My Life as an Entrepreneur

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Some kids have lemonade stands. Squeeze some fruit, add sugar and water, wait for a hot day and BAM! Business. At the age of four, I would come to understand lemons were super, but eggs? Bigger business. Being introduced to this by my grandfather, I learned quickly to get what you want in life there was always work to be done; and eggs would be my start.

My Introduction into Entrepreneurship

THE FAMILY BUSINESS
As the youngest employee on the family egg farm, it meant helping to gather chickens, process eggs, and get the little oval darlings ready to ship. Grandpa taught me all I needed to know, and I often spent my summers from age 11 until I was in high school working there. I loved the buzz of activity at the Eagle farm and always looked forward to what the new day would bring.

No, this was work ALL day, and not for a few hours and then play. Working meant starting at around 7:00 am and then quitting around 4:00 or 5:00 pm and the older I got, the more responsibility I handled. To acquire knowledge from family equals the original Ted Talk. Owning businesses was in the family blood with stories being passed around about how my great and great-great grandfathers were store owners, back in Paul, Idaho and Ogden, Utah. Often I wondered why anyone would want to be an entrepreneur, with all the drama and headaches, but I discovered it is the beauty of it all, and what makes it truly fun.

At the end of the day seeing 300 to 400 cases of eggs loaded on a truck bound for places near and far, was such a satisfying thing to partake in because I could see my hard work. By the time high school came around, I was able to buy my first car (Woohoo!) with all the money I saved.

DIVING IN NEW WATERS
In high school, I was in debate. Those of you who know me won’t be surprised, and because I was proficient, I would attend Girl’s State in the summer. Girls’ State which was a leadership program sponsored by the American Legion provided some scholarships, and because of debate I got one for me to attend the University of Idaho (U of I as we natives call it) to pursue my law degree; back then I was sure I wanted to be the next Gloria Allred.

During my launch, I was approached by someone who asked me if I would be interested in the travel industry. The six-weeks of travel school in North Miami Beach, Florida seemed way more relaxed and cheaper than the eight years of law school. So my focus changed, but I was excited and eager at age 19 to learn about the hospitality business.

Fresh out of training, I got the chance to work with American Airlines on the east coast. Always wanting to live there, I jumped at the chance. After three years, and little job satisfaction with American, I found myself at a smaller, more rewarding travel agency, and it was here where I would spread my wings.

A Leader Is Born
The new agency was amazing because although we worked under a company umbrella, we worked for ourselves and were in charge of our commissions. Eventually, our little agency was bought out by a bigger entity, and there I had the chance to travel around and set up various corporate accounts. I was now 22 years old.

One particular account worth about $22.6 million for a pharmaceutical firm, was located in Elkhart, Indiana. While onsite there for three months, I often flew back and forth from Indiana to White Plains, New York frequently in the corporate jet. Can you imagine what was going on in my head?! Surreal!

I trained people, managed my schedule, and that autonomy was significant for me. I worked at that agency for a while longer and then began to ache for Boise. So I said goodbye to Indiana and New York and went back home to start my family and another chapter of my life.
Every day I’m Juggling…Juggling

Replanting myself back in Idaho, I got a job as a travel agent for Anderson Travel. A local firm, Mr. Anderson and I worked well together, and after about a month of being there, it was then he decided he wanted to ditch the agency. He offered it to me for $10K along with about $20 to $30K of receivables on the books. I discussed it with my family, and now at 23, the training wheels were finally off. I was indeed a business owner.

The years rolled by and I was a mother now, balancing those duties along with the several other agencies, and projects I had acquired. The days were long, and work was tireless, but it was mine. Then September 11th, 2001 happened, and travel changed forever. Along with it came Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline allowing you to book your trip online. A very vivid (What the Bleep!?) time in my life where I didn’t even know if I was going to continue to have a business.

Downsizing the agency, forced me to focus on the luxury travel market. In 2005, I got my real estate license and was doing both, amongst other things, until I decided on leaving the hospitality arena and concentrate on selling high-dollar real estate. Fast forward to today. I’m a mother of five amazing humans, a very successful boutique luxury real estate business, which didn’t come without its costs, in a place I love. Idaho is attracting a myriad of new residents, from out-of-state. They share their stories of refocusing stages, business and life do-overs, and what a fantastic chance for me to be a small part of that.

Some people never take a chance, because their fear of failure, of scrutiny, of ridicule, is too much. They play safe and miss out on the rainbows in between the raindrops. There is a lot that life’s curveballs can teach a person.

I wouldn’t trade this incredible ride which started with a little girl, her grandpa, and some eggs.

-Alei

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