Ecommerce Success Stories / How to Sell Online

234 American Business Owners on Starting, Scaling and Staying Inspired

Tracey Wallace / 61 min read

Don’t believe the 24/7 cable news stations. Disregard the sensationalist click-bait and doomsday prophecies.

They all want you to believe that entrepreneurship is dead – that the old American way of bootstrapping and striving for the individual and collective American Dream was an activity of a bygone era.

It certainly is not – and we have over 234 first-hand accounts to prove it (and thousands more where those came from).

Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of regular folks are staring complacency dead in the eye and choosing to build their own future right here and right now.

These Americans – the ones that are taking their fate into their own hands, that are bootstrapping it, that are making this reality work for them and changing the trajectory of their lives – well, they aren’t the ones you often see on TV.

Their stories are conveniently ignored when you hear about the extinction of small businesses.

These are folks who are doing the right thing because the right thing is what is right.

In reading this article, you’ve begun a journey into the passions, success stories and advice of more than 200 American business owners trying to make ends meet while they make life a little sweeter for those around them.

These are the folks turning lemons into lemonade, and selling it on that shaded neighborhood corner on the hottest summer afternoon of the year.

And you have a chance to do the same.

Whether you want to start your own business or support an entrepreneur’s dream with your dollar (the strongest vote there is), you will find solace, hope, advice, tips and tactics in this article to do just that.

This is about following your passion. This is about hope in the face of all odds. This is about hard work that builds a legacy of American business success. This is about building your own personal American Dream.

