I’ve always been very independent and enterprising. As I’m sure my mother would tell you, I’m not a rules person and from the time I was a little girl, I was constantly questioning why things are done the way they are done.
In high school, I started training girls on how to play basketball out of my driveway. I realized I could make money doing something I enjoyed, control my schedule and not have a boss. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur excited me, and I believe it is my life’s calling.
I went to Ball State University for college to play D1 basketball and because I was drawn to their nationally ranked Entrepreneurship program. It was at Ball State that I started my first real business – an online recruiting platform for college sports. I was planning to run that business after graduation when I had the change of a lifetime – I was drafted to play in the WNBA.
Although my professional athletic career didn’t last long, I am very grateful that I didn’t just keep running my business. On the advice of an advisor, I decided to use my first professional years to build a strong foundation and ended up landing a job in finance.
I used my 20s to improve my core skills, live in several cities, and more importantly, figure out exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life and work.
In my late 20s, I felt the urge to become an entrepreneur again so I went back to business school to round out my knowledgebase and get a business off the ground. I graduated at age 29 and felt confident and ready for my next big venture.
I started DITTO.com, an e-commerce site for designer glasses and designer sunglasses. Like most startups, it’s been a wild ride. There have been incredible highs when customers write to me and tell me they loved the experience and the technology. And there have been incredible lows, like being sued by two patent trolls and not knowing if we had enough money to win and outlast the lawsuits.
Had I faced that adversity in my 20s, I’m not sure I would have been ready. But I was mature enough to handle it in my 30s, and I just kept keep my team moving forward and keep refocusing them on things I could control. This persistence has led DITTO to success, and we continue to grow our sales and team.
In addition to just being personally ready from a confidence and competence level, I think there are few others reasons my 30s are the perfect time to build an empire. First, I hope to work well into my 60s so relative to my overall career, I’m still at the beginning. I feel young enough to change paths, try something new and even fail and start again.
Lastly, I’m 31 years old right now and hope to start a family in the coming years. I’ve talked to many a working momtrepreneur and they all say that the flexibility associated with running your own company really makes it so much easier. You can create a schedule that really works for your family.
I am so lucky to be doing what I love and I simply couldn’t imagine a better time in my life to focus my efforts on building my company into a large business.
Kate Doerksen is an athlete turned investor turned e-commerce entrepreneur. After graduating from Stanford Business School in 2011, Kate cofounded DITTO.com, an ecommerce site for designer glasses and designer sunglasses
Thank you, Erin, for giving Kate this opportunity to inspire other women in their 30s to build their own empires. It is the perfect age to have that “go get ’em” attitude!