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This story appears in the December 1998 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

When Ada Diaz Kirby started CommTech International Inc. in Denver in 1994, she thought her 24-year career at telephone company US West qualified her to operate a high-tech training firm. But within days of starting the business, Kirby, 48, was mired in myriad problems she had never imagined. For instance, after winning a $1 million training contract, she quickly had to hire more than 20 employees. Then she immediately had to secure financing for new computer workstations for those employees--workstations costing about $12,000 each.

"I thought I had figured it all out," Kirby recalls. "I had a mom-and-apple-pie business plan, but it wasn't realistic and wouldn't have worked."

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