Be Inspired

Paying it Forward, Part Two

June 7, 2021

It was about 24 years ago that a man named Deak Swanson handed me the keys to my first business lease. (I wrote about that journey and my gratitude for Deak here in this previous post about paying it forward!) That gesture had a tremendous impact on me and I always promised him I would pay forward to OTHER entrepreneurs the belief he had in MY dream.

A couple months ago I had another opportunity to do just that. I handed a set of keys over to Carolyn Colleen, who will be opening a franchise of Acton Academy this fall! She will be making a home for her business in our upstairs classrooms during the day.

How awesome is that!? 

923 12th Ave. So., Onalaska, Wisconsin = SCHOOL by day, DANCE by night. 🙂

Both Carolyn and Acton Academy are building up kids by introducing effective methods of learning; encouraging young minds to ask questions and explore ideas so they are equipped to be dynamic leaders and team players. Their mission complements ours perfectly.

Partnering with entrepreneurs like Carolyn is like having ANOTHER dream come true: Getting to play a role in a small business owner’s journey to success is a privilege I will never take for granted. I see it when the studio owners I coach reach milestones in their careers, like conquering debt, expanding locations, spending valuable time with family, or raising up strong leaders. I see it when the students we’ve taught at MDU return as adults who are following their passions, blazing their own trails.

In some ways, it’s not an easy time to start a new business. But in MANY other ways, it’s an incredible time! Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy and having more organizations doing more good in our ecosystem is NECESSARY. Especially, I believe, when those organizations have to do with serving and shaping the young minds of the future. If our kids need anything right now, it’s more opportunity to share, learn, grow, and build up their confidence in the world.

My challenge to you is this: If you are a fellow small business owner, what can you do to lift up someone next to you? How can you support another entrepreneur who is planning great things for your community? Instead of seeing other business owners as competitors for local families’ attention, why not see them as a friend? I think we all have a higher potential when we work together and develop these symbiotic relationships, perhaps even more now than we would have experienced two or three or ten years ago! It is up to ALL of us to reach out beyond ourselves, beyond our own work, to see how we can make the small business world the best it can be.

Handing the keys over to Carolyn made me excited for her, of course, but it also made me reflect upon that day when Deak gave the keys to me. What poignant moment in an entrepreneur’s life, to be handed the literal AND symbolic object of opening up a new door! 

Carolyn, welcome to the neighborhood! You are an AMAZING entrepreneur doing AMAZING things for our kids!




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