100 Stories of What Makes an Entrepreneur

Choosing the path of the entrepreneurship is not for everyone.  Many would tell you that it requires a certain “it” factor, an inner drive, a burning desire, and/or a bit of crazy to start a business.  So last week we posed a question to the entrepreneurial community and asked –

What was the catalyst in your life that drove you onto the entrepreneurial path, and what keeps you on it?

This was by far the most popular question we’ve asked, with 99 responses, plus my own, rounding to a cool 100. Everyone has a story to tell of what flipped that entrepreneurial switch on inside of him or her, but the stories have similar threads of burning desire, passion, wanting more from life, purpose, freedom, and more. If you are considering the path of entrepreneurship in your life, I hope that the following 100 stories will inspire you to take the leap.

Thank you to our wonderful list of contributors this week! Openly sharing your expertise and experiences is a huge asset to this blog and the readership. I wish you all a wonderful week and hope to see you here again.

If you would like to contribute to this week’s question, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to find out how you can get involved.  We’d love to have you share your expertise!


1. It Was All An Accident!

I was never the Entrepreneurial type, as a matter of fact, my whole life I pictured myself working for a few years once I got out of college and then I knew I would leave whatever career I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and in my mind, best role model a young daughter could have. I followed my “plan” to the letter UNTIL… After 9 years of working for a company, leaving that company to start a family and 3 years into my dream of “stay-at-home”-hood I hosted a dinner party that changed my life and thrust me into the world of a entrpreneurism. (My husband screwed up the chicken AGAIN!!) And in 1 instant my life went from very happy stay-at-home to entrepreneur in the male dominated “sport” of grilling! I am Founder and President of a grilling gadget empire, when my whole life all I ever thought of being the President of was MAYBE my daughter’s PTA.

I am a mom inventor whose spicy light bulb moment catapulted me into the entrepreneurial ring leading me to manufacture and market a product that is now sold in over 150 stores across the US, Canada and Sweden and was recently featured on ABC’s reality TV show Shark Tank. (to see footage of the show, see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1u5XNuxQro) I’m the first one “in the tank”

Thanks to Leslie Haywood of Charmed Life Products LLC

2. You Have To Sell Stuff For More Than It Costs

You create $ from nothing. When I was 6 years old, our summer vacation rental was next door to a convenience store. I bought penny candy and set up shop selling it for 2 pennies. I’m sure most folks just thought I was cute and humored me with their purchases. But the lesson was clear to me. Charge more than it costs.

Later on, I forgot this lesson and fell for “what the market will bear” pricing. Luckily, a wise mentor straightened me out. Now, I teach business basics. I love helping people make money and expand freedom with winning businesses of our own.

Thanks to Ellen Rohr of Bare Bones Biz

3. Knocked Down, So I Could Step Up

It all started with a prayer for greater purpose, which led to a layoff, which was the best thing that could have happened to me. The rest, though not a Cinderella story, is as they say, history. My biggest catalyst was knowing in my gut that I was put on this earth to do something greater with my life, that would allow me to impact lives. Where I was, just simply wasn’t even close. Where I’ve come and will continue to grow is the ticket, and I am not looking back. There is nothing easy about entrepreneurship — a lesson I learn every day. But it is chock full of adventure, learning, and being stretched in many uncomfortable, but valuable ways. What keeps me going is the reality that my life without purpose would be no life, and that this is just the beginning of my ongoing labor of love.

Thanks to Dr. Shannon Reece of Reece International LLC

4. It’s A Choice

I never thought I would be an entrepreneur until I became one. I always thought it meant you had to go to business school and be business-minded, but I learned quickly that if you surround yourself with the right people, you can accomplish it with the set of skills you already have. Passion and the desire to be the best at what I do, the unwillingness to let a setback stop me, is how I went from being an employee to a newspaper publisher; and then I found the best two business partners to help me overcome the tasks I did not want or could not take on. Becoming an entrepreneur is a choice, sometimes a risky one. But if done correctly, and if planned out, it can be a very rewarding choice. Without the support of my partners and the community, we would never have made it this far.

Thanks to Jen Watkins of St. George News

5. An App A Day…is A Business My Way!

We decided to start designing apps because our kids were asking for our iPhones at restaurants and the games on the phones were junk! Our way of making the world a better place? Yes, but let’s face it, that desire & inner drive needs to come from more than one place. Different days bring on different challenges, you need to be able to pull from different motivations — one alone cannot sustain the entire entrepreneurship life!

What do you pull from when you never stop working, when you get a bad review or can’t stop thinking about you business 24/7? One day it may be because you never have to work for someone else, another day it may be the satisfaction of a good review or it may come in the form of a company loving the app you made for their entrepreneurship!

Thanks to Jill Mikols Etesse of SmartyShortz LLC

6. I Saw That I Did It Better

I applied myself above and beyond the call of duty at my corporate job where I started as a technician, then store manager and finally supervisor, always acting as if it was my own business. What didn’t work was the hierarchy and the lack of respect and appreciation that was present in the culture. How corporate higher-ups begin to abuse, take advantage of their position and not care about the people who actually paid their salary, is inexcusable and is the major problem of our current economic conditions.

Just because I wanted to show them how it was done was really the driving force to open my business. It was easy, I was knowledgable and I was willing to do what it takes. I was awarded handsomely and recognized as a leader by my peers.

Thanks to Beverly Dombroski of BeverlyD Luxe Organic Hair

7. Glitter In The Workplace

I should have known I was no longer cut out to work for others when my vice president pulled me into his office and said I’d never get ahead in the company if I continued to wear glitter to work. Now, it’s not the lack of glitter that was exactly the issue for me. It was more about this need to express myself freely, fully and authentically that drove me then and still does today to run my own company. When it came down to it, my corporate lifestyle interfered with my ability to do that. I feel a passion and a purpose in my life I never felt in my corporate job — which I was both good at and loved when I did it. Today, doing what I feel is my “calling” has me feel so much more inspired than working for someone else ever did, and I imagine ever could, despite how much I loved my work before.

Thanks to Isa Isaacs of Temple Of Poi

8. Always Afraid Of Being Fired

My Dad was a tremendous furniture salesman–a true genius when it came to selling furniture. He never had the capital to open up his own store and what happened to him was unfortunate. At the age of 60 he was told that he had to open the store at 7:30 in the morning. If he refused he would have been fired. It is not easy for a 60-year-old man when it comes to finding another job. I always saw this fear in him and I promised myself that I would always be in business for myself. There is nothing like the thrill of being in business for yourself. In 1976 I had 800.00 to my name but still managed to create the Jelly Belly jelly bean. I was forced to sell the trademark to the company that was my contract manufacturer. In two months I will be back in the jelly bean business.

Thanks to David Klein of Can You Imagine That Confections

9. When You Love What You Do, You Never Work, You Live

June,1998 I woke up one morning after falling asleep to Access Hollywood and announced to my husband Rony that I was leaving my current job and starting my own business, called access.office. I would offer people help to get work done when they have limited or no staff. I designed flyers stating all the services I offer and posted them around and my first job came in the next day. It was for the typing of a thesis which I did and got my first paycheck, $150.

With my hands-on experience before education and career, I worked inside (2) family businesses, gaining experience from each business and from each department, which was very valuable. This included answering the phones, meeting customers and clients, sales in-house or on the road and at conventions and trade shows, experiencing customer service and solving problems, designing marketing materials and developing catalogs. This taught me so much that school does not. After getting my BS degree in business & marketing, each job I had after graduation did not satisfy my soul. I felt that something was missing.

Since 1998, access.office has kept me happy. Even with the roller coaster of income, the ups and downs of daily success and failure, nothing can hold me back but my own thoughts. Knowing that, each day is different, each client is unique and the sky is the limit, each day can bring a new opportunity. My team has the same passion as I do and we have never looked back. Putting people together, designing and implementing plans, developing events and strategies, each day is exciting. The entrepreneurial spirit is inside me. From the day I recognized that this was my personality, I have never worked a day since. When you love what you do, you never work, you live.

Thanks to Gayle Naftaly of Access.office

10. I Couldn’t Find A Job

I created my own PR firm in 1989 because I was in a prolonged period of unemployment and didn’t want a huge gap showing up on my resume. After a while, I came to realize that I had more control over my own destiny – and was having more fun – staying in my own business. I have never regretted my decision.

Thanks to Jane Blume of Desert Sky Communications

11. Doing Something You Are Passionate About Everyday Is Amazing

A life change. I am sure this might also be the catalyst for many. I have been doing consulting on and off for many years, but always had a full-time gig somewhere else. Mid 2010 I had a change in job status and decided immediately that it was the right time to become a full-time music marketing consultant. I gave myself six months to see if could get some traction and then decide if it was go or no go. Well, after realizing that doing something you are passionate about everyday is amazing, I have become committed to running my own business. I love the new challenges faced everyday. What keeps me in it… the feedback I get almost daily how much others appreciate what I am doing. How much I have helped them.

