Posted on Dec 2, 2013

Dream Big, Inspirational Small Business Stories

Inspiration for Your Small Business


In 1954 an unknown truck driver from Mississippi got a chance to perform at one of the most famous concert venues in the world – Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. He got a polite response from the crowd but was dumped by the Opry’s management. They said he was “not bad” but thought he wasn’t good enough. That man was Elvis Presley. His story is one of constant effort and never giving up. And it paid huge dividends – despite his death over 36 years ago, he still manages to earn more than most of us put together – around $55 million in the year up to October 2013.


Of course not everyone can become a pop superstar, or gain status as a global icon. But we can all have success in business. Here are some examples of more mainstream businessmen and women who have triumphed, often in the face of considerable adversity, to become successful in business.


Hard Headed Woman


Sara Blakely was a door-to-door fax machine sales woman who had an idea. It came from a problem she experienced while working at Disney in Florida. She decided to solve the problem and while still working at the office supplies company she invented Spanx, an innovative foundation garment.


She obtained her own patent, set up her company and started pitching her idea, all while still selling fax machines. She was repeatedly turned down until she got the buyer from Neiman Marcus to try on Spanx. She got an order and other retailers started to follow suit. And then came a mention on Oprah. Sales then went through the roof and Blakely was eventually able to stop selling fax machines.


How far has she come? Blakely is nothing short of a phenomenon. She is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire and in 2012, when she was just 41, Blakely made it on to the list of the top 100 most influential people in the world, as determined by Time Magazine. As well as running Spanx Blakely also operates a foundation that helps women in business.


Blue Suede Shoes


John Vlagos, a Greek immigrant living in Chicago, wanted to show his son George how hard it is to work with your hands for a living. He was a cobbler so he made young George come into his shop every weekend to shine shoes. The plan backfired as George Vlagos is now a cobbler as well.


George is a bit more than that though – he is one of the most successful independent shoemakers in America.


He saw an opening in the market for top quality shoes made with traditional materials that could be bought at an affordable price. George Vlagos’s shoes, known as Oak Street shoes, are sold in some shops but he mostly sells them online. He regularly has to operate a six-week waiting list.


Suspicious Minds


Chad Mureta’s life changed after he was involved in an accident that resulted in his arm being amputated. He was forced into becoming a tech entrepreneur when his previous real estate business struggled when he was in hospital recovering. But to get there he had to take a risk.


Mureta had been reading about mobile applications and although he had no experience with technology, he saw an opportunity. He borrowed money and developed Fingerprint Security-Pro. The app was one of the 50 most popular apps in the App Store. He earned $140,000, and then went on to make more apps. He now has 46 under his belt plus 35 million downloads.


Rock-A-Hula Baby


Friends and business partners Liane Weintraub and Shannan Swanson are the perfect example of spotting an open goal and going for it. They are part of the huge and growing group of consumers who want organic ingredients in food. This did not change when they both became new moms. But there was a problem – there was a limited selection for parents who wanted to buy organic baby food.


The pair did two things. Firstly they made organic purees for their own babies. And then  they developed new products based on the philosophies they believe in. This became a brand of organic baby foods called Tasty.


Their products are now stocked in several retailers and their business turns over millions of dollars a year. And it is profitable which shows that if you have the right idea and the right market, your business can be a success.


It’s Now Or Never


Now is a fantastic time to be running a business, and it doesn’t have to be a circus or a Las Vegas hotel. Small businesses are holding the country together and many are thriving. In fact, there has never been a better time to be running a small business given the increased access to customers through technology, and the tools available to increase productivity and profits. So take some inspiration from the stories highlighted here and you’ll make it…because of “The Wonder Of You.” Elvis overload? Then it’s time for a little less conversation – because the time for small business success is now.


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