Julie Davis, a Colorado College graduate, knew from a young age that she wanted to teach. She just figured she’d always teach kids.
“I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Davis said. “I didn’t know I’d be a business owner.”
Davis grew up in Breckenridge, moved around the state and would eventually return to Colorado Springs with her husband (who was also a teacher) to work in public schools.
Davis came to a fork in the road and today is managing director of the Colorado Springs chapter of eWomen Network and the owner of her own productivity and efficiency training company, Julie Miller Davis.
Davis spoke with the Business Journal this week about changing careers and encouraging small business owners — particularly women — to be the best they can be.
How did you go from teaching to starting a business?
I had a baby in 2003. I quit teaching in 2002 and thought I would take a year off or so, but I really didn’t miss it.
Afterward, I tutored for five years and, when [my son] went to kindergarten, I took a job as a part-time gifted and talented coordinator at Vista Ridge High School.
I thought it would be great, and it was good. Then, and I never used to go to these parties, but I was invited to a multilevel marketing jewelry party and fell in love with this jewelry. My husband said to try selling it. That was 2008.
I signed up to sell this jewelry and it turned out I was really motivated by prizes. Multi-level marketing companies give a lot of prizes. I worked hard to earn what they were offering and built a team through the recession. I joined [Business Network International] and was one of the only people working at the time in that arena.
It was kind of my introduction to business. The back end was built but I got to learn to network and sell a little bit. But I was getting itchy. It was like, ‘How many pieces of jewelry can I sell?” I did it six years.
I started thinking about what I could do. I love teaching, so I thought maybe I could be a corporate trainer. I also love public speaking and had done training at leadership retreats. So I thought about my knowledge, gifts and talents, which are productivity, efficiency and strong work habits — being super organized with my time and creative in how I approach things.
I created my business in 2015 based on how I operate and, because I’m a teacher, I have this ability to create curriculum. So I created programming and started speaking and I kind of transformed myself.
What services do you provide?
I have live events and workshops and a six-month training program I run for six people at a time. In January I’m launching a virtual program. It’s still live with me but virtual instead of meeting in person.
How successful is your business?
It’s good. I’ve learned a lot of patience. People don’t just flock to you. They have to really get to know you. But I think I’m very good at implementing, reviewing and tweaking and figuring out what’s working and what isn’t. I’ve also had a business coach from the get-go. I’m a business trainer, not a coach. It’s a different animal.
Who is your target audience?
Business owners or people in leadership roles in business. My primary target is smaller brick-and-mortar businesses with five or fewer employees. Those are the ones trying to do everything and having a hard time letting go of pieces of their business. I help them do the things that are in their zone of genius and help them empower their people.
I also work with the ‘solo-preneur,’ who does do it all.
Talk about eWomen Network.
It’s a phenomenal organization I got involved with four years ago. … Coming there from BNI was a little bit of a shock. BNI is very transactional and referral-based where eWomen Network is a value-based relationship organization. We don’t track referrals. Business grows out of getting to know each other and supporting each other. It’s all about lifting others.
We have an educational component, where we bring in an outside speaker 10 of the 12 months of the year. We’re looking to feed membership the information they say they need, so we do a survey every year, and I’ve been managing director two years in February.
How has the organization grown?
We’ve grown to almost 100 members now and about 70 come to our lunch monthly. I also run a small group monthly. There have been 68 new members since I’ve been managing director. We’ve seen that the ratio of women to men starting businesses is unbelievable, but women create ceilings for themselves. We’re trying to show them that they have unlimited options if they choose.