Thanks to Michael Brandvold of Michael Brandvold Marketing

12. Enter The Entrepreneur

My entrepreneurial catalyst? A fierce desire for independence! Many entrepreneurs will tell you a great idea got them started, or access to capital, or the desire to create a team in order to make something happen. For me, though, it was the wish to spend my days as I chose to. The 9-to-5 job is simply not for me. I’ve worked in corporate and educational settings, but I much prefer doing my own thing. In terms of McGregor’s motivation-research, I have a strong need to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself–rather than goals set by someone else. Call me cantankerous, call me a Lone Ranger, call me a free spirit–I’ll answer to all three. Above all, though, call me an entrepreneur!

Thanks to Dr. Marlene Caroselli

13. Choosing Entrepreneurship

The single most important factor in entrepreneurship is self-motivation. You won’t have a boss or anyone else around to tell you what to do, when to do it, or how to do it. You just have to get out there and start selling yourself and your product/service. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of self-confidence and determination to follow this path. You’re on your own, baby!

Thanks to Phyllis Harber-Murphy of More Than 9 2 5 Virtual Assistanct

14. Self-Reliance Is The Key

An entrepreneur is someone who is comfortable operating in an environment where there are no guarantees. The title means self-made and accordingly, the entrepreneur is willing to take a risk of a big payoff and the ability to call the shots in a business created by one’s own efforts, rather than having stability offered by an employer and being told what to do. Most of the time, the entrepreneur is a visionary, dreamer, critic, strategist, leader, dealmaker, organizer, and marketer–all in one. But most of all, an entrepreneur is a person who believes in him or herself, and their own ability to bring something to market that solves some pressing problem or that people or organizations would otherwise want.

Thanks to Ian Aronovich of Government Auctions

15. Passion And Determination

Entrepreneurship is for everyone who is passionate enough to do something and determined enough to carry it through until they succeed. Passion sells more than enthusiasm, and determination has the ability to overcome the hurdles. Any entrepreneur who lacks these two ingredients is heading for the rocks. Whether you were born with a kind of entrepreneurial gene (which I do not subscribe to) or you were forced into becoming an entrepreneur, you can succeed and survive the turmoil. Life is full of hurdles at each turn of the way. Thus, if you can navigate your way through, and have the passion and determination to still survive, why can’t you be an entrepreneur? Your only limitation is the information you do not have or knowledge you lack and the weakness of your passion and determination.

Thanks to Victor Kwegyir of VIKE INVEST (UK) LTD

16. Creation Is Power

Creativity! Creativity is everything when it comes to being an entrepreneur. From creating the idea, business model, marketing plan, to keeping it going when things get rough and you want to call it quits. You can hire someone to handle the business end or to sell the product, but every business was created by a thinker. Filling in the gaps of our world recognizing what we need, want, and desire. Creativity creates an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Chanda Gunter of The Social Network – Social Media Marketing

17. The Ticking Clock

It was the realization that there is only NOW and my dream had been burning inside me for long enough. Well, maybe the redundancy payment helped a little too!

Thanks to Derek Thompson of Professional Writer

18. Wanting To Share Something People Need

I wandered down the path of entrepreneurship because I believe I have something to share that many people could benefit from and the only way to get it into people’s hands was to become an entrepreneur. Language should be a way that people connect, but often speaking different languages divides people. People are nervous and distrustful when a language is spoken that they don’t understand. I was the first user of No-Work Spanish audiobooks and I believe that if I can learn Spanish listening to them while I drive around, when other learn-Spanish audio programs have not worked for me, then this language learning method could help people. And if I didn’t turn this concept into a product, well no one else was going to. So I grabbed an entrepreneur’s hat and set off down the path!

Thanks to Anne Emerick of No-Work Spanish

19. What Started You And Keeps You On Enterpreneurial Path?

My children.

Thanks to Laura Connell of For Those About To Shop

20. Entrepreneurs Are Born Of Opportunity & Necessity.

Being an entrepreneur, taking risks, starting companies or creating inventions isn’t a career, it’s a lifestyle! People are being forced now more than ever to tap into their most prized resource & possession, which is their mind. Entrepreneurship means to be an elite outside the box thinker, to be innovative, a leader who sees things in a different dimension than others, to have a propensity of taking inherent risks when launching new ventures and they are ready to accept the responsibilities of both success & failure. Entrepreneurs sometimes arise from necessity or demand in an economical down turn to seek a desired result. They believe they see an opportunity to make something better or to create everlasting wealth where others see normalcy, repetition and somewhat mindless automation…

Thanks to Michael Di Pippo of Penfishingrods.com

21. Starting A Business To Help Businesses

I’ve been extremely fortunate over the last 30 years to have worked with and for some terrific leaders. Having learned so much from them, I wanted to share the lessons with as many people as possible. I knew I needed to simplify leadership and make it available to all levels of an organization and the only way I saw to do that was to strike out on my own. It hasn’t been easy, but when someone begins to understand better leadership, I feel the effort is worth it. My mission is to transform leadership, so I’ll be at this for a while!

Thanks to Bob Mason of RLM Planning And Leadership

22. What Drove Me Here!

I used to work in a design agency (fresh out of college).
In the design agency world, they play an extremely irritating game that I refer to as “telephone”. Here’s what I mean:
The client talks to the account manager, who talks to the creative director, who talks to the art director, she talks to the project lead who finally talks to the entry-level designer doing the project.
I call this “telephone” after the children’s game: where a message gets passed along, but by the time it gets to the end it’s entirely different than at the beginning.
The same thing happened in the agency, and it was totally frustrating. A lot of projects got re-worked because of bad communication.
I started my business so I could talk to my clients directly & eliminate misunderstandings.

Thanks to Erin Ferree of BrandStyle Design

23. I’m Competitive!

So… I’m the youngest of 6 kids, 5 of them boys. For as long as I can remember, I was the younger brother that was doing everything he possibly could to compete. That instilled in me a competitive spirit that has served me well throughout my life. It pushed me to work very hard in many aspects – school, sports, awards, etc. While at BYU, I found that my competitive spirit carried over into the business world and, now, into my entrepreneurial career. During school, I was passionate about helping small business owners get financing. It was a huge pain point for many entrepreneurial friends that I knew and felt passionate about solving that problem to make small business loans simple. Five years later, I want our company to be the best in the world at helping entrepreneurs to obtain a loan.

Thanks to Brock Blake of Lendio

24. What Are Your Dreams? No Sense In Dreaming If You Can’t Make Them A Reality

The catalyst for me in living corporate America where I was a Market Manager for a Fortune 500 company was a dream I finally had while I was in San Francisco talking to investors about our company idea. I had this amazing dream where I was smiling, knowing it was all going to be okay because I worked for myself now and I was given the opportunity to make my dreams true, so I literally woke up Sunday morning and quit the next day. I have always been a firm believer in following your dreams, but if you don’t ever make the move and take some risks, then you are just doing yourself a disservice.

What keeps me focused is continuous positive energy, the right attitude and knowing that I have to patient. I am writing a book right now about all of it and how success is inside all of us. We just have to know what to ask and have the will to succeed against all odds, because we are the only ones who can truly stop ourselves from having what we want and desire in life. I used to be 300lbs, so I know what it takes to really go against the odds and lose over 120lbs. I know what its like to quit my job and go work for myself with no guarantees of income. All it takes is believing in yourself.
What are your dreams?

Thanks to Fredrick Nijim of Addoway.com

25. What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur

As a lifelong entrepreneur, I can tell you that for me it is something I’ve always known I wanted to be. As a kid, I didn’t quite know the name for it, but I knew I wanted to work for myself. This drive is what led me to create carnivals as a child and charge an entrance fee.

As an African American woman of color, Corporate America hasn’t been so kind to me. Instead of crying about it, I decided to create my own opportunities. Hence, my entrepreneurial drive. I always have great ideas and those ideas tend to be outside of the box of what buttoned up corporations are looking for, so for the past four years I have been managing my own public relations company on the side and plan to make this a full-time venture by next year. And it won’t stop there, I have plans for many more companies to come.

Thanks to Miko Franklin of Publicity Stunt Inc

26. Passion And Creativity Are The Heart And Soul Of Any Entrepreneur!

Entrepreneurs are all about the passion and creativity….and money is a by-product of that in my opinion! I was the president of a company that was the largest publisher of animation artwork from television commercials having created the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Bush, M&M/Mars, Pillsbury, etc. I think you’ll get a kick out of that fact that I sold it off to start a whole new company, that does a whole line of celebrity rubber ducks that were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly.

I wanted to create a business based on my passions. I loved iconic advertising art, and realized no-one was really exploiting the commercial value of this kind of artwork, so I started a company based on my love of it. And then I realized that everyone loves rubber ducks and I wanted to do something totally creative with the concept that had never been done before…thus CelebriDucks.

