Star Tech

1998's Small Business Owner of the Year.

How tech-savvy was Bobbi Govanus prior to launching her computer training company in 1995? "I knew how to turn [the computer] on," Govanus, 47, says, laughing. "And I knew you didn't put the mouse on the screen. I knew that much--but that was about it."

Not that Govanus was intimidated. Convinced of a growing demand for computer trainers, the stockbroker-turned-retail-manager invested $50,000 to boot up St. Paul, Minnesota-based For Your Instructors (FYI). "I was just learning as quickly as I could," explains Govanus of the two months she spent getting her company up and running. "It was an intense time."

It helped that her husband, Gary, 48, was well-versed in computer technology. It also helped that Govanus was (and is) a consummate salesperson. "I don't have to teach [the training classes]," she points out. "I just have to sell them."

Clearly, our homebased winner of the Office Depot/Entrepreneur Magazine 1998 Small Business Owner of the Year award is having no trouble selling FYI to a worldwide clientele. With sales projected to hit $4 million this year--not to mention some 1,000 FYI trainers who work as subcontractors--Govanus' 3-year-old company is generating the kind of success that needs no translation. And the company's biggest asset? A visionary founder who understands how difficult learning computer technology can be.

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