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I Want To Know: How Did You Get Started in Your Business?
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Let's get to know each other...

I know that most of the folks who are doing article marketing are small business owners.

The types and sizes of business range (I imagine) from one-person home businesses to quite sizable small businesses that are either online or locally based.

Some of you may wake up, put on a suit and tie, go to an outside-the-home office and work a 9-5 day, while others (and I suspect many of us fall into this category) have the option of spending all day in your pajamas (not to say that you actually do that!) and can work a flexible schedule at home.

Small business owners are a special breed of people.

You are living ‘off the beaten path’, and I always find it interesting to hear other people’s stories of how they got started in their business.

Let’s take this opportunity to get to know each other better. I have 3 questions for us to share about.

I’ll go first…

What prompted you to start your own business?

Babies change things...

Three things – necessity, frustration and an independent spirit!

Necessity – having a normal ‘job’ and a young baby (my first at the time, since quadrupled in number) seemed incompatible. I wanted and felt like I needed more flexibility than my job allowed so that we could have a proper family life too, so I was constantly searching in my head for ways I could leave the rat race and set up on my own in some way.

It did all feel like a distant dream at the time, but at the same time I knew I’d make it work somehow, simply because I would have to … in the end, I just had to take the leap and hope it worked out, even though we had baby #2 on the way at the time. And yes, it worked out.

Frustration – the company I was with actually had very little for me to do and I spent months achieving very little, and even if I did have the odd project it was sometimes canned after a few weeks of work. So ‘lack of fulfillment’ is probably an understatement! I felt like I had a lot to offer but nowhere to channel that energy.

Independent spirit - I’ve never exactly liked being told what to do, and always preferred doing my own thing and being creative. A business is the perfect vehicle for that – very freeing and fulfilling.

In the end, all three things were pushing me in one direction … I had little choice but to accept the challenge!

(BTW–my business is, in case you didn’t know. My background is in computer programming.)

What Is Your Favorite Part Of Having Your Own Business?

The absolute best part is being able to effectively design the life I want to lead and design my own future. Having my own business allows me to do that. I can set goals, determine a plan of action to achieve them, and then follow it through.

I learn so much along the way too … the business grows as I grow.

Did you ever dream you would have the type of work situation that you have?

No … the first thing I started doing in terms of generating an income was freelancing, effectively doing freelance development work. My first client in fact was top Internet marketer Jonathan Mizel, who called me up from Hawaii … bit of a long story, but I’m always grateful to him for the start he gave me online and what I learned from him during the short time I was with him.

In fact, through him, I learned the power of leverage … in software terms, building something once, and effectively getting paid multiple times. As a freelance developer, I was building something once for someone, and getting paid once (while they got paid multiple times in return for their investment), so I didn’t stay doing that for very long.

It feels such a long way where I am now compared to where I started, but I’ve enjoyed the journey and continue to do so.

Now, enough about me…I’d love to hear your story.

What prompted you to start your business?

What is your favorite part of having your own business?

Also, before you started your own biz, did you ever dream that you would have the type of work situation that you have?

Feel free to answer any or all of those questions…I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Photo Credits:

Hello, my name is… by Tybo
sequoia’s baby feet by Sean Dreilinger

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24 Responses to “I Want To Know: How Did You Get Started in Your Business?”

  1. Lori Martin says:

    I started out making dog booties for a mushing company. When I found that they didn’t make them for the ordinary pet owner I decided to try and design some for myself.

    My favorite part is being able to stay home with my little girl,raise her myself instead of having a babysitter do it and still have an income/independents.

    I have always love to sew but never dreamed I would be able to design and create my own styles.

  2. 1) Do you know the fictional character Bridget Jones? Some years ago that was me! I had no energy, was constantly tired and spent too many hours in the local bar after I finished my 9-5 office job. I wanted to feel as though I could achieve something with my life, so I decided to train to run a marathon…not such an easy task, but I like to set my targets high! I thought it could also help with some of my ‘energy’ issues.

    I’m pleased to say that I completed the marathon and it changed my life. The learning process was so much fun that I decided to follow my re-awakened passion for fitness and turn it into a career.

