While she credits some of her success to luck and timing—she opened her studio at the dawn of the Pilates craze, but before the market was saturated—she also believes her years in business helped her to identify the right opportunity. First, she chose a sector without prohibitive start-up costs: approximately $20,000 for the initial equipment. Second, she channeled her efforts into something she loves. "I didn't go out and say, 'I am going to make a lot of money,'" she says. "I went out saying, 'I am going to offer quality.'"
Frustration with inflexible job arrangements and growing eldercare concerns are motivating many women to launch their own businesses. More than 10 million U.S. businesses are at least 50 percent owned by a woman or women, and the number of women owned businesses with employees grew by 28 percent between 1997 and 2004, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, three times the overall growth rate for U.S. businesses with employees.
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"My friends think that I have this great life, and everything is so wonderful," Vangeli says. "But let's make no mistake here. It wasn't something that came easily. I worked for it. But that said, I've been very, very lucky and I am grateful." She pauses, reflecting. "I am happy to be me."
Key for Success: Identify your passion, research the market, and determine a financial strategy and business plan appropriate for your long-term goals.