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- Make learning to swim more convenient
I started Sunsational Swim School with a mission to make learning to swim more convenient for parents by traveling to their own pool and effective for children by providing one-on-one attention. Drowning is the #1 leading cause of death for children under 5 and 77% of drowning victims were out of sight for less than 5 minutes. I began Sunsational as the sole instructor traveling from pool to pool in Los Angeles in 2009. Today, we provide swim instruction in-home and community pools in 40 metro areas Nationwide. Our mission is to ensure that children know how to swim and survive if they were to fall into a pool or body of water and the majority of children can learn these water safety skills within only weeks in private lessons.
Thanks to Sarah Sebe, Sunsational Swim School!
#2- Help businesses boost morale
Our pre-covid business (Welcome Box) was to serve the short term rental community, like Airbnb, with hospitality boxes that enhance guest stays. We have since adapted (with Snacks n Chill) to focus on helping businesses boost morale by sending care packages to employees with healthy and delicious snacks directly to their homes. The boxes are curated healthy and sustainable snacks and refreshments from up and coming brands.
Thanks to Nicholas Chen, Snacks n Chill!
#3- Be my own boss
I started my business because I wanted to be my own boss. I wasn't feeling fulfilled in my consulting career and I wanted a more flexible work/life balance. I wanted to build something on my own. I was interested in a new challenge and a test to prove to myself I could build my own business. I was living in New York City at the time and noticed there were no trolleys in the city. I decided to start my own trolley company.
Thanks to David Pike, New York Trolley Company!
#4- Help small companies manage EHS compliance and risk
I used to own 3 small contracting companies with major environmental, health & safety compliance obligations and risks. Between them, I answered to all of the agencies including OSHA, EPA, TCEQ, DOT and more. It was overwhelming & I always struggled to keep up. My struggles lead to all kinds of problems including getting cited by OSHA and TCEQ, skyrocketing insurance costs & lost business opportunities. In addition to my struggles, I witnessed other small companies & business owners I knew personally suffer similar problems including serious employee injuries, major fines, PR nightmares, and I even saw one get sent to jail and others threatened with jail time. These experiences later inspired me to found Berg Compliance Solutions, which is dedicated to helping other small companies and business owners to manage EHS compliance and risk in the most efficient and cost-effective way in our industry.
Thanks to Russell Carr, Berg Compliance Solutions, LLC!
#5- Give dreamers a fighting chance
In high school I was a straight a student, 4.3 GPA, salutatorian, cheerleader, class secretary…you know an all-around stand-up kid. That’s until I got pregnant toward the end of my senior year. So many people counted me out, I heard so many times that I had thrown my life away and to kiss all of the hard work I had done my entire life goodbye because it meant nothing. While this doubt could have made me shrink back in the despair everyone expected, it ignited something in me. I worked full time, went to school at night, barely slept, went through a bout of being homeless, but I did not give up. I used that doubt to double-down on creating a life that I deserved, not one that had been prescribed to me because of my circumstances. I went on to complete 3 degrees, create multiple businesses, work for some of the largest companies in the world, and live the life of my dreams. I started my company to give all of the other dreamers, the misunderstood, the unsupported who’ve been told to give up and just work a 9 to 5, a fighting chance to launch their ideas into the world and live their dream lives too.
Thanks to Kendra J. Lewis, The Boss Architect!
#6- To provide living wage income to newcomer women
I come from a family with multi-generational immigration and refugee history, and I started my company *I Need a Pocket* to honor the legacy of the women in my family and to welcome a new generation of Canadians coming to seek a better life for their families. We provide living wage, work-from-home income to immigrant and refugee women who sew fashion accessories, including our iron-on pockets, made from reclaimed fabric.
Thanks to Elena Yugai, I Need a Pocket!
#7- Fix my won problems
I started my business because I was desperate to find something to fix my own skin issues. I suffered from acne and other skin problems for over 16 years. I tried everything from dermatologist prescriptions to drug store ointments to natural DIY treatments. I finally gave up on everything else out there and decided to create my own product. Once I created the product and had amazing results, I knew I had something good. I knew there would be other people out there just like me who had suffered for so many years and even in adulthood found themselves burdened with acne, scars, etc. Adult acne is a common cause of depression and loneliness. I know. I’ve been there. My empathy and shared experience with my customers help us grow our brand.
