Starting a business isn't easy. Even if you have a great idea, it can be difficult to bring that idea to life and make it successful. Entrepreneurship can lead to great success, but oftentimes not without challenges and roadblocks in the way. So if you're thinking of starting a business, what you really need is some inspiration. And who better to inspire you than successful entrepreneurs?
We spoke to seven different entrepreneurs. They told us all about how they started their businesses, and they offered advice for new entrepreneurs. From staying optimistic and confident to hiring the right people and everything in between, these tips can help you take your dream and turn it into a reality the right way.
See what these entrepreneurs had to say about starting a business:
1. Luke Webster, founder and CEO, StraightRazors.com
How it all started:"A good friend of mine, Clark Martin, screened a portfolio of straight razor and shaving domains [and] I hand registered them. We did some market testing, [and with] our first major ad buy of 1,000 dollars, we sold nearly 30,000 dollars in straight razors in 24 hours. We had not even received all the products at that time; we were just testing different identified demographics. Well, it took off from there, and since then we have invested heavily in vertical integration and commerce."
What you can learn:"Stay positive and be a realist. Surround yourself, if you have not already, with other entrepreneurs. For our company I have found the following: It can be tough to have blue- and white-collar [employees] working next to each other day in and day out. Hire poorly and you will find yourself playing the MMA referee rather than the coach of a united team with a clear vision and plan of execution."
2. Roger Bryan, managing partner, Enfusen
How it all started:"After 10 years of working only with nonprofits, I decided to try my team's skills at the enterprise-marketing level. Major corporations lead innovation, so it required us to really sharpen our skills. I wanted to be at the forefront of marketing innovation instead of just doing what everyone else was doing. This led to the birth of Enfusen Digital Marketing and our Enterprise Inbound Marketing programs."
What you can learn:"The first question [an entrepreneur needs] to ask is: "Would I buy this service?" If the answer is no, then they haven't found the right product. The best businesses are born out of a need to solve a problem. In most cases the person who invests the time and money into starting a business is attempting to solve a problem they had that no one else seemed to be able to solve. When you start with this, you have a much greater chance at sustainable success."
3. Lorraine Dahlinger and Steve Dworman, co-founders, From the Lab
How it all started:"Steve and I first worked together 10 years ago on a skin care line that Steve was launching. During the process, we learned that most major beauty brands purchase their products from a handful of prestigious, independent cosmetics labs located throughout the world. Brands then take an average of 2.5 years to bring a new product to market, so that by the time you buy it, it's already old technology. You pay more for the marketing and branding process than for the formula or ingredients, and we found that to be an eye-opening realization. We are passionate about the belief that all women should have affordable access to effective, high-end beauty products without the wait. [We realized that] between the two of us, we had the right combination of experience, connections and talent to make it happen."
What you can learn:"Have a clear mission. You need to be passionate and confident about your vision because you're going to experience hurdles, uncertainties and failures along the way. Your belief in what you're doing is imperative to your success, and you should never give up on yourself. [And when] you're building your core team, finding complementary character traits is just as important as finding the right skill sets. You need to identify the right people to support you as well as help you formulate a process to support your business goals."
4. Shelly Fisher, founder and CEO, Hope Paige Medical ID Marketplace
How it all started:"Hope Paige was originally founded to create awareness products for charities. After one of those charity meetings (JDRF), a concerned mother stopped me and asked if we would design a bracelet for her daughter, who has diabetes. Her daughter, Kristen, who was learning to drive, refused to wear any of the old-fashioned, chain-style medical bracelets on the market. The mother explained that if her daughter's blood sugar was out of control, she could become disoriented and possibly appear drunk or drugged. What if she ended up in a police station instead of being immediately taken to a hospital? She looked me in the eye and I couldn't say no — as long as Kristen helped in developing the new design. That way we were sure she would wear it. With her input and a lot of research on safety, the first structured fashionable medical ID bracelet was born in 2002."
What you can learn:"Advice is easy. Taking the risk to implement your dream is hard. Have the full picture in mind, but take the steps one at a time. No matter what your vision, don't let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the steps needed to get to your goal. Fill your team with the right people. If your choice is to grow a business and funds are limited, you have to be very selective in building your team with the right talent. [And have] fun. If you are passionate about what you do, each and every day will provide an opportunity that allows you to become better while doing what you love."
5. Jennifer Soffen, CEO, Rebloom
How it all started:"After attending many weddings this past year, I started to see just how many beautiful, expensive flowers were being wasted. [When I started Rebloom], I won a few Harvard Business School business plan competitions and got some seed money from Harvard. I did my first trial in January with charity: water at their annual gala. I proved that people wanted to buy these arrangements and that the model worked and made money back from the charity. Since then, it's just been about spreading the word so that event holders know Rebloom is an option for them."
What you can learn:"Try it on a small scale — all the business plans in the world don't compare to actually trying it to understand what your main challenges are going to be. Also, talk about your business to others as if it's already successful — it buys you a lot of credibility to be confident."
6. Craig Waldman, owner, 15/40 Productions
How it all started:"In 2001 I ventured off from Merv Griffin Productions, where I formed 15/40 Productions. My role within MGP was within the design and production services and didn't really concentrate on sales. But wanting a fresh start and something that was mine, I turned to the clients that I had worked with and nurtured over the years. My relationships were strong and with keeping my company small and service oriented, clients began to trust what we were doing and over the years [we] created a large client base. A few years into business, we focused our attention on red-carpet arrivals and rivaled the company that had a stronghold [on it] for years. With arrivals now being a large portion of our business, [and with] creating over 130 a year for studios, fashion and award shows, we have created a staple business [that] allows us to develop other areas."
What you can learn:"Do your research, [and] create strong relationships with whomever you encounter, as you never know who will one