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 be the same. No matter the tale, the background behind each and every business is what fuels each and brand.
We asked some entrepreneurs and business owners, why they started their businesses:
#1 – Fell in Love
A few years ago I went on a museum date where the lady was REALLY passionate about the museum; she had favorite objects and personal stories that related to them. I fell in love… with the museum! I started doing similar tours for my friends on weekends, and I still had my day job. After a couple of months my tours got a big write up on a popular blog and suddenly there was a wait list of 1000+ people for these unconventional museum tours. I hired another guide to help with the load, and I started charging for tickets to pay the guide. We’ve continued bootstrapping since then — today we are a $2.5 million+ company, with 60+ team members doing tours in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC and Los Angeles.”
Thanks to Nick Gray, Museum Hack!
#2 – Always Loved the World of Business
I’m Shelia Fitzgerald, owner and founder of EliteFitz, a destination inspired women’s boutique. I always loved the world of business. In High school I made flyers telling everyone I was going to own a hair salon that held fashion shows and in college I majored in Business Management. I was inspired to start because I LOVE the way Clothing makes a woman feel, how much can be said without a word through fashion, and am obsessed with travel so it only made since to combine my passions and my education. Once I knew I definitely wanted to start a fashion boutique, I started talking about it to people and on social media platforms like Facebook, so people could hold me accountable. Then I read, listened to tons of podcasts/audio books, saved 10K of my per diem traveling money so I wouldn’t have to go in debt to acquire products & launched. It’s been mostly uphill ever since :-).
Thanks to Shelia Fitzgerald, EliteFitz!
#3 – Aren’t Enough Companies That Allow Women to Have It
I didn’t start my own business to be a multi-million dollar company. I did it because there aren’t enough companies in the world that allow women to have it all. I needed a way to make money and be with my children. My PR journey started with an amazing position with the renowned Jason Dady restaurant group in San Antonio, Texas. I was married at the time with two young children when my husband and I decided to part ways. It was really hard to do, and it was really scary. But I don’t regret it for a second. We have an amazing co-parenting style that works for both of us, and we’re both happy. I think too many times people get divorced and still try to make each other miserable. We’re both smart enough to see why that doesn’t work. I was working full-time for Bread & Butter PR, but the balancing act of being a single mother and working full-time for someone else was too much. I took a giant leap and went into business for myself. I started R Public Relations on a wing and a prayer, but my reputation in the public relations world has followed me to success. And I’m very fortunate and grateful for that. I wanted to create a business that honors a work-life blend rather than a balance. I encourage my employees to work lifestyle hours that allow them to be whole people while also growing their careers and growing the business. RPR takes the idea of “work hard, play hard,” to a whole new level with Mimosa Mondays and Happy Hour Fridays (I encourage my employees to take an hour to do something that brings them joy and bill that hour to RPR). The commitment I have to the happiness of my employees is reflected in their commitment to building the business of RPR. My advice for people making the switch from full-time worker to entrepreneur is to know your strengths. My greatest strength is in connecting with people. That’s the greatest contribution to my success. My strength was not in finance, so one of the first things I did was hire someone to handle the books and keep me on a solid financial path, so I could focus on running my business. It’s one of the things that has helped RPR become a national success. It’s not an efficient use of resources for me to try to do it all. I hire the best, so we’re all able to have it all. Since I started my own business I can take an hour in the morning to eat breakfast with my “peaches” and get them off to school. I know the value of loving what you do, and the incredible payoff that level of passion for your work has.
Thanks to Emily Reynolds, founder of R PR Firm!
#4 – Help People Connect Their World
I was on vacation in Malaysia. I was sitting in a pool and wondering about home. I was thinking about Vancouver. Did the Canucks win their last hockey game? What were the election results? What was happening? It was 1998 and the internet wasn’t exactly readily available. That’s when I knew I wanted to connect people to the stories they care about, no matter where they are. It sounds simple now, but in 1998 it was unheard of. It began as a network that brought physical copies of newspapers to travelers abroad. Now, PressReader is the largest and most comprehensive digital newspaper and magazine platform in the world.
Thanks to Alex Kroogman, PressReader!
#5 – Help My Generation
I started my business because I want to help my generation overcome the financial challenges before us. Money is a tool – a tool that affects your well-being. If you know how to manage it, you can leave a life of freedom. When you don’t, you’re forced to compromise just about every area of life — purpose, passion, freedom. I want to inspire, empower and equipped millennials to mange their money with excellence… thrive Financial and beyond so they can retired from the rat race and live purposefully and free.
Thanks to Francis John, MyBreadMoney.com!