87 American Business Owners on Why They Became Entrepreneurs

  1. My dad, with his dad – my grandpa – invented a limited-flight golf ball – the BirdieBall – in 2003. They invented the napkin-ring-shaped golf ball, that only flies 40 yards with a full swing, as a solution to the overly expensive golf course real estate. Well, it is the absolute BEST and most realistic practice golf ball ever invented. We have won numerous awards since the unveiling, and since then, have invented the most realistic indoor putting green on the market. We specialize in fun, off-course golf products, and are extremely proud of the space we have filled in the golfing world. We are a family business, and everyone in the family has some part in the success of the company. – Amy Breaker, Director of Operations, BirdieBall
  2. When we pulled into port in the Navy, sailors who had been at sea for months would wait for hours in line just to see if they got mail, rather than go out on liberty in a foreign port. But as an officer, I was always brokenhearted when I saw some of my sailors who didn’t get packages – or when they did, the packages often contained things that they couldn’t use or didn’t quite want. So I tried to figure out why. Over the years, I talked to family and friends to find out what the obstacles to sending packages were. The biggest problem? Sending a care package to a military installation is just too much work. Between waiting in line at the post office and paying $18 for the “military discount” shipping option, it wasn’t easy to do. And even when loved ones could send things, most people didn’t know what to send. They’d send chocolate to a soldier or marine in the desert, non-regulation gear to Air Force members staying on an overseas base, or perishable items to a Navy sailor. But every service has different needs, requirements and regulations. As sad as my fellow sailors were to get these things, they couldn’t fault the well-intentioned package sender. Those back home just wanted to do their part. We created this company to fix all of that. We pick products that we know service members want so you don’t have to. We coordinate with the APO and FPO shipping so you don’t have to. And we ensure that it’s easy for you to send a care package to the hero you love. Because they deserve it. Our goal is to send as many care packages as we can to our service members abroad. – John Wray, CEO, Hero Care Packages
  3. My business started as an experiment. I started ComposiMold because I was frustrated at how difficult it was to make lightweight plastic shapes for my model rocket and airplane parts. I tried other materials to mold and cast my designs, but the main options were basically latex and silicone, which are toxic, hard to use, and if you make a mistake you are out of luck, because you have to start again at the beginning. As a material scientist, I knew there could be something better. I first started with a couple of product ideas on eBay and it’s grown. – Stan Farrell, President, ComposiMold Re-usable Mold Making Materials
  4. The motivation to start my own business was a sudden realization that the beauty industry is not what it pretends to be – that false advertising and marketing tactics based on fear were methods employed by the larger companies. I felt that people were taken advantage of and that companies manufacturing products of high quality with healthy, beneficial ingredients were scarce. There was a need in the market and since I was already making some products for my own use and that of my friends’ use, formulating more products was an easy next step. I knew I would make a better product and I felt called to share the information I knew and deliver healthier and better products for my customers and for the planet. – Mira Herman, Owner, Rose Mira
  5. As a 17-year boat captain, I needed a better way to organize gear and keep items from bouncing around or flying out of boats and into the water. So I taught myself to sew – after startling a sewing class at JoAnn’s Fabric when I walked in looking like a scruffy boat captain – and created, invented and patented TackleWebs + CoolerWebs. Now we sell them all across the world.  – Captain Mike Ortego, President, TackleWebs Inc.
  6. I began sewing boutique-style clothing for my daughter because I couldn’t afford to buy them at the store. I really wanted her to have those adorable things and so I taught myself to sew. During my learning years, I reached out to many designers and boutique clothing owners to ask for tips, tutorials, etc. and was always either rudely turned away or not responded to at all! After I became proficient at sewing and had a successful boutique clothing business of my own, I wanted to be able to help other moms to be able to do what I had and sew beautiful clothing for their children. I started drafting my patterns and selling them to empower other women to be able to do this and be successful without struggling to learn all by themselves. I feel very blessed to be able to share with the world what I know, love and am gifted at. – Lindsey Essary, Owner and Designer, Ellie and Mac
  7. My father always worked for himself and I believe I always had that same sense of adventure within. I work more hours than I ever did working for someone else, but it doesn’t feel that way. I truly love being independent and seeing the business grow each day. It means a lot to me that I can empower my staff and am able to help them achieve what they want in life. – Erin Mulkeran, Owner, With Luv Design
  8. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. When I decided that I needed a border collie to gather and work my sheep instead of using a feed bucket and a lariat, life took a turn. The border collie then developed a need for a whistle – my natural whistle was pretty pathetic (only carried 50 feet). Glyn Jones gave me an aluminum shepherd’s whistle with instructions that I’d better know how to use it by the next time I saw him. Needless to say, after a year of trying to blow something besides spit, plus not grimace at the terrible taste of aluminum, I realized that I was a dysfunctional whistler. To make a long nightmare short, I couldn’t find an easy-to-blow whistle, so I developed the Montana Lite longneck stainless steel whistle. The happy ending to the nightmare is that I can whistle and my dogs even respond to the whistle! Now you know how Wild West Dog Products evolved into manufacturing two stainless steel and one brass whistle. Wild West Dog Products is the world’s largest manufacturer of stainless steel shepherd whistles. I still run sheep on my Montana ranch with cousins tending the flock while I reside on my husband’s cow-calf ranch in Wyoming. In addition, I maintain a flock of sheep for training in Wyoming. So between the sheep, cattle, stockdog training, trialing, manufacturing and running Border Collies in Action, I keep off the streets. – Hope Dennis, Owner, Border Collies in Action
  9. Sick of our wallets always falling apart and constantly having to replace them, we decided to make an ultra-durable leather wallet that we could guarantee for life. We were able to start up our company using sales from those wallets and recognized that many people share similar frustrations. So, we rolled out an entire line of leather goods and accessories that use solid brass rivets instead of thread stitching. Leather is an extremely durable material, yet many leather products eventually fall apart. The reason is thread stitching wears away with heat and friction produced from constant use. Heat and friction merely polish metal, which is how we are able to guarantee our products for life. We strive each and every day to challenge the fast-fashion, planned-obsolescence, throw-away culture that we grew up in. With an unwavering commitment to American manufacturing, we specialize in leather goods that are built to last from one generation to the next. We focus on offering products crafted with the precision and care consumers expect, and backed by the customer service they deserve. – Chris Angelini, Co-founder, American Bench Craft
  10. I was a senior paralegal for a high-profile family law attorney working a treacherous 60+ hours a week. In 2011, at the height of the economic crisis, I was laid off due to the firm’s financial difficulties. I was unemployed, in financial trouble, and my home fell into foreclosure. The fight was on! I began couponing to save money, and in a search to get more coupons, I noticed that they were selling in droves on eBay. It was then I saw an opportunity to make some money. I joined the ranks on eBay selling coupons that came in my local newspaper, and within 2 months, with the help of my techie brother, launched I have experienced an amazing 30% increase in revenue each year since 2011 and have helped thousands of people save money on their groceries. So, when asked what my motivation was behind the start of the business, it was do or die! Failure was not an option. – Katie Caudill, Founder and CEO, Sunday Coupon Inserts
  11. I have PTSD due to a bad marriage. I was introduced to herbal infusions and essential oils by a massage therapist to help with stress and anxiety. I was immediately drawn to and impressed by their natural healing capabilities and started gathering as much information as I could get my hands on. I started formal studies and making products initially for myself and immediate family about two and a half years ago. Friends of friends and family starting asking for assistance and it just grew from there. It gives me great joy to help others. – Susan Madunich, Owner and Aromatherapist, Aromatic Blessings
  12. It was a combination of wanting to be in charge of our own destiny and the thrill of making a high-quality, American-made product that others would enjoy and find value in. In 2004, we saw an opportunity in updating an existing apparel accessory that had not really changed in decades. At that time you could still purchase the same style ribbon belt your father and grandfather purchased 20 years before, i.e.: simple repeated clip art designs finished with low-quality materials. After a couple years of use, it was worn out and you needed to purchase a new one. We started by using local artists as designers and constructed our belts using the highest quality raw materials. The result has been much higher-quality and longer-lasting product adorned with unique, whimsical designs (e.g., History of Streaking, Shrimp on the Barbie, etc…). We wanted to create something new, fun and of value. I think we’ve achieved that. – Jim Taylor, President and Owner, Belted Cow
  13. George and Lena Croft established Croft Trailer and Hitch Company, now known as Croft Trailer Supply, in the late 1930s as a family business. George was a pioneer in the trailer manufacturing and rental business and invented many towing and trailer products – products that are still in use today. Croft Trailer Supply is a company of experts that love trailers, and a company proud to call Kansas City home. Now Croft Trailer Supply wants to bring our hometown expertise to the rest of the nation and the world. BigCommerce is central to that plan! – Brandon Roche, Head of UX/UI and Web Development, Croft Trailer Supply
  14. I grew up in my father’s woodshop, and knew I always wanted to make a living doing something I loved. I also wanted to be a fireman and an astronaut. I was a paid firefighter for a year, but I found I was spending all my time at the firehouse wishing I was at the woodshop. Going to Space Camp is as close as I got to being an astronaut. – Jerry Cunningham, Owner, The Woodland Mills
  15. Our business all started in a barn in North Carolina as a by-product of renovation work we were doing on a Historic Preservation Trust 1880s house + farm. Fun southern word signs mixed with a little southern culture and all that rustic wood became Slippin’ Southern in 2011. I’ve always loved that many of our products come from recycled resources that would otherwise have been burned or put in a landfill. Seven years later, we still find motivation from historic and places of rich culture. – Gregory Morris, Owner and Designer, Haven America
  16. The owner moved to Virginia and had a hard time finding a job that would pay him enough to take care of his family. He started selling leather out of the back of a Pinto station wagon going from motorcycle show to motorcycle show. He searched for “Made in America” leather and has stuck to that as the years have gone by. In 1999, Paul’s son Pete created the first Fox Creek Leather website and we have been an ecommerce store ever since. We do have a retail store in Independence, Virginia and welcome visitors from all over the world. One big change from the initial start of the website and now is that we used to contract all of our manufacturing to companies all over the United States. Now, we have a sewing factory on site and we make most of our vests and wallets, and all of our chaps, purses and other accessories. We have also added elkskin and bison to our line of custom items. – Manager, Fox Creek Leather
  17. It was 1987, I was 35, and I had already started and sold one business and managed two others. I was looking for a complicated concept that would keep me interested for longer than 5 years for the sake of a sane family life. At the time, importing personal care products was pretty challenging. The most updated technology we had access to was the Telex machine at the local stockbroker’s office. There were no fax machines, virtually no email services and, certainly, nothing like smartphones, Skype, Google Translate, etc., etc., etc. That’s how I got started. – Joe Marks, President, Baudelaire, Inc.
  18. Island Slipper was founded in 1946 by the Motonaga family. Takizo Motonaga made slippers by recycling tire tread found on the side of the road during World War II. His children grew the business with attractive styles for fine men, women and children. During the ’80s, they were ready to retire and did not have children interested in the business. The business was sold to my father-in-law, John Carpenter. John always dreamed of owning his own slipper-making business, and was ready for this new challenge. John and his wife, Daisy, grew the business to become internationally known, and opened the first retail store in Hawaii. My husband, Matt and I, decided to move back to Hawaii to continue this family legacy. – Tersha Carpenter, CFO, Island Slipper
  19. It was a touching experience with a childhood friend with cerebral palsy that inspired Marc Mendelsohn, the owner and president of Universal Design Specialists, to make homes and businesses accessible for people of all abilities. After doing just that since 1992 with a successful design and build firm and a large showroom for over 26 years, he then began offering his favorite U.S. made products online as well as his expertise of universal design consultation and design services. Offering his products and services online has allowed Marc to reach people all over the United States in a way that he couldn’t have imagined possible when that first seed of inspiration was planted in him as a young boy. – Vice President and Co-owner, Universal Design Specialists