Thanks to Camille Chulick, Averr Aglow!
#8- For freedom
I craved freedom to be responsible for my salary, not have someone else set it. I craved freedom to gain the clients I love working with, rather than having clients assigned to me. I craved freedom to hustle 60 hours every week on my schedule, rather than work a set 40 hours a week on someone else's schedule.
Thanks to Katie Thomas, Leaders Online!
#9- From my passion
I started our business and took the leap to become an entrepreneur because I am so passionate about seeing people get ahead in their careers. I believe that if you find something that you love to do – you never work a day in your life! After two decades as an executive recruiter placing people into senior executive positions and working as a career strategist, the next logical step was an online platform where we could scale up and help more people succeed. It's fantastic to see our graduates get promoted, get pay rises and more perks at work and I couldn't be happier that we started the Path to Promotion learning and development academy. You have to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before – but the reward is worth it!
Thanks to Ineke McMahon, Path to Promotion!
My reason for starting my business isn't sexy… it was fear. Five years ago I came to work on Monday to find that we had a new CEO. The video waiting for me in my inbox was very clear, he was there to shake things up. Being in a service role, I wondered if I'd have a job when the dust settled. I sat down and made a list of all of the things I loved doing and then launched a side hustle designed to allow me to do more of the things on the list every day. Today I am a full-time entrepreneur, my business is growing, and I couldn't be happier!
Thanks to Carla Howard, The Professional Woman's Mentor, LLC!
#11- After a massive spiritual awakening
In the awakening, I learned that many of the things I had come to believe about myself – I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or lucky enough to do or be something amazing – weren't true. I realized I'd taken the criticism and neglect I experienced as a child to heart and allowed it to shape who I was, what I did, and what I believed I could be. After my awakening, I realized the ideas I'd had of myself were based on other people's opinions, actions, or feelings and I was no longer bound to them. As an adult, I was free to move beyond other people's thoughts, feelings, or wishes for me, or their own issues and challenges. I learned to let go of the warped ideas and stories I'd absorbed in childhood, and carved out a new path for myself; one that is self-loving, honoring and based in MY own truth about me. I learned I didn't have to agree with everything someone else said just because they were my mother or teacher, or elder; and that it was okay – and even healthy – for me to have my own opinions, ideas, and needs. I started my business because, after I realized I could change things for myself, my world exploded into a beautiful, fulfilling, and bright place – and I wanted others to know they could have this, too. I wanted them to know they aren't responsible for their upbringing and they don't have to live out the story of their parents or grandparents. They can have a new life. Their own life, with their own rules. They don't have to struggle so much anymore and they don't have to be held back by untruths and fallacies. There is help and hope available to them, and they can start out on that new path today.
Thanks to Jaime Pfeffer
#12- After a traumatic experience
My mother in law died in 2013 without any life insurance. A funeral is the third-largest expense a family will incur. After going through such a traumatic experience and dealing with a huge financial burden a light bulb went off. I can speak from experience that getting my life and health insurance license was the best thing I have ever done. I started out working two days a week helping people with life insurance and quickly realized my income from those two days was more than I was able to pay myself from the spa in a month. I was still running the spa and being a mom. What started out a part-time deal or side hustle quickly evolved into a very lucrative career for me. Was it easy when I got started? NO, nothing worth it ever is. My faith, courage, and work ethic have provided for me and my family in a way that I never knew existed. I sold the spa in 2014 (age of 37) and I have never looked back, not once.
Thanks to Katherine Adams, Creative Legacy Group!
#13-Obsession to digital marketing and serving people
Business in my perception is all about fulfilling the needs of people and by the people. When I reflect on the day I thought of starting my business, I was very enthusiastic about digital marketing and building connections with people to serve them. I used to enjoy helping my clients during my freelance journey. The idea of collaborating with like-minded and more challenging people always pushed me to serve with even better results. The combination of my love for the dynamic Digital Marketing world and serving people in them, is what that strike me and I planned to start my business.
