What does it take to be successful as an entrepreneur? 12 of our small business contestants in our First Buck Stories contest talked about how they got their start and what keeps them going as entrepreneurs.  Here are some awesome takeaways:

  1. Age doesn’t matter.“If you have something that you think is a good idea, then you should go for it, especially when you’re young, but even if you’re old…it’s an opportunity to make a difference,” says Mark of Displays That Pay.
  2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.“If we could just make a swimsuit that fits, we’d have a goldmine,” was the idea that kicked-off Lori Coulter’s swimwear and apparel line. That idea turned into a presentation, then a business plan, and eventually Lori’s first check from an order with Macy’s. Lori’s competition is fierce in the fashion industry but she perseveres to continue doing what she loves.
  3. Have fun with it.Steve Ewing of Steve’s Hot Dogs made his first buck with his band, the Urge. He had the idea of selling hotdogs so he bought a hotdog stand and hopped off stage after a show, and then started cooking and selling them to the attendees. He encourages entrepreneurs to “take your time, find out what it is that you want to do, and develop it by actually having fun with it.”
    “Take a class, meet new people, try something new” with Dabble if you’re looking for inspiration to become an entrepreneur. Being around others who are passionate about turning their hobbies into a business is a lesson we learned working across the hall from Jay of Dabble.
  4. “Anyone can help someone.”  – Karen of Gateway to Dreams 

    If you’re from St. Louis, you probably know Karen or at least know someone who knows her. She uses her wide network to help others grow their idea with Gateway to Dreams. Starting a business requires support. Steve relied on his friends, family and business partners to help grow Steve’s Hot Dogs. Denise of Black Mermaid’s Natural Soaps and Products started by making her products for her family members but it was her coworkers that helped spark the idea of creating a new business.  Support can make or break a great idea or business.

  5. Order business cards. Share your expertise.When you have a business idea, print business cards associated with it. Multiple of the First Buck Stories entrepreneurs got their start this way like Nathan of Haskins IT. He found his niche creating custom IT experiences for his clients by handing out business cards pre-Geek Squad days to aid customers buying new computers at Staples.
    Brian of Dead Inventory Management System is an expert in inventory management. He took what he knows best to create a system around it to help manufacturers sell their dead inventory; giving others access.
  6. “In order to get something done, you have to do it.”  – Joy of The Fountain on Locust 

    Failure is an inherent part of being an entrepreneur. The best entrepreneurs were successful because they knew how to work with failure and kept getting back up into the game. The key is to (like Nike) just do it. “Keep trying new things until you get it right” is the biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs from Shawn at Fick, Eggemeyer, & Williamson, CPA’s.
    Ideas are fleeting but success takes action.

The best quote that came from the contest came from the winner, Bob Brazell of Byrd & Barrel, after he was notified that he won. All he said was, “I haven’t slept in 3 days.” Bob embodies everything listed above and we’re so excited to continue to help him grow his business.

Our goal was to celebrate and connect the community of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Through collecting these inspiring stories, we discovered that entrepreneurs are cut from the same cloth with the similar struggles and successes. We can’t wait to hear the first buck stories and the big buck stories of more small businesses!