Bonika Renee Wilson & Wilson Capital Management
MAJOR CATEGORY WINNER: Change She Can Believe In!

Change She Can Believe In....when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But what comes after lemonade?

I think it was Forest Gump or maybe the credit should go to his mom, who said "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get". This is most certainly true, but I enjoy the quote that says, "when you're handed lemons, make lemonade!" Thus came, Wilson Capital Management (, a woman owned consulting firm specializing in leadership development, training, team building, executive coaching and strategic and financial planning. The journey was not an easy one and required much determination and support from others. From early on, I knew I did not like the cards life dealt me. Growing up in very humble beginnings, divorced parents, raised by a single mother and the oldest child of three was not the vision I had for my life. I remember wishing I had expensive clothes to wear like the other children and resenting my dad for not being a very active father. At 13, I decided I was going to take destiny in my own hands, so I got a job at the local grocery store as a cashier. I enjoyed the independence of working and buying my own clothes, but soon I was doing more than that, I became the secondary source of income in our home, helping mom pay bills and all. Soon I realized, my job as a cashier was not going to be enough to make the impact on my life that I wanted. I remember visiting a family friend with my mom, and their home was absolutely beautiful! That's what I wanted, I desired to give my children a much more comfortable foundation than that which I was given, and I believed that I could change my circumstances. I remember driving home and asking my mom, "how did they get such a nice home?" My mom said, "you must go to college and get a good education to afford nice things". College! Well, if that is all it takes, sign me up! So from that day on at age 14, college was definitely a part of my plan. I moved away and went to college, but of course, things did not get any easier. I had to work full time to put myself through college. I worked nights from 11pm until 7am as an auditor at a hotel. I remember the owner of the hotel being such a terrible leader. He did not treat people fairly, was not very motivational and did not encourage creativity. I remember one early morning, maybe I was dreaming as those late nights started taking their toll on me. I thought, I can do a much better job at running a business than this guy. I thought about all the things I would do differently. That's it! I will become an entrepreneur! From that day on, I thought about what business I could create. I must have come up with about two or three different business ideas per week. Days were long, class from 9-3pm, student activities from 3-5pm, sleep from 6-10pm and back at work from 11pm until 7am! Most of my studying was done from 3am until 6am, when things were quiet at the hotel. I believed life could be much better than this, and somehow I was going to figure out how to change things in my life! After graduating from college, I was very determined to be the best! After all I had made it through, I was not going to give up now! I started in a management trainee program at one of the top 10 US Banks and quickly excelled through the program. Becoming a Vice President at age 25 and a Senior Vice President at age 30 was just a start! After nine years of being a commercial banker and consulting other CEO's and entrepreneurs, I was more motivated than ever to finally start my own organization as well. I had been in a male dominated career and had overcome the challenges of not being one of the "good ole boys", and I had also overcome the challenges of not coming from a family with generations of college educated people and I refused to stop now. I had not reached my destiny; this was not the change that I had for so many years believed I could obtain. Being a conservative banker, I weighed the risk over and over and was very reluctant to step out on faith. I often would bring business ideas to my husband to get buy in. One day after having a conversation with my husband, he introduced me to a very dynamic woman who owns her own business. She has been such an inspiration, mentor and friend to me. After meeting her, I was blessed to meet another woman who owns a consulting company, and she challenged me to move forward, giving me the now or never speech. She said "so you think you are an entrepreneur huh, so tell me how many businesses have you started?" She went on to say that real entrepreneurs have tried many things and failed or succeeded, but they have tried. She also said that most entrepreneurs were inspired well before they realized their goals; as children, they ran lemonade stands and lawn mowing business, they had realized enough passion to move forward. So with the support of my husband and the shared stories of my two mentors, I DID IT!! I started my business; I changed my life, forever! It has not been easy, but is anything worth having easy to obtain?

My graduate degree from George Washington University ( and the support I have received from alumni has also added to my success. As a result of realizing the struggles of entrepreneurship, especially as a woman entrepreneur, I am passionate about supporting women executives. I have dedicated much of my time to educating women and minorities on SBA financing (, preparation of a business plan and motivating and instilling passion into employees. I believe the success of small business owners will be so much more important over the next few years due to the economical issues our economy faces. I believe we can change our circumstances if we stay focused, determined and faithful. Success is change we can believe in!

What can you do as a prospective entrepreneur? Three things, believe in yourself, change your atmosphere and don't give up! Believe that you can do whatever you set your sights on and write it down as a constant reminder of why you get up in the morning. Change your atmosphere by incorporating positive people. Get a mentor or someone who can give you good advice and feedback. It is best to find someone who is familiar with the path you want to walk. Don't give up! The thought will cross your mind at times but quickly remove that thought from your mind and utilize the time to advance your cause. Also, utilize this article that I found to be helpful

Today, I enjoy growing my business, spending time with my husband and children and golf. Ladies, you must spend time on a golf course with other women, it's fun, relaxing and another great opportunity to talk about your business. I enjoy being a member of a ladies nine group and we have a blast during our weekly outings In addition, I am still making lemonade, after being told by a medical doctor that I would not be able to have children, I have overcome that obstacle as well! All I want to know is, after lemons, make lemonade, what comes after lemonade?