  20. In 2002, our founder was traveling around Montana and saw a number of gorgeous old barns in various states of disrepair. Despite being on a self-imposed, one-year sabbatical from his work in Silicon Valley, he couldn’t help but be intrigued. Was there a business lying there in the ruins for a curious entrepreneur to develop? At the time, it seemed like anyone with a chainsaw and a pickup truck (and a dog, of course) could be in the reclaimed wood business. Being a conservator of resources and holding a deep respect for our environment, he saw an opportunity. Could he bring some of what he had learned in Silicon Valley to this deeply fragmented and nascent industry? From that curiosity, he set off to build the leading reclaimed wood brand and company. – Ecommerce Manager, Terramai
  21. The idea for Celebration Ashes began with just a few families who were familiar with our glass artwork at Glass Eye Studio, and had asked the owner by special request if it would be possible to incorporate cremation ashes into a few of our existing paperweight designs as memorial pieces for their loved ones. When the artists and owner saw how much comfort these few pieces brought to the families we created them for, they wanted to be able to offer the same service to more people. It was important to us as a company that we make these pieces ourselves, in our own studio in Seattle, and be able to offer a memorial piece that is coming directly from the artists to the families. The personal touch made it a lot more meaningful. – Danielle Rogland, Coordinator, Celebration Ashes
  22. My now-husband had psoriasis when I met him. We created a cream that heals psoriasis. A recipe was finalized after two years of tinkering when we found a hot spring in Montana that is known to have the second highest trace mineral content in the world. Our product is now used in hospitals in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. An organic + natural product has replaced a steroid cream. – Maranda Johnson, Co-Owner, The Good Stuff Botanicals
  23. Recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism has given me the strength to pursue all my dreams. One of them was to be a successful t-shirt maker and now it has evolved to much more, even a reality television series! – Daniella Park, Designer and Webmaster, Doing It Sober
  24. The story of LympheDIVAs began in Philadelphia when two young breast cancer survivors, Rachel Troxell and Robin Miller, developed lymphedema, a side effect of breast cancer treatment that can cause permanent swelling in the arms. Their physicians and lymphedema therapists recommended a compression sleeve as the most efficient way of controlling the swelling. When they researched the options for the sleeve, they found that the only ones available were rough textured, heavy, hot, beige and bandage-like. Frustrated and dismayed over the lack of options, they created their own line of beautiful, breathable and comfortable compression arm sleeves. – Anna Sokolowski, Creative Director, LympheDIVAs
  25. I made a 26.2 Runner Girl anklet to commemorate my first marathon. When other runners saw it, they wanted one. I realized that you can’t wear your race medal around to show off your accomplishment, so I create a new line of running-themed jewelry and presented the line to a local running race director for her opinion on whether or not she thought this would be well received. Her comment was, “You got something special here, girl! Go for it!” She allowed me to showcase and sell my line of running jewelry at her local race expos and it was a huge hit! At the time, no one else was doing this commercially. – Melody Tabman, Owner and Designer, Milestones Sports Jewelry
  26. Our business started so that we could “Share America’s National Music – The Blues.” Our print publication Blues Music Magazine covers every facet of contemporary blues music, blues musicians and the thriving blues community. It is published quarterly and distributed globally. In line with our mission, we created Blues Music Store to provide a genre-specific store featuring blues music CDs, DVDs and books to our global fans. At the same time, our store provides blues musicians an online genre-specific store for their music because many don’t have global distribution. – Jack Sullivan, Publisher and President, Blue Music
  27. I had been working as a corporate engineer for a few years and decided it was not for me. I wanted the freedom and chance to make an impact – the kind you get while running your own company. A close friend and some entrepreneurial books convinced me starting a business was the right path for me. Being able to combine my passion for board sports and the outdoors with starting and running my own company has been awesome! – Josh Gordon, Founder and President at StoreYourBoard
  28. Our company set out to make awesome, clean, funny t-shirts that are hilarious while keeping it ‘clean’. We don’t need cuss words to be funny! From our awesome t-shirt designs to our buttery soft fabrics, we want people to laugh, have fun and feel good on the inside and out. For over 15 years now we have delivered t-shirts all around the world and are known for our humor and quality.  – Kamie Hallock, Direct to Consumer Manager, Goodie Two Sleeves
  29. Our business is about keeping my uncle’s legacy and love of stationery alive. It’s a way for us all to stay connected in a physical way in this very digital age. – Parker Slavin, President, StationeryXpress
  30. I started my business because I am raising a special needs child and know the struggles that people face everyday. Everyone is fighting something. The best way to stop illnesses and diseases is to come together, rely on each other and fight side by side. – Owner, Fight & Unite
  31. Our motivation is to fill the void left by the fashion industry by making clothing designed specifically for pear-shaped women. There are almost 8 million such women in the U.S. alone and all struggle to find clothing that fits them properly. We have engineered our designs to solve the pain points they face, all while having our product made in the U.S. – Frances Pinedo, CEO and Founder, BePear
  32. Our company was founded in order to provide apparel that would unite the military, veterans and patriotic Americans, to bridge the gap between those who serve and those who support them, and to be a voice for the American people. – Ashli Clubine, Director of Marketing, Nine Line Apparel
  33. I started my business because of my son. He had eczema and I was searching for a solution for his dry, scaly skin and created a few products for him. They worked and that’s how it all began! – Nicole Davis, Owner, Bubble Babez Bath Co.
  34. We had a male dog who marked in the house, and found out that male dogs are given up more often than females because of their “marking” issues. Our products let male dogs keep their homes, as well as protecting your carpet and furniture from marking stains. – Valerie Wilson, Owner, Upstate Pet Supply
  35. We started our business to share our experience, methods and unique leather and vinyl repair products with the average Joe (or Jane) and simultaneously enable ourselves to move to a rural farming town that could not have sustained us without an ecommerce venture. – Lesandre Barley, CEO, Rub ‘n Restore
  36. I have heart disease and cannot “work” hard, so I started this webstore. I eat mostly organic food now for my health’s sake. – Noel Golondrina, President, Organic4rce
  37. I love to teach children. When I was a young child, I had a learning disability. Now, as an adult, I have learned to find ways to make learning fun for kids! Our motto is “Kids love learning here!” – Monica Golondrina, Owner, Aunti Moni
  38. Jeremiah sported a “Dali” mustache in 2011 and couldn’t find any mustache wax on the market that could hold his mustache all day. So he made his own – Woodsman Mustache Wax. His friends wanted some as well, so he started selling it out of his truck. Then the facial hair craze hit in late 2012, and it just blew up from there. – Lauren Winfield, Wholesale Manager, The Bearded Bastard
  39. I could not find a dog bed that would last and look pretty in my home. When I found something close, it was SO expensive! So, I made my own! Then, I made some as gifts, did a street fair, a dog show and – whoosh – a business was started! What a wonderful thing, too. Dogs, good people and the more successful we are, the more I get to help dogs in need! Watch out. Good People Things is up next! – Linda Robbins, Owner and Designer, Good Dog Beds
  40. I started back in 1999 after our first holiday season promoting Alpaca in a mall environment. I thought, “Lets give this online shopping a whirl!” I was looking for a less costly retail environment and a way to reach a broad audience while maintaining the ability to spend time with my son, who was young and in school. Online was a perfect fit. After becoming single in 2004 and with my son entering college, it was paramount that this business work, as it was our sole support. We were an early adopter of BigCommerce, and since then have grown to 5 BigCommerce websites as well as to selling on Amazon and Amazon Canada. We are integrated with Stitchlabs as a result of BigCommerce. My son graduated with a degree in online marketing in 2008. He now builds our sites and works as a BigCommerce professional with the agency he works for. He loves getting others excited about growing their business with BigCommerce as he did with his mom (and stepdad too – site in progress!). As we enter our 18th year, we are growing stronger each year and have expanded from a one-person operation to a still-small organization using the talents of many other entrepreneurs, domestic and international, for projects as needed. I am also very fortunate to get to work closely with one of my favorite people: my son. Life is good. Our BigCommerce sites are,,, and ( in progress). – Kim DeVos-Brooks, Owner and Designer, Sun Valley Alpaca Co.
  41. I nearly died from a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) and had to start taking a blood thinner that interacted severely with different food, vitamins, minerals, etc. When I couldn’t find a multivitamin that was safe for me to take, I decided to create my own, and Clotacin was born. – Co-owner, Founder, Clotacin
  42. My (now) husband / (at the time) partner and I were amazed (outraged actually) at the lack of diversity we were finding as we shopped for wedding favors and gifts for our wedding. As a same-sex couple with an adopted son, we knew there was an unrepresented market. Modern families are increasingly diverse, but you’d never know it looking at most wedding & baby shower websites. We are creating a business that reflects and celebrates this diversity.  – Derek Lenington, Co-founder & CFO, Taylor Street Favors
  43. In 2012 I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and after surgery, chemo and radiation my doctor told me that I needed to do something that my brain was unfamiliar with. So, I discovered bag making and found that (especially where we live) there was no place to get beautiful, quality hardware to help show off the beauty of my bags. – Vickie Fournier, So You Need Hardware
  44. I didn’t wake up thinking, “I’m going to sell medical supplies for a living.” I started a YouTube vlog as a journal to hold myself accountable while trying yet another diet, all while not thinking anyone one would be interested in my vlog and not realizing people were actually following me! After losing 65 pounds in less than 6 months, people asked me for help. Long story short, MMS was born out of helping people be able to easily and inexpensively do the HCG diet. It is all about helping people. – April Rowden, Owner, Missouri Medical Supplies
  45. Zelda was our beloved Plott hound. She had a mind of her own and often tried to nudge her way into the front seat. On one trip, a short stop threw her to the floor of the driver’s side where she ended up wrapped around the pedals. My brother, Kitter, who designs all of our products, knew he wasn’t the only dog owner with this problem. This inspired Kurgo’s first product, the Backseat Barrier. Now she’d be safe in the backseat, and we’d be safe in the front. This lead to the creation of Kurgo to help active dog owners be able to comfortably and safely get out and explore the world with their dog. – Gordie Spater, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, Kurgo
  46. Our business began 13 years ago to offer gifts for grandparents and provide a community for sharing grandparent names, stories and ideas. At this time, there were few resources available for grandparents. My business partner and I had just begun our “grandparent journey” and we were excited to provide a forum for other grandparents to share their ideas and love for their grandkids. – Elizabeth Curtis, Owner and Marketing Director, The BananaNana Shoppe
  47. I’m allergic to almonds and all cuticle oils have almond oil in them. I created my own nail oil and 4 months later my nails were longer than they had ever been in my life. I started selling the oil 3 months before my husband was laid off after 13 years at an IT company. We worked together to create Bliss Kiss and hit over $1,000,000 in sales by the fourth year. We feel very blessed. – Ana Seidel, CEO and CCO, My Bliss Kiss
  48. I started my business because I thought I could create more wealth for myself, and that I could create something that would be bigger than me. I did, and I hope the results help others. – Gene Constant, President & Founder, True to Size Apparel
  49. I’ve been in herbs and nutrition for over 20 years. At 30, I found myself spending big money on skin care products because I still had adult acne and was worried about aging. In a moment of frustration, after spending $50 on a face product, I asked myself why I wasn’t using my knowledge to make my own skin care products. I began to make face wash and lotion and cleared up my skin completely and then went on to help all of my friends. They kept telling me they would pay for products and I kept giving them away. I finally gave in and started a website 5 years ago, and the rest is a wonderful journey. – Courtney Henslee, Owner and Formulator, Brazen Bee Beauty
  50. I started my business to live the American Dream, open my business and be my own boss! I am a jewelry artist and an entrepreneur at heart. I saw that at each show I attended, at least 40% of the artists were jewelry-specific. So, I thought: “What if I had a jewelry show year-round in a boutique setting!” I added gourmet chocolates and began in 2007! It was rough sledding for a while there and I feel very grateful we are about to celebrate 10 years in business this fall!  – Laura Brown, Owner, The Jewelry Cafe
  51. We wanted to work for ourselves and have more flexibility with our children’s schedules. We were gone too much and wanted more time at home. Even though it was right after 9/11 and the economy was dire, we opened the day after Thanksgiving in 2001, just in time for Christmas, and have been in Abilene, Kansas ever since. Small towns + social media = success! – Angela Adams, Co-Owner, Cypress Bridge Candle Co.
  52. Every time you say to yourself, “If there was only a way to…” or “I wish that…” then it means there’s a problem that needs a solution. For us, it was having poor cellular reception and listening to others with the same problem. So, Wilson Amplifiers was built on solving people’s frustrations with dropped calls and slow internet.  – James Nguyen, Content Marketing Manager, Wilson Amplifiers