#6 – Because I Felt That Banking Needed A Facelift
I started my company because everything that I once believed in was feeling more and more like a lie as the days progressed in my corporate career. I loved small business owners and their stories of success. I always admired their strength and determination. When I started to feel that I was product pushing and not focusing on tailored solutions specific to my clients – I decided to start my own company. I wanted to give every business owner the attention they deserved and not just the ones that a number cruncher at the top of the food chain told me to. Starting my own business was the most humbling experience of my life. I now enjoy helping other business owners succeed more than ever and I can honestly say that I have walked a mile in their shoes. Business is thriving and my only regret was not taking the leap sooner!
Thanks to Christina Camacho, Current Payment Solutions!
#7 – Bring Real Change
If I can put it in a few words, I started my business to bring real change to the way small businesses and freelancers manage their accounting. The market is over bloated with solutions of all sorts claiming that they’ll improve your business routine, but very few of them succeed at that. Since accounting is one of the most challenging and crucial areas of any business, I decided to go the extra mile and bring the change that I wanted to see on the market. There is no better way to contribute to the world around you than bringing the change by yourself.
Thanks to Nick Chandi, SlickPie Accounting Software!
#8 – The Unsung Hero of Health
We started Herobed because the majority of people out there don’t really understand the importance of a great night’s sleep. They understand why you have to eat right and exercise, but we think sleep is the unsung hero of health. We want to sell mattresses, but we also want to educate people on why the right bed can help them improve their quality of sleep and their quality of life. In addition, we have a social side where we lift up every day heroes that are making a difference, so we can show people what living that good life looks like. That is a pretty cool part of what we do!”
Thanks to Jeff Quinn, Herobed!
#9 – Always Wanted to be an Entrepreneur
I started my business, LinkedStartups, because I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I as doing a similar job previously, but knew that I could improve the service and employee happiness if I had done it on my own – which is what I decided to do!
Thanks to Eleni Cotsis, LinkedStartups.com!
#10 – To Keep Traveling Abroad
I started my business so I could keep traveling and living abroad. I was doing freelance SEO consulting for e-commerce businesses and on my first trip to Thailand fell in love with the country and the culture. I had known I wanted to start my own e-commerce business but didn’t know what I wanted to sell until then. I found local artisans and manufacturers to work with and from there I started One Tribe Apparel. I wanted to support the local community and stay in Thailand and I’ve been able to keep living abroad and traveling for the past three years.
Thanks to Ryan O’Connor, One Tribe Apparel!
#11 – Make the Decisions that I’d Have to Work With
I wanted to make the decisions that I’d have to work with. I’d rather live with my own mistakes then someone elses’. Also, I looked around at others offering executive coaching and saw that I had more (or just as much) experience, insight, and training — plus an innate ability to quickly read and reach people in a manner that immediately changed their lives (their words).
Thanks to Debra Benton, Benton Management Resources, Inc.!
#12 – Fulfill a Lifelong Dream
I started my business to fulfill a lifelong dream. After being told in high school to pursue a real job and not my dream of coaching swimming, I trained and practiced as a Certified Public Accountant. Although I loved the work, something was missing! So, when I was presented with an opportunity to pursue my dream of being a swim coach and helping others feel as comfortable in the water as I was, I jumped in feet first! My new career started with helping triathletes excel in the swim portion of their competition and expanded into helping children learn to swim and stay safe around the water as well as training childcare providers to perform safe water activities with their children. Needless to say, I love what I do and have never looked back. Of course, there are times when you wonder if it is all worth it but seeing the smile on someone’s face when they learn to swim in their senior years, hearing how proud the athlete is because their swim has exceeded their wildest dreams, or seeing the relief of a parent when they learn how to keep their child safer around the water is all worth it. I love helping people reach their swimming goals!
Thanks to Carolanne Caron, Winning Swimming LLC!
#13 – A Vexing Problem
A fashion executive wife and technology entrepreneur husband we were moving house and faced a vexing problem: how to sell their fabulous, nearly new furnishings that couldn’t fit into their new digs? After quickly discovering our problem was by no means unique, voilà! Chairish was born! Since then over 20,000 sellers and over 1 million shoppers have connected through Chairish. Our mission is to help design lovers buy and sell chic furnishings in a beautiful, easy-to-use and super fun marketplace.
Thanks to Gregg and Anna Brockway, Chairish!
#14 – Master of Your Own Destiny & Effectuate Change
I started my own business after working in a corporate environment and actually purchased the company out of Intuit when I was working for Intuit at the time. I took the company private and become the owner of my own company. What I love about running my own business is that the successes (and failures) are yours. What you put into it, you get out of it. You get to be the master of your own destiny and effectuate change. Entrepreneurship is the best job on earth!
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#15 – To Help the Unemployed
I recognized the challenges that the majority of the unemployed face in South Africa: a lack of finance, lack of frequent access to technology, education and language issues (English is not the first language of many in South Africa). Joblife tries to resolve these challenges by empowering job seekers with a web application that is accessible from any mobile phone. It helps job seekers by: Asking a series of structured questions in the job seekers own language (taking less than 5 mins), allowing us to generate a digital CV on their behalf – this only needs to happen once.