I never took a business course in my life, but we are known as the finest rubber ducks on the market and sell thousands of them worldwide. Bottom line, if I move with what moves me passionately, I stay inspired! Also, I stay inspired by reading and studying the stories of people who buillt great brands. Their failures and successes are all learning experiences for me. The stories of Milton Hershey, Ben & Jerry, Walt Disney, and others are so instructive as to what is possible for anyone at any age no matter what limitations they had to overcome.

Thanks to Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks

27. Entrepreneur By Default

When I first started out in business, I became an entrepreneur for one simple reason. I was completely incapable of holding a real job. So it became a simple choice between creating my own business and starving to death.

Thanks to Barry Maher of Barry Maher & Associates

28. I Wanted Freedom

I became an entrepreneur out of a need to have more freedom and control over my life and more specifically my lifestyle. I had already run other people’s businesses. I had the know-how without the ownership. So, I quit corporate in 2006 and never looked back. An effective entrepreneur must have commitment, passion and purpose to succeed. I would actually say passion and drive to succeed make the perfect entrepreneurs. My business is my career and hobby. I would do this business regardless of getting paid; but getting paid makes it possible to do it. I love it and wouldn’t live any other way.

Thanks to Michelle Gamble-Risley of 3L Publishing, LLC

29. Not For Whiners!

Actually, I whine a lot, until I get my way. I have been in business for 25 years and I don’t like to take “no” for an answer. I consider myself the “queen of customer service,” but if something isn’t working, I sit around and “dream up” a way to make it work, or for a new avenue to progress on. I am A.D.D. to the 10th power! My primary business is Greenery Gallery, Inc., and interior plant scaping company headquartered in SC. We also operate in GA and FL. However, my burn is to help businesses in their plight with the state agencies that make their work lives so hard. It is not necessary, I know there is a new business in this for me somewhere! Consulting sounds so dry. I want to “raise hell” on behalf of business owners that are buried in state or federal issues.

Thanks to BJ Rodgers of Greenery Gallery

30. Work With My Mom? Am I Crazy?

I worked for two big corporations, GE and Federated, and then my mom and I started talking about working together. We do many training programs together and the responses are interesting. Some people say, “I could never work with my mom”, but a lot say they wish they had the opportunity to work with their mom. So, that was the catalyst and 16 years later we are still happily working together! My youngest daughter played soccer and I wanted to be able to go to her games, too.

Thanks to Jessica Selasky of Confidence Builders

31. Don’t Sweat It…Absorb It

An entrepreneur needs a lot of tenacity to keep going. When I would tell someone I had an invention their response was “uh huh right.” Well, four inventions later and I keep going all the way to the bank with products in almost every state, and four overseas accounts. Working on over $47,000 in orders currently, I’m still laughing all the way to the bank. Doctor recommended, and used by surgeons, and it’s still an “ah Ha moment.” I designed Pambra’s the Original Bra Liner, two mastectomy liners and our newest TUMMY liner for under the abdominal fold. The Tummy liner has shot up to be our #2 product in just 3 months. But with Americans growing bigger we will continue in sales in an untapped niche.

Thanks to Pamela Haven of PAMBRAS

32. Failing Just Made Me Want It More

I started my first business because I hated being told how far I could succeed
in life So I quit my job, formed a business and I never looked back. My first
business failed. It’s a hard thing to admit because I tried so hard to make it
a success. Through all the ups and downs I always knew one thing: I loved being
an entrepreneur and so I quit my old business and started a new one. This time
I had the knowledge that I had finally found what was missing from my old
business: I’m not just passionate about business, I’m also passionate about the
business I’m in.

I love learning from my mistakes, always trying to improve my business skills,
setting my own standards and the great pleasure I have each day in life because
I get to do what I love. I think back to those days when I was bored,
unchallenged, uninspired and working for people who couldn’t care less about me
and it just makes those tough patches we business owners all go through that
much easier to tackle. Even on the worst day and even when I failed it has
always been worth it.

Thanks to Alison Kero of Alicat Pet Service, LLC

33. Cool Garments For Hot Women

When Breast Cancer threw me into menopause with drenching night sweats that stole a good night sleep from me I was desperate. I knew about wicking clothing but could not find anything comfortable for sleeping so I started my own company. I knew there was a problem with millions of breast cancer patients and menopausal women and I could offer a solution. That was the entrepreneurial reason and knowing that I am helping women is the reason I continue being an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Haralee Weintraub of Haralee.Com Sleepwear

34. Internet Pioneer Jumps Off The Web And Lands On The Beach

After nearly 15 years as an SEO marketer, this internet pioneer is catching the next wagon train out of town and taking it to the beach. I risked everything when I dropped out of the family printing business to start a web marketing firm back in the 90’s, becoming one of the pioneers of the internet. After a successful run in print, I believed the future lay in web marketing. Lately, I’ve noticed internet marketing taking a turn. It’s becoming commoditized. When you see Yellow Book and Intuit advertising heavily to get into the game, I think it’s time for this pioneer to move on to a new adventure. So now I’m ready to trade it all in and take it offline, specifically, to the beach. In my second entrepreneurial incarnation, I am taking a new invention – the “Shade Anchor,” a beach product – to QVC and beach shops around the world.

Thanks to Joanna Cali of Buoy Beach LLC

35. “Recovering Attorney” Turned Award-winning Broadcaster

I concur that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Why did I leave a high six-figure income and a stellar political and legal career to become a travel broadcaster? Because I needed to do something more meaningful. A few years ago I realized that my legal career was not going to bring me the purposeful existence I’ve always wanted. One evening, while on travel, my husband (also a lawyer and co-host) met a life coach during a cocktail hour. Long story short, my husband began life coaching me that night and we quickly acknowledged our mutual passion for travel. We formed a travel agency and began appearing on television. The radio show soon followed and the rest is history.

We have gone through many transitions and even changed the name of our show to World Footprints last year. This has been a challenging road, but what keeps me going are the people who we’re interviewing and the messages that we’re sharing. We’ve interviewed everyone from Robert Kennedy, Jr., to Ken Burns, Stefanie Powers and many other celebrities and newsmakers. We are often at the White House covering relevant events and I’ve even had the pleasure of a private audience with Melinda Gates.

Thanks to Tonya Fitzpatrick of World Footprints

36. Comfort Zone On The Edge

Entrepreneurs take risks. They know intuitively that walking through the door marked unknown means success even if the foray is failure, because just having taken the risk is a win. But they are ultimately not even concerned with winning or losing. They want to exist in and conquer the unknown. That’s their comfort zone.

Thanks to Sandra Holtzman of Holtzman Communications

37. Starting A Business And Getting Rich? Are You Kidding?

What does it take? Overcoming the word Fear, in the beginning and during the life cycle of the business. F.E.A.R.- False Evidence Appearing Real! Once you have the correct information followed by hard work and the willingness to step into the sometimes unknown will you achieve real success. Don’t forget what got you there and never be afraid to ask for help. The most successful people in business all needed and asked for some help before they became a success. Most of all have a backbone, it’s not whether you get knocked down but the ability to get back up. You will have to do this over and over. Even the most successful companies have to readjust and find new ways of producing.

Thanks to Alan Ginsberg of The Entrepreneur’s Source

38. Blessings In Disguise

Each of the catalysts that led me to become an entrepreneur have been life blessings. The first catalyst began when I was a young child, who naturally saw and acted upon the possibility and creativity in life. Growing up with an entrepreneurial father, who always developed new ideas and initiatives influenced me, as did my mother and my nana, whose creative talents came forth in their cooking, fashion, and home design. As a marketing director in the corporate world, I often yearned for the opportunity to step out and use my ideas and talents to make a difference in my own way. A layoff in 2003, initially a shock, soon inspired me to realize its true blessing and opportunity to finally launch into the world of entrepreneurism, if I took the plunge. I did so, and seven years later, I proceed forward on this entrepreneurial path as it offers daily chances to utilize my blessings to impact people and companies for the good.

Thanks to Anahid Lisa Derbabian of Integrity Communications

39. I Was Fed Up Feeling Like A Puppet, With Someone Else Pulling On The Strings

I loved my career. I worked for good companies. I had really good bosses, some of whom I’m I still personal friends with over 20 years later! I traveled the world, experienced life as an expat in Singapore, New York and London & met amazing people all around the world. I even met my husband through my career! And of course, I earned a lot of money doing it.

What was the catalyst for starting my own business, despite such a great corporate career?

Despite the upside, there was also a lot of downside. Many weekends on a plane, foregoing social events, missing my family, living an unhealthy lifestyle and feeling like a puppet – not in control of my own life. After the birth of my son, I decided I had to find a way to take back control & still get a buzz out of my work. I created it!