    2) 7 years later I haven’t looked back. The best part of having my own business is the fulfilment I get in helping people who are in the same pair of shoes that I once wore. The change in lifestyle is also a huge benefit, both physically and mentally.

    3) Would I ever have dreamed I’d have this work situation? Never. I spend 6 months each year physically working in Europe, 6 months working in the UK and a whole year helping clients online. The opportunities that have opened up over the past few years have been astounding.

    It’s a little different to the same daily commute, sitting at the same desk whilst relying on someone else to pay my wages!

  3. John Steely says:

    What prompted me to start my business? Two things. The first is the belief that I can do more than what my job allows. I work in a proprietary school, and the administration constantly claims that they are looking for input from their faculty. But when I submit suggestions (and I mean suggestions, not diatribes), not only are they not discussed, they are not even acknowledged. I am looking for a discussion, and all I get is silence. The second is increasing income. Like many, my paychecks have be going up at a 1% per year rate, while inflation is at 4.5% The numbers do not add up.

    What is my favorite part of owning my own business? The freedom to do what I know is right. To say what I know has to be said. To work in the areas that will benefit my students the most.

    Before I started, did I ever think I would be doing what I doing? Not in a million years. But its fun!

  4. Phil Davis says:

    1.0 I have had a successful career mainly in the Oil and Gas Industry and still enjoy the work. However the type of project work i am involved in is largely intertnational which means that i have to travel a lot (3-5 flights a week) or live abroad; having done this for the last 34 years i have decided that i would like my feet to remain on the ground in UK and spend more time with my wife and suppor our children in their ventures (we have four up to 30 years old). In summary i want to be able to manage my work/Social balance and have a significant challenge to keep me energised.
    2.0 The business i am focussing on is related to construction and property which has previously been a hobby and this will bring me close to our two sons who operate a building company. I am also bringing in our youngest daughter who is a photography fiend – she is producing the videos and photographic records (The other daughter is in Muscat where her husband is building the new Greg Norman golf course but i will eventually work with her on an equestrian business – she trains race horses). As i am gaining experience in the local business scene i also see an opportunity to help out some local businesses who have not grasped the ‘internet potential’.
    3.0 Until 18 months ago I did not envisage how much the internet would play a part in my ‘retirement’ business activities; Everything i now do with business starts with the internet as a hub – An internet business requires the same effort to succeed as a ‘normal’ business but there is more opportunity to outsource a lot of the work and create the lifestyle you choose.

  5. Jay Jenkins says:

    The thing that prompted me to start my own business was out of both necessity and frustration. Necessity because I was homeless and without any prospects of employment because of it and frustration as the shelter I was living in had no real program for folks such as myself to gain any skills for work or furthering my education to overcome that lack.

    The favorite part of having my own business is that with the freedom of having more time to devote to things like writing poetry and teaching basic oil painting techniques to young people.

    I never in my wildest dreams imagined running a business on my own. As you’re well aware, Americans are taught from an early age that the only way to retirement is through hard work, and at the time I decided to jump into the IM field I really believed that the “hard work ethic” would not fit me at all. I needed to be my own boss and take care of my own life instead of letting others do that.

  6. I was fortunate enough to be introduced the the Internet back in 1991 by a technician from Apple Computers. I immediately knew that the Internet would become hugely successful, although I did not at that time know how to create a website page or how to achieve success online, and I could not have possibly imagined how successful the Internet would become, or how successful it will become in the future.

    Two billion people now have access to the Internet (up from possibly only a few hundred thousand back in 1991). That is one third of all the people in the world who are now online, and many of those individuals are only begining their online adventure.

    Even though I live in one of the remotest cities in the world, I have over the years earned many thousands of dollars from the web, initially by helping small numbers of people locally learn how to build very basic web pages, and later by partnering with companies such as Google and others as they continue to develop successful online businesses.

    What excites me and what I love about the web is that the only limits are self imposed ones. Anyone who has a positive attitude and is prepared to learn and persist can achieve success online, and can continue to grow that success into the future. Some individuals and groups will go on to achieve massive success because the real opportunities are only now begining.

