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.
Filling a gap to serve the technology industry
Twenty six years ago, I sat at my kitchen table and began my own marketing communication agency called M/C/C. Having worked in the marketing business in the telecommunications corridor for eight years, I realized that many corporate communicators, including myself, were struggling to find agencies well equipped to market their company’s high-tech products and services. So… I started one specifically to serve the technology industry. Aimed at providing communication tailored to telecommunications, I focused on growing M/C/C by adding employees who could produce creative solutions to make our tech client’s work shine. Over the years, the agency’s impressive and valued work attracted clients in other industries. Today, we provide industry leaders such as Texas Instruments, Chuck E. Cheese’s, OnAsset Intelligence, Harris Caprock, Accudata Technologies and Avnet with advertising, public relations, internet marketing, social media and video production services. As a small business owner and CEO, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to live the unexpected. At M/C/C, we accomplish this by providing excellent customer service for our clients, award-winning work, and a fun work culture which makes us so much more than just a typical marketing agency.
Thanks to Mike Crawford, M/C/C
Related Post: Giving an Aging Generation the Right Technology
Taking the shady aspect out of truck deliveries
Craigstruck was started for two reasons. The first of which was I didn’t have a choice, I have no schooling and I was 32 years old and had not started a career. If I had any shot at some kind of financial success I would have to do it myself. All I really had was my truck so I started doing deliveries for people on craigslist. Which leads me to my second reason for starting craigstruck, there was 2 needs I was filling. One was a consumer to consumer delivery business for delivering larger items between to individuals and the other was protection. All the other guys trying to do these kinds of deliveries were very shady so we developed a level of protection by identifying and background checking guys with trucks. All our site does is connect people who need a truck with someone who has one.
Thanks to Mike Hanson, Craigstruck
Helping entrepreneurs tell their story
We’ve all heard it, people do business with those we know, like and trust. There is something about hearing someone’s story, how they began that draws us in and we remember it. I loved being an independent filmmaker, didn’t love the life of an independent filmmaker. There had to be a better way to share compelling emotional stories AND get paid to do it. I’m from a family of business owners, but I was the artist. Business had to appeal to me–then I found SMARTY. I thought I’d just be hanging with a bunch of cool smarty women. Never before had someone really met me where I was at, and given me the tools to make business really fun and a means to express my gifts and talents and make a good living doing what I love to do: tell great passionate stories. Now, that’s freedom.
Thanks to Tasha Oldham, My Story, Inc
To help people connect with things going on around them
Every startup begins when an idea forms in an entrepreneur’s head. For me, the idea was to help people connect with things going on around them and finally solve this information overload from the never-ending stream of social media we face every day. Quickly the idea moved from an abstract in my brain to wireframes, tech specs and designs. Fast forward through several late nights coding, lots of home – delivered pizzas, funding and we finally had the app that would help people discover things to do nearby them, so they never had to wonder what their weekend plans would be.
Thanks to Jonathan Barouch, Roamz
To make a difference in the world
It sounds cliché, but it is true. When I was young, I wanted to make a difference in the world; I wanted to impact the course of humanity in some way. It was idealistic, but it was authentic-and it continues to be my ongoing, motivating goal. I started my company by combining my strengths-technology, business, and people-to create Optimal Networks, an IT management, support, and consulting company in Rockville MD in 1991. Optimal Networks’ service orientation and culture help our clients, facilitate our values and mission, support our hiring processes, and drive profit and growth. We help companies support their business goals through the use of technology and that is how we are making a difference. Our product is aligned with our purpose and, as such, has created enhanced employee and client retention rates and bottom line profits.
Thanks to Heinan Landa, Optimal Networks
Giving old items a new twist
A few years ago, this frugal fashion lover peered her eyes upon a random Yahoo article on a website called New Dress A Day. For only $1, each day, Marisa Lynch altered an old muumuu or vintage tee and created something new. And, it didn’t look that hard. Ever since that fateful day, I’ve has taken sewing classes, enrolled in beading courses, watched endless YouTube tutorials, and pinned like a bandit. I took a plunge into the crafting world and never looked back. I found my passion and niche in giving old items a new twist, a trend we Eco friendly hipsters term as “upcycling”. They say another man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Most of my handmade items are upcycled items that would have otherwise been needlessly thrown away! My business allows me the perfect outlet for my crafty passions and sustainable values.
