I was a machine. I never took a day off.

Erin%20Botsford Erin%20Botsford

Erin Botsford

Founder and CEO, Botsford Financial Group

For Erin Botsford, early financial adversity instilled in her an unstoppable determination to succeed. At age 11, Ms. Botsford lost her father, which plunged her large family into poverty overnight.

At 16, she was involved in a car accident and falsely accused of manslaughter. She was almost forced to plead guilty because the family had no money for an attorney, but her mother mortgaged the house and ultimately cleared her daughter's name.

By diligently earning and saving, Ms. Botsford accumulated $22,000 by age 22. She entrusted $19,000 to a stockbroker, who lost all of it.

Ms. Botsford persevered. A military spouse, she took night classes for 11 years at seven colleges. Soon after graduation, she was hired as the odd woman at a national brokerage. Her male boss told her not to be disappointed if she failed.

"I'm gonna prove this guy wrong," she said to herself, and in seven years was producing $1 million annually.

"I was a machine," Ms. Botsford said. "I never took a day off."

She recalled a small, but life-changing incident. As a teenager, she was at a Rotary Club meeting to receive a scholarship. Feeling very uncomfortable among a roomful of men in suits, she noticed the one female member walk in, looking very confident and put together.

"She owned the room," Ms. Botsford remembered. "I focused on her. Our eyes met and I thought, I'm going to be you someday.'"

Ten years later, her vision materialized when she established her boutique financial planning firm, still going strong decades later.

Deborah Nason

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