  53. I wasn’t allowed to wear cosmetics when I was young and developed low self-esteem. Now I’ve had my own makeup business for 14 years and started it up online with $100 using my love of color. I think I did it out of spite! – Barbara Huffman, Owner and Eco-Friendly Artisan, Southern Magnolia Mineral Cosmetics
  54. We are a husband-and-wife business and fishing is our passion. We wanted to create products that other anglers can use successfully and have an awesome day on the water. – Katie Bernotksy, Owner, Power Team Lures
  55. I started my business to honor the memory of my father and hero, Arnold – a Vietnam veteran. I do so in 3 ways: by giving back 5% of my net profits each year to nonprofits serving veterans, 15% off the entire store to veterans and active duty military, and by supporting the American manufacturer. 99% of my product offering is 100% made in the U.S.A. – Philip Kauppinen, Owner, Grand New Flag
  56. I started my business to celebrate the priceless relationship between people and companion animals by offering unique products to be enjoyed by both – and providing a location for dog-friendly events that make a difference. – Michelle Kownacki, President, Paws Pet Boutique
  57. I have always wanted to own my own clothing store since I was in the 7th grade. I have a passion for fashion and making women feel beautiful. I was a single mother at the time I started my company while living paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to create a life for my child and myself – and I’ve been able to do just that.  – Sara Pippett, Owner and CEO, Bad Habit Boutique
  58. The 2008 housing bust and weak economy had me laid off as an engineer in the midst of new health concerns personally. It turned out to be a time for a new direction and I took advantage of the growth of the gluten-free-foods demand. Over the years I’ve used my engineering skills to test and formulate a bread product that is gluten-free, vegan, tastes really good and has wonderful texture like all comfort foods should. We use half the ingredients of other popular commercial brands, with twice the taste! Consumers LOVE our product.  – Owner, Chief Bakery Engineer, Gluten Free Things
  59. I started my business to bring some humor into the world with a baby clothing line that stands out from the rest in the industry. We wanted to make designs for parents like us; parents that didn’t want “cutesy” onesies, but instead want a laugh. – Mindy Bownds, Vice President, Vulgar Baby
  60. Our business started because we recognized the need for naturally constructed habitat homes to offset the loss of forests and farms for wildlife habitation. – Susan Holley, Marketing, Holley’s Habitat Homes
  61. I was a single mom trying to juggle parenting, a romantic life and my career. Needless to say, I was not succeeding in the the first two while working 80 hours a week! I needed to find a solution outside of the more traditional corporate career path that allowed me to create the family life that was important to me, while still providing the creativity and challenges in the field that I loved.  – Kira Karmazin, Founder, KiraGrace
  62. I started my business because of my passion for healthy hot tub (and pool!) water. My tubs utilize ozone purification for maximum chemical reduction, which is not only great for the environment, but also healthy and cost-effective for the consumer. – Jennifer M. Engelmeier, Owner, Love Your Hot Tub
  63. Commercial soap irritated my husband’s skin, so I started making bath and body products with him and my family in mind. Eventually friends and people I didn’t know wanted to use them, and a business was born! – Owner and Operator, Bathe Happy
  64. I’ve always wanted to be the boss! From a very young age, my parents will tell you, I was creating and playing “business” where I was the boss. At around 7, I opened my first lemonade-stand business and was fairly successful. When I graduated college in 1998, the internet was just starting to become a tool for businesses and I was able to carve out a little niche business for myself as a sole proprietor designing websites for small business. After the birth of my first child in 2006, I found another need: funny, cute t-shirts for kids and babies. No one was really doing this yet, so I was one of the first to make a website and start selling. Now, even though I am just one in a sea of thousands of others, we’ve been able to stay competitive by providing a fast turnaround, great customer service and staying ahead of the competition. – Owner and Designer, Zoey’s Personalized Gifts
  65. I started my business to raise awareness of the rare, hypoallergenic American Curly Horse. – Hiedi Robinson, Owner at Vintage Press, LLC., Curly Horse Journal
  66. Roanline was started from a desire to feature up-and-coming brands in the outdoors industries and brands with a focus on creating cool, fashion-forward products for women. Our mission is to inspire more adventurous lives spent outdoors. – Ferrell Alman, President and Founder, Roanline
  67. We founded the company with the goal of helping people to smile more often through coloring. Whether spending time coloring fuzzy posters with your kids or feeling a sense of accomplishment at a rehab center, there are many ways to brighten someone’s day with coloring. – Kevin Danaher, ecommerce & Marketing Manager at Stuff2Color
  68. After struggling with my breastmilk supply, I wanted to provide much needed breastfeeding support to moms all over the country. That’s how my business got started. – Krystal Duhaney, President and CEO, Milky Mama
  69. Taffy has nostalgia to it. It takes you back to simpler times and makes people happy. That’s why we started our business. – Owner and Smile Maker, Taffy Shop
  70. It started 5 years ago as a hobby business after I retired. I was hoping to have a business that would keep me busy for 8 to 10 hours a week. Instead, it morphed into an international company that sells in 76 different countries and employs over 20 people. – Edie Ramstad, Owner, Weave Got Maille
  71. I started my business to create an environment to support women and girls’ initiatives, to help them become financially independent and to stop violence against women and girls. Also, to stop cruelty toward animals by selling as many cruelty-free products and supporting as many small women-owned businesses as possible – both in the US and around the world. – Toni House, Be`l Beauty
  72. The co-founder and I had been best friends since 5th grade, and we were always discussing someday owning a business together. He is a veterinarian and I spent the last decade in online retail, so the opportunity finally emerged for it to become a reality. – Jeff Saporito, Vice President and Co-Founder, Affordable Vet
  73. My partner, Sandy Allan, and I are women business owners of other businesses. When one of Sandy’s clients wanted to retire – the previous owner of the online boutique – we bought the company so that Sandy and I could work together. We’ve known each other for more than 15 years and have great respect for the way we each run our separate businesses. We waited for the perfect business to buy that we could run together. When it presented itself two years ago, we jumped in. I run a marketing company and Sandy runs a fulfillment company. The two of us together operate RP Boutique – formerly Repeat Possessions – and are having a blast! – Jerri Hemsworth, Co-Owner, RP Boutique
  74. I wanted to start a clothing line that makes people pause and reflect on the fact that the military is constantly making sacrifices for our freedom. I wanted to create a clothing line where we could donate a portion of our proceeds to veterans’ charities. – Erik Schwartz, Owner and Founder, Take A Knee, LLC.
  75. I was laid off following the recession, and saw an opportunity to create a product that would fill some voids in the pet product industry. – Joanne Wood-Ellison, Founder and Chief Executive Collar Crafter, The Artful Canine
  76. I noticed the heavy machinery parts industry was severely under-served online and wanted to fix that problem. There was a segmentation between the OEM dealers and suppliers and the owner-operators of heavy machinery. The pain point was lack of access to options, lack of streamlined purchasing at the dealer level and weak presence on the internet. I knew filling those pain points and helping the people and businesses who are literally building America get back to work faster at lower costs would create a winning model for a strong ecommerce business. – Kyle Sharick, Owner, TracksNTeeth
  77. I have a true love and passion for the aquarium hobby. Jacques-Yves Cousteau AC was my childhood hero. In my effort to keep a small part of the ocean in an aquarium, I experienced some depressing failure. I designed my first aquarium filter in high school and received a patent. It’s called the Wet/Dry filter. I became an expert at growing my own live food. In my effort to improve my process, I made another discovery. I can trick microalgae into going into a resting state just like they do in winter. My business was born. – Greg Schlensker, Owner, Avari Reef Labs
  78. The desire to honor my father and other farmers who provide seasonal organic food was the main motivation behind starting CORKY’S NUTS. Growing up on our walnut farm I witnessed the care and passion my father put into growing his walnuts. It seemed only natural for me to create a company which allows people to experience what fresh, organic walnuts taste like just after harvest, rather than walnuts that sit on store shelves for unknown periods of time. – Nicole Facciuto. Founder, Corky’s Nuts
  79. In 2007, while pregnant with my third child, I became aware of how toxic most personal care products are. 60% of what you apply to your skin is absorbed into the bloodstream! After countless hours of research, and being unable to find truly pure and safe products to use on my family, a need was born and I created my line of truly pure, natural, toxin-free skin care products! – Jennifer Lugo, Founder and Product Formulator, Verefina
  80. The events of 9/11 made me think about the things I took for granted, and soap was one of those things! I learned to make soap, which lead to a passion for natural bath and body.  – Jen O’Farrell, Owner, Flowersong Soap Studio
  81. We felt that too many retailers were marketing to parents by putting a focus on the parent or caregiver’s individual role(s) of bringing up the child(ren). We strongly believe on focusing on what is important – family as one, making us whole. That’s what we strive to support each and every day: familia first. As owners and parents ourselves who have gone through many personal struggles with the support from many, we wanted to create a welcoming place that wasn’t only geared towards moms or parents who fit what society deems an ideal, perfect family. Our belief at Fluff & Familia is it doesn’t matter whether you’re married, a single parent, raising a child with disabilities, interracial or LGBT, young or old; we support all styles of parenting. We cater to moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers, foster parents, etc. In the debates such as breast vs. bottle or cloth vs. disposable, we don’t take sides; we offer educated support for either method. We also feature free shipping on all orders with no minimums to pay it forward to those who helped us through tough times; we believe this makes us stand out from the competition in addition to providing peace of mind and equality for all of our customers.  – David & Brandi Garcia, Owners, Fluff and Familia
  82. I started my business because of my love for books and wine for the most part. After living in France for three and a half years, I realized how both books and wine kept me company and comforted me so much abroad. Less than a year after returning to the U.S. (I now live in Seattle), I knew I wanted my company to involve both. – Jessica Trouillaud, Founder, Words & Wine
  83. I wanted to educate and promote small ways that children and adults could help the welfare of our honey bees while introducing them to the benefits of natural skin care products made from beeswax, honey, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. at the same time. I hand out a special wildflower seed mixture for the honey bees for people to plant when they purchase from me. I feel it is a direct way for everyone to help. When I am at craft fairs and farmers markets, I have wonderful, engaged conversations about Bee-ing Mindful. If everyone does a small part a real difference can be made, not only in the health of your skin but in the welfare of our dear pollinators. I want people of all ages to realize that this small contribution can make a large difference! – Linda P. Della Rosa, Owner and Beekeeper, Bee Mindful Skin Care
  84. I was selling motorcycles and got in a bad crash while delivering one. I was fired from my job and I had to move back home with my dad. At the time, he owned a small marine mechanic shop. I started digging through his piles of parts and selling them on eBay. I had no ecommerce experience and no boating experience. It was successful, though, so we started listing new products on eBay and before you knew it we were a full-time operation. The logical next step was to cut out the middleman (eBay) so that we could make more profit. I got ripped off by 2 web developers before deciding that I would figure out how to do it on my own. That’s when I met BigCommerce, built a site, taught myself SEO and PPC.  – Nick Borrelli, Ecommerce and Marketing Director, NuWave Marine
  85. My best friend and I started the business together to take control of our own destiny. We were both in a direct sales company for 10 years and had grown to the top of our company. In December 2014, that company closed and we lost everything. Starting our own business is our way of empowering other women, including ourselves, and providing for our families.  – Stephanie Richard, Owner, Sparkles & Lace Boutique
  86. The owner began having sinus congestion when she moved to Sonoma County, California in 1996. Nothing relieved the nasal pressure, and she was increasingly more miserable at night. As luck would have it, her mother mailed her a neti pot. For weeks the tiny “teapot” sat in her bathroom. Finally, in desperation she tried it. After one rinse she got such relief that she began telling everyone. That’s when her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she decided she could make a better ceramic neti pot right here in California. Within a few years, Baraka Neti Pots were selling in herbal stores, coops and natural grocery stores all over the U.S. – Estelle Letizia, Shipping Manager, Sinus Support
  87. Quirks originally began in 1997 as Kinks, Quirks & Caffeine. I was inspired to finally become a store owner after the sudden and untimely death of my beloved mom. We survived the down economy by constantly flexing and responding to market demands. We recently moved to a new gallery space on Prince George Street in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia)’s downtown area. – Jennifer Raines, Chick-in-Charge, Quirks! Handcrafted Goods & Unique Gifts