    Until now has only been early experimenting. The Google’s and Facebook’s of the future do not yet exist and can probably not yet be imagined. Those future success stories will be created by people who are currently working late into the night out of garages or bedrooms in obscure locations somewhere in the world.

  7. dougal says:

    10 years ago after becoming increasingly frustrated with the corporate environment, suits and ties, board meetings and unreasonable clients I decided to finally do something ‘designing-my-ideal-LIFE’.

    CRITERIA: Do something that gave back to others in the Health and Fitness industry.

    Step one was to design a personal mission statement that would excite me enough to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

    ” To empower 5 million people to find and fullfill their purpose through Health and Fitness.”

    10 years on, I have a successful personal training business, a great website with a growing database, my own column in the leading expert in Fat Loss on the planet’s forum called Mr Inspiration, have written two books on inspiration and a goal setting program and have never regretted my decision to follow my ‘dream’

    The favourite part of having my own business is being totally independant and, accepting ownership of a ‘rebellious’ nature not having to answer to anyone except me.

    Did I ever believe I would have this kind of work situation? The Internet was still a fledging industry 10 years ago and had just gone through the .com bust but yes I always visualised the kind of working environment I have the privilege to have now and for which I am VERY grateful.

    I love the concept of helping others achieve greatness through my writing and the incredible global reach of the Internet to do it.

    I love my life and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

  8. Andy says:

    Hi Steve,
    Interesting post about your career to date. I started freelancing around 19 years ago, after being a Copy Chief in a large UK DM Agency for some time and, as a company takeover was on the cards, I was offerered a 2-year contract to go out on my own, with one of the Agency’s clients as my 1st client. I quickly built up more of my own clients, started ‘Creative Solutions’ to offer a Copywriting and Design Consultancy with 1 partner and associated freelancrs. The internet was in its infancy, and most of our clients (major Publishers and Catalogue companies) were mainly print based. As things moved on, I took on contracts with off and online clients, learnt about the Web, adapted my copy style to Webwriting, trained other Writers, and continued to do well until Spring 2008 – when the credit-crunch hit. 95% of our clients either then had to shed all their outside contractors, downsize, or go bust (some did). I struggled on, but then had a visit from the ‘Big C’ stopping all my work. After surgery, long hospital treatments, I’m now in better health (hopefully) – so re-started Creative Solutions as a small web-only company with my (‘Write2ProfitOnline’) Website, promoting Copywriting E-Books, Courses, Writing News, Blogs and Marketing tips and information.
    I’ve always preferred working for myself, and have been a Copywriter, Trainer, Editor and Article Writer for many years, and am pleased that I can still be a prolific Writer. I’ve always told my Marketing students that ‘If you can write and sell through your words, you’ll never go hungry..’ I think I’m living proof of that now! Meanwhile, I love the Web, working online from home, and being able to do all my business from my desktop, and not have to go to endless meetings, travel long hours or be on the ‘phone half the day. The internet has also accelerated and extended all the tried and tested Marketing strategies of the past, and is an absolute boon for Direct Marketers and Copywriters alike.
    After all, for all the great technical and design advances we see today, the ‘Web will always need words through which to communicate!
    Overall, it’s a great time for Web Writers!

  9. 1)My business grew from an inability to get my work published by mainstream publishers. I believed my work to be readable and interesting so I bought a program from Desk Top Author and began making eBooks.
    (I had designed and printed my own poetry chapbooks for several years)
    I also designed a web page using Dreamweaver and maintained it for a few years, then my nephew J.Leslie Booth, an experienced designer and web guru, designed and maintains my present page.
    2) Being able to design and market my own product. The ability to innovate in my writing and to design and produce blogs for my different interests.
    3)I’ve been writing for 40+ years. Computers were not even in use when I began writing and submitting my work. I did have one poem that became a classic, Minnie Remembers, and was made into a documentary film, given an award for screenwriting and published in hundreds of religious and secular periodicals and a dozen books. The computer has become a vital tool in my work. I just wish I could generate an income from it!

  10. Ken J. says:


    I love birthdays and birthday parties. This is how I got started in my niche.
    I am a new start-up business and I proclaim myself as the “Birthday Guy!”.
    I look forward to giving birthday gifts, also receiving them :) , especially personalized ones.