Thanks to Shiv Gupta, Incrementors Web Solutions!
#14- Desire to be free
That's what gets me up every morning.: Since I was little, I dreamed of being free. But I always had a bad feeling for the future, because my father always came home from work stressed out and told me how exhausting the day was today and that the same will happen to me soon. These were no positive future prospects for me. So after I got my first jobs as an employee, which were horrible for me, I decided to do everything I could to live my own life and be free. So I founded Vital Generation to become independent and live the life that suits me much better. Namely, to have the certainty every day that I am not being controlled by others and that I have a business that I can identify in and grow with.
Thanks to Marvin Klemp, Vital Generation!
#15- Create a product that fulfilled a need
I co-founded goTenna because I wanted to solve a problem that I cared about.. I was someone who loved going to music festivals and was tired of getting separated from my friends. I wanted to solve this problem and couldn't find anything on the market that worked. I knew many others had this same issue, and the problem extended to much more serious situations like natural disasters. I didn't start goTenna because I wanted to run a company, I started it because I wanted to create a product that fulfilled a need that I was passionate about. Starting a company is incredibly difficult, so to make it, you need to be there for the right reason, you need to have a passion for what you are creating and bringing into the world. For aspiring entrepreneurs out there I often tell them that passion for a product is what should drive them to start a company. It shouldn't be the other way around where you start a company because you want to own a company. I've rarely seen it work out that way, and I worry I sometimes see too many people driven by the desire to be a CEO/founder, as opposed to making something awesome. Go for awesome!
Thanks to Jorge Perdomo, goTenna!
#16- A decision based on two things
After watching several rounds of layoffs at the large energy company I worked for, I decided two things. First, I didn't want to leave my job on someone else's terms. And second, I didn't want to rely on working for others as my primary source of income. With both of these in mind, I began to plan my exit strategy by saving money, as well as starting my blog and a couple of other side hustles. These actions prepared me to leave on my own terms and no longer rely on others for employment. Fortunately for me, a round of voluntary separations came along when I was ready to make my move, and I was able to receive a severance package for leaving a job I had already planned to quit. The freedom that running my own business provides is priceless.
Thanks to Joel Klein, Self Generated Income!
#17- Reach their heart; then teach their mind
Too many kids are leaving our classrooms feeling like they are not enough because the things that are good at aren't always valued in school. As a former struggling reader turned 4th-grade teacher and curriculum director, this is exactly why I launched my educational consulting and speaking business, Strobel Education. I am passionate about reimagining our education system and not letting kids fall victim to a system that doesn't demonstrate ALL the different ways one can be intelligent and contribute positively to their world. I am driven to purposely ensure that every single student knows they are loved and valued and have meaning in this world.
Thanks to Kim Strobel, Strobel Education!
#18- Got laid off
After leading my former employer to $55 million in sales from $18 million in sales, my reward was to be laid off but it was just the kick in the pants I needed to start my B2B marketing company, Innovaxis. With support from my wife and business coach, I landed my first client, then second, then fourth, and we’ve grown over 10% almost every year since. I now have the freedom to work with many clients across many industries, which gives me the variety I crave. If I want to make more money, I land more clients instead of having to cajole my boss into a raise over 3%. My team members all get the recognition they deserve based on their character and quality of work – no one gets ahead playing politics, flying under the radar, or kissing the boss’s ass. We only grow if our clients grow, and we take great pride in establishing thought leadership for them, seeing the leads we generate turn into more and more sales, and seeing the marketing directors we work with get promoted to VP. I am thankful the corporate world rejected me 13 years ago!
Thanks to Sean Parnell, Innovaxis Marketing!
