We've all been there. You're having a bad day at work and you find yourself fantasizing about starting your own business and leaving that dump behind.

It may not be as difficult as you think.

BusinessNewsDaily caught up with five entrepreneurs who started their businesses while still working at their regular jobs. There were eventually able to quit and run their own businesses full time.

Steve Richardson, Stave Puzzles

Steve Richardson, Stave Puzzles

Steve Richardson says he started Stave Puzzles after a few years of "dabbling in the game-design business."

"We were offered $300  –  a good chunk of change in the 1970s  –  to design a wooden jigsaw puzzle, and thus Stave Puzzles was born," said Richardson, who had been working as a software developer and programmer at a Fortune 500 company.

Today his Vermont-based company specializes in creating high-end, hand-cut wooden jigsaw puzzles that can sell for thousands of dollars. His current project is a $4,000 limited-edition Atlantis puzzle with seven layers.

He has 25 employees.

Initially, however, it was just him and his business partner, David Tibbetts. They had an old wood saw from Richardson's father-in-law, a $10,000 investment, and an idea to capitalize on the fact that another puzzle company, Par Puzzles, had gone out of business.

"We decided to run six 1-inch ads in the New Yorker magazine … to see if we could pick up the existing customer base of Par Puzzles. The first person responding from the first ad purchased $50,000 a year [worth of puzzles] for the next 20 years," Richardson said.

His advice for other entrepreneurs?

"It helps to be somewhat naïve and optimistic."

Amy Nichols, Dogtopia

Amy Nichols, Dogtopia

Amy Nichols was doing quite well in her telecommunications career when guilt got the better of her.

"My inspiration came from Griffin, my Boston terrier, because I felt so guilty working long hours and leaving my dog home alone all day," Nichols said. "In 2001 I left my job and started looking for a place to launch my own dog day care."

Eleven years later, her business, called Dogtopia, does $12 million a year in sales and has 23 locations across the country.

Before opening her business Nichols had volunteered with animal rescue and transport groups, so she had a lot of dog care experience. She also did a lot of preparation for opening her business.

"When I wasn't volunteering, I was planning for my future business by attending dog behavior seminars and reading as much as possible about dog behavior and business management," Nichols said. "I also completed an eight-week course for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business. It was through the National Women’s Business Center in D.C., and it was instrumental in me creating a solid business plan and also changing my mind-set from employee to business owner. "

Her job wasn't the only thing Nichols gave up to run her business.

"I had to give up driving a nice car and buying fancy clothes without thinking twice," she said.

She also had to give up a lot of her free time.

"Before starting Dogtopia, I had a fairly busy social life. My 'going out' was cut down about 90 percent. Happy hour was a thing of the past. I was now taking care of people's dogs during their happy hour," she said. "I didn't feel like I was missing out, but it was a huge adjustment. For Thanksgiving in 2002, we were five months in to the business. My entire family came to Dogtopia, and we had Thanksgiving dinner at the store along with 30 dogs."

Beth N. Carvin

Beth N. Carvin

, Nobscot Corporation

Beth Carvin, founder of the Nobscot Corp., a developer of software technology for the human resources industry, was working full time when she began brainstorming her business idea with her partner at the beginning of 2000.

"We started the business in April 2000 with me working during my lunch breaks and after work designing (on paper) what our software would do and how it would function," Carvin said.

"My co-founder quit his job in June 2000 to work full time developing what I had drawn on paper. In December 2000, when our flagship product was ready to be released, I quit my job. Our first customer was my previous employer. They are still with us today nearly 12 years later."

Carvin said that one of the ways the business partners were able to afford to quit their jobs – they only had $10,000 in startup money in the bank – was by looking for the most cost-effective way to do everything.

"We always look for a better way than the traditional methods for doing things. The traditional methods tend to be the most expensive and not always the best," Carvin said. "For example, early on we were looking for contact management software. There were a couple of programs that were popular at the time, but we kept looking. We found a program out of Europe that was much less money with more and better features."

She said it also helped that the two company owners could combine their skills.

"Between the two of us, we knew how to do almost everything for starting and running the business," Carvin said. "We saved a lot of money by doing most everything ourselves."

Patty Brisben

Patty Brisben

, Pure Romance

Patty Brisben was working for four pediatricians, earning $9 an hour, before she also became involved in a company that sells "intimacy aids" at in-home gatherings. She eventually started her own such company, Pure Romance.

When she was a medical assistant, "I got in at 7:30 a.m. and, on most nights, didn't leave until 8 p.m.," she said. "As a single mother with four kids, making $9 an hour certainly didn't cut it."

So Brisben started working for an in-home party company.  "By the end of my first party as a host, I had sold over $800 worth of product. Within a year, my income doubled, and I quit my medical day job to focus on sales," she said.

However, her new employer would go out of business.  "I decided to take the leap and start my own company," she said. "I was nervous but fully dedicated to empower, educate and entertain."

She started the business with $5,000. Now the company has 75,000 Pure Romance consultants who sell her products at in-home parties.

Her advice to anyone considering quitting work to pursue a full-time job of one's own is to be sure you know what you're getting into.

"Before jumping into anything, you need to find something that you are passionate about and will continue to be passionate about," she said. "I always say that you need to be a racehorse, put your blinders on, find your goal and run towards it. Don’t let naysayers and negativity stand in your way."

Erin Condren

Erin Condren


Erin Condren was working in the apparel business when a surprise twin pregnancy, followed by months of bed rest, led her to find a new career.

"I started creating stationery and stickers from my home, mostly as a way to save money on gifts for friends," she said. "When I started printing my email address on the back, I got several messages each day asking, 'Where can I find your collection in stores or online?'"

Faced with the choice of returning to the apparel industry or developing her  stationery business, she decided to take the riskier path.

Condren financed her new business on credit.

"We paid for paper and printers with credit cards and then took a home equity line to pay for the website and employee payroll," she said. "It was a real gamble but something my husband and I agreed was worth the risk."

Today her company occupies 38,000 square feet of space packed with state-of-the-art printing technology, and she works with a talented team of designers.

Condren suggests that those thinking about making the leap to business ownership should consider whether they have what it takes.

"Anyone can have an idea and be an entrepreneur," she said. "The tough part is making the jump from entrepreneur to successful businessperson."

If you think you've got what it takes, she has one more piece of advice.

"I love the saying 'A goal is a dream with a deadline,'" she said. "With determination and hard work, I know I can achieve my goals and dreams."