    What I like about starting this business is I can give free downloadable personalized gifts to fans, friends and followers online. My business provide a way for an individuals to send a personalize birthday ecard with their own voice message and a picture on the ecard.

    Also, as a free gift, we offer a personalize Birthday News Paper with your name on it. This paper features US world events that happen on the day you were born.

    Events like, who was the President, info on the world series, what music was hot at that time, what famous people that share your birthday date, what was the price of cars, gas, houses, stamps, just to name a few.

    You can visit to get the full details.
    You Say It Birthday!

    Ken J.

  11. I am a CPA, and I started my business as a side income to a full time job just because I had friends and family that wanted help doing their tax returns. Two years ago I was fortunate to have the side business when this secondary income became my sole income following a layoff.

    I am pretty passionate about small business, so my favorite thing is working with other small business owners and seeing them succeed. I visited with a new client recently who was starting up a home based business. After our conversation, she told me that she knew what she was doing with her work, but had been overwhelmed with her lack of knowledge about the “business” side of the business. Just talking to me had given her the courage that she now knew she could tackle starting up a new business. That made my day!

    I don’t think I ever dreamed about being a small business owner. I have always known that I was pretty entrepreneurial, but I did not really envision doing what I now do for a living.

  12. tom reilly says:

    wow, you must know a lot of successful Internet marketers.

    As I have not made one dime on Internet marketing I would be loathe to call it a business at this point.

    I have been unemployed for over two years, hence my involvement in Internet marketing.

  13. Joyce says:

    I started my own business after my career plateaued. I loved my job while it lasted, but when the challenge faded, I knew it was time to move on, time to do my own thing.
    My favourite part of running my own business is the flexibility. I get to choose my hours. When I was in a job, I had to be up early to make it through the traffic to in office on time. I am not a morning person and my most productive hours later in the day and into the night. So you can imagine how I used to struggle to get to the office every morning!
    Did I ever imagine this lifestyle? Every single day of my working life.

  14. Greetings Steve. My story began actually when I think of it… a very long time ago. I have always felt out of place working for some corporate machinery of some sort. I finally hit the biggest hole in my life financially just a couple of years ago. It started to bum me out. I was a big spender. Usually parties. This led me eventually after many years to rock bottom. 4-5 credit cards maxed out. 11 thousand dollars approximately in debt from a bank loan. I will not bother you with the total damage, but you can understand this was tearing me apart. I started at some point ( * before I began my down-payment on the debt) to search on Google for the term “make money on internet” and surveys and more. A lot of B.S was unreleased at first. Then I started to use some add-on called WOT or mywot . com for my browser. Really handy. Then I could see what sites were bogus and after your money with little or less in return. But I have to say that the task was worse 2-3 years ago than now. It seems so. There is more reputation building now than earlier. Anyhow I started to pick up some things here and there and I tried to design websites and more complicated things as I moved a long. As any newbie experiences there is a lot of new terms to relate to. This is quite mind-boggling. I tested many things over the time. Eventually I got one of my current projects where I wanted it. Or very very close to climax:) Then with ALL of the experience from this… I have figured out what I CAN do successfully.
    For anyone startng up: You just GOTTA say to yourself not to stop! You know it is possible to make dollars online. It is actually pretty easy when you come over the learning curve. If you quit… YOU quit. Not the systems that work for YOU after implementing them. I felt like quitting once. When I was stuck on some things. This can be all sorts of distractions like emotionally, family, not technical skills. My first thoughts on the subject was. “NO!!! Too much time has been spent learning. I cannot stop now. I told myself that I was going to continue what I was doing all the rest of my life. You should too.
    Thanks. R.

  15. Betty Locke says:

    Hi Steve:
    I entertain kids by telling them stories. Usually they expect me to come up with new stories right off the top of my head and I try to oblige. Anyhow I have been writing stories for children and self publishing them for some time now. A new book is always enthusiastically accepted and
    I receive lots of congratulations etc. when I give them away. It seemed to me that since they are so readily appreciated as gifts that it should be possible to sell some. Thanks for Article Marketing. It is a great resource. Betty

  16. Alan says:

    After selling a CCTV business in mid 2008 I have continued working for myself by helping market my families businesses online. My wife and daughter started up a new gift business and work from a unit. I have had to self learn Internet marketing and now have 2 websites that rank page one on all search engines for their keywords. It has taken over two years and now for the last 6 months am working on making money from monitized websites. Currently have 8 WordPress websites on different subjects. Earning small amount from youTube videos and Adsense and hope to increase income from affilate marketing. Working from home allows me to child mind my grand children when family are all working during holiday periods. Motto: Never too old to learn new things and enjoy life.