Thanks to Marcia Dee, Upcycle Fever
Connecting students with careers
After serving in the Coast Guard, I decided to get my college degree. When I started working with students at the San Diego State University center for entrepreneurs, I quickly realized that students don’t understand how to get a job, let alone how to properly search and apply for positions. This spring, universities across the U.S. will issue 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees to graduating college students. If history serves as any indicator, approximately 26 percent of these new grads will be unemployed, according to 2011 stats from the National Center for Education Statistics. That is what lead me to create Jobioz, an online portfolio and job application platform designed specifically for college students. Jobioz empowers students to tell their story in their way through a multimedia e-portfolio, so that potential employers understand who they are and everything they’ve accomplished. In turn, we’re also helping employers find the right candidates for the job. The platform provides a place for students to showcase their resume, skill sets and past projects. Students are provided with a user-friendly tool to search, apply and monitor job applications from start to finish. For recruiters, the platform provides access to a database of portfolios from students and entry-level candidates. Recruiters have the ability to search, evaluate and organize potential hires, utilizing an application tracking system for each job post.
Thanks to Gregg Anderson, Jobioz
Related Post: Best School for Entrepreneurs
To save lives
Not one fatality has been reported of a Back Over accident by a vehicle equipped with a backup camera! New cars come with backup cameras now. What about the other 80-90 Million SUV’s, minivans, and station wagons sold over the last 20 years driving around right now with no additional rearward vision aids at all? We sell a rear window diffuser magnifying lens that lets you see right behind your vehicle, that “blind zone”, where all these accidents occur. Over 200 children per year are killed in backover accidents, thousands are seriously injured, and thousands of these accidents that are non-fatal go unreported each year. Our lenses are inexpensive, very easy to install, and most importantly, SAVE LIVES! This is a problem we all have heard about at one time or another yet it goes unnoticed and receives very little attention in the press.
Thanks to Anthony P. Nestora, Back Up Better, llc
To provide efficient legal counsel to clients while also staying at home with my baby
After seven years of practice as an attorney, I realized I needed to make a radical change in the way I practiced law if I also wanted to stay home with my baby. I knew that if I continued in a traditional law practice, my work would not allow me to spend the time I wanted to with my son while he was young. But I did not want to give up my career. So I opened a virtual law office, offering clients a range of legal services while practicing out of my home office. Through two websites, I focus on two very different areas of the law – immigration law and landlord-tenant law – and I offer my services for up-front, flat fees. This new method of practice has opened up a wider client base for me, since I am not dependent on local clients who would come in person to a traditional law office. It also provides convenience for my clients, who can use secure communications and document transfers to send and receive legal documents at any time. And my clients know exactly what they are paying for when they pay their flat fees, rather than receiving an ugly hourly bill after the work is completed. I very much enjoy the flexibility this method of practice provides to me at this point in my career, and I know that my clients appreciate my efficient and affordable services.
Thanks to Amanda Breen, Amanda Breen Law
Helping the artisans sell their work
We live in an area that is known for the artistic talents of the residents. Over 40 years ago the community began to brand itself as an enclave for artisans. The number of artisans has grown as a result of the supportive artistic community and resources available to artisans. It is now the home of the Haliburton School of the arts, several art galleries, a sculpture forest, and two studio tours: to name but a few of the highlights. However, the region has a very seasonal economy with the population swelling to 4 times its size in the summer months. The income level of permanent residents, due to the seasonal nature of work, is also low and thus, they do not often buy art. It is hard for the artisans to make a living with such a seasonal ebb and flow of potential buyers. Someone needed to pull the work of all of these artisans together and market it on the web. We had a love of art and the business skills to make it happen. Thus, we decided to pull the work of the best of these artists together and market their work on the web under the brand of MadeInHaliburton.ca. The goal is to provide an international market for their products on a stable year-round economic platform. The business is not quite a year old and still very much in the brand building stage.
