20 Entrepreneurs We Loved in 2011

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Hoping to start your own business in 2012? Who better to give you advice than those who came before you? BusinessNewsDaily interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs in 2011. They all had interesting stories to tell and great advice to share. Here's some inspiration and encouragement from 20 entrepreneurs who know what you're going through.

Former Giant Carl Banks, G-III

Former Giant Carl Banks, G-III
"Playing in the NFL teaches you to be prepared. Fashion requires a great deal of attention to detail, and that is something that sports have definitely taught me. The one thing that being in sports allowed me was to open doors and get an appointment. What you do with that appointment is pretty much up to you and the product you are representing." – Carl Banks, former New York Giants linebacker, G-III Sports By Carl Banks

Former 'Housewife' Jill Zarin, Skweez Couture

"Brand recognition [is crucial], so that when customers see it in the stores, they will have a familiarity and the security to know they wouldn't get something I wouldn't love myself. Confidence is key." – Jill Zarin, former "Real Housewife" and founder of Skweez Couture

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, Method

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, Method
"The biggest lesson I learned is that business is really about timing and how to pace yourself. Going too fast can kill you, and going too slow can kill you. It is really important to know the right speed to grow your company. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it is really about riding the wave." – Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, Method

Patrick Schwarzenneger, Project360

"Everybody should give to people who are less fortunate. Know you're having impact. Every single thing someone does can help. I’ve seen firsthand with my parents and grandparents." – Patrick Schwarzenegger, founder of Project360

Jim and James Carroll, LV Wood

Credit: Brian Buckley Photography
"Leaving the customers happy at the end of the day is No. 1. You need to establish a good reputation from the beginning and maintain it in order to stay alive." – Jim and James Carroll, LV Wood

Timothy Adam, Top Etsy Seller & Author

Tim Adams
"I don't think a lot of artists understand how to write a blog or use social media. You really have to put in the time and learn how to market your shop." – Timothy Adam, Etsy entrepreneur and author of "How to Make Money Using Etsy: A Guide to the Online Marketplace for Crafts and Handmade Products" (John Wiley & Sons, 2011)

Rich Schmelzer, Jibbitz & Geopalz

"Make small mistakes and fix them. Then make more mistakes and tweak them again, to get real confident about what you are going to do. I call that an intricate process, as opposed to a three-year business plan where your product can't change that much. …Be willing to listen to the market, be willing to listen to consumers, and be willing to make mistakes and learn from them." – Rich Schmelzer, founder of Jibbitz and Geopalz

Vanessa Lurie, Wanderlust

"People are so excited and, although occasionally people are confused at first, once they walk inside, they're always really excited to talk about it and look around. Everyone always wants to know exactly what I changed inside the trailer and where I found it." – Vanessa Lurie, founder of Wanderlust

Ryan Vesler, Homage

"With credit cards, you can really extend your credit. If you get good terms from some vendors that you work with, you can really buy yourself a good 60 days to go out and try to make stuff happen." – Ryan Vesler, founder and CEO, Homage

Rachel Weeks, School House Apparel

"There have been really, really trying times for me, our company and our team over the past years. The one thing I have never given into is the idea of giving up. That is not in the realm of possibility for us. If you stay centered and focused, you can make it happen. Staying determined is absolutely the most important thing at the end of the day." – Rachel Weeks, founder, School House

Anjula Bath, Desi Hits!

Anjula Bath, Desi Hits!
"There are ideas out there, but they'll never see the light of day because the founders don’t know who to approach." – Anjula Acharia-Bath, founder, Desi Hits!

Dan Schneider, SIB Development & Consulting

"We ask why and don’t take 'Because we said so' for an answer." – Dan Schneider , founder of SIB Development & Consulting.

Gary Levitt, Mad Mimi

"I never think about revenue. I never think about what is going to generate more money or what customers will want. I think: If I was a customer, what would I want? I listen to customers, but I listen to myself as well." – Gary Levitt, Mad Mimi

David Binns, Aurora Shoe Co

"We wanted to move back to where we were from. Working for myself was a safer bet than working for a large corporation." – David Binns, Aurora Shoe Co.

Richard Kallman, CupcakeStop

"Like anything else, you take one day at a time, try to create great relationships and deliver a quality product with great customer service. That is the key to any business. My dad always told me to never give up, and I apply that to all my business ventures." – Richard Kallman, CEO, CupcakeStop

David Farley, Anatomic Global

"Perseverance is absolutely required. As an entrepreneur you need to look at the intent, purposefulness and the ability to stay committed to the project. You need to be persistent to effectively compete with big companies." – David Farley, Anatomic Global

Michelle Mangen, The Virtual Assistant

Michelle Mangen, The Virtual Assistant
"Without Twitter and the relationships I’ve built there, I'm not sure I would actually be in business today." – Michelle Mangen, founder of The Virtual Assistant, who has 30,000 Twitter followers

Martin Hitch, iLoveRobots

Martin Hitch, iLoveRobots
"Commercialization has taken a long time. The challenge was how to cut costs while maintaining the magic of the product. Every time you add complexity, it layers costs on." – Martin Hitch , chief executive officer of Bossa Nova Robotics, parent of iLoveRobots

Lawson Nickol, All American Clothing Co.

"We're all here to help each other get through this. I have a passion for the U.S., and I am so terribly sick of the situation we have right now, and what happens to honest, hard-working people." – Lawson Nickol, founder and president of the All American Clothing Co.

Daniel Dyer, NASCAR Car Wash

"Having a brand is a lot easier than developing a brand. When you develop a brand, generally you do so locally, then regionally, and to get it across the country it's a huge endeavor. NASCAR is already global and fantastically understood here in the U.S., and that was the motivator. It isn't just having a brand, it's having the right brand." – Daniel Dyer, NASCAR Car Wash