Each business has a story. No matter if the business is a Goliath like Wal-Mart, or a local business owned by a couple or family, the business has roots in an idea. For each business owner, the story of their journey can range from monetary needs or the passion for a unique project. Each story is different though the reasons may remain the same. No matter the tale, the background behind each and every business is what fuels each entrepreneurship and brand.
1) Being Able to Build a Strong Team
As a serial entrepreneur of nearly 20 years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that the single greatest asset any company has is their people. In a lot of ways, companies are formed for the sole purpose of solving problems: This could be internal issues or issues your customers encounter, but if you have the right team on board with thoughtful, creative, intelligent, and driven individuals you will embrace each challenge and come up with brilliant, out of the box solutions over and over again.That is what really makes a great company and creates a sustainable competitive advantage. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that the product that we are building is delighting our customers and solving real-world problems for them while we build an amazing team.
Thanks to Michael Krasman, UrbanBound!
2) Creating a Product Out of Necessity
As a practicing heart surgeon, I have my hands full every day with patients lives. Due to necessity, I needed to develop a way to have my five-year-old daughter stand up and pee when traveling out of the country with limited toilets. After much research and trial and error we came up with the Pee Pocket. The Pee Pocket is a single-use urinary device that allows women to stand when peeing. Once word got out of the utility of the product, everyone wanted a Pee Pocket! It has been exhilarating to step out of my comfort zone from what I do every day (save lives) to go and provide service for women and men to gain independence and be able to pee standing and relieve themselves. It has been hard work and quite an undertaking to get the product to market, fill orders and work on a supply chain to be able to ship around the world. You soon learn that everyone’s hand is in the cookie jar, be it good or bad! I have been able to weather the storm asking questions and reading on the Internet on the pitfalls of running a successful business and maintain a level of excellence in my day job. I’m often asked why I do what I do if I am already successful? I tell people that it is incredibly gratifying to be able to produce something that started as an idea and be able to bring it to fruition. It is amazing to be able to help others in another capacity besides the heart and see them enjoy the product!
Thanks to Jacob DeLaRosa, MD, The Pee Pocket!
3) The Value of Being My Own Boss
After working in Corporate America for 14 as an in-house PR/Marketing person, I opened my own PR firm. I founded Blue Cube Marketing Solutions in 2002 to transform the way companies approach Communication Strategy and Community Engagement. It’s been a roller coaster ride but I love owning my own company. I have fired clients, even when I couldn’t afford to lose the income, to keep from compromising my standards and self-worth. Being my own boss allowed me to work at the bedside of both my grandmother and father before they passed. Spending the extra time with them was priceless. No corporate job I ever held would allow me to do this. Even when I was in Corporate America I was often responsible to find resources to help me grow. As my own boss, I have for freedom to try different resources – educational, networking, strategic alliances. As the boss, I can work with each client individually to best fulfill their needs. There is no SOP, only possibilities.
Thanks to Tami Belt, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions!
4) Guided by a New Boss
I launched my baby products company because I became a mom. I’m not talking about becoming a ‘Mom-preneur’ and capitalizing on this term. No, what I’m talking about is that becoming my own boss while I was being guided by a new boss (my son!) allowed me a new freedom to either succeed or fail in business and parenting for that matter. Before becoming a parent, I had spent the previous dozen years as a marketing and sales consultant for lifestyle brands – independent accessory designers, boutique retailers, even sewing products – and with all the fun and enjoyment I got from those relationships, I knew that client work like I was doing wasn’t sustainable when it smacked up against the type of hands on parent I wanted to be. With some product development background I hatched Satsuma Designs to create a flexible PRODUCT-based business to replace my SERVICE-based business. Sales of my ‘widgets’ would be up to me and failure to sell my widgets would be my own fault without impacting too many others, i.e. my clients. Of course, I actually do have clients, the most important clients, babies and their families, but our relationship is different from what my service-based business asked of me. Now with a sales, marketing and production team, we serve our little (and big) clients with passion and flexibility that as parents we can all appreciate.
Thanks to Jennifer Porter, Satsuma Designs LLC!