Thanks to Suellen Hughes of Transforme

40. Sockless Bootstrapping

* What was the catalyst in my life that drove me onto the entrepreneurial path? -My mentor took me to an Anthony Robbins “Unleash the Power Within” 3-day event in April 2007. After attending the event, I felt like I had just started a second life with an intense amount of energy on a daily basis and I told myself I would start a business by the end of that year that would both help others and be something I would remain passionate about because it was something I already enjoyed doing (the thrill of the hunt for treasures at garage sales, flea markets and consignment shops).

* What keeps me on it? – I love the challenges of running a business on a day-to-day basis, you never know what could happen and you have to be sitting on the edge of your seat all day and be prepared to be proactive and execute as best as possible.

Thanks to Jonathan Papsin of Tag Sell It

41. Getting Fired!

For me, the catalyst was fairly straight forward: I kept getting fired.

Basically, I had a falling out with the founder of an agency after a year and a half or so, and he ended up firing myself and another senior executive (both of us co-founders). The next week, I founded Anvil Media, which I still actively manage. I wasn’t sold on being a consultant or hiring a team, so I went back to work 2 more times, once at a .com for 3 months, then to another agency a few months later, after I was laid off. I only lasted 6 months at the last agency, and after that, was sufficiently motivated not to work for anyone else ever again.

Thanks to Kent Lewis of Anvil Media, Inc.

42. Working In My PJ’s

I am just seriously unsuited to go to an office and do the same thing every day, during the same hours,with the same boss and no end in sight, just more of yesterday coming up tomorrow.

I love working in my jammies (even if I work twice as much as I ever did in my brief stints as an employee). I love not commuting and not being regimented in how, when or why I work with the clients I do. I love deciding not to work with some of them.

But most of all, I relish the surprise that every phone call brings (both the good calls and the challenging, “Can you solve this?” ones). I love the notion that every call or email holds the treasure of a new possibility and a new, “why not!!!!”

Thanks to Celia Milton of CeliaMilton.com

43. I Can Do Whatever I Want

I am an entrepreneur because I love the freedom to do whatever I want – to test things, to push the envelope, to stretch and even to dream. I can make things happen without having to go to a manager, ask for permission or worry about the consequences of being fired. I am my own boss, which brings with it a unique pressure, but nevertheless, I move to the beat of my own drum. I work very hard and I always wanted to see a direct benefit and outcome to my work – owning my own business is a way to make that happen. I don’t always make the right decisions, but I’m willing to take the risk and go with it – in the name of entrepreneurism. I love the excitement of being able to come up with new ideas and put them into action – it keeps me focused on my business, energized about life and driving toward even more success.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney of My Corporation

44. I’ve Never Had A Boss I Liked!

The fact that I’ve never had a boss I liked drove me to be an entrepreneur. I recorded all the instances where I said “man…I can’t work for this person anymore!” That was the MAIN catalyst…the freedom to work as a I please.

Thanks to John Childs of J Childs Outfitters

45. A Burning Message

What drove me to start a business is the burning message inside of me that I felt compelled to share with the world. This in turn causes me to get into an entrepreneurial field that can assist me in doing so, that will allow my fueling message to travel places that my feet necessarily can’t. Along with all of these unique qualities, having the burning desire to touch the lives of people in the process is very, very rewarding. To live out what you believe that you have been destined to do and touch the lives of people in the process is a “crazy” for a lack of a better term, motivation that monetary benefits can not satisfy. What keeps me on this path is the willingness to want to finish what I have been called to do so that the legacy that I leave behind will be one of continuous positive influence and impact.

Thanks to Kevin Benton of Kevin Benton Ministries

46. Stop Watching From The Sidelines And Get In The Game!

For me, becoming an entrepreneur was the only way to go. My character dictates that I take an active role and not sit back and wait to be told what to do and when. As an entrepreneur you take on quite a bit of risk. You have to make sure the business stays afloat, come up with the game plans and at the beginning make sure the team gets paid first. If you lose…you lose big, at YOUR own expense.

The flip side is that when and if things go well, you get to reap the benefits. It’s about taking calculated risks, having the confidence that you’re making the right choices. And when you find yourself a success, it’s all been worth the risk. You can’t be afraid to try new things. You are either a leader or a follower. You get in the game and play or watch on the sidelines.

The constant hunger for challenge and success is my IT FACTOR. Once I become successful with one project I am on to the next. If I see a competitor reach success with a new product or ideal I become envious. Characteristics of entrepreneurs are sometimes misconstrued as narcissistic, controlling, overbearing, etc. But the real names for those traits are leader, undertaker, producer and ambassador. Being a player and wanting to take that risk was my catalyst then and now.

Thanks to Jeff Brodsly of Elite Merchant Solutions

47. My Business Card Says “Grandson”

I’ve been self-employed as a 1099 for over 24 years in the packaging industry in northern CA. That business was getting very soft and I needed something to supplement my income. So I started a food business, actually it is a sausage company with plans to expand into more Italian foods. So I asked my father for his father’s (my grandfather) Calabrese style Italian sausage recipe that he and his brothers used to use when they made their Italian sausage for their customer in the butcher shop/grocery store they owned. I started selling in local farmers markets and got a following pretty quickly. As time went on I decided to make a real business of this. I currently work both careers and have been able to grow the business in both food service and retail accounts (including Whole Foods) all in northern CA with one restaurant chain in Seattle.

Thanks to Greg Taverrite of Taverrite’s Italian Food’s, LLC

48. It All Started With Baseball Cards…

Originally, I got started by buying and selling baseball cards when I was in grade school. I used to just like to collect them, then one day I realized “Holy Sh@* these things have value”. From that point forward, I cared less about the players on the cards and more about what they were worth. I would buy things in the Philadelphia area and have my dad take me up to NYC where I could get more because the players were from that area. At that point, as a young kid, I knew I wanted to start a business one day and be that entrepreneur that people recognized.

Today, my company WebiMax, is the nations #1 rated SEO firm by TopSeos.com. The business started in 2008 with just myself and my wife, and has now grown to 125 U.S. based employees, with offices in Mount Laurel, NJ, Marmora, NJ, Jacksonville, FL, and I plan on opening offices in Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, and London, England in 2011.

I never forget, there was a man named Dan Pasqua, he was an up and coming outfielder with the Yankees and he was from North Jersey. He was in the 1985 Fleer Update Setit was his only card at the time and in turn his rookie card. I went to

Thanks to Kenneth Wisnefski of Webimax

49. Profit And Loss Statements Without Zeros Don’t Embarrass Me

I started my own company for a few reasons: 1) After revitalizing several Manhattan neighborhoods, I began to get dozens of calls asking for my advice, so I knew I had a product. 2) I’ve always been the kind of person who didn’t mind making small, slow and careful steps, so profit and loss statements without a lot of zeros in them don’t embarrass me. 3) I went to Harvard Business School, where entrepreneurship was encouraged.

Thanks to Dan Biederman of Biederman Redevelopment Ventures

50. A Job Or A Career? That Is The Question

While in the process of a divorce, with no alimony or child support, I took my children, moved 70 miles away and started my own business. Being on my own for the first time in my life and needing to take care of my two children and myself, I knew what I needed was a long-term career and not just a job. With a job I would not have control of my hours or timing of my growth. I felt having my own business would allow me the flexibility to do what I needed to raise a family on my own and to build a career at the same time. This turned out to be the best work decision of my life.

Thanks to Nancy Butler of Above All Else, Success In Life And Business

51. Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

I loved my successful career as a geologist in the petroleum industry, but when a new manager did not believe in telecommuting, I was forced to make a decision: care for my special needs daughter at home or return to the office full-time. It was a no-brainer: I chose my daughter and found myself facing the financial burden of a 60% decrease in our family income.

We live on a farm, and nearly all of our 200 animals are rescues. Over the years my main hobby had been creating products to improve the quality of their lives. I was inspired to form Crazy K Farm Pet and Poultry Products, LLC to manufacture and market my unique, patented and patent-pending inventions. 

I originally envisioned this as a temporary way to make money and stay at home with my daughter. So what keeps me in this business? SUCCESS! I was a good geologist, but I am a GREAT entrepreneur. Through hard work, persistence, self-education, coaching from the small business development center, and a rabid emphasis on branding, marketing and customer service, I grew Crazy K Farm from its humble origins two years ago as a manufacturer of one-off items sold on EBay, into a multi-award-winning business, that has sold tens of thousands of products to pet stores and appreciative pet and chicken owners in the US, Canada, Europe and beyond.

Thanks to Tobi Kosanke of Crazy K Farm

52. I Hate Money

Well that’s not exactly why I started my business, but it’s an essential element. For many of us, you really have to resign yourself to doing without a steady income for a potentially long period of time. The rewards may be vast, but they may also be non-existent. If you need that consistent paycheck, entrepreneurship may not be for you.

