I was chatting with one of the moms in my kids’ school, and the conversation turned to my business. Then she asked me, “What made you decide to start your business?” This question, of course, brought me to the early days of my online publishing business.
The inspiration to start a business can come from a variety of sources. For most people, the idea to start their business comes after seeing a problem that they want to address. They then look for the root cause of the problem, and identify how the problem can be solved – which then serves as the basis of their business.
Take Mandy Krammel for example. She invented Tweakerz bra accessories after identifying a problem and wanting to correct it:
After giving birth to my first child, I noticed first-hand the toll pregnancy takes on a woman’s body– and our breasts in particular. For the first time in my life, I felt self-conscious and did not like the way I looked in my clothing. My favorite bras no longer fit the same and I found it difficult to find new styles that provided my ever-changing breasts with that desired perfect fit. I found that after pregnancy my bust lacked fullness and needed lift.
I quickly discovered that what I needed simply did not exist. I tried unnatural feeling bra inserts. I tried uncomfortable bra styles that claimed extreme lift. I even tried using my daughter’s baby barrettes to support my bra straps. Frustrated, I realized that my temporary baby barrette solution would, literally, no longer hold, so I have made it my mission to uplift the confidence–and breasts–of women like myself, giving them an option other than surgery. I realized that if I felt this way, there had to be plenty of other women that felt the same.
Others, on the other hand, start their businesses to pursue their passions. Rebecca Kousky combined her passion for social activism and improving the lives of women in Third World countries to start BuildaNest.com
Nest was born of my desire to combine my passions: social activism, entrepreneurship and the female artistic tradition. I’ve always had an artistic sensibility and a love of fashion and design, but during development work in rural Mexico and India, I became interested in the lives of the women there. Upon returning, I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work, where I concentrated on women’s issues, international social work and the use of microcredit to encourage female entrepreneurship.
Majority of business ideas, however, come from previous employment or work experience. Kristin Marquet was head of marketing of a law firm before she decided to strike out on her own and start her own public relations company, Marquet Communications.
When I graduated from college, my first job was working as the head of marketing for a law firm. But after working long hours with limited vacation time, office politics, and the routine schedule – getting up every morning at 6:00AM, going to the gym, then going to work and being chained to my desk, I decided to take the leap of faith, quit, go out on my own and start my own company.
Others have to pushed and convinced by friends and family members who see the business potential of their passions or talents. Aileen Siroy, a young photographer from the Philippines, explained how the prodding of her friends inspired her to start a business:
Initially, entering into business didn’t cross my mind. I am an artist at heart, and for me, commercializing it didn’t really interest me. It stayed that way for a long time until some of my friends hired me to cover family and work events. They encouraged me to start my own photography business. I took a leap of faith.
For Arvey Krise, her inspiration to start SpoiledGrandKids.com was her desire to celebrate the new milestone in her life, that of being a grandparent. As she shared in our interview:
The world changes when you become a grandparent. You become legally insane! Of all the titles I’ve held in my life including CEO, Grandma is the most important and by far the most fun title I’ve ever had.
For others, the inspiration for the business has been staring at them right in their faces; they just needed to see it. Take for example Susan Walvius and Michelle Marciniak, both basketball coaches of a girls’ team in a university. Nobody was really looking to start a business, but they realized that the fabric used in the finest athletic wear would work just as well as bedding and bedsheet materials. Thus, the now-multi million-dollar business Sheex was born.
Some entrepreneurs decide to start a business because being your own boss and working for yourself is the only way to cope with the needs of your family. Take Bianca Whitfield of the accounting and financial consulting company Whitgroup Consulting. A single mother with a young child, she needed the flexibility of starting a business:
As a single parent with a young child it was so important to have the flexibility to be there for her when she needed me while still being able to earn a living. As an accountant in a higher-level position, the expectation was that I stayed in the office until the work got done, whether that was 6 pm or midnight. Even with a relatively flexible employer, that was no longer an option. I wanted to do the work that I love and excel in on my terms.
There are a few entrepreneurs who got the idea for their businesses from the adversities and crisis that they have experienced. Like many women cancer survivors, Haralee Weintrub experienced hot flashes that resulted in sweaty and uncomfortable nights. With some episodes leaving her perspiring and soaked, she knew that she needed a special type of sleepwear that can keep her comfortable and allow her to get a good night’s sleep.
My cancer treatments threw me into menopause with terrible night sweats. From the trails and the slopes I knew about wicking clothing but could not find anything comfortable for sleeping. That frustration and looking at a statistically shorten life span from the disease, I chose my own career path with starting my own business.
How about you? Share with us what inspired you to start a business.