#19- Create new ways to enjoy bacon
I started the Baconer in the San Francisco Bay Area farmer's markets in 2016. Situated in the epicenter of farm to table cuisine, my goal was to create new ways to enjoy and cook with America's favorite food (duh, bacon!) for a new generation of home cooks, chefs, and photo-snapping foodies, and to empower people to rediscover quality bacon. We do this through responsible sourcing, chef-driven flavors, and innovative cuts, including XXL Bacon Steaks, Smoked Bacon Lardons, Ground Bacon, and our traditional Small Batch Bacon Strips. We are revitalizing a stale category with something genuinely new, and inspiring our customers to cook amazing meals…because everybody loves finding that ingredient you can't wait to get home and cook, especially when it's made of bacon!
Thanks to Camilo Velasquez, The Baconer!
#20- Strengthen the presence of digital entities
I started Fictionphile and Boyd Media as a whole, because my first love has always been media and publishing. Over the years, that became digital publishing. Then, I went into marketing for a bit, which felt like a detour at first, but now I see how it empowers me to strengthen the presence of digital entities that publish quality journalism and entertainment content. I wanted to build a pirate ship, I always say, so that no one can take it away from me. We're on our way, and hopefully soon I'll be able to devote 100% of my time into it and, bittersweetly, say goodbye to my marketing clients.
Thanks to Jason Boyd, DBA Fictionphile!
#21- Replicate a service
I started my business so that I could give brides the same kind of service that my florist provided for me as I planned my wedding. She was an amazing listener, flexible, and really wanted to pin down my vision, and I wanted to provide that same service. I also loved designed floral arrangements and I wanted to share with other people the joy that flowers brought to me. Starting a business was such an exciting experience — I had no idea where it would lead me, and I am so grateful for the journey that it has taken me on!
Thanks to Adri Moss, Moss Floral Design!
#22- Help women with a passion
Luvi Kids is born from my desire to help women that have the passion to make beautiful crafts. Every dress has a story – we make sure that the tale is one with environmental and social consciousness at its heart. All Luvi dresses are handmade by women for little women. Our business model helps women working from home to sustain their livelihoods while looking after their families. A Luvi dress is not just another dress; it's a story of women helping women.
Thanks to Luvi Kids, Ladin Atilla!
#23- Unite my experience and my love for beauty
I began my career in the business world, building up extensive experience in accounting. However, I’ve always had a passion for beauty, which led me to get my cosmetology license in high school. After several years working in the corporate world, I decided to unite my experience and my love for beauty by launching a new career as an eyelash technician entrepreneur. I recognized that the new trend of eyelash extensions was a growing opportunity, so I opened a salon in Burbank, CA, in 2015. Following its incredible success, I launched the eCommerce portion of my business in 2018.
Thanks to Yegi Saryan, Yegi Beauty!
#24- To focus on what I loved
A few years ago, I broke my ankle in a freak accident and had to undergo major surgery. At the time, I was freelancing as a personal trainer while working full time in the care industry. Since I wouldn't walk, during the many months of painful physio, I had nothing to do but think and plan my future. It made me realise that all I really wanted to focus on was what I loved: fitness. I was also tired of working for other people and craved a new challenge. So, when I was finally back on my feet – quite literally – I took the plunge. I started by hiring a few personal trainers and rented space in a gym where they could train the clients, then focused on marketing my business and slowly growing it. We opened a studio in London last year – it was an amazing milestone.
Thanks to Keith McNiven, Fitness!
#25- Bring innovation to a classic product
We started our business to bring innovation to a classic product that hadn’t been updated in decades. There has always been just one way for consumers to open a vacuum-sealed jar – and even for fully able-bodied individuals, it is usually a struggle. For this reason, my company (CCT) and I saw a need for a more inclusive product – one that would allow everyone, including those with physical limitations like arthritis, to feel empowered even in the smallest of tasks. From this need, the EEASY TM Lid was born. The first jar lid innovation in 75 years, the EEASY TM Lid allows consumers to effortlessly open a vacuum-sealed jar with just the push of a button, making it a more accessible product for everyone. We started CCT and created the EEASY TM Lid because there needed to be a change in the closure industry, and we had the people, tools and drive to make it happen.
Thanks to Brandon Bach, Consumer Convenience Technologies (CCT)!