Thanks to Steve Silberberg

53. Got To The Top! Now What?

I got to the top of my profession before I was 40. I was in publishing and was the publisher of a family magazine group. When “I arrived” at the top, I realized I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was only helping one company at a time. I have successfully built and restructured sales and marketing departments for my employers. So what now? What if I could do it for more than one company at a time? That is what started me down the path of being an entrepreneur. Now instead of helping one company, I help all my clients with their sales and marketing. Last year, I grew one of my client’s bottom line 8% in a recession. That’s what keeps me going. Knowing I can do it for more businesses that really need help. Okay, that may sound a bit crazy, but maybe that’s part of it. You have to want more than what an average business person wants and be willing to do thing what you need to do to be successful for your clients or customers.

Thanks to Rob Bedell of Bedell Media Consulting

54. What Does It For Me?

Working 80 Hours for myself, so I don’t have to work for someone else!

Thanks to Dave Phillipson of CEO Space

55. Cultures Should Speak To Each Other

I created NICODA (New International Center of Diverse Artists), not just because I am an artist, more precisely, an actor, but because I wanted to use my love the arts in a way that would impact the world positively and stop the progression toward isolationism.

Thanks to Raquel Miller of NICODA

56. Turning A Hobby Into A Business

My hobby turned itself into a business when I wasn’t looking. It’s all great fun, and I get paid as well! Problem is competing against those still doing it as a hobby, so I just use the normal business techniques – give clients what they want, concentrate on service and quality rather than price (you can only choose two of the three options). Then I turned the old day job into a part-time business (book-keeping and admin) to fill in the gaps. I think the secret is passion – love you do, and you’ll not only do it better, but also make the effort to become an expert. Clients will pick up on all of this, and respond accordingly.

Thanks to Paul Hurst of Barn Dance

57. The Accidental Entrepreneur

When I had kids I thought I’d be a stay at home mum, and left the world of advertising behind. No more late nights in a recording studio making TV commercials! I retrained as a reflexologist, just for fun. Then I decided to get some clients, which meant I had to keep accounts….suddenly I had a business. I gave it up again when we moved to Luxembourg for my husband’s job, another baby on the way, where I met a magazine editor. He needed some articles about health food shops and thought an ex-advertising executive turned alternative therapy practitioner would be the perfect person to do it. I went on to write features for them for three years, which led to me becoming a copywriter.

I carried on when we moved back to the UK. At this point, it was still a hobby I got paid for but in 2005, I went on a course, funded by the European Union to encourage women’s enterprise. I had a vision of my business, and I decided to specialise in retail home shopping and set up Words that Sell. In 2008 I hired a team of writers, and now I’ve just written a book, called “Flicks & Clicks. How to create catalogues and websites that sell more” which became a top ten bestseller in the Amazon ‘Retail Books’ chart. On a practical level, being an entrepreneur has been fantastic to combine work with children. But I’m also driven by the desire to always try the next thing that seems just slightly out of reach – and it means I’m never bored.

Thanks to Mel Henson of Words That Sell

58. From Dot Com To Millenium Business

I started my business in the year 2000, when I planned to jump ship and go to a dotcom that would pay me a million dollars in stock options, plus a hefty MBA salary. When business after business lost their funding, and I had already left a successful career in CPG with Kraft, Philip Morris and Pepsi, I used my MBA to start a business consulting firm because I was already freelancing, so why not keep it going full-time?

Thanks to Tiffany Bradshaw of Bradshaw And Co.

59. Passion For Sharing My Expertise With Others

I guess you can say being an entrepreneur is in my blood. I worked in my parents’ community grocery store from the age of 10 to 15, then played football at my high school for two years. I went to college, majored in business and accounting, and graduated with academic honors. After graduation, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and was a budget, cost and financial analyst for 20 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. After retirement I returned to my first love, which is entrepreneurship, and today my consulting firm delivers speeches, training, life coaching and information products.

What makes an entrepreneur is expertise and the passion to share it with as many organizations and individuals as possible, studying one’s expertise, creating a business model that exceeds client expectations, and being the go to source for today and in the future. An entrepreneur should be a good leader, active listener, deliver awesome service and products, give back to the community and spread goodwill every opportunity they get. An entrepreneur is the lifeblood of a community and is a recognized expert, who happens to focus on a specific niche to improve their community, region, country and other parts of the world. I will be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Thanks to Paul Lawrence Vann of Wealth Building Academy, LLC

60. Freedom To Compete

When you own a business, success or failure is truly a measure of you. The corporate world fosters shared failure and success; therefore no one really wins or loses. The last time most people competed was on their high school basketball team. Remember how much fun that was? – Start your own business.

Thanks to Bob Shirilla of Simply Bags

61. Angel Babies Are Never Forgotten, They Stay In Our Hearts Forever

I started up my own business in June 2010. I am the bereaved mother of Tyler Jason, who passed away in March 2006. He was only seven weeks old when he died. Wanting to have a proper baby book for him that would serve as a memorial of his short life, I decided to create and self-publish — “I Will Hold You In My Heart Forever – A Baby Book for Little Angels” This book is doing really well, and it is helping mothers who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. Tyler is the reason that I keep this business going, and I also do it for the families who are grieving the loss of their child.

Thanks to Michelle Murray of Forever Heart Publishing

62. Love It Or Leave It

Working for a boss I clashed with was the kick I needed to start my own business. Becoming an entrepreneur is easy – survival and success is harder. It requires commitment and persistence so picking a business you love is key. Working in a business you have a passion for will take you through the times you feel like quitting. I love what I do, have a clear mission and keep on the entrepreneurial path because it’s motivating to follow my passion.

Thanks to Jennifer Leake of Consultants Gold

63. Forever Transformed

I am a licensed aesthetician & advanced & celebrity certified Novalash Extensionist with my own business in Palm Beach, Miami and NYC. After being a paralegal for 12 years, I completely switched gears and got a license to do what I’m doing now. For me, the catalyst was in 2003, when we lost our firstborn to a medical error, and I lost my job due to our son’s death. That created a profound change of attitude for me, whereby I vowed to never work for anyone again, and also do something meaningful with my life! I also lost 56 pounds over 4 years ago and became a certified weight coach so I could give back and help others.

I never knew I was strong or tough, or resilient — I was tested and could either sink or swim. I’ve not just been able to swim, but to fly. I’m fearless when it comes to my career, and have the burning ambition you wrote about in your query because I don’t have a choice but to make it happen. I’m so fortunate to be doing what I love and have it be a career!

Thanks to Alicia Hunter of AliciaHunter.com

64. Helping Older Dogs Is Good For Business (and The Heart)

I have had the entrepreneurial bug my whole life, probably from watching my father who was self-employed and partially because I knew, even at a young age, that my financial freedom needed to be in my hands not some else’s.

The idea for DogQuality.com came from my own experience with one of my dogs who was struggling with mobility and incontinence issues as a result of a back problem that had become severe due to age. When I looked around for help there were very little options so the light bulb went off. I knew that if I was having a difficult time finding the right assistance products then so must others. DogQuality.com was born and we have been helping older dogs and owners find the relief they need ever since. We do this through life changing products such as dog wheelchairs, strollers, diapers, ramps, steps, traction socks, walking slings and more.

Keeping on this path is actually quite easy because I am very passionate about what we are doing and I can see the difference we are making. You can’t walk down the street without seeing an older dog and every time I do, I realize how many dogs we can potentially help which is good for business, but even better for one’s heart 🙂

Thanks to Ann-Marie Flemming of Dog Quality

65. From Fired To On Fire

I founded my company in 2005 when I was laid off from a corporate banking job. I had an intense passion and drive to make it for myself and my family. Recently married and in mountains of debt, I had only $100 to my name, and no more “secure” career. Our first year of business we were able to lay a foundation to grow into a multimillion dollar company in only five short years.

The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I have a family to support. My wife, and two children are what drive me everyday to attain excellence, support them, and grow as a man, husband, father, and entrepreneur. Having a clear vision of where we are headed as a company and where I will take my family allows me to focus on the daily tasks and actions at hand to reach these goals. When I have hit road blocks, obstacles and failures, I learn from them and come back stronger than ever.

Thanks to Matt Shoup of M & E Painting

66. A Round Peg In A Square Hole

Trying to fit myself into the 9-5 corporate mold was like trying to stuff a round peg into a square hole; it could be done, but it wasn’t very comfortable. I chose the path of entrepreneurship to improve the quality of my life, and the lives of my children. I am able to both advance my career while I take care of the important things for my family, without the rush and over-scheduling our previous lifestyle needed. We’re round pegs in a square world!

Thanks to Crystal Coleman of The Northern Edge Business Solutions

67. The Pink Slip

I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit, however, for many years, I attempted to suppress it in attempt to be “normal.” I tried to fit in with all of my peers who had regular jobs and would gather around on Friday evenings for a night of complaining about every supervisor/manager as well as the workload. It was difficult for many years to embrace this robot-syndrome that I was trying to fit into: alarm clock, coffee, traffic, morning chatter, desk, one hour lunch, and 5 o’clock dismissal.