These 44 Entrepreneurs Swear by These Marketing & Growth Tactics

  1. Facebook has been my most useful tool and the main reason is that it has allowed us to be cooperative vs. competitive. We can join together as creative beings to share those skills that we have and help one another grow our businesses and be more successful. It allows me to connect to people I might not otherwise have met, and the things I have learned from many of them have been priceless. I do most of my advertising on Facebook. – Lindsey Essary, Owner and Designer, Ellie and Mac
  2. Pay-per-click and organic positioning are the most successful, pure and simple. If you are in a market category that has active searches, pay to get seen and fight for conversions. If you can afford to stay number one in paid search, you can get stronger and stronger from there. Paid search forces you to convert, which in turn drives up organic by default. To convert from the number one position means you are good and getting better every day. It forces you to get good at all of the blocking and tackling basics of customer satisfaction and business. Satisfied customers and quality products are characteristics of the company that can be in the top paid positions in a category week after week, year after year. – John Breaker, President/Founder, BirdieBall
  3. Email marketing keeps our customers engaged and informed as to new products, deals and sales. Advertising on Google AdWords also works really well, as many people search Google and other search engines for what they are looking for. – Parker Slavin, President, StationeryXpress
  4. Direct face-to-face contact works best for our business because it’s hard to sell the idea of rubbing cow fat on your face over the internet! People have to try it to believe it. – Brittany Hogan, Owner and Artisan, Nefertem Naturals
  5. Social media is the most successful. We do all our “marketing” via social media and influencer outreach and we have grown our company and remained self-funded just on that. We had $1.3 million in sales last year without spending a dime on ads. – Lacie Mackey, Founder and COO, Caveman Coffee
  6. For us, it all starts with a high-quality, unique product and exceptional customer service. We have always put most of our energy into product development. If you can create something truly worth talking about, it’s easier to market it. Once we had something to show people, we needed to get it in front of them and let them do word-of-mouth marketing. We started by attending over 20 retail shows a year to get in front of people. We continue to attend shows, expand our social media following, and update our website for improved customer experience. We have also seen successful brand exposure by partnering with local nonprofit organizations and donating a portion of the sales from select designs. – Jim Taylor, President and Owner, Belted Cow
  7. We’ve tried to do lots of direct marketing as well as PPC advertising. We just migrated to BigCommerce and are looking to directly ramp up sales now that we have the platform we want and all of the infrastructure set up. Building an email list is key. Community involvement in what you’re building is critical. – John Wray, CEO, Hero Care Packages
  8. Personally, the most successful tactic to the growth of SMM Cosmetics is my tenacity. However, professionally, email marketing and social media have by far been the most successful. Social media alone has allowed the small business owner a little voice over the big cosmetic companies. I don’t have the budget to advertise or pay for clicks, so having Facebook and Twitter in particular has given me a resource to tap into and reach as many customers as possible, but doing it with a little southern charm! – Barbara Huffman, Owner and Eco-Friendly Artisan, Southern Magnolia Mineral Cosmetics
  9. A banging website is what works for us! We are continually trying to improve the website and make sure our website educates our customers on our unique products with a great user experience. We are always focusing on getting more conversions from our efforts with Google advertising. Improving our SEO is another huge avenue for growth so we can organically get people’s attention. – Amy Breaker, Director of Operations, BirdieBall
  10. These things have worked really well for us: Google advertising (first with AdWords, then Google Shopping), newsletters (email marketing, including suggestions for grandparent ideas), moving to BigCommerce. – Elizabeth Curtis, Owner and Marketing Director, The BananaNana Shoppe
  11. Email marketing. Being able to reach our direct market with sales and company news our customers truly care about is key. – Katie Bernotksy, Owner, Power Team Lures
  12. Word of mouth and veterinary referrals are the most effective and common growth tactic for us. We also get a lot of people finding us through Instagram and Facebook – especially Instagram, lately. Yelp is another place people find us. – Founder and Owner, San Francisco RAW
  13. BigCommerce’s connections to eBay and Amazon have driven considerable online sales, and strong SEO has helped to drive both online and in-store sales. – Damon Didier, Vice President of Marketing, Office Furniture Source
  14. It’s really been a combination of social media messages, free ebooks to grow our newsletter, social media marketing (I’ve liked Facebook advertising) and lots of conversations. The really big key, I think, has been selling a unique product that can solve people’s desire to make things real. – Stan Farrell, President of ComposiMold
  15. SEO and customer reviews using Yotpo have been the most successful. I have found that my organic traffic has been more successful than any advertising, along with the Yotpo reviews system integration, which gathers and displays customer feedback wonderfully. – Philip Kauppinen, Owner, Grand New Flag
  16. Honestly, BigCommerce has been crucial to my growth. The platform keeps me on my toes with new information all the time. I had no money when I started, so I basically taught myself everything from BigCommerce University! Instagram has been the main player with getting the word out there. – Daniella Park, Designer and Webmaster, Doing It Sober
  17. Organic traffic growth through content marketing is a long-term play, but hugely profitable once in play. We think of this as free revenue as opposed to PPC with higher CPA numbers. Conversion rate optimization is critical and needs dedicated resources. This is not a set-and-forget-it part of the business. TEST EVERYTHING ALWAYS. Checkout funnel analysis and retention strategies are KEY. Mobile growth is up 40% YOY. Ensure that you look at key metrics. Load times, for instance, are critical, as is cross-device sharing of content. Mobile generates more traffic than desktop, although revenue numbers are lower. Lastly, having an understanding of attribution is critical to understanding multi-channel campaigns’ value. – Chief Marketing Officer, Wilson Amplifiers
  18. Advertising on Facebook has been great for us, because families who have had memorials created are able to share their stories to our company Facebook page. These really touching personal accounts are a great way for other families to see what we are about and decide if this kind of memorial piece would work for them. – Danielle Rogland, Coordinator, Celebration Ashes
  19. Google Shopping ads have been the most successful. We have a lot of niche product for flip phones and radios that don’t have a lot of competitive bids. Many of our customers have these niche devices and start with Google to see where they can find a carry/case solution and find us. – Kenneth Eremita, Vice President of Marketing, Turtleback
  20. Selling on Amazon has been a big boost to our business. Not just direct sales on Amazon, but people finding our products on Amazon and then coming to our website for a more complete selection of products. Using web analytics has also helped us improve search results to steer people to our website. – Barbara Weiderspahn, Ecommerce Manager, Racelite Hardware
  21. Social media and social media advertising have allowed us to connect with our target audiences and share content, stories and products. We also spent a good amount of time on design and SEO work, which has paid off in spades for organic traffic. – Ferrell Alman, President and Founder, Roanline
  22. We have been having recent success with email marketing and other digital advertising means; however, most of our business comes from repeat customers, forums and referrals from customers. We also try to keep on top of our SEO so we are shown more often through organic searches. – Manager, Fox Creek Leather
  23. We answer all customer phone calls, orders, emails or letters in the mail with a personal touch. No boiler plate responses or generic call center reps. We believe in the human element of commerce and think that has been key to our growth. – Kevin Danaher, Ecommerce & Marketing Manager, Stuff2Color
  24. Google Shopping with the assistance of WordStream and Logical Position has been the most successful while we grow organically through social media. – Derek Lenington, Co-founder and CFO, Taylor Street Favors
  25. Search engine optimization has been the most successful growth tactic for us. It allowed us to get on the map and be seen by everyone across the nation, not just in the mid-south where our 6 stores are located. – Patrick Hope, Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Partial Owner, Fleet Safety
  26. Social media & Facebook ads have made a great impact for us. We also started focusing more on our organic search in the last 6 months and have already seen an improvement in traffic. – Lauryn Spence, Founder, Pride Chicken
  27. Keeping on top of the changing algorithms of Google has worked well for us. Social media has been a big deal for us, but not our biggest converter. Google’s organic search and email campaigns have been our biggest sources of traffic. – Jerri Hemsworth, Co-Owner, RP Boutique
  28. Facebook advertising is what really helped us establish ourselves, allowing us to reach a wide expanse of our target demographic based on honing in on those with like-minded views and interests who would relate to the message that our apparel conveys. – Ashli Clubine, Director of Marketing, Nine Line Apparel
  29. Providing content in my niche area has been the most successful. One of my main selling products are Wiffle balls and bats. (Yes, the good old, made in America, plastic bat and ball that has been around for decades!). I’ve set up informational resource pages on the site exploring and promoting all areas of Wiffle Ball: Wiffle ball tournaments, Wiffle ball fields, Wiffle ball pitches, Wiffle ball leagues, Wiffle ball rules, etc. These pages have brought a ton of customers to my site where I can then cross-sell them all types of products related to Wiffle ball. Blogging about all of these areas has also helped. – Brian Krilivsky, President, Journey To Health
  30. Offering the perfect combination of price, quality and service is what has grown our business. Big box pet stores have the price, but not the quality. Boutiques have the quality, but not the value, and few offer all three. I reach those seeking this level of service and value through SEO, great content and accurate, revealing photography. – Joanne Wood-Ellison, Founder and Chief Executive Collar Crafter, The Artful Canine
  31. Social media, and Facebook in particular, has been instrumental to our success. It’s been a great platform to engage with our customers and allow them to be part of our community. They can like, comment and share new products or tech tips that we publish. It’s been a strong platform for building loyalty among our audience. Out of all paid-advertising channels, Facebook has been the most effective by far. The other tactic we’ve used has been to provide relevant content on our website. We provide tech articles and videos and write unique product descriptions. As a result, organic search on Google has been responsible for a large portion of our traffic. – Kate Dillon, CEO, Crate Insider
  32. Paid advertising via Google/Yahoo/Bing to drive our traffic and providing high-quality products at affordable prices with fast shipping time is the winning combination we’ve used to give our customers a top-notch customer experience. – Kyle Sharick, Owner, TracksNTeeth
  33. Providing customer service that’s just as awesome as our products are. Without venture capital money or investors backing us, we don’t have a substantial marketing budget, so we rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. By taking care of our customers and treating them they way we like to be treated, they are so happy with their overall experience with us they tend to be really engaging with social media shares and positive reviews. A simple Google search of American Bench Craft will reveal hundreds of overwhelmingly positive 5-star reviews! This has worked well for us because there’s a surprising number of companies that don’t provide good customer service or any at all. We get so many emails and phone calls from people who are refreshed by our customer service and they tend to talk loudly about our company and products and that has been what’s kept us growing these past few years.  – Chris Angelini, CoFounder, American Bench Craft
  34. Pinterest and Instagram have been the most successful. We’ve had more views and sales due to the pictures we post than anything else. – Angie Shands, Co-owner, Yancey Designs
  35. Social media, Amazon and writing over 80 articles on our sister site is what has driven our growth. – Ana Seidel, CEO and CCO, My Bliss Kiss
  36. Initially, Google AdWords drove our growth in a big way. This was essential for finding our audience and new sales. Expensive? Yes. But I knew I had to find customers in order to build the real business of “repeat customers.” Long term, we have been developing our SEO to reduce the cost of finding new customers through PPC alone. – David Skeen, Owner, Matboard Plus
  37. Using our blog in tandem with email marketing and social media has really helped us engage our customers and communicate with them in a meaningful way. – Jennifer Lugo, Founder and Product Formulator, Verefina
  38. Email marketing and social media have been the most successful. We started actively working on our social media presence last year, and I think it is finally beginning to pay off. We are beginning to see more traffic due to social media. But even more successful has been the direct email marketing campaigns. Every time we send out an email, there is a spike of traffic and sales. – Tersha Carpenter, CFO, Island Slipper
  39. Our most successful tactic to our growth has been an innovative website that showcases our handcrafted work. We started off small with absolutely no knowledge of website creation. Learning many new things along the way, we now have an innovative website that allows us to serve our local customers. Other website hosts did not allow us to serve our local customers by zip code. Because it is not cost effective to ship our furniture across the United States, we needed a solution to ship only to local customers. BigCommerce was the solution we needed.  – Cal Pierce, Owner and Builder,  The Redwood Patio
  40. Email and social media have been the most successful because we were able to get the Cute Booze name out at a low cost. It’s slow but it works – constantly increasing Facebook likes, etc. We are now investing in SEO and starting to implement the features built into BigCommerce.  – Bonnie Porter & Megan Boyd, Chief Party Officers, Cute Booze
  41. Partnering with retailers like Petco, PetSmart and Pet Food Express has been the most successful. We have distribution in over 90% of pet specialty retail doors now. This presence has established us as a leader in this category. – Gordie Spater, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, Kurgo
  42. As a small business, we found the punch to be in our on-page content. We try our best to give our customers the best, straightforward information possible to understand our sometimes-complicated products. Using quality SEO tools and of course BigCommerce has been beneficial in simplifying the ecommerce aspect of our business as we are “do it yourselfers.” – Vice President and Co-owner, Universal Design Specialists
  43. Blogger relationships, hands down. Whether it’s sponsoring giveaways, testimonials or simply having our button on their website, we can contribute a large portion of our continued new customer base to referrals from coupon blogs with whom we have established relationships. This has not only increased our sales, it has grown our Facebook presence to almost 200,000 fans! – Katie Caudill, Founder and CEO, Sunday Coupon Inserts
  44. We pretty much do it all. All forms of social media (approaching 14,000 Facebook fans), Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat. We also have an active MailChimp email list with nearly 10,000 subscribers. We are extremely active in our local community. Over the years, we’ve really grown to love our little tribe of locals and visitors who support us and all of our crazy schemes. We also take pride in the fact that Quirks has become an interactive and vital community hub with artist visits and contributions to the community through our nonprofit CultureFix. The nonprofit coordinates events to promote arts and culture in the Greater Williamsburg area, including the Winter Blues Jazz Fest, 2nd Sundays Art & Music Festivals, the Big Bluesy, and ChowderFest. We’re always on the lookout for unique ways to have fun, excite our neighbors, make days brighter, extend our reach beyond our store walls and think outside the box. – Jennifer Raines, Chick-in-Charge, Quirks! Handcrafted Goods & Unique Gifts

