Politics aside, you got to respect Kellyanne Conway’s success as an entrepreneur

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

As a counselor to President Trump, pollster and media strategist Kellyanne Conway has no shortage of fans…and detractors. Defenders of the president love her unabashed support and willingness to put herself out there on national TV to communicate the president’s intentions, no matter how controversial. Unfortunately, her job has also made her the target – sometimes even the face – of the administration’s critics. Whether you’re a lover or a hater of Conway you can’t deny that she’s loyal and tenacious. Oh, and one other thing: she’s one heck of an entrepreneur too.

Like most entrepreneurs, Conway’s passion for what she does goes back to when she was in high school, where she wrote for a local paper about the 1984 conventions and caught the political bug. According to this report from Business Insider, Conway, who is 50, had humble beginnings growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia and then got her start in the polling world as a law student at George Washington University. While there, she worked an assistant at a law firm headed by President Reagan’s once-pollster and strategist.

At the age of 28, Conway started her own polling business – called The Polling Company. Her reason? She reportedly said what any successful entrepreneur would say: “There’s money to be made.”

There was. Conway at the time recognized a market niche: corporations and politicians needed advice and data on how to win over women. Her hunch was right. Polling companies were in demand and money from PACs, corporate marketing budgets and campaign funds was readily available. She quickly grew the firm into a multi-million-dollar a year business serving companies like American Express, Hasbro and Boeing and politicians from Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz. In 2005, she co-wrote a book called “What Women Really Want” with a Democratic pollster.

You may or may not like Kellyanne Conway’s politics. But as a fellow business owner you can’t help but have respect for her as an entrepreneur.

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