  17. Dixie says:

    I started my own business with the help of my now husband out of pure necessity. We had a health business together previously in Australia but were stopped selling our natural products by a government body TGA similar to the FDA in the US. We decided to take a trip to Ecuador as at our ages it is very hard to find employed work. My husband had a 12 interest and contact with Ecuador. We went because we were able to see our hard earned dollars stretch far more than back home. Before we left I started my website Retire in Ecuador and now 3 years later if you google “retire in Ecuador” you will always find me on the front page. I have also set up a few other websites and work mainy with foreigners from the US who decide to come and relocate here. We are still very interested in health and the environment and my husband continues to write in those areas as that is his speciality. We make a modest living from our websites which is enough for us to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle here in Ecuador. Of course if you want more you need to go to the website and subscribe to our Newsletters and read the many back issues. I have become quite “famosa” as the locals say here in Cuenca, Ecuador and have helped many business people here and also folks relocating. I am constantly invited out for lunch or dinner and local business’s are always asking to advertise on my website. I did not expect it to grow as it has and I must admit I now decline invitations as it takes me away from my work. I love my work and I am the webmaster of my website and others. I reply to many emails everyday and my husband continues to write health articels for me. I am constantly working at building my subscriber list to my website and am always interested in others ideas so that we can all make a little money. My thought is that if I get a small percentage of something with another it is better than not getting anything at all. Chao for now and hope to see you at my website some time. Dixie

  18. Danica says:

    Wow Steve, where to start.
    My first business was a bookkeeping service for small business. I worked as an accountant and it seemed to be a perfect fit – Wrong. Knew how to setup the business, do the work and at the time cold called CPA’s to get my first clients. Ended up with 1 regularly paying client and a list of 2,500 small business people on my newsletter mailing list that never bought anything.

    Then I went the ‘internet affiliate marketing’ route for 10 very long, very broke years. Can’t say I wasn’t determined or persistant:) That left me with sites full of fresh original content, no money.

    Next was -do what interests you and the money will come. Uh huh, when? I have a weight loss blog that the search engines simply adore but no one’s spending any money on the products nor took me up on the coaching program.

    So I stopped a little over a month ago (after the credit cards were maxed out and before depression set in) to evaluate what exactly it is that I’m very good doing. It brought me back to writing.

    Seems it was obvious to everyone except me that when they needed a simple brochure, sales letter, or any business document done, I’m the one they came to because they were getting the results they wanted.

    Non-profit I worked for wanted a community newsletter – I wrote the content, did interviews in the community, setup the publishing calendar and made sure to build a mailing list. Part of the job and didn’t think about it.

    Remember, I built a 2,500 name small business mailing list to market a service that no one was buying. But people would call to get on the list to get the newsletter because someone else passed theirs along.

    Flyers for friends having garage sales, customer service letters for small business owners I knew, and the list goes on and on…but it never dawned on me to do it as a business – until the money ran out this year and there were no job offers coming.

    Now I’m setting up a site to promote my business writing services to solo practitioners, consultant and small business. It’s what I’ve been giving away for free, a skill I’ve always had and know quite a bit about.

    They say ‘Third Times The Charm’, and I intend to see if that’s true.

  19. George Torok says:

    1.What prompted me to start my business?

    Throughout my corporate career I was frustrated most of the time. Three things excited me the most: Learning; Solving problems; and Working on projects.

    One of the projects was to organize an association conference. As the chair I spoke a few times at the confernce and worked closely with the speakers. That’s when I decided that I wan’t to be a professional speaker.

    That’s what I do now. I deliver keynotes speeches and training programs for companies, associations and conferences.