53 Pieces of Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Advice

  1. Always be learning. Digital marketing and social media are constantly changing. While it’s not always easy to keep up, have a great strategy in place so your marketing is effective regardless of the changes the platforms make. Enact a continuous improvement plan for your website. I like to say that a website is never done. It’s a double-edged sword. On the positive side, unlike print, you’re not stuck with a typo. On the downside, it means there’s always one more thing you can do to make it better. Improve product descriptions, add pictures or most importantly at this time, add video. Video is king right now on all marketing channels. – Kate Dillon, CEO, Crate Insider
  2. Have patience. Ecommerce isn’t a get-rich-quick business and requires patience. Too many people want the quick success that only a few have earned (usually by creating a new, worthy product). Have self-awareness. Build on YOUR strengths and not what the “gurus” are telling you to focus on. It’s better to act on your one or two strengths than be paralyzed or go half into ten different tactics that you aren’t strong in or know nothing about. Focus on your niche, niche, niche! You’ve heard the old adage of “Location, Location, Location” for retail stores. Online, location doesn’t matter. Niche matters. It’s better to find 1,000 true fans that resonate with your story and buy from you than 100,000 Instagram followers that don’t. – Ecommerce Manager, Terramai
  3. It’s very important to take advantage of a lot of the free resources and coaching from Small Business Development Centers. Their coaching is one of the greatest reasons we have been so successful. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t always make one good at all of the skills necessary to run a successful and profitable business. – Ana Seidel, CEO and CCO, My Bliss Kiss
  4. My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself permission to be in a space of “not knowing” how to do something before doing it. The second part of this is to embrace exploring the unknown. CORKY’S NUTS actually came to be as a result of this philosophy. I would also recommend giving your community the opportunity to be a resource. Anything you want or need help with is just “an ask” away. – Nicole Facciuto, Founder, Corky’s Nuts
  5. Ecommerce is like buying a sleeping IPO – with a lot of hard work and patience it will one day be a total success! – Judson Uhre, Owner Operator at Hotels for Humanity
  6. Never give up. When you get in a rut, take out a clean sheet of paper and write down no less than 100 ideas or ways that you could sell your product. Don’t stop until you get to 100. Some of the ideas might be absolutely ridiculous, but it will get your creative juices flowing. Then, when you finish your list, immediately get to work on 2-3 of the ideas. Pretty soon you’ll have more business than you know what to do with. – Tamara Mauro, Owner, Littlest Prince Couture
  7. Keep trying. Keep pushing. Don’t give up! Your hard work WILL pay off. It’s a matter of WHEN, not IF. Provide you customers with amazing customer service and an amazing product/service and the rest will follow. – Parker Slavin, President, StationeryXpress
  8. Save yourself the headache and get a REPUTABLE website, like BigCommerce! I have used several others that don’t even compare to what you get with the products and service at BigCommerce. I have gotten lots of other businesses to switch over as well. – Valerie Wilson, Owner, Upstate Pet Supply
  9. Remind yourself as to why you are doing that which you do. Treat everyone at least as well as you want to be treated. Pleasantly surprise them often. Visit and even buy from your competitors and learn how they act. Look at great performers outside of your industry and see if there is something they are doing right, then wonder if you can incorporate any of that right-stuff into your model. Spoil your customer. – Gene Constant, President and Founder, True to Size Apparel
  10. Stop competing with those around you and start viewing the market as enough to go around. When you change your view from scarcity or worrying about who might be taking what customers from you, and instead focus on the sufficient amount of customers out there in this big world, your business will explode! You can focus all your energy then on positive changes you can make to better YOURSELF every day! Reward your customers for shopping with you, send out newsletters regularly, appreciate your customers and always go above and beyond. – Lindsey Essary, Owner and Designer, Ellie and Mac
  11. Develop self-discipline and perform acts of self-love everyday, be it a morning exercise routine or an evening herbal bath. Caring for yourself will help you stay motivated. – Brittany Hogan, Owner and Artisan, Nefertem Naturals
  12. Be persistent. Keep working. There are so many people out there! If you just find a good idea and good niche, it will snowball. – John Wray, CEO. Hero Care Packages
  13. Don’t sweat small stuff. We were focused initially on the look of our website as a differentiator, spending $$$ on customization that was not really apparent on mobile and made our site load slowly relative to competition. We followed BigCommerce’s advice, focused on site speed and convenience (like one page check-out) by migrating to a Stencil theme with no customization – and our Google ranking has been steadily improving along with sales. – Derek Lenington, Co-Founder & CFO, Taylor Street Favors
  14. Do a lot of research before plunging in. Start small. It is much easier to grow than to scale down because you have grown too fast. Go slow and steady. Don’t take your eye off the mark. Don’t give up when things get tough. – Mira Herman, Owner, Rise Mira
  15. Fight through all the obstacles and challenges. There will be plenty of them: daily and weekly. Don’t let them bring you down, just keep going. – Katie Bernotksy, Owner, Power Team Lures
  16. It is a roller coaster! Believe in yourself and be prepared for ups and downs in the economy. Provide your staff with knowledge about all aspects of the business and take care of them, as they will take care of your business. – Erin Mulkeran, Owner, With Luv Design
  17. Experiment. Nobody knows what will work for you. And no matter how many business books you read, it’s the doing that is really going to teach you. You have to put something out there to see how it’s going to work. – Stan Farrell, President, ComposiMold Re-usable Mold Making Materials
  18. Be an early adopter, and be willing to abandon yesterday’s good idea. In today’s world, productivity tools are advancing faster than you can pay for them! – Joe Marks, President, Baudelaire, Inc.
  19. Approach growing your business as a marathon, not a sprint. Set goals and don’t let potential short-term gains derail you from your long-term objectives. But also don’t be inflexible when your market is starting to tell you something about the direction you are taking. – Jim Taylor, President and Owner, Belted Cow
  20. Don’t forget why you started your business. Hold on tight to the passion that pushed you to start your venture. It will carry you through the good times and tough times and push you to keep striving for success and growth. – Philip Kauppinen, Owner, Grand New Flag
  21. Find something you love. Find a way to do it better. Find an honest mentor. Help others starting a new business, and even through the tough times, count your blessings and look for the good things! Work hard!! – Linda Robbins, Owner and Designer Good Dog Beds
  22. Constantly be split-testing. Use HARD DATA, not what you think works. Have excellent customer service with positive, intelligent and patient attitudes. Track EVERYTHING. Do not spend a cent without knowing the impact on the business. If you can’t show financial gains, use other metrics: lift in branded search, SEO traffic increases, phone call and form completion increases. – Chief Marketing Officer, Wilson Amplifiers
  23. Do everything in your power to create as much value as you can. All facets of your business can create value, not just the product that you sell. Giving back to your community creates value. Inspiring others creates value. Providing opportunities to others creates value. The more value that you create, the more buoyant your business will become. – Jason Harrington, Owner, Lullaby Sound Design
  24. Stay focused on your core products or services and build the brand to consistently market to your target audience through online tools and social media, and make sure the checkout for your online store is efficient, problem free and offers options. We are thrilled with BigCommerce; my web developer moved my shopping cart from WooCommerce to BigCommerce in the March / April 2017 time frame. – Owner, Chief Bakery Engineer, Gluten Free Things
  25. Failure is key to success. Learning from your mistakes will allow you to move forward in a better direction next time. – Owner and Designer, Zoey’s Personalized Gifts
  26. The road won’t be easy. You will get a lot of “No’s,” but don’t get discouraged. Your biggest supporter is you. You must believe in yourself and your brand in order for it to be a true success. – Trechelle Leflore, Owner and CEO, J’Vetu Boutique
  27. Do not let the early signs of failure dissuade you from following your heart, mind, soul or whatever caused you to take the entrepreneurial plunge in the first place. And ALWAYS listen for hints and advice from others, not only directly related to the focus of your business, but also to folks around you who work in different fields. There’s more crossover between industries than you think! – Mike Clarke, Owner, Water Test Kit
  28. Every now and then, take a step back and look at your store as a customer might for the first time. When we do this, we often discover small things that aren’t working properly, design facets that could be improved and customer messaging that could be more clear. When designing things for a customer, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees – and vice versa. – Ferrell Alman, President and Founder, Roanline
  29. Get contracts in writing, plan for your taxes and hire people who are in love with what the company does. – Lauren Winfield, Wholesale Manager, The Bearded Bastard
  30. Be true to your mission and enjoy the process over the goals. Sometimes the big wins are things you never saw coming. – Lacie Mackey, Founder and COO, Caveman Coffee
  31. Know your priorities. The list of things to do is never-ending. Acknowledge that and just concentrate on the things most in need of doing. And make sure that downtime is on that list of priorities. It’s easy to get burned out. That’s definitely not good for business. – Kris Growcott, Owner, DRAGGIN
  32. There is no reason for you to doubt your ability to achieve your goals, whatsoever. BigCommerce is a portal, a venue that is right on point with bringing your business to the forefront. It’s exciting to be a part of such a global launch, and at a time when ecommerce is pioneering your ability to reach out and bring the discovery of your products to the masses on a global level. There’s no greater opportunity than to create this global storefront, with a tiny address listed on the virtual highway, employed by a 24/7 employee called BigCommerce, who never takes a day off, never takes a vacation, works overtime. It is fresh! It’s new! It’s brimming with possibilities! BigCommerce is the best thing that’s ever happened to business! Keep it fresh. Update your blogs daily, your Facebook page, Twitter, Google, YouTube. Keep it fresh. Because as much as we live in a nano-second interest search, we can lose the interest of people by not staying and remaining connected. Communication is key with online branding and selling of your products. BigCommerce allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business and the growth is exponential!  – Owner and Founder, Lazy River Outdoors
  33. Listen to your customers. Take time out of your busy schedule to hear their stories, what they like, and even what they don’t like. Acknowledge their opinions by listening. – Kevin Danaher, Ecommerce & Marketing Manager, Stuff2Color
  34. Keep on testing. We don’t believe there are any bad ideas. So, we test every crazy idea we can think of (and measure) and put it online. We also have hired third-parties to run tests with hundreds of people to test our ideas and see if we were right or not. – Damon Didier, VP of Marketing, Office Furniture Source
  35. Stay fresh and keep newness going. The times are always changing, so you have to be hip to the trends and influence that your clients want and need from your products. Once you become stale, your client will have a taste for something else. – Gregory Morris, Owner and Designer, Haven America
  36. Go to market quick and then iterate. Build from what you already have and don’t worry too much if the first few iterations don’t look or say exactly what you want. Constantly and consistently push the envelope. – Brandon Roche, Head of UX/UI and Web Development, Croft Trailer Supply
  37. Find your niche & make it something you love. Business is all about customer experience. People remember the way you make them feel, so make your business unique and find a way to make it irresistible for your customers to not only come back to, but also to tell others about. Let your customers be your biggest fans and advocates! – Krissy Sexton, Owner, The Hairbow Company
  38. Never give up. If it is something that you believe in, then it is worth fighting for. Some things are worth the wait and hard work. – Owner, Flight & Unite
  39. Keep up with regular everyday book work. It can become a monster! – Angela Adams, Co-Owner Cypress Bridge Candle Co.
  40. If you don’t speak nor understand the language of the customer, then everything about your business will be alien to them. If you have to (need to!), be a translator and moderator for your company and customers. Be that dictionary between the marketing buzzwords, industry terms and what “real language” is being used by your customers. – James Nguyen, Content Marketing Manager, Wilson Amplifiers
  41. Believe in yourself and your products. I had a very successful advertising sales career for 24 years and when I told my friends what I was going to start a jewelry business themed to runners, they all thought I was crazy. To leave such a high-paying job to follow my dream was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but 13 years later, here I am with a successful website, Etsy shop, selling at expos and we just recently opened our first retail store. Dreams really can come true. You have to work hard and not give up when the going gets tough, which it will.  – Melody Tabman – Owner and Designer, Milestones Sports Jewelry
  42. Focus! The sheer quantity of opportunity can spread you too thin. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Figure out who you are as a brand and focus on building your company one strategy at a time. – Owner and Smile Maker, Taffy Shop
  43. Be patient, use the tools provided and never give up. Each day I contribute something to make my business better, literally every day. New products, SEO metatags, better pictures, marketing, blogs and your business will grow. It has, too! BigCommerce offers all the most innovative solutions in a simple way to grow and grow and grow! – Daniella Park, Designer and Webmaster, Doing It Sober
  44. Stay optimistic! When we first launched in 2015, we weren’t seeing any sales for almost a year. But with some hard work and determination, 2 years later we’re 20% closer to breaking even from our initial investment, and still continuing to grow! – Lauryn Spence, Founder, Pride Chicken
  45. Find a group of other business owners to join. Something like 1 Million Cups. And realize you cannot do it all yourself. Hire people who are pros at what they do. And most importantly, take time off. You will accomplish more if you give yourself time to relax. – Edie Ramstad, Owner, Weave Got Maille
  46. If you approach your business, in the very beginning, from a customer’s point of view instead of your point of view, you have a much better chance of early growth and success. Put in the ridiculous hours in the beginning so you don’t have to in the future. Spend the majority of your time/money on marketing and customer service. – Owner, One Faith Boutique
  47. My first advice is always this: get started now. Don’t hesitate. If you fail, you’ve learned so much and you can start again. I have had several small businesses from my home from the time I had my first child 18 years ago. I made businesses out of whatever I was interested in at the time and I often was disappointed in myself over the years that I didn’t stick with those businesses. Now I see that all of those interests and letting the concept of moving on be a part of my current business has helped me immensely to realize how passionate I am about what I do now and to be willing to move with the flow of what clients need and want. – Courtney Henslee, Owner and Formulator, Brazen Bee Beauty
  48. Pricing is everything. If it’s too low, you either make no profit or it can look like a mediocre product. If it’s too high, then it’ll never sell. Finding the right price to sell something online takes homework. In a store, people don’t get to compare as easily as online and they tend to make judgments about the product’s value based on whether it looks right or not. – Angie Shands, Co-Owner, Yancey Designs
  49. Do what you do best and rely on others to do their best on the rest. Step, stretch, leap. Practice, perfect then perform. You can’t plan for discovery other than stretching and perfecting. You must do, not plan. Stay flexible. – Greg Schlensker, Owner, Avari Reef Labs
  50. There will always be tough times, whether it is internal to your business (challenges of family relationships) or external (not enough sales or suppliers going out of business). So you must have the endurance to see through the tough times. And you must always be learning and adapting to minimize the tough times. Life is hard regardless of whether you are the business owner or manager or employee. Find work that excites you and contribute to building something bigger than yourself. In the end, I believe you’ll find something worthwhile, a legacy to leave behind.  – Tersha Carpenter, CFO, Island Slipper
  51. Have a crisp, clean website from the start with nice professional photography. BigCommerce has elevated our business, making us appealing to more storefront retailers. Even though we are a small business with 2 employees, we appear much bigger. You’d never know we run our business out of our basement. Our wholesale accounts have increased dramatically when we switched from GoDaddy to BigCommerce. We always get complimented on how awesome our website is!  – Maranda Johnson, Co-Owner, The Good Stuff Botanicals
  52. Research and ask questions. Research and put a lot of thought into every decision you make. Your business name, the shopping cart you choose, finding a designer to help design your website all are important decisions you should take time with. Spend a lot of time on BigCommerce University and in the community forums asking questions. – Ronna Moore , CEO – Chief Everything Office, Fairy Home and Gardens
  53. Creating goals is key, but it’s important first to identify and know your “why.” It’s not always going to be an easy road. If you don’t know why you started in the first place, it won’t light your fire when you need to be “re-ignited.” – Stephanie Richard, Owner, Sparkles & Lace Boutique