Thanks to Don & Marie Gage, MadeInHaliburton
Getting to stay home with my son and use my degree and skills
My business was a way for me to stay at home with my baby son, use my teaching degree AND my skills as a singer and actress to make money! The love of performing began for me at a very young age. I always wanted to be an actress or a big Broadway star. However, when I got to NYC, I took a left at Broadway and found myself in children’s theatre. My path in life changed with the next audition: a play program for children wanted actors. I got the job! I loved teaching young children so much, I decided to go back to school for a Masters in Early Childhood Education. The lucky thing for me was that I did NOT get a job teaching public school! Instead, I had to get creative and make my own job. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Parents at the play program began asking me if I did parties. After the fourth request, the opportunity was knocking so loud, I ran to answer the door! I bring a theatrical approach to kids parties. As a party director, I make sure everyone has a good part, even the parents. My props are fun, colorful and musical. I even created puppet characters that make everyone laugh and dance. I sing familiar favorites as well as a few original songs while accompanying myself on the guitar. I bring tons of energy and enthusiasm too. The trick is to do short activities for short attention spans. Now I am training and building a team of talented entertainers to do what I do, which is provide a unique party experience for our under five fans! My job is to make children happy! How cool is that?!
Thanks to Dylan Glanzer, Parties by Dylan & Company
A way to wrap patients in hospitals in HUGS when their friends and family could not be with them
“Feel the Hugs’ was started as a way to wrap patients in hospitals in HUGS when their family and friends could not be with them all the time. Once Cancer hit our family, we knew it was important for patients to feel the hugs as they went through the long journey of chemo. After scribbling 3 little words on the cap of a friend , and she said “Oh I feel them” my sister Leslie and I knew we had a terrific idea for a business. Since then, it has become so much more as everyone needs hugs…..kids going off to school, soldiers far from home, far away friends celebrating birthdays or even when people lose their pets. Our cute products of tee shirts, totes teddy bears and more all say ‘feel the hugs’, and our character ARELY always hold a heart. One hug at a time we are making a difference. We are a business with a heart♥ and donate a portion of sales to various charities.
Thanks to Karen Rapport, Feel the Hugs
As a way to spread generosity
designs4good started with a goal. We’re two friends who’ve had a lot of good things in our lives: families, friendships, careers, education. . . and the good fortune to be able to travel to some of the most fascinating areas in the world. Our journeys have given us a deep appreciation for these other countries, their cultures and traditions, and the beauty of their crafts. However, we have seen that many of the people live in extreme poverty and face great hardships just trying to survive, let alone improve their lives or make things better for their children. We contrasted this to the experiences of our own children and the opportunities they’ve had. Our objective was to find a way to help, especially with the needs of children and mothers. An online store was our best solution to accomplish our goals. The result is designs4good: a social entrepreneurship venture using on-line retail sales to generate significant donations to selected international charities.
Thanks to Keating Vogel, designs4good
Doing what I love while improving the efficiency and productivity of entrepreneurs
I started my business with the goal of doing what I enjoy while improving the efficiency and productivity of entrepreneurs. I had been working in a Community Savings Bank, as Vice President and Branch Manager, responsible for business development and sales. During this time I realized that I truly loved working with entrepreneurs; the creativity and technology that can be used to improve their operations and marketing was really energizing for me. Plus, I was good at it! I often had local business owners ask me about manipulating spreadsheets or what service I recommended for sending email newsletters. So, I created a way that I could work with and support the entrepreneurs that I love and appreciate while also being home and spending more of my precious time with my family. Now, I own and operate Strategic Office Support, a virtual assisting company with a small team of virtual assistants helping to support small business growth and management.
Thanks Kathrine Farris, Strategic Office Support LLC
To create a place where I wanted to go to work everyday
In my past, I had worked at a really fun, notable advertising agency in Los Angeles, but didn’t want to raise a family in LA. I love San Diego, having grown up in Phoenix and having vacationed here, and explored the agencies in San Diego, but couldn’t find anywhere that had that similar passion I had left behind. So, I decided to start my own agency with the idea of creating a “destination company” where others would also truly enjoy coming to work. I wanted to attract inspiring people who want to be compensated for the quality of their ideas, not necessarily the time spent producing them. I believe people in San Diego uniquely would want to see the positive effect of their work on behalf of underdog, yet locally notable clients (which is what Red Door Interactive targets), as opposed to global brands who are already marketing machines.
