Vaughan Business Student Aims High

For Anna Kuznetsov, the ceiling is the limit.

The assertive Vaughan student, who attends York University’s Schulich School of Business, manages her own interior/exterior painting business. If that isn’t enough, she’s also a contestant in the inaugural Miss University Canada beauty pageant.

Not bad for an 18 year old.

Anna Kuznetsov

And with a goal to have earned $100,000 by the end of summer, Kuznetsov has big dreams — and an even bigger incentive: if she succeeds, she’ll have an opportunity to use her proceeds to paint the town red during an all-inclusive paid trip to Mexico.

The trip is sponsored by Scholars At Your Service and usually takes place at the end of September. But make no mistake, while the prize of a trip adds a silver lining, Kuznetsov’s primary motive for launching her own business is to kick-start her career.

“I’m trying to build transferable business skills that I can apply to other things,” she said purposefully, in a conversation shortly after a law and ethics class at York’s Keele campus. “Just to be able to say I ran my own business, even if I don’t reach the $100,000, it’s pretty impressive.”

Kuznetsov started the business with the help of Scholars At Your Service, a franchise that selects college and university students who have demonstrated the ambition and skills needed to manage a business.

She said she first heard about the program at a class information session. Upon hearing how the speaker made $27,000 in one summer, she signed up. A few interviews later, she joined the team.

The Scholars program provides Kuznetsov with the training and marketing materials to launch her business, but everything from hiring painters to calculating costs is her responsibility.

While she was initially skeptical, the business has provided an opportunity to spark her inner entrepreneur, she says.

“At first I thought, ‘What do I know about painting?’  ” Kuznetsov said. “But in reality you grow to like it and be passionate about your business, because it’s you.

“You’re not selling the product or the service. You’re selling yourself.”

She plans to focus this summer on homes 20 years and older, likely in areas not far from her home near Dufferin Street and Rutherford Road, she says.

At the risk of being dubbed an underachiever, Kuznetsov also decided to join the beauty pageant after being convinced it was not one of those that put an emphasis on unrealistic looks.

“This pageant seemed like it’s about both brains and looks — and also being a strong, ambitious woman,” she said. “So I thought ‘Why not try?’ ”

The inaugural pageant is being held by Miss University Canada and takes place on May 5 at the St. George Hall in Waterloo. The winner will be sent to Cyprus to compete in the Miss Peace International pageant.

Kuznetsov was accepted and now juggles rehearsals, her business and classes.

“It did sound like a commitment, but I’m used to achieving my goals,” she said. “I like to think of it as a healthy challenge.”

So far, Kuznetsov has raised $8,000 in revenues. If she reaches her $100,000 goal by end of summer, she’ll make about $20,000 profit, once operating costs and the 26 percent royalty Scholars At Your Service charges have been deducted. Her thoughts?

“Whatever, sure,” she says with a shrug. “I mean, I’m still making a lot of money.”

She hopes to put her profits toward tuition, a car and a no-holds-barred shopping spree.

This story originally appeared in Vaughan Today.

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