    2. What is the favorite part of running my business?

    Getting to decide what I will create and what business I will pursue.

    3. Did I ever dream that this could be possible?

    Yes and no. I had tried and failed at several business attempts. But I had not forseen a business like the one I am in now.

  20. However,my business is quit a different type.Am a missionary and my business is missions.I will love to possibily learn about doing some thing to add a little juice to life following some of the challenges one faces.But I have to say that the first thing is the motive behind what we do,and my motive is built from Phil.2:5;1Cor.10:31.If God is not at the begining,He will not be part of it and the motive may not honor Him.This is my way of starting or wanting to start anaything.

  21. zione mawephe harawa says:

    Hie Steve. Sorry for taking so long without responding.
    Here we go. Iam working but I am also doing my small business, and what prompted me to start is that the Bible said that God will bless the works of thy hands. I wanted to prove to myself that there is potential in me that i can think of something and do it and will come to being. And it is true. My business is dealing with wedding accessories for hire. I do make different types of bridal flowers and hire those who are in need of them at a reasonable price. I have got a wedding dress for hire.
    My favourite part is that i can be able to think and produce my own design of wedding flowers (boquet)and be able to see the result of my hand work to be of admirable to people.

    Yes Steve, honestly i was dreaming of this and it was just a matter of time and encouragements from people.

    And i thank God for the potential He has given me. and i know that more things are coming and i will somewhere soon.

  22. Good question! I started my own business because I was laid off from three, yes three! businesses in 3 consecutive years! After the first one, I took a job that I really didn’t like because I needed to earn some income; after that one dissappeard, I went on the next one for the same reason. So, after all of that, I took charge of my life by starting my own business. At first I had no clue what I was doing, but I perservered and about 2 years later I was making the money I needed not just to live on but to actually grow my business. I have spent the last 20+ years teaching others how to start a business. I started my business in a 1 bedroom apartment on a little bistro table with 2 wrought iron chairs. My typewriter was on the floor; when I needed to type something I cleared off the little round table and put the typewriter on it. I’ve always worked from home, so I put together a class on how to do this. I teach at the local colleges, have an nation-wide course and produced a dvd – all on the subject of How to Start and Operate Your Own Home-Based Business. What I have learned is to keep going, no matter what happens. There is nothing better than knowing that you built something for yourself, by yourself. Good luck to all, Helene

  23. Mark Demers says:

    I really can`t keep a steady 8 hour a day job because my condition keeps me sitting a lot of the day , i can get out and walk awhile but after say an hour my legs are gone and i have no energy .Finally just pure boredom and wanting to prove to myself i could make a website work and the perceived character change that people see that comes with confidence and prosperity. It`s been 9 months of learning, writing ,planning and implementing strategies . It`s like a giant game of chess and if you win you win and losing is not an option.

  24. Peter says:

    couple of things first:
    Most people have no idea on business!

    There are only three types of business: Business-as-commodity; Lifestyle; Hobby. (yes, I’ve got these descriptions in some of our books, with a lot more detail. And a lot more – see the website)
    The business might be an entity in its own right (eg a limited liability company or a trust). It might be a partnership, or it might be a sole proprietorship, but it still is one of the three main types.
    Looking at the comments so far, it fits with what I’ve discovered over the years – a very large proportion of people are in Hobby businesses, with the next commonest being Lifestyle. Sometimes. looking at the large corporations, I get the impression that, even when they are listed on stock exchanges. they are still really only Hobby businesses – some Hobby businesses have turnovers in the billions of dollars!
    (1) Why did I start in business?
    Primarily because I wanted to tackle stuff that didn’t pay all that well. Corporates tend to not like those kinds of projects. Plus, despite being a great project leader/manager( with lierally hundreds of projects delivered ontime and under budget), I loathe being “type-cast”.
    (2)What do I enjoy?
    I’m a problem-stater. I state problems in ways they can be resolved. 90% of people in business can’t state the problems and depend on “luck” to get results. Being a writer (among other things) makes it easy to put problems into a form that can be solved.
    (3)Did I dream I’d be doing this?
    No. I knew I would be doing it when I was around six years old. The form is not what I thought, but the basic structure is exactly the way I knew it would be.

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