5) Because Every Pan Tells a Story
I’m passionate about cast iron because every pan tells a story — an entire history of meals and memories. Cast iron is the healthy alternative to pans with mysterious polymer liners. It’s the original non-stick cookware, and until now the best skillets were antiques– today’s typical designs are extremely outdated. I figured it was about time someone updated grandma’s old skillet! Typical skillets have a handle that is pretty much designed to burn you – they are flat and narrow and get just as hot as the pan. The FINEX skillet has an ergonomic “Speed Cool” polished stainless steel spring handle allows the handle to cool much quicker than a standard skillet and it’s shaped to fit the natural curve of your hand. Typical skillets are just too rough and food sticks to rough surfaces. The FINEX skillet has an ultra-smooth computer machined easy release cooking surface. No other skillet on the market has this feature and it’s one of the reasons antique skillets are so sought after – they are finally smooth after decades of use. FINEX skillets are smooth out of the box and even come pre-seasoned with organic flaxseed oil. Typical skillets are awkward to pour from when loaded with food. The FINEX skillet’s patented octagonal “Multi-Pour” design allows 6 pouring directions. Natural angles make it easier to slide a spatula under your food when cooking. FINEX® is now making heirloom quality cast iron cookware in America for the first time in over half a century!
Thanks to Mike Whitehead, FINEX Cast Iron Cookware Co.!
6) If you can’t find it, make it
I started my business for many reasons. I had been almost a year looking for suitable employment and at some point, the idea that “If I can’t find one, I’ll make one” became very alluring. As a mom of 6, being my own boss would potentially earn me money while still allowing me flexibility when I needed it to accommodate my family’s schedule and meant that I could be more involved with my children than if I accepted a more traditional job. My husband & I had both recently lost family members who had left us an amount of money that, while small, was more than we were likely to have in one place any time soon and we felt strongly that the money should be used to help us do something great for our family and possibly something of lasting good to the community. Around that same time, we were also struggling to receive services for one of my Special Needs children, and we were very frustrated with the process and general lack of knowledge on the part of the local professionals we were working with. As parents of Special Needs children, we knew that most children in our area had little or no access to pediatric Speech, Physical and Occupational therapies and also how life-changing they could be. Opening a pediatric therapy center seemed to be a natural outpouring of our circumstances and our desire to do something meaningful for our family and our community.
Thanks to Tanya Keefe, Sense-sational Therapy!
7) Picking Myself Up and Moving On
On October 1, 2012, I lost my job. Got fired. Canned. After promoting their stories for nearly six years, putting the organization in the map, they sacked me. But I understand it was business, not personal. That said, I was still devastated and could have easily gone home and fallen into a depressed heap. But my mom always said “be fearless.” So I dusted myself off, cancelled the pity party and got to work figuring out what I wanted to do and be. Motivated by things like making my daughters proud. Being a role model. Taking my own marketing communicating advice. Now I use my talents to run Ink+ LLC, a marketing communications firm focused on building the marketing communications capacity for organizations that may not have the internal resources to tell their story. Two years later, I have the flexibility I need to spend more time with my family. I have the ability to work with organizations that truly need my services. I was able to schedule and undergo much needed surgery because I am my own boss. I am proof that good things can and do come from challenging circumstances.
Thanks to Kim St. John-Stevenson, Ink+ LLC!
8) To Celebrate Myself
I started my own company to celebrate myself, my freedom and all those I will serve in my business. I love being able to provide the highest level of service to my customers. I love providing an all natural product that genuinely helps people with limited or no other options for treatment of their chronic illnesses. I am very proud to have accomplished implementing my own streamlined operational plan that provides elite service to my customers and still maintain the most affordable prices in my industry. These accomplishments drive me forward and inspire me to do more, to be innovative and trust my vision for the future of my company and my industry.
Thanks to Katie DeCicco, Celebration Saunas!
9) Helping Survivors
I started AnaOno Intimates, not only to be a source of sexy & comfortable lingerie for Survivors, but also because it has always been my dream to run my own line and company! Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, wasn’t only devastating to my life as I knew it, but also to my bra drawer! I knew there was a need to bring product to Survivors everywhere…the options available were just not going to cut it. And with that, AnaOno was born. I am excited to launch and get the line off the ground so we can give back to the community of breast cancer survivors and provide lingerie for all of us to help restore confidence and beauty after surgery. As AnaOno continues to grow, I am excited to grow a company from the base up and get the opportunity to run it the way I believe business should be run, with an awareness to health and work life balance as this is important for all our future lives!
