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Never Say Never

From engineer to entrepreneur--who would have thought?

The entrepreneurial bug didn't bite Renee Quinn until after she had managed to secure a successful career and an MBA. As an engineer who showed hospital CEOs where they could downsize, she often left work feeling depressed and guilt-ridden.

In 1996, Quinn decided to quit her job and return to business school, though she had no idea what she ultimately wanted to do. An ad for The Little Gym--a center that offers recreational gymnastics, karate and sports-skill development for children--caught her eye, but she had way too many reservations about entrepreneurship. "All my life I said I would never own my own business," says Quinn, 31. "I've lived with men who have experienced the stress of owning a business. I've seen what it's like."

As fate would have it, she found her calling when she answered an ad for a program director at a local gymnastics facility--which turned out to be none other than The Little Gym. She had been working at the gym for six months, when the owner relocated and decided to sell the franchise in 1997. Quinn quickly jumped at the opportunity.

Within the first six months, she increased customer enrollment by 100 percent, going from 300 to 600 students.

"I'm going to work in shorts, kicking off my shoes the minute I get in the door, playing with kids all day and getting paid for it," says Quinn, who teaches 20 classes a week. "This is too good to be true."

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This article was originally published in the March 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Never Say Never.

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