Thanks to Saleem Jaffer, Joblife!
#16 – Living on $200/month
I started my business at 16 years old in my first semester of college. We are now based in Atlanta, but we started out on a college campus in Jamaica as a team of one: me. At the time, I was living on $200 per month, and my lecturers encouraged me to take on paid freelance work for writing, editing, and coaching to help make ends meet. I then branched into social media, blogging, and media relations. In 2016, I celebrated 10 years of business by launching the PR firm in Atlanta, where I now live. We are now a team of 7.
Thanks to Alexis Chateau, Alexis Chateau PR!
#17 – Like a Goldfish
Starting my own clinic was one tough decision for me, will it work? Will I make it through? What will happen if I fail? So I met my professor one day, prior to this decision and he said that if you needed to grow and make enough money you have to do your own thing. He gave me a brilliant example of a goldfish, if you keep a goldfish in a bowl it’s just going to grow a few inches but if you throw the same goldfish in a pond with fresh clean water, that goldfish will grow up to at least 10 inches. So I took a leap of faith and everyday I’m glad that I started my own practice.
Thanks to Dr. Ameer, Z Dental Studio!
#18 – To Help Solve a Problem
I started Patch Homes last year as I saw many homeowners who had valuable homes, but had little to no savings or money for their day to day finances. These homeowners were trapped into a position of being ‘Home Rich and Cash Poor’. Existing solutions like home equity loans or HELOCs only made their position worse since it added ‘more debt’ and ‘higher monthly payments’ due to the nature of bank lending. I believe that with Patch Homes’ we have found a better way to assist these consumers through our 0% financing solution. We do home equity funds without interest or monthly payments in exchange for sharing in the future upside/downside of home values. The Patch model replaces debt with equity and creates a model where homeowners have the flexibility of accessing their wealth on their terms.
Thanks to Sahil Gupta, Patch Homes!
#19 – Escape the Corporate Rat Race
I started my business back in 2004 when I wanted to escape the corporate rat race. I had worked my way up in the IT field to an $80,000 a year salary only to realize that any higher and it looked way more stressful and I was already spending more time with pictures of my kids than the real things. As I did not have a money cushion I worked for almost a year putting in work during all my lunch breaks and before and after my demanding job. I ended up leaving one year later to venture into business ownership. That business did fail but we have since built an Inc 5000 recognized company and super glad we made the leap!
Thanks to Ray Higdon, Forever Wealth Club!
#20 – Get Out of Overwhelm & Lack of Control
I started my business because I wanted to get out of overwhelm and the lack of control in my paid job. I was a Swedish MD working in a Health care clinic. I was working mostly full time, and at the same time raising my family of three wonderful daughters, I had the best job in the world meeting all kinds of people, dealing with all kinds of issues and on the outside it all looked like the perfect life. But on the inside I felt more and more overwhelmed and one day I found myself on the slope downhill, sleeping bad, nothing was fun and I didn’t feel I could do a good job because it was so much to do and sooo little time. I woke up each morning asking myself if I would survive the day. I was heading straight into depression and I needed help and when the doctor needs help it is bad. I realized I had to do something to get out of this situation so I started to read and take courses in health promotion and stress management. Not dedicated medical courses but courses for anyone. And I learned a lot and it was good for me – but I also found out so much more I could do for my patients and my work actually got even harder. This is 10 years ago, I was 54 years old. Taking a helicopter view of my whole situation I found only one way out to quit my job and start my own business and the topic was easy to define: stress management. After that I also have had additional training in occupational health and leadership and other odds and ends on the same theme. I started speaking and mentoring leaders and business professionals to make their work-life easier and in the end to get more profit in their work. And I wrote my two books, Take Stress from Chaos to Calm and My De-stress Diary. I see the whole world as my work arena. So today I have a happy work life that I love, even though I still work a lot. I am 64 years old and I want to go on for many more years. AND I still have my wonderful family that have been supporting me on this journey all the way. I found out it is possible to turn the pathway and today I want to share my experiences with the world. I have found freedom of choice! I love my life outside the box and I want to help people get out of their stressed out boxes too.
Thanks to Dr. Annika Sorensen, AskDrAnnika!
