Mike is a 45-year-old man from Madison, Wis. As an adult he first worked in data entry before being promoted to a database analyst. Mike then looked at options for self-employment, first beginning to consult in 2002 and then eventually starting his own micro-enterprise Data Flow Solutions that creates custom data solutions for small organizations and individuals, a year ago.
As a kid, he had always loved puzzles and liked to take his toys apart to see how they worked. While working for other employers he had seen how his work had helped make others lives better. Starting his own business would give him an even broader platform. He wanted to offer people solutions that made use of the wide range of data available.
As an adult with cerebral palsy and a Care Wisconsin Partnership member, Mike had access to some of the tools that are available to help individuals in the program with employment opportunities.
His Partnership care team connected Mike with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) who helped him learn about business ownership, feasibility and business planning. Mike likens the process to teaching someone to fish by giving them a pole and a net.
Mike worked for more than a year, developing a business plan and working with a number of other resources to turn his plan into a reality. He also received additional technical training. Overall, Mike believes the process turned a vague notion and a goal into a reality and a strong vision.
Since first consulting and then opening his business, he’s learned more about the “business” part of himself. The “computer” part of him is still solving puzzles, but this new part of himself is doing other things like public relations and accounting.
Mike says he’s also part ringmaster of his own three ring circus. He says it’s been challenging but fun. He enjoys meeting people. When he takes on new clients he gets to see how they do things and how they see the world. He finds that fascinating.
The other thing he’s learned about owning a business is that the learning never stops. In his own words, he’s learned to “trust myself, to seek my own answers, to stumble and get back up. That’s what self-employment is to me. To go back to the fishing then. You got to face that ocean every grey morning. If you can’t, if you don’t have that self-reliance yet, FIND IT. Do what you have to but find it. Don’t confuse self-reliance with knowledge or perfection. Self-reliance isn’t knowing the answers; it’s having the courage to seek them.”
Link to Mike’s website: www.dataflowsolutions.us