When Laura Brown took over Focal Point last year, she knew nothing about photography. ''I didn't even have a camera,'' the Babson College senior recalls.
But, like any well-trained entrepreneurial major, she knew a good opportunity when she saw one. Students lining up for the dining room couldn't help seeing the large screen on which was projected business advertisements as well as photographs of students.
Miss Brown is one of the growing number of women entrepreneurs in the country. From 1972 to 1979, the number of self-employed women increased 43 percent - a rate five times that for men, government statistics show. Not all self-employed women are entrepreneurs, but one healthy sign is that the number of women owning a firm increased 30 percent from 1972 to 1977.
''I think we have to try harder,'' Miss Brown says, ''even more so in entrepreneurship. There aren't a lot of upper-level women in management. You're not perceived by men as credible.''
With a partner (a male), she improved on the business by having the frame rebuilt (''it was held together by tape,'' she remembers) and including more photos of students.
Last fall she signed up 17 area advertisers at $50 to $60 for a semester and resold prints of the photos to students. Although she plans to sell Focal Point when she graduates this spring, she may market the idea to other universities one day. (Georgetown University is already trying it, she says.)
''I can do anything if I set my mind to it,'' she says, displaying a self-confidence typical of entrepreneurs. ''I don't fit the business mold. I'm interested in doing a job that no one else can do or that I can do better than anyone else.''
She plans to work a few years in a company. But someday she hopes to start a business that will produce something. ''I'm going to be the one who's thinking. I'm going to be the one doing innovative things.''