#21 – Get to Do Everything I Want
Every year in my 16 years working as a 100% commission headhunter for a firm, I had to decide where I could maximize my income potential. I had a lot of street-cred and success, so that made it easier to stay. Then, I started thinking that I wanted more control over what I was doing, not to mention, even as the top producer, I found the environment to be highly demanding and often toxic. I started receiving coaching to work out my next step and loved it so much I decided to do coach training. I told myself it would make me better at my job–but really I was starting to develop a new career. Then I did a Tedx talk and became passionate about public speaking. I knew that in order to develop business that excited me and where I had more respect and freedom I needed to leave. I know my leaving was a surprise to my former employer. I started McCourt Leadership Group to do executive coaching, speaking and writing. And now, I’ve partnered with a former competitor (a friend and colleague) to add recruiting back into my business too which is a perfect add on. Now I get to do everything I’ve wanted to do, I coach and consult, get paid to speak, write and publish my content along with a book coming out in 2018 and I can close recruiting deals. I got to a point when I realized that staying was scarier than becoming a business owner which gives me a great gift of a resilient attitude.
Thanks to Elizabeth McCourt, McCourt Leadership Group!
#22 – It Just Came to Me
I’m the founder of Lime Inc., a dating app that matches people according to their lifestyle. I use the Apple Health App quite often to compare my steps with my friends’, and it just came to me, wouldn’t it be a great idea to match couples with similar step counts, as it says a lot about a person by just looking at his/her weekly step counts, their walking habit pretty much shows their lifestyle. We’ve just reached 50,000 registered users, and our current target is to reach 1 million users by the end of this year, then 5 million by the end of next year. It’s been translated into 25 different languages and available now in 150+ countries. Building a startup from ground zero is hard work but I enjoy it very much, and I’m proud to be contributing to the booming IT industry in New Zealand, and to inspire other Kiwi entrepreneurs to do the same.
Thanks to Edward Chen, Lime Dating!
#23 – A Brand the Told a Story
When I launched my business, my ambition was bringing the beauty of natural couture perfumes into the home of everybody. I wanted to create a brand that told a story about luxury products that were eco-friendly and handmade by local artisans in the best tradition of British luxury goods. So many products today are mass produced in large factories by anonymous companies. Consumers have become disconnected from what they purchase. Our goal was to raise the bar in our industry by creating a completely new class of products that promoted local craftsmanship and sustainability. We wanted our customers to have the opportunity to learn exactly how our products are made and with what ingredients. Air fresheners tend to be a cheap household product and yet our homes deserve more. When we design and style our home we tend to focus on only on our ‘tactile’ and ‘visual’ senses and tend to forget our ‘olfactory’ sense but fragrance can have just as much of an impact on our sense of wellbeing. This is why we believe our homes interiors deserve natural couture perfume quality and the vision for our company Pairfum.
Thanks to Huib Maat, Pairfum!
#24 – Build a Better Tool
I founded my company because I wanted to build a stronger and more complex media monitoring tool and practical at the same time; this means customers to find Newsmeter media monitoring system easy to use and efficient, so that they can track fast and smoothly the trends, competitors, evaluate and identify any potential area of interest. After a long research done on the market, I realized that there aren’t many vendors offering to monitor both local and global news sources at the same time. I wanted to offer a service that can do both to support small-sized businesses and non-profit organizations as well.
Thanks to Dr. Ekrem Teymur, Newsmeter Inc!
#25 – Heard My Calling
It all started with a paper route. My mother lied about my age to inherit the highly coveted route. I was supposed to be 13, I was 11. After graduating from Art School, I began working in the film and television industry in Miami. I worked on a feature film called, “Cry of the City” staring Sammy Davis Junior. The photographer on the film heard I had a darkroom and asked if he could rent it from me. I worked on the film as a grip averaging 80 to 90 hours per week. While I loved the work, I made a very small amount of money. The revenue on the darkroom rental was close to what I was making weekly. I was in disbelief. I heard my calling from the gods of business. I quickly came to the realization that I could make money while I was sleeping renting equipment that I already owned. After the film wrapped I began my journey as an entrepreneur and started my film and television equipment rental business.
Thanks to David Wells, Moving Picture Rental!
#26 – My Own Frustration
More than a decade ago, Virtual Vocations, Inc. came about as a result of my own frustration with finding a high quality telecommuting job that would allow me to work from home while raising my three young children. Realizing there were probably thousands of other jobseekers experiencing the same frustration, I paired my entrepreneurial spirit with my brother Adam’s developer mind and we formed the groundwork for the Virtual Vocations Telecommute Jobs Database. Today, our company has grown to become the number one telecommute-only job board online and a safe and effective resource for jobseekers searching for telecommuting job opportunities in every major career category. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a
Thanks to Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.!
#27 – Had to Help Others Succeed
As an owner of a wellness practice, I realized early on that being seen and getting clients was quite challenging. It really does take an entrepreneurial spirit to keep going even during the hard times. I was able to find marketing strategies that worked for my practice, to help my clinic become profitable and scalable in the first two years. I knew I had to help other practices succeed so our medicine could reach more people. So many people are seeking alternative medicine but if wellness providers are not treating their practice like a business, it will fail. This turned into my mission to help wellness providers step into that CEO role and master the business side of medicine.
Thanks to Ellie Heintze, Host of The Daily Cup Podcast!