Thanks to Dana Donofree, AnaOno
10) Grew From a Negative Experience
The idea for Rover.com grew out of a negative experience co-founder Greg Gottesman had with his dog at a traditional kennel. Greg asked me to lead the new company as CEO. As a busy tech executive, the concept of Rover was personally significant to me. I’ve had Caramel, my four-pound Pomeranian fluffball, for over a decade. To me, the thought of taking her to a kennel is tantamount to leaving her at an orphanage. With Rover, I could build a solution – a trusted online community that connects dog owners with affordable, local dog sitters. I left Microsoft and took a 90% pay cut to lead what was a new business model in an unknown market. No one believed we’d be able to grow the business exponentially year after year, have sitters within a short drive of over 92% of the U.S population, and change the pet sitting industry. But we’ve done all of the above.
Thanks to Aaron Easterly, Rover.com!
11) I Started My Company Out of Spite
I was a financial advisor for 5 years, working for a national well known brokerage firm. The owner of the branch I worked at asked me to invest $90,000 so I could take over part of another advisor’s book of business. I did this under the guise that I was purchasing an asset that I owned, at least that’s what I was promised. After failing to deliver on his promise, I got fed up and quit. The worst part about my departure was I never received a dime of what I was promised, and on top of that I received threatening phone calls and letters from lawyers cautioning me to never contact any of my clients or even work in the industry again. Working for myself has eliminated the possibility of anyone promising me something and then depriving me of the ability to put food on my family’s table. I don’t worry about my next raise, my job security, or where the company is going. I am in total control. That’s why I love being an entrepreneur!
Thanks to Greg Lessard, Aspen Leaf Partners!
12) Continuing My Feeling of Freedom
I became an entrepreneur to continue to experience the feeling of freedom you get from working for yourself. There is a sense of empowerment in knowing there’s no longer a glass ceiling. Freedom also comes from knowing you no longer have to deal with office politics. You can create a company culture based on the values you hold dear. You can help others to realize the same goals and you can meet and engage with clients, customers, team members and associates from around the world. It can be scary at times, however when you know that you can always rely on yourself to be the hard worker and the change you want to see in the world, you can truly receive and appreciate the many blessings of entrepreneurship. I thank God for blessing my efforts and hard work. With dedication, endurance, faith and hard work; you can work towards the goal of entrepreneurship.
Thanks to Shilonda Downing, Virtual Work Team LLC!
13) Perfecting an Art Form
For some, business is purely practical. It’s a way of generating income for the hopes of personal freedom. For others like myself, entrepreneurship is more like an art, a form of self-expression and means of reaching the highest levels of self-actualization. I knew I needed—not wanted— to start a business when I had my first job and realized that I wasn’t being pushed to solve problems that I cared about. Starting a company on my terms, one that reflected the things that I care about in my life, was a way to create an environment for me to express myself in the form of a business day in and day out.
Thanks to Nick Shum, Topwick!
14) Finally Able to Live in My Many Passions
Becoming an entrepreneur was inevitable. I have degrees in Public Relations and Spanish and I love them both. Before I decided to become an entrepreneur, I always had to choose one or the other in my jobs and internships. My first job out of college was in communications, with very little us of my Spanish-speaking skills. So, I decided to move to Spain (travel is yet another passion) and teach English. When I returned, I created my blog, Global Lipstick. From there, I decided to become a travel writer and filmmaker. I now have a travel web series with my two sisters. This covers everything I love. I have to think like a PR person to both market our business and to create campaigns when we work with destinations. My Spanish comes in handy when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or when I translate a blog post. Best of all, I am able to continue to travel the world. I will never grow tired of seeing new places, tasting new dishes, and meeting new people. And being able to share and inspire others amplifies my experiences. Life as a travel entrepreneur involves a lot of hustling – it’s not easy by any means. But the reward is incomparable. There’s no way I would have this feeling as someone else’s employee. I am embracing the journey and have great plans for Global Lipstick’s future.
Thanks to Jeta Stephens, Global Lipstick
15) The Thrill of Learning
I started My Ugly Christmas Sweater seven years ago and sold funny holiday sweaters as a means to help pay for my children’s upcoming college expenses. It was a niche eCommerce business idea that I came up with after researching trends on Google, and I was at the start of the now popular ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater Party’ craze. This was my first experience in running a business and I have found it to be challenging and (often) exhausting, but also intellectually stimulating and incredibly rewarding. Just having a product to sell doesn’t bring in sales, and I have enjoyed researching and studying other successful websites to learn the technical side of website design and SEO (search engine optimization) to bring traffic to my online store. I’ve had to learn marketing and public relations to cultivate media interest in my products. I’d say that the best part about being an entrepreneur is learning and managing the many aspects of my business, and after working hard and putting everything I have on the table, to see the business succeed.
Thanks to Anne Marie Blackman, My Ugly Christmas Sweater, Inc.