Building a Business Part 1: The Beginning.

I get asked a lot of questions about my business and a lot of readers have been interested in how I started, so I thought that I would give you my entire story… from the very beginning. Since the journey has been a long one, the posts will be split up into “parts”, which are like chapters I suppose. Welcome to part one of the online novel: The Beginning.

* * * 

When I was about 11 years old, I became fascinated with computers. I would spend recess sneaking onto our classroom computer to use the oddly shaped keyboard complete with a high tech roller ball for scrolling. There was this DOS based game that I would play in which you enter the letters that appeared on the screen and it would place them in a special order to create an object or animal. When I was done, I’d proudly print out the ASCII crafted design on one of those printers that forced you to rip off the perforated edges. It was my first taste of designing something totally computer based.

Our school library had just implemented this thing called “the Internet” and it was mind blowing to me. Back then, the internet wasn’t as common as it is now. It was like a mini luxury if your parents decided to hop into the future with a sweet 56k dial-up modem. In that library, I would search for song lyrics… because let’s face it, I didn’t know what else to do with the thing besides research for projects, and this would save me from having to manually write them out whenever a song came on the radio (come on, I know I’m not the only one who did that!). I would print out pages and pages of them until I got into trouble for wasting so much paper.

Why oh why couldn’t we just get this amazing invention at MY house instead of having to waste valuable learning time at school? Not that i was complaining…Still, I begged and begged for our home computer to be hooked up with little luck.

A best friend of mine was one of the lucky ones. She told me I could use hers anytime, and man, did I ever take advantage. I feel like such a horrible friend now, but little did I know that this friend’s computer would be the start of my entire working life.

I distinctly remember sitting at her little desk that was set up in her family room while she and her dad watched tv behind me. I couldn’t pull myself away from the screen. There was so much to discover, so much that I had yet to do! Her sister (let’s call her Penny) was the one who introduced me to chat rooms and ICQ. This was even MORE amazing to me! I could actually talk to people who were in different countries!

After I became a regular Internet junkie, I began wondering how this machine actually worked. I’ve always been curious about technology and eager to find out more. Penny told me that it was possible to create my own website and that she herself had even started trying to create one using this thing called Angelfire. RIDICULOUS, how could this get any better?! She showed me her choppy looking space on the web and I immediately wanted to know everything there was to know about making a website.

I signed up for my own Angelfire account and dove right in. Back then, website design wasn’t exactly where it is today. Certain scripts hadn’t even been developed yet and everything pretty much looked basic. Angelfire let you easily create an (ugly) website and customize it with your own HTML. I remember learning how to change background colors and how to bold my text. I wanted MORE!

I finally managed to convince my parents to sign us up for the internet. I’m sure my friend was ecstatic to get rid of me and stop using her dial-up time. Oh, that’s right, back then you had a set number of HOURS in your Internet plan. Can you imagine having hourly based internet plans now a days!?

Now that I was free to create a masterpiece on my own computer, I got right to it. I learned how to make images and graphics using Corel Draw (this is pre-photoshop people!) and how to put them onto my website. The journey to even obtain a copy of Corel Draw was a story in itself. Basically, the program cost about $600 and my mother was not going to dish out that much cash for a computer disc. I found an ad in the newspaper for some electronics store that was offering it for only $150 for students. I convinced my mom that we should make up a story to get the discounted price. We did, and it worked.

Google was my best friend the entire time. Or was it Yahoo back then that was most popular? I would just search for what I wanted to do, and like magic, answers would appear.

The more research I did and the more website stuff I learned how to do, the more I loved it. I created ugly little websites with my limited knowledge but I never stopped experimenting. As I grew up and entered high school, I would take any chance I got with a class project to create a website. My photography teacher asked me to put a portfolio together, he got a web portfolio. My tech teacher wanted me to create some kind of media for my fav band… He got a fan site. My pattern was becoming common and the ideas just kept brewing in my head…

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I create my first business!

Do you remember how the internet used to be? How did you discover it?

Last Updated on

By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.