2018’s 20 Under 40: Cara Owings, The Connection Exchange
Co-founder and co-owner, The Connection Exchange
Years lived in Columbia:
Tell us about your job:
My job has a little piece of several things that make it awesome. There are pieces of business development, sales, marketing, leadership, and management. And since we’re a new business, we have the opportunity to dream big and also live in reality. The best of both worlds.
Who is a mentor in your life and how have they impacted you?
Jennifer Schenck is not only my business partner and friend, but she’s my go-to mentor for everything life throws at me. She’s a strong Christian, a fantastic mom and wife, an experienced entrepreneur, and a great friend. She always helps me see the other side and makes me a better person.
What are some misconceptions about your job?
That we are just a welcome business. We’re much more. Yes, we give new business owners a great gift when they open their business, but we’re really like Match.com for businesses — we connect! We generate great connections for our member network and the new business owners. We also put on excellent networking events, and we’re now statewide with six locations.
What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
Launching our business in multiple cities. We now have The Connection Exchange in Columbia, Springfield, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Sedalia, and Warrensburg.
What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Everything takes longer than you think!
If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
Seriously: I’d totally fix the traffic issues at the Highway 63/I-70 interchange. That would really make Columbia a better place! Oh, and I’d help fund the Hyperloop so we can make travel across the state quicker, which would also increase tourism to Columbia.
What is one business goal you have for 2018 and how do you plan to achieve it?
Continue working on new business ventures and to keep The Connection Exchange moving forward through expansion across the state and franchising.
If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m a terrible speller. I really wish I could not be so dependent on spell check.