I grew tired of this pattern and was in need of change. I burst of out my comfort zone in 2003 when the firm I was working for laid off several departments in an effort to “cut costs.” The day of the announcement, I was one of three people who were excited about the news. I devoted my time to sharpening my craft, and I started my first business shortly thereafter.

The thing that keeps me going is knowing that everyday will present new and interesting possibilities. I have made so many key connections and my business has grown tremendously. Now I am in a position to teach others the skills I have learned along the way.

Thanks to Carol Sankar of Carol Sankar Enterprises

68. Entrepreneurship Is Part Of My DNA

I have always been innovative in terms of looking for new businesses or filling the needs of those around me. In college I sold tapes of sorority/fraternity step shows that I recorded on a hand-held video recorder. In my younger years in middle school a neighbor would pay me to water his plants when he was out of town. I met a mentor in 2000 who has had her own business for almost 20 years. She is an inspiration, but ultimately I am able to push myself to bring ideas to life and make business moves.

I do think that entrepreneurs have a certain personality. It think many are outgoing, especially if the idea or business is relationship based or needs promotion. I also think that entrepreneurs naturally think outside the box, not just when it comes to business, but in general. Entrepreneurs are optimists. I always see the glass half full. For me there wasn’t one catalyst that pushed me into being an entrepreneur, but rather a constant nagging in my psyche to try something out side of corporate America. What drives me to keep going is the knowledge that success is there if you have the right idea and work hard enough. Success doesn’t always mean making millions of dollars, but rather there is a sense of fulfillment I get from working for myself that is significantly different from working for someone else.

Thanks to Tiffani Murray of Stuck On Stupid

69. Music Can Make Money

I started playing in rock bands when I was 15. Most would tell you a garage band isn’t a business, but I would say they are wrong. We had appointments, regularly scheduled meetings, profits, losses, PR campaigns and contracts to name a few. I created a side t-shirt printing company in college to make my bands shirts and all the bands I could find in the area. I started a booking company with my co-guitarist and soon we were handling all the local shows at all the venues. When I graduated college I almost left it all behind to go work for a large company, but after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (my catalyst) I couldn’t do it. I began working on a guitar training software that would revolutionize the way people learn. After working through development for 2 years (a MUST of an entrepreneur is the willingness to sacrifice time and money for potentially nothing) I am now the co-owner of Raw Talent Guitar, a revolutionary guitar training system for the PC.

Thanks to Shaun Fisher of Raw Talent Guitar

70. Being An Entrepreneur…There’s No Other Way

What drove me to be an entrepreneur was I quickly realized that while I could follow the rules, I really didn’t like it. I struggled to do things my way, by my rules and in my own time. I never like having to be at a certain place at a certain time or being dictated to about my hours or when I had to be in or when I could leave. I stay in this role, not only because of the freedom it provides me, but more importantly because of the impact being an entrepreneur enables me to have on the lives of other people and other people’s businesses. I love being able to think outside the box, be a little outrageous and then getting to see the big difference that makes in the lives of my clients and how that has an amazing ripple effect. I am now sharing my gifts with the world in a really big way and that is more rewarding than anything else I can imagine doing.

Thanks to Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems

71. Carving Out My Own Place To “fit In”

I never felt like I fit in anywhere – at school, at work, even in casual social settings. I’ve always been an independent thinker. I’m an only child, and I think the many years of playing alone (by default – I played with friends as frequently as could be expected, but when the day was done and it was time to head home, I was always alone) created a drive in me to ignore the crowd, the drive to not follow the flock of sheep around me, and a burning NEED to prove myself on my own terms. This, I think, is the number one motivator that keeps my entrepreneurial spirit alive, and keeps me constantly looking to carve out my own place to fit in, in this crazy world.

Thanks to Christina Habberjam of Envy Creative

72. Back To The Cottage

My personal entrepreneurial journey started as a youth, growing up in my family’s Cottage businesses, continuing through corporate America and winding up in the Information Age. During this journey I learned to apply leadership principles and techniques that, in many ways, I learned in the Cottage of my youth. I have had the opportunity to test these leadership principles and techniques many times in a variety of organizations ranging from small to large, from profit to nonprofit, from American to International cultures. The principles and techniques I learned early on have adjusted to the technological and sociological changes of a much more vast and global economy, but interestingly, the core of what I learned years ago is still the core and when applied as such, it works. Now I consult others to adapt Cottage business strategy to their businesses, whether they are start-up entrepreneurs or Fortune 50 companies.

Thanks to John Sipple of The Business Resource Network

73. Don’t Bitch, Just Pitch!

My parents were both entrepreneurs and I believe they planted that seed in me at a young age. It wasn’t until my youngest child passed away during my college years that I made the firm decision to start my own business. In 2006 I started my publicity virtual assistant business and haven’t looked back. Being an entrepreneur takes guts, determination and a lot of encouragement. Finding and connecting with the right mentor, coach and friends is so important, not to mention being focused on why you are doing what you’re doing! Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart and you have to be willing to listen, learn and then take the right action steps to see your business grow.

Thanks to Stephanie Fish of Social Media Manager

74. The Best Ideas Don’t Always Happen At The Best Time

Both of the companies I’ve started have come from ideas that really resonated with me, and felt like they could create a solution to a problem. Neither of these ideas came at a particularly ideal time (one when I was still in college and had to drop out to pursue, and the other right when I was having my first child… definitely not the best time!), but the window of opportunity was there and so was my passion and energy for the ideas. In some ways, I couldn’t say no, but I also didn’t want to. I love the excitement of doing something that I believe in and love. In short, Idea that feels great on many levels + window of opportunity + energy = my entrepreneurial path.

Thanks to Sarah Sutton Fell of FlexJobs

75. Ambition And Intelligence Are Key

I would say my ambition and intelligence have contributed the most to the success of the company. Before founding CyberSynchs, I was an aspiring songwriter living in New York City. I had thousands of songs and recording sessions on my first generation iPhone which unfortunately completely died. I didn’t have any backup of any of my phone data. From this incident, I saw a simple case of problem and solution. I set about starting a company that could back up an individual’s data on any device, even though I did not have a technical or engineering background. I knew there was a need for my company’s services and that I had the personal drive and ambition to make it happen, despite the many obstacles.

Thanks to Amos Winbush III of CyberSynchs

76. Chief Coconut At Work

I was driven to the path of entrepreneur because there was something lacking as I was teaching my students about business from a textbook. I wanted something more and I wanted it to be a greater challenge with greater reward opportunities. The first step is having the courage to make the initial leap into owning your own business and facing the fear that you might fail. I’ve never doubted myself as to whether or not this company will succeed because we have a GREAT product and it’s the right time in the right space to launch such a product.

Then you have to be able to assume the risk of putting your money or other’s money on the line as you start to build. This is especially hard for a product based business because you have to sink a lot of money into inventory before you can even start selling. You’ll be a pro at writing checks! The key is to find the sales to cover all your expenses.

Then you have to be a great problem solver. You must find a way to correct something when it goes wrong, and trust me, there will be mistakes and wrongdoings! Sometimes you solve one problem just in time to solve another problem. Also, you have to be a blind decision maker without “buyer’s remorse”. Meaning that, you often have very little information and have to make an informed decision that vastly effects your future business model. You have to make those tough decisions and don’t second guess yourself. This is one of my biggest challenges.

And to bring it all together, you have to be enthusiastic, and have a company culture that is just as enthusiastic as you. As we continue to grow, it is hard work and taxing on all employees, so being enthusiastic and energetic makes our environment a fun and inviting place to work.

Thanks to Erin Meagher of Kelapo Coconut

77. My Recipe For A Successful Entrepreneur

2 cups Need Identification

2 cups Creativity

4 cups Crazy Chutzpah

Stick of Approachability

4 oz. Adaptability

10 lbs. Diligent Determination

6 gallons Follow Through

Combine Need Identification and Creativity into blender. Pulsate at 10 second increments until smooth. Add Crazy Chutzpah and continue to blend for at least a couple of months; mixture will remain lumpy. Continue blending until you are happy with flavor and appearance. Add shavings of approachability as needed. Pour in adaptability and diligent determination throughout – you may need to double these ingredients. Recipe will need constant blending and molding. Continue to mix ingredients to taste and appearance is golden. Bake on low for several months until perfect to the touch. Take out and share with the audience.

Thanks to Julie Casey of MyKidsPlate.com

78. Resilience! Period.

I had (and still have) lots of passion for my business idea, but have seen many other entrepreneurs drop the towel so you do need you driven passion PLUS major resilience!
My boys were my inspiration

Thanks to Connie Ozdill of Ami Sol Inc

79. A Fitness Rubberlution Is Born Out Of Necessity

After enduring the rigors of a Division 1 collegiate basketball career, I followed my dreams by joining the U.S. Peace Corps, where I was posted in Union Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Eastern Caribbean. Restless energy and the necessity of finding a dynamic strength-training program that was practical for working abroad in a developing nation, were the driving forces that led to a new mobile fitness model.

