20 Under 40 Class of 2017

Jessie Yankee
Owner, EasyPC IT & Computer Repair
Age: 30

Hometown:
Bethalto, Illinois.

Years lived in Columbia:
11 years.

Tell us about your job:
I am the owner of EasyPC, so I do all of the jobs (haha). My main job is to manage the business, new sales, all of the networking and community involvement, etc. Being “the face.”

Who is a mentor in your life?
I don’t have one, unfortunately. Could use one for sure!

What are some misconceptions about your job?
I think a big misconception is that small business owners can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and are swimming in money. This is the opposite of true. When you are the owner, you pay everyone else before yourself, sometimes going without pay, and you never, ever leave work. You may physically go home, but you’re still working pretty much any time you are awake. Vacations? Sure, but your laptop is coming with. Sick days? What’s that? I absolutely love my company and all the work that goes into it, but there is definitely a dimension of being a “business owner” that people don’t realize. Small business owners work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. But I love every second, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.

What is the single best thing about your job?
Without a doubt, it’s working with my employees. I have the best team! I look forward to Monday because I miss them over the weekends. They are trustworthy, smart, funny, and everything you could want, not only in employees, but in friends. Working with them is the best part of EasyPC.

What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
My goal for 2016 was to build our computer repair division to reach profitability. We opened the computer repair center late in 2015, and we came up with a break-even number of computers that need to come through the door each day to make that division work. Well, we have more than exceeded that number in the last couple months, and the division has become profitable while still keeping prices fair and attainable to the public. I am really proud of the team for our hard work on streamlining this division and growing it to its current state in less than a year.

What motivates you?
I’m really motivated to make the people around me proud. I work hard and care so much about the business because I want to make my parents proud, my kids proud, my husband proud, and my friends proud. So many people have supported me throughout my life, and I owe it to them to reach my potential.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Probably working and traveling with my husband, Jim, and his business (Flat Branch Home Loans).

Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
Being a finalist for the chamber’s Small Business of the Year earlier this year. We were so honored by this! We are just at five years old, and to go from running EasyPC out of my house by myself to having a team that could be recognized with this honor — there was no better feeling.

What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Hold your tongue. Don’t trash-talk or gossip about other people and businesses, no matter how much you want to or how much you know you’re correct. The negative words and energy you put out there will always come back to bite you later.

What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
Good to Great” is the favorite in our household. I think the biggest takeaway for me was about confronting the brutal facts of your business. You have to be able to separate your emotional attachment to programs, systems, products, and other organizational areas so you can see the actual reality of your situation.

If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
Buy Mizzou a winning football team. [Editor’s note: Draconian NCAA rules prohibit business owners from buying collegiate football players.]

What is one goal you have for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve it?
Building a stronger team than ever. We spend a lot of time recruiting the best employees, and at this point our growth is on pause until we can find great people to add to our team. 2017 will be spent identifying awesome techs, getting them on board, and helping them grow to reach their full potential.

What trait do you most want in a co-worker or employee?
Having a very outgoing and customer-friendly personality is extremely important to us and our clients. We look for people who know how to do the job but, more importantly, can talk to the client in a way they can understand.

If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Oh, for sure my massive disorganization. My desk always looks like a tornado went through, I forget meetings, and I forget to call people back sometimes, all because I lack organization and I’m always doing ten things at once. I am working on it!

What do you do for fun?
I like to have a glass or five of wine with my girlfriends. We’re also big board game players at the Yankee household. Many a night you will find us yelling at each other over a game of Monopoly with friends. It’s the best!

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