Thanks to Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
Related Post: Entrepreneurs Share What They Love About Their Business
Equipping people to make better decisions
Having started out as a Bomb Disposal Officer in the Army I quickly learned the importance of making good decisions, but when I started to work outside of the military I realised that many people have not been given the tools they need for effective decision making. I remember vividly one particular meeting where the team I was part of was going round in circles over an issue of strategy and I got up and wrote some simple questions on a flip chart that helped to address the problem. I thought it was just common sense but when other managers started to ask me how I knew which questions to ask I realised that I had something to offer. This experience was a catalyst for developing ‘The Right Questions’ decision making process and for starting my own business. As a small business working into the overcrowded management consulting space it has been a challenge getting noticed but in delivering a simple to use decision making process I have carved out my own niche and business is developing well.
Thanks to Simon Ash, The Right Questions
To give small businesses a better borrowing option
I used to be a corporate lawyer helping companies raise money and work through all manner of corporate actions and issues. My clients spanned the range from pre-incorporation startups all the way to multi-billion dollar public companies. It became incredibly apparent to me that small businesses were needlessly suffering from problems accessing the credit and capital that public companies just did not have. At the same time I saw countless examples of individuals loving their local businesses, but having no ability to support them other than as customers We started Funding Community, a peer-to-peer lending platform where individuals lend to support small businesses, to overcome the lack of affordable small business credit and to give customers an ability to support their favorite businesses in a tangible way that would turn them into true champions of the business.
Thanks to Alex Binkley, Funding Community
Related Post: Business Plan 101: Financial Plan
To give small businesses access to big business strategy
After years of serving in senior Human Resources roles for a large and successful corporation and consulting firm, I started Insight Performance and literally began the business at my kitchen table in 1995. My goal and strategy was to bring to the small and middle markets the high level expertise in HR that my large corporate clients had sought. At that time, outsourcing HR was a very foreign concept, and I suppose I was a bit of a trail blazer in setting up a firm that would serve this market and help support the growth of emerging businesses. Seventeen years later, Insight has expanded into a successful human resources consulting firm that serves several hundred clients with over 20 employees. Insight is extremely unique in the way it services clients and delivers upon its goal of working exclusively with small to mid-sized growing organizations by providing proven and cost-effective HR solutions to address real-world needs. Our team has consistently proved that our services help companies to become high performance organizations and achieve their vision for success.
Thanks to Nancy Mobley, Insight Performance
To fill the client focus void
As the founder of MassPay, I had previous experience working at large national competitors. Through my experience there, it was clear to me exactly what was lacking in the payroll industry: true client focus. I was motivated to take matters into my own hands to meet the needs of clients and specifically the needs of small- and mid-sized businesses who didn’t want to feel like less of a priority despite their smaller headcounts. People pour their hearts and souls into a company when starting a small business, and I felt a need to deliver a true partnership to those people in terms of different aspects of business administration. I have grown my business out of a desire to provide excellent service to my clients and to enable their success rather than my own. I’m fortunate that the company has been successful because of that.
Thanks to Jason Maxwell, MassPay Payroll Services
Helping other people in their health and fitness goals
My reasons for starting a business were two-fold. One, was I wanted to help other people in their health and fitness goals. I grew up in a family that didn’t place any emphasis on this. When I started training myself I saw results and wanted to pass those onto other people. Secondly, I knew that by teaching other people I would only become better myself. MY own goals are to become one of the strongest and fittest people in the world, to lead from the front. Helping others to do the same just keeps me on top of my game. There’s nothing quite like enjoying what you’re doing, getting paid well for it, and helping others be happier and healthier in their lives. Of course over time my business has evolved in many different ways, but those have always been true throughout the process.
Thanks to Logan Christopher, Legendary Strength