I quickly realized that the bands provided a functional training system, with the added bonus of utilizing inexpensive available resources. The combination of my personal fitness background and passion for international development paved the way for creation of Rubberbanditz.

Thanks to Ari Zandman-Zeman of Rubberbanditz

80. Feel The Fear, But Do It Anyway

Fear drove me to starting my own business. The fear of spending the rest of my life working in laboratory carrying out tests and having no interaction with the outside world was very depressing for me. I needed to do something that would get me outside and meet all types of people and I wasn’t getting that in a lab. I was scared that I would be miserable for the rest of my life and I would not be able to tell my children that I was afraid to try something new.The moment fear took hold of me I had to leave and branch out into setting my own organisation.

Thanks to Lola Atkins of Eye With A View Works

81. Authority Issues Pay Off

Part of my practice is helping entrepreneurs start, build and grow their businesses. Entrepreneurs share a lot of personality traits. They will do just about anything to keep from having a real job and having a boss. Entrepreneurs have problems with authority. Freedom of choice matters a great deal. If someone said I could do exactly what I do for a living and be paid 100 times what I make with the only difference being I have a boss who tells me when to be at work, when to go to lunch, how long to take for lunch, when I can go home, when I can take a vacation, etc., I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. That’s an entrepreneur.

Not knowing how much money I’ll make next week, or even if I’ll make any money next week isn’t much of a bother. Having a regular paycheck would be a bother because I can’t make more than that no matter what I do. As my own boss, I can grow my business if I want. I can keep it small if I want. Being in charge is what matters. It’s no coincidence that I work for myself and by myself. I can’t have a boss.

Thanks to Eddie Reece of EddieReece.com

82. The Little Engine That Could

I got into business based on necessity. My main income was through financial planning (mortgages, insurance, and investments) and that was slipping with the economic downturn. I wanted to be different and stand out. I felt like I could bring more to the table for my clients and prospects just in different ways. I wanted to have something of my own, as I personally have lost two jobs from two different entities that went out of business.

If you have seen “Up in the Air'” featuring George Clooney, that really happened to me. Supplemental income was a key force into making my decision. Fortunately, I was able to allow my company to grow on its own pace for the 1st two years as we were doing market research. Evaluating our strengths and weaknesses within the marketplace. This hands on experience allowed me to adapt to the changing economy and let me know what I needed to do to be successful. As the 1st two years have passed, I have seen what are my best niches are in the marketplace and now we are attacking to grow this business and become a solution for consumers yearning for assistance. What keeps me going is the fact that I know a job can be taken away from you, but a company that you have built provides you a control onto your life that is priceless. I’m stubborn and a fighter. I want to make this work and I have a belief in myself that I can find the way.

Thanks to Dante Royster of Full Court Services

83. I Love To Help Others

There is always something to learn which puts you in position to be able to teach others what you just learned. Entrepreneurship is always changing and I strive to be the go to guy for cost-effective marketing and encouragement.

Thanks to Derrick Hayes of WOE Enterprises

84. Softening The World One Jar, And One Smile At A Time

Inner Drive? Yes! Burning desire? Definitely! It factor? I hope so! Crazy? Maybe. The catalyst for me to start Scrubz 4.5 years ago, was that I was truly fed up with the products I was buying and just decided to make my own. I wanted easy, I wanted natural, I wanted moisturizing.

I had been freelance designing for 18 years, and did some telecom marketing as well. I was the marketing director of a failed start-up at the time, so I learned both what to do, and what not to do in so many areas, however, trust me, I am still making mistakes! I started on a true shoe-string budget, and I am still trying to juggle the best way to get our name out there without breaking the bank. It is constant and exhausting, but the satisfaction at the end of the day is palpable. I love what I do everyday.

Thanks to Roberta Perry of Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc.

85. Masterpieces Are Not Created By Committee

Why did I (finally) become an entrepreneur? Mostly for three reasons:

1 – I wanted to create a masterpiece
2 – I love cheese
3 – I am fiercely independent

This combination has proven to be quite successful. What started as one 450 sf. little cheese shop, has grown into a family of four shops with more than $1.5 million in revenue. I like my masterpiece.

Thanks to Gina Freize of Venissimo Cheese

86. Foresight / Long Range Goal Achieving IS The Entrepreneurship Gene!

I have been told by Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Testing Center (http://www.jocrf.org/) [who have been testing human aptitudes since 1922] that I have the foresight / long-range goal achieving / entrepreneurship aptitude. Ironically, I’ve always been a security conscious individual. So the idea of “risk taking” in starting a business was never high on my list! LOL

The catalyst for me was to run into a book that I wanted to put on my shelf, but found it wasn’t out there. So filling a void in the market (that was the full-charge bookkeeping book) was my catalyst/drive. The great thing about writing a book – is there really isn’t any “risk” involved, if you do it in your spare time! And, believe it or not, lightning struck twice when my daughter wanted to learn to read, in Kindergarten (I was Mr. Mom). I bought two books but couldn’t believe how hard they were making it, so I wrote one myself (necessity mother of invention thing). It worked so well, I’m driven to get it out there – to help others.

Thanks to Nick DeCandia of Den Publishing Company

87. I Get To Knit For A Living!

How many people get to say they knit for a living? Ok, not that I get to spend my entire life knitting, but my business follows my passions more than I ever would have thought. I am obsessed with knitting — I dream about it, live it every day, teach other people to knit, public knitting patterns, and answer endless questions about all things knitting…and I am still not sick of it. Far from it! I never imagined when I started my business 5 years ago (as a teen) that my business would be as awesome as it is today — or how much it would change.

I make naturally dyed yarn, fiber, and more recently, knitting patterns. What keeps me going and inspired are the amazing opportunities that come from my business. I meet awesome people, I get to teach people new skills (that maybe they have been struggling for years to learn), and get to do things like design rugs and intern in a natural dye studio. Every day brings new exciting things. I was one of the early sellers of Etsy back when it was just getting started, and now I am one of, if not the first, people to sell my individual (not a book) knitting patterns on Amazon (for Kindle).

Thanks to Jenn Wisbeck of Midnightsky Fibers

88. Passion-nut For Personal Growth

After a going through a personal reinvention of self I was so excited about life and the difference between how I was and how I became that I could not stop sharing my message. It is like breathing. I simply must do it. Drive and ambition may make an entrepreneur, but I have had other business ventures and the success, satisfaction and the money did not start to flow until I found one that allowed me to share my passion. With passion, conviction and belief in your work you don’t mind working whatever 7 days a week are required, you can take the setback and/or criticisms. The knowledge that what I am doing make a difference to my audiences and to myself is the secret sauce!

Thanks to Stephanie Staples of Your Life Unlimited

89. Gram-preneur Ingenuity

Out of a job- a bit overwhelmed…what’s a new Grandmother to do but go play with her beautiful new grandbaby….That’s when Inspiration struck and re-invention ensued & this Gram-preneur isn’t looking back!

My passion to fully embrace the core concept of love of one’s family in a time when more than ever we need to get back to basics and help do something about it while building a family business is what drives me. I created what is now known as Zatswho® Soft Photo Face Recognition Flashcard Game as a learning tool to teach about family, while facilitating the learning process, creating a loving, lasting bond and impact with your child. What keeps me on it is seeing how much my story( Fox,WSJ, NJN News & more), product is being embraced and that Zatswho has multiple uses making it “great” not just for babies and toddlers, but also for families of children of ALL abilities!

Thanks to Trish Cooper of ZATSWHO, LLC

90. Don’t Forget To Laugh: The Road To Becoming An Entrepreneur

I have been an entrepreneur five times now, and believe it or not, it came out of adversity. In 1994 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I noticed that though people offered support, no one ever gave me anything that made me laugh. So I launched the first of my five companies, The Cancer Club (www.cancerclub.com), today the world’s largest producer of humorous and helpful products for people with cancer. Then last year, after going through my second divorce, I realized that many people feel “stuck”, as if they can’t move forward. I started Divorcing Divas (www.DivorcingDivas.net) to provide education, hope and inspiration to those facing that journey. I believe that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need several skills: the ability to focus, the knowledge to run a business, but most of all ~ passion.

Thanks to Christine Clifford of ChristineClifford.com

91. Oh No, I Had Another Idea…

The inventor sickness is in my blood!

My first two ideas required very little on my part. I found the right avenue where each product belonged, convinced the president of the companies they needed my idea, and instantly, I had a licensing agreement. The MyoFree(R) Solution, however, would teach me intense lessons as I started the business from scratch. This one required me to do things people never think about when they have that AHA moment. You have to be both crazy and willing to devote your life, time and money to bring your idea to market and be successful. Anybody can have an idea, but few possess that burning desire that makes you awake to each day with a fire in your belly. My passion was driven for this invention by the desire to help those suffering from headaches, face and jaw pain.