50 American Business Owners on What Independence Means to Them

  1. It’s fitting that it’s the Fourth of July. Independence means different things to different generations. Our forefathers worked to make better generations for each subsequent one, and so that we could be more free, more independent, and have a more perfect union. For me, independence means being able to focus on what matters – family, friends, community – while not being tethered to one desk. BigCommerce lets me do that. I think it’s important for every community to have more independence, because without it we lose a piece of ourselves: we lose a bit of who we are. – John Wray, CEO, Hero Care Packages
  2. Independence means the ability to live as a free citizen in one’s own country, to make informed decisions regarding our leadership and our legislation, and to stand up against injustice and corruption by staying true to the values that our forefathers set down when they drafted the Declaration and our nation’s Constitution. It is often taken for granted by the American people, while many in this world have no concept of what the word even means. It has been earned time and again by the brave men and women of our armed forces, who sacrifice daily, who have given their lives, so that we can live free. – Ashli Clubine, Director of Marketing, Nine Line Apparel
  3. Independence to me means having the ability to live up to my own potential without hindering the rights of others. We all have dreams and goals and independence is vital in reaching those goals, but along with independence comes the responsibility of helping others obtain their goals by maintaining their own independence. Independence can’t be achieved with an “every man for himself” attitude. We have to work together for independence to be possible! – Erika Jo Hellbusch, Director of Administration, One Represents One
  4. Independence is the freedom and ability to make your own choices, do your own thing. To be able to express yourself through word and action. Independence makes me think of the men and women who are serving this country in order to give us these abilities – to do our own thing, make our own choices. This year I will be specifically thinking of Leah Letson, a professional MMA fighter out of Invicta who we sponsor through one of our products, Matt’s Best Defense Body Wash. She just left to serve our country with the Air National Guard. She is an incredible woman and we wish her Godspeed on her journey. – Susan Madunich, Owner and Aromatherapst, Aromatic Blessings
  5. Independence means having the choice and being able to create our own voice. It’s about working hard to be able to make something you believe in. I still have stressful days. I still have so much to do that I can’t ever get it all accomplished. But it’s my stress caused by my desire to be great and do great things, not by a boss telling me to finish my project by a random deadline. The decision to work long hours and to make something as good as I can is based upon what kind of future we’re striving to create. – Stan Farrell, President, ComposiMold Re-usable Mold Making Materials
  6. I always thought independence meant financial freedom. I was wrong. The success of my business brought me that, but still left me feeling unfulfilled – like something was missing. It was then that I decided to sell everything, buy an RV, and hit the road. I am 6 months into my RV adventure with no return date planned. I have been to 12 states, seen the most breathtaking landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, so beautiful it will bring tears to your eyes. Every day is a new adventure. That is independence – waking up every day to live your dream, fulfill your purpose and feed your soul. – Katie Caudill, Founder and CEO, Sunday Coupon Inserts
  7. Independence to me means being my own boss and having the means to help others achieve success. It is my goal to create a truly successful business and hire others that are willing to work as hard as I am so we can all succeed and reach independence together. – Parker Slavin, President, StationeryXpress
  8. Our military, the brave men and women protecting our country, represent freedom to me. If it wasn’t for our military, we wouldn’t be free or independent. My dad and grandfather are veterans, and it’s something I’m very proud of. – Valerie Wilson, Owner, Update Pet Supply
  9. Independence is the ability to choose without hindrance. It’s the feeling of freedom. Freedom from bosses, time and pressure. – Noel Golondrina, President, Organic4rce
  10. I am blessed to work from home since my business is online. This has afforded my family with 4 children to travel the world this year. We have had so many amazing experiences doing this. I view independence as being able to do what you love, where you want, without others saying you can’t. – Lindsey Essary, Owner and Designer, Ellie and Mac
  11. My husband is in the U.S. Air Force and I also served in the Air Force as well. My business partner’s husband is a firefighter. Our entire lives we’ve both been surrounded by family and friends who have fought for our freedom and independence. Independence to me means the freedom to make your own choices to be able to lead the life of your dreams, whatever they may be. – Stephanie Richard, Owner, Sparkles & Lace Boutique
  12. Independence means being my own boss and dictating my own schedule. Even though our business is still in its infant stage, according to some metrics, I feel 100% successful because I’m doing my own thing. I work every Saturday and take Mondays off, because, well let’s face it, Mondays have always sucked! And because I’m independently employed, I can do that! – Brittany Hogan, Owner and Artisan, Nefertem Naturals
  13. It’s an exhilarating free fall. There is no net beneath you, no insurance, no sick days, no help unless you pay them – but there is the freedom to make your mark! We feel so lucky to have survived, to enjoy the loyalty and support of so many patrons I feel blessed to interact with. To me, it is a true joy to be able to provide gifts for life’s precious moments. We feel so grateful that people chose to come to us when they need something special. Our packaging was recognized by a national magazine and it is our trademark – people get excited to see our purple box! We are making our mark! That’s freedom. – Laura Brown, Owner, The Jewelry Cafe
  14. I don’t set an alarm, I don’t punch a clock, I don’t have a boss. I actually have a little leeway in deciding what “I” want to do, not someone telling me what to do. Independence also means being secure, being available to family or running away from them – and having stability. I want to say less worry, but we all know if you took the blood pressure of any given small business owner, it IS high! And independence for me was meant to transform the negative events of my childhood into a source of strength, self-confidence, pride, commitment and accomplishment. I am proud to show my daughter that I was resilient enough to create my own future with positivity, conviction and self-reliance. In my book, that’s a pretty great place for my independence to thrive! And I still smile and enjoy life regardless, even if I am eating a microwave breakfast sandwich for dinner! – Barbara Huffman, Owner & Eco-Friendly Artisan. Southern Magnolia Mineral Cosmetics
  15. Independence has always meant to me that I have the opportunity to create my own path and make my own decisions. My father, who was a bronze star Vietnam vet, raised both my sister and I (along with our mother) to believe that we can do anything we want in life as long as we are willing to put in the work. – Erin Mulkeran, Owner, With Luv Design
  16. The quote “There is no alone like the alone at the helm” has always been a mantra in my business life. Independence carries the same weight: the ability to try new ideas, to think outside the box, to try and fail but keep coming back because we’re independent. We are creating a company that is changing the model for magazines. We not only advertise the products we write about but we sell them too. That’s independence in thinking. – Jack Sullivan, Publisher and President, Blue Music
  17. Independence as it relates to our company and our business model is fostering an atmosphere where people at all levels feel like they have the freedom make decisions and take actions to move the Belted Cow forward. As a small company, it’s imperative that everyone has this attitude. The challenge will be to maintain this independent spirit in our staff as we grow. Self determination to tackle issues and solve problems on their own will result in better products and more responsive customer service. – Jim Taylor, President and Owner, Belted Cow
  18. It means everything to me: freedom from oppression, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom to worship, freedom of speech. It is being allowed to live my life as I see fit as long as it does not harm others. It is the right to own my land. I could go on and on.  – Philip Kauppinen, Owner, Grand New Flag
  19. I am 56 years old and I have always worked for myself. My ex-wife used to say it would be better if you just punched in 9 to 5. Well, this is why she is my ex! I love the freedom of being my own boss as well as a boss, but with independence comes great responsibility. I have always told people that have asked me how hard is it to be self employed that, “If it was so easy being self employed, then everyone would be doing it, right!” Exactly –with independence comes responsibility. Not everyone can do this. – Mark A Thayn, President, La Sal Mountain Archery
  20. Independence is the freedom to commit your energy to those things which further your personal vision and direction. This may be part of a shared vision, and may not always mean doing what you “enjoy.” But independence allows you to do the work that grows your company in the direction that you desire. – Jason Harrington, Owner, Lullaby Sound Design
  21. Independence means, to me, being able to control my own destiny. I am the one to decides to get up every morning and make a difference. I am the one that has the decision to have a positive attitude each and every day. I am the one who, if I have a bad day, I can change it at any point in that day or even the next day. – Sara Pippett, Owner and CEO, Bad Habit Boutique
  22. Independence to me reflects the ultimate American spirit, where leadership, solid work ethic, customer relationships and a growing profit base creates a sustainable resource. It’s personally rewarding to me and my wife to experience the happy faces and tastebuds that Gluten Free Things serves a demand for, through years of hard work, sacrifice, core business values and the freedom to own and operate my own business. – Owner, Chief Bakery Engineer, Gluten Free Things
