Struggling Student to Successful Business Owner

School started back up again this week here in Payette. While we put our school years further behind us each year, I fear all to soon we will be sending our own children off to school. Time passes so quickly.

If you ask my husband, Chris, what he wanted to be when he grew up, he doesn’t have an answer for you. As a kid, he never had a vision about what he was going to “be.” He was, however, very into figuring out how things worked and fixing things. He would take apart all of his toys to see how they worked, and then put them back together. As he grew up, not much changed.

Formal education was always a difficult form of study for him. Chris really struggles with test anxiety. He learned the content and can be well versed on a subject, and then sit him down and test him on it and by his test score you would think he didn’t understand anything he had studied. You should have seen the sweat he worked up when he accidentally let his drivers license expire and my brother had him convinced that he would have to re-take the written test! I have never struggled with test anxiety. So when Chris did, it took me a while to understand how incapacitating test anxiety can be.  Combine test anxiety with the statement that came from one of our school guidance counsellors, “You’ll probably grow up to work in the fields,”  and you can start to understand Chris’ accomplishment. (Please don’t misconstrue my point here. I am not diminishing the value of someone who’s occupation is field work. I am simply trying to point out that a key person in our public school system failed my husband by not even attempting to provide him with knowledge about higher education opportunities).

After we graduated from high school, he did attend college. Not sure of what he was going to “be,” he started off taking some science related courses thinking that maybe he would like to go into medicine. After some time he switched gears and started taking some business classes. This held his interest, to a point. However, he still found himself tinkering with toys when he wasn’t studying.

He began ordering broken cell phones off eBay, fixing them, and reselling them. He started with the razor phone. When the iPhone came out the obsession started…Chris became a die-hard Apple fan. During the course of Chris learning how to fix phones & selling them on eBay, we became engaged. As the wedding date approached people had him convinced that he needed a “real job,” he began to look for one. The recession was happening and he was a college student, jobs in our area were hard to come by. A couple of months before the wedding he took a job working in an onion shed. Since he had a “real job” now, he wasn’t paying much attention to his resell business. It didn’t take long for him to say, “I’m broke! I’ve got to get back to my business, I’m making more money fixing phones.”

So, he quit his job at the onion shed. We married, both of us technically “unemployed.” I was on summer break before my last year of nursing school. And for that next year, while I finished nursing school, he supported our family by working at home selling iPhones that he fixed. IMG_7213During that year, he officially quit college. At first I was determined that he still go and earn a college degree so he could have a career. When we were to the point that he had been called in to the deans office twice to discuss his poor grades (and no we won’t blame it all on test anxiety, some was lack of effort on Chris’ part) we started to re-evaluate his future as a college student. The final determining factor was he was no longer eligible for any financial aid. So here we were, he couldn’t get a funding for his schooling, most of his classes would have to be retaken and we were already $2,000 in the hole for the student loans he did have.

He didn’t quit while we were ahead, but Chris definitely changed directions before we were any further behind. He continued to grow his eBay business and back then he even had time to cook, clean & do laundry! We paid off our debt from his student loans and I learned a valuable lesson. The college experience isn’t for everyone. While it worked well for me and was essential for the job I wanted, it held Chris back from the things he was trying to achieve.

While college wasn’t Chris’ best setting for success, he learned what was. Hands on education to learn his trade was more successful. Knowledge is important and he is continually gaining more and better finessing his skills to provide our customers with the repair services they need.


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