Thanks to Gail Falzon of TMJ Pain Solutions

92. Do What I Want, When I Want, How I Want!

My initial goal in starting a home business was to be home with the kids. They don’t need me as much now and I suppose I could get a ‘real’ job, but bosses tend to tell you want to do, how to do it and when to do it. I love the freedom and flexibility to work on the projects I want to, sleep in or take a nap, and design a career that fits my lifestyle.

Thanks to Leslie Truex of Work-At-Home Success

93. Addictive Creative Freedom

I can’t say that there was a catalyst in my life that borne me this entrepreneurial spirit. Even when I was a child I have always had “it”, never really knowing where “it” came from. At a young age, I was the kid who sold lemonade, stickers, and stationary on the sidewalks. In late high school it was custom pearl hair ties; then graduating to setting up my own cake and cookie shop from home, with a professional oven by my second year of college; at the same time selling stuffed animals, and corporate embroidered hand towels for HSBC’s golf tournaments. By the time I left the Philippines to go to the Culinary Institute of America, I KNEW it was time to fan the flames of being an entrepreneur once again.

I have had 9-5 jobs, some with amazing financial opportunities; but in the end, I never found them engaging enough in terms of being able to utilize my full creative potential; and eventually, I got bored. Again, my entrepreneurial spirit would take over like a beast about to break out of the closet.

It’s is like a 3 part high; an addictive passion for creative marketing, being my own boss and seeing the rewarding results, that kept me coming back for more. It really didn’t matter whether I was selling cookies, towels, stuffed animals or real estate services; the creative options always kept my juices flowing. I thoroughly enjoy the freedom and creativity of being able to market my product without anyone saying, “no”; having the freedom to experiment, and not be confined to a box. It’s also that thrill of seeing something bear fruit based on my creative passion.

Thanks to Jennifer Chiongbian of Rutenberg Realty NYC

94. Creativity And A Sense Of Adventure Make An Entrepreneur Successful

The catalyst that drove my husband and me to invent the Pad Bracket iPad wall-mount (www.padbracket.com) was an urge toward creativity, combined with an adventurous spirit. We are both very creative individuals, and we wanted something that we could express our individual creativity together into a project for us both to work on, a project that we hope will bring more freedom to our financial lives so that we can continue to express our creativity together into the future. The sense of adventure in seeing something that you brought to life progress towards success keeps us going every day. That combined with our vision for future projects and goals gives us what it takes to be the best entrepreneurs we can be.

Thanks to Debra Lewis And Lucas Jordan of ClayWare Games, LLC

95. That’s The Way I Am Wired

Over my 14+ years in Corporate America, I was always a serial entrepreneur, establishing several businesses from my numerous cubicles. I went out on my own in 2009 after being laid off, and established a business coaching practice where I work with business owners and entrepreneurs to help them take their business to the next level or just stay on track. I even wrote my first book last year.

I have come to the conclusion that I am just wired differently than the majority of the population. I must always be learning, creating, tinkering, thinking, expanding and playing. I do not have downtime like “normal” people and, yet, I never feel burned out or stressed. I stay in my sweet spot and that feeds my soul.

Thanks to Shawn Brodof of Clarity Coaching

96. The Pursuit Of Life, Liberty, And Fashionable Clothing

I am the owner of Amagi Clothing, a clothing line that embraces personal freedom. I woke up one day and realized that I wanted to promote freedom for the rest of my life. Others do this through politics and non-profit think tanks. I did not want to be involved with politics or a think tank. I combined my passion for liberty with clothing, to start Amagi Clothing. Every person who is wearing something from Amagi Clothing has at least a better understanding of what personal freedom means to them. I wake up every day knowing that someone is not wearing my clothing, who should be. As the saying goes, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and that is what keeps me on the entrepreneurial path.

Thanks to Stephen Macaskill of Amagi Clothing

97. Something Was Missing

After getting an MBA from a top 10 business school and having a successful and smooth career in the corporate world, something was still missing. There was a strong desire for more independence–creative, personal and financial, which was impossible to realize through an expected and predictable career. Also, I wanted to do something that was more in line with my personal passions and interests. Interestmix.com gave me a chance to accomplish both: build an engine to help myself and others to express my passion in movies, music, wine and culture; plus a chance to break out from a corporate
world. It is a very rocky and difficult path, and it’s not for everyone. You have to motivate yourself on daily basis, report to yourself, find solutions when it seems almost impossible, and be able to appreciate the challenge.

Thanks to Natalia Klimovich of InterestMIX.com

98. Leave It To The Dogs

I own a very cool children’s entertainment business with my dogs Ms.Z and BEK. My dogs are the Soccer Collies! They score goals against groups of humans who are playing the goal keeper position in our soccer field which is called “The Kennel” The Kennel is four soccer goals connected together to form an enclosure where four to twelve or more people play against the dogs. It’s a new sport…Canine vs. Human. The canines always win and the humans laugh about it. This is my purpose in life which I discovered after my 16-year-old son died eight years ago. Ms.Z is named after my son Zak. Currently, we’re working with a local radio station accompanying them on their remote broadcasts. We invite dog rescue organizations to bring ball motivated dogs to our public events, and we ask the public to bring a dog food donation for the non-profits as they come out to enjoy the Soccer Collies. Everyone wins. We are at the forefront of a new industry, all ball motivated dogs will play soccer. Ms.Z and BEK are two of the world’s best soccer dogs.

Thanks to Mark Lukas of ChildrensWebMagazine.com

99. Persistence Is Key!

As a successful entrepreneur that had to overcome many obstacles from the beginning of starting a business, I view a true entrepreneur as being someone who does not give up. Great persistence is needed in order to succeed and many hardships need to be endured. But the key is to remain strong, focus on the business goals, and stick to the business strategy.

Thanks to Shai Atanelov of Bigtime Wireless, LLC

100. How I Bought My First Lamborghini At Age 27 As An Immigrant, Child Of A Single Mother, And No College

I saw an opportunity to buy homes, and sell them, as the area I lived in had a serious supply and demand imbalance. I took a risk by borrowing money to invest. I studied the history of the market. I earned my real estate license for less than $125 and I educated myself on my financial options, as I worked in a bank. My hunch proved right and I kept moving ahead of the market until 2004, at which time I had earned well over $2 Million in profits alone, all while keeping my basic employment in banking and moving up the ranks as well. As I played my investment techniques correctly, I also kept climbing up the ladder in Corporate America and became a banking Vice President at the age of 22.

Thanks to Don Sabatini of Secret Entourage

Thanks so much again to all our wonderful contributors for your valuable insights this week!  We hope to hear from you again.

This week’s question is –

Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on a shoestring or non-existent budget, but still manage to successfully start-up. The mindset is not “build a business and then worry about sales,” it’s “make money now to fund the start-up process.” If you are a successful bootstrapper, what is your single best tip for start-ups who are looking for creative ways to generate revenue quickly?

Why should I join the discussion?

Because this online forum is a great place for us to exchange ideas, learn from each other and network. My goal is to unite successful women entrepreneurs to share our insights and solutions to the challenges we most commonly face in our businesses.

How do I get involved?

Every Monday I will post a new Question of the Week. This is a great opportunity for you to bring your expertise to the table. Using the link below, please submit a one paragraph response before the deadline, and the following week I will share our community responses on my blog.


I look forward to your response to this week’s question! If you have any questions you know where to find me. Have a great week!


Find out more about how you can take The Refresh-Her Challenge

  • Double your income,
  • Take back control of your business, and
  • Enjoy more free time by putting YOU back in your business!”



  1. fouad
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Marvellous job for the empowerment of ” all” men and women.

  2. Posted April 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What an inspiring list of savvy and smart entrepreneurs! There were several moments during my reading this list that I felt these words hit me at the core of myself, especially the wise words of Gayle Naftaly “When you love what you do, you never work, you live.” Wholeheartedly agree! And of course, I’m thrilled to see MyCorporation at #43!

    • Posted April 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Heather! Gayle is awesome and we just finished recording an interview with her today that will post later this week. Thank you so much for adding your valuable contribution this week too. 🙂 Hope to see you again!

  3. Posted April 4, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    Perfect start to the week – inspiration while enjoying my first cup of coffee. Glad to have been a part of such a great list!

  4. Posted April 4, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    Made the cut at #100! Glad to be part of this!

  5. Posted April 4, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    For a Monday morning, this is just what the doctor ordered for inspiration!
    Better than a cup of java, well close!

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  2. By 100 Stories of What Makes an Entrepreneur on April 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    […] Childs Outfitters was featured in a story by Dr. Shannon Reece called 100 Stories of What Makes an Entrepreneur. Check it out and I hope you guys enjoy […]

  3. […] Read the rest via 100 Stories of What Makes an Entrepreneur « Strategies and Tactics for Women by Dr. Shannon Reece. […]

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