  23. Independence is the right we have in this country to speak our minds and chase the American dream! To follow our dreams and start our own small business. It’s what gives Vulgar Baby the right to share with the world our wit and satire through the cunning use of baby clothes! Even babies have the right to freedom of speech in this beautiful country!  – Mindy Bownds, Vice President, Vulgar Baby
  24. Having traveled many developing countries, independence means freedom of speech, participation in government through voting and being free to choose how and where we want to live. – Susan Holley, Marketing, Holleys Habitat Homes
  25. We value our independence immensely. We have been blessed with a little gem of a business, and even more blessed with a family that is willing and able to grow the company. At the end of the day, our success depends solely on us. Our independence from a big corporation, and success as a small business, are the thing dreams are made of. – Amy Breaker, Director of Operations, BirdieBall
  26. Independence means everything to me, from the basics of having freedom of speech to the ability to live in the United States and start my own business without having to worry about government restrictions or interference. It’s also something I take for granted every day – that my business is free to operate how I want it to without outside control or support. I am truly living the American dream, and independence in our country has made that possible. – Owner and Designer, Zoey’s Personalized Gifts
  27. Freedom is the ability to follow your heart and strive to be the best in whatever you do. Having been to 42 countries and worked in about 26 for extended periods, I know how lucky I am to be an American. Our country affords more freedom and independence than any other country on our planet. – Co-Owner, Spartan Blades
  28. Independence is forging your own path. It’s leveraging your passion into something you can do every day that makes you happy. It means setting your own hours and where you work. – Lauren Winfield, Wholesale Manager, The Bearded Bastard
  29. Independence is not only the right to do what you want but the responsibility to actively participate in your life and community. The freedom to literally create my own reality is something I am very grateful for. We are able to create something big out of almost nothing but an idea and a good work ethic.  – Lacie Mackey, Founder and COO, Caveman Coffee
  30. Infinite possibilities. Someone once said, “For those that say ‘the sky’s the limit,’ never walked on the moon!” Knowing that you can set goals, exceed goals and create a thought into a brand, a household name and recognizable logo on a global level is fulfilling beyond expectation. – Owner and Founder, Lazy River Outdoors
  31. For us, independence represents sharing our passion with others. As a small and independent business, we have the ability to come to work each day and create products our customers will enjoy. – Kevin Danaher, Ecommerce and Marketing Manager, Stuff2Color
  32. Independence is the freedom of choice. The choice of how you spend your time, investments, how you treat others. It is the ability to take $500 and build it into a business that employs and helps support 12-15 local families and chooses to take its profit to support causes like Changing the Faces of Beauty, sponsor school fundraisers, and participate in community events. It means choosing to interact with and intertwine ourselves with our customers by being a part of their lives and memories they will never forget. – Krissy Sexton, Owner, The Hairbow Company
  33. To me, independence is another example of how blessed we are. Independence reminds me to not take the small things for granted. It also reminds me of those who have fought and served for our beloved country. – Patrick Hope, V Sales & Marketing and Partial Owner, Fleet Safety
  34. Independence is a very relative thing, and many people refer to that in financial terms. But complete independence is never really possible, in business or personally. We are always dependent in some way on others around us. In our business, we depend greatly on our vendors providing quality products and service, and depend on each one of our customers who choose to meet their construction supply needs through R1 Supply. We greatly appreciate them! – David Compton, IT Director, R1 Supply
  35. It’s funny that taffy is associated with parades and parades are associated with the Fourth of July. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of the celebrations that honor those that give us our independence and allow us our freedoms (including our business freedom). – Owner and Smile Maker, Taffy Shop
  36. From the perspective of someone in the LGBTQ community, independence means being able to express yourself and be who you are at all times – no matter what! – Lauryn Spence, Founder, Pride Chicken
  37. Freedom is making a difference not only in my life but also in the lives of others while becoming financially independent – meaning no debt and money in the bank while doing great things for others and the community. – Toni House, Be`l Beauty
  38. It means being able to be as flexible as I need to be in order to live my personal life and professional life to its fullest. Being able to run my own businesses has meant that my husband and I have been able to raise our daughter as full-time parents and not miss any of the important events in her life. It also means that we can travel when we want. – Jerri Hemsworth, Co-Owner, RP Boutique
  39. Independence, to me, is the ability to worship God freely. It’s the ability to raise my kids in an environment I see fit. It’s having the opportunity to own my own business, and run it however I want. – Owner, One Faith Boutique
  40. In two words, it means “I Can.” Independence or freedom means the ability to choose and not be stuck. Whether the choice is to quit a full-time job, go on a vacation, or start a business, true independence means that if I want to, I can. – Kate Dillon, CEO, Crate Insider
  41. Independence means having the freedom and time to do what I’m passionate about and what I love and still have time for a successful and fulfilling life. It means spending time with my loved ones and family while still maintaining a strong, growing business. It means solely relying on my abilities and my beliefs that I can get the job done to help my employees and customers who rely on me. It means having the autonomy to do what needs to get done without having to worry about stepping on toes on a daily basis. It means being laser-focused on growing my business while still having the ability to look at all the angles, see where we can improve and adjust and still continuing on the path we’ve set. Owning a business has been my path to independence and freedom. – Kyle Sharick, Owner, TracksNTeeth
  42. It is an amazing feeling to work for yourself, and it is one of the hardest things you can do. As a highly sensitive person, one email or comment on Facebook can bring you down, even after a thousand positive comments. You have to learn to get your emotional running shoes back on in the morning and reread the positive stories and happy client comments on your page and remember that that is who you really serve. – Courtney Henslee, Owner and Formulator, Brazen Bee Beauty
  43. With regards to business, and in the same spirit of the colonists wanting to be free from dominant and confining rules to find their own path, the internet and platforms like BigCommerce have allowed individuals to be free to run businesses away from the confines and rules typically defined only by “big business.” This is true business independence. Anyone, anywhere has the freedom to make their own financial path. – David Skeen, Owner, Matboard Plus
  44. Independence, to me, means the having the freedom and flexibility to live my life to its fullest while loving the work I do. It means creating something that supports my life’s goals. Independence, I believe, is one of the human spirit’s most innate desires, right up there with joy and happiness. – Jennifer Lugo, Founder and Product Formulator, Verefina
  45. For years, our company outsourced several processes in our manufacturing line, relying on other companies for paint, pipe bending, etc. We continually struggled with turnaround time, quality and vendor pricing, and we knew our goal was to ultimately bring all processes in-house under one roof – “become independent from outsourcing.” I’m happy to say over the years we’ve been able to move into a 40K square-foot facility right here in Paris, Texas, where we take raw steel and turn it into a final product worthy of going on a $150K show truck. Over the years we’ve struggled through several phases to get here, but ultimately we are living the American dream and we’re proud owners of an 100% American-made product and manufacturing facility, which is the epitome of business independence. – Kelli Mallicote, Owner and Vice President, Bodyguard Bumpers
  46. Our family business is the epitome of independence. We create our own hours, our designs, our own website. We are lucky to live in a country that allows us such freedoms. This we do not take advantage of.  – Cal Pierce, Owner and Builder,  The Redwood Patio
  47. The official definition defines it as a state of being or the ability to be independent. And I think that speaks volumes: being. We are given the freedom to express ourselves, our values and our beliefs. No matter how different we all are, we are just all “being.” – David & Brandi Garcia, Owners, Fluff and Familia
  48. I like to have an autonomous website so that I can control my business. My husband and I have had an independent tool store in Northern California since 1986. We were both widow’s kids and we had to build our business from hard work and long hours. Owning a business has enabled us to make a living and not have a boss to deal with and we are empowered to make it or break it in our business. The harder we work, the luckier we get. – Sherry Gillis, Owner, Skyway Tools
  49. Independence to me means being able to create my own path. Although the idea came to me while I was living abroad, it wouldn’t have been easy for me to start a company there. By living in the U.S. (I’m a Texas native), I was able to start my company in no time. I quit my full-time job and starting making a living with my own company. I set my own hours and my own rules. I decide how and who I market to and what and why I sell it. I got to choose EXACTLY what I do for a living. That’s pure independence to me. – Jessica Trouillaud, Founder, Words & Wine
  50. This has changed for me as I have grown. It started as “I don’t have to work 9-5.” Then I realized that my suppliers are basically my boss and I’m hustling so that they can make money. True independence to me is owning the entire process from manufacturing to distribution to end user sales. Independence is having full control and owning everything that could possibly be a step in your way. That’s our goal here. – Nick Borrelli, Ecommerce and Marketing Director, NuWave Marine

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