Even though career fairs are a dime a dozen, nothing existed specifically for women. And seeing as diversity in the corporate world is a growing priority, I thought that if I could connect smart, savvy women with some of the best employers in America, I would have a win-win-win situation.

Companies would win. Women would win. And I would win.

I started with $5,000 and began operating out of my bedroom in my Upper West Side apartment with twin babies in tow. I launched the first Women For Hire event in New York back in 1999. More than 1,000 women showed up, and I knew we were on to something.

I took the profits from that first fair, opened up an office and hired a small staff. We expanded to three cities the next season and then to six a year later. There have been many ups and downs along the way - and I've had to learn and adapt on the spot.

Now, six years later, Women For Hire produces 20 events a year in 10 markets. We're a multimillion-dollar venture with 1,500 corporate clients ranging from IBM to the FBI, and we connect with 50,000 professional women annually.

Going it on your own is not for everyone: there are millions of people who have no interest in running their own shops. And that's good: we need smart, passionate, creative people doing the "real jobs." After all, that is the main purpose of Women For Hire.

But if the idea of being accountable to only yourself intrigues you, and if you think you have the drive, energy, passion and confidence that it takes to launch your own business and grow your dream into something big, then you and I have a lot in common.

No matter how great your idea or how vast your experience, there is no substitute for motivation and determination. As a startup, there are times when the money will be low, prospective clients will say no, and friends may be naysayers. Your incredible determination will get you through those rocky times.

Good luck on the road to realizing your entrepreneurial dream.

For more information about Women For Hire's services, visit www.womenforhire.com.

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