What Inspires People to Startup?

What Inspires People to Startup?

By Tamara Monosoff
  |   August 22, 2007

These 6 entrepreneurs dropped it all for the prospect of making a difference and fulfilling a personal dream.

It’s fascinating to hear other people’s success stories. One of the most interesting parts is learning how successful entrepreneurs got
their start and how they overcame challenges and adversity. Did an idea
flash in their minds like a lightning bolt? Or was it something that
percolated over the years? How did timing play into their launch? Did
experience or desperation drive their plan forward?

When I researched my new book, Secrets of Millionaire Moms, I asked 17 highly successful business owners
for the personal inspiration and catalyst that moved them to take
action.  For each woman, it was different. Some were motivated by years
of experience and the seed money that enabled it to happen; others
launched out of a financial or emotional need.

The common ground
all these entrepreneurs shared was financial success and the
gratification of creating something larger than themselves. Here are a
few excerpts of their experiences:

Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic
Ashwell left school at age 16. She separated from her husband in her
mid-twenties–with two babies under the age of 2 to support. These
circumstances drove Ashwell to take a chance and start a retail
business–Shabby Chic. With her babies by her side, she scouted flea
markets for items she could refinish. Her pieces became an instant hit
in her California store. The rest is history. Her company has since
expanded to include a national line of slipcover furniture, bedding, home accessories,
a TV series, design books and a line of home furnishings called Simply
Shabby Chic sold exclusively through Target stores.

Julie Clark, founder of The Baby Einstein Company and The Safe Side
was never the motivating factor for Clark. A teacher, she founded her
first company, Baby Einstein, to provide educational videos for her own
babies–something that was lacking in the marketplace when her children
were young. Clark grew Baby Einstein into a cultural phenomenon and
sold it to
The Walt Disney Company for $50 million, using some of the proceeds to
launch her newest venture, The Safe Side–a company that produces
products to help keep kids safe from strangers and child predators. "I
didn’t start Baby Einstein or The Safe Side because I felt like I was
going to make a million dollars," said Clark. "I really started them
because they were something that I loved and wanted to do."

Tomima Edmark, inventor of TopsyTail and founder of HerRoom.com and HisRoom.com
Edmark was working a corporate job in the late 1980s when she felt
she’d hit the glass ceiling. She knew this wasn’t what she wanted to do
for the rest of her life and took action to make a change. She had an
idea for a hair accessory, but didn’t have the funds to build the
injection mold to manufacture it. So she wrote a book on kissing, sold
it to a publisher, and used the proceeds to launch TopsyTail, which
became an overnight success and garnered more than $100 million in
sales. She has since built on the success of TopsyTail by launching
Internet retail websites HerRoom.com and HisRoom.com.

Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game
In 2000, Gault was working three jobs and knew there had to be a better
way. So despite the lack of funds and lack of time, She got creative
and managed to stretch both to get her concept–The Grocery Game–off
the ground. (She used rolled coins to purchase her business license.) 
Today it’s a multi-million-dollar service business that provides
members with information on rock-bottom sales at their local grocery
stores–matched up with available coupons to help save shoppers up to
70 percent off their grocery bills every week. She found inspiration in
the money-saving strategy she’d been using in her own life, which she
expanded to help more than 100,000 members nationwide.

Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop
Clark was highly successful when she began creating the Build-A-Bear
concept. A seasoned retail executive with more than 20 years’
experience (including three years as president of Payless Shoe Source),
she fully understood the power of merchandising, marketing and product
development. She harnessed that power to create a vision for
Build-A-Bear. She used her own savings and with the help of an
investor, launched the company in 1997. She says that she could have
easily retired on her earnings from the corporate world. But instead
she was inspired to build something special that would touch the lives
of children across the world.

Debi Davis, founder of Fit America
Her first business failed and forced her into bankruptcy. But Davis
refused to wallow in self-pity, so she sold her wrist watch and used
the proceeds to fund what became a $45 million business–FitAmerica.
Faced with a major business obstacle again, years later–her business
went from $45 million to $5 million in an hour, due to circumstances
beyond her control– Davis once again faced the prospect of failure.
But she reinvented her business yet again, and today, FitAmerica MD is
a highly successful company that helps people lose weight and live
healthier lives.

inspires and drives you? Is it a great idea, a lack of fulfillment in
your current job, the excitement of taking a risk or the fear of not
taking one? Whatever your motivation, I encourage you to look to those
who have beaten a path before you. These people, for very different
reasons, all ended up in the same place: at the top of
multi-million-dollar companies where they call the shots, make the
money and have the flexibility in their lives to create their dream.

Tamara Monosoff is Entrepreneur.com’s "Inventions" columnist and the founder and CEO of Mom Inventors Inc., a product development and manufacturing company. She’s also the author of The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn Your Great Idea Into the Next Big Thing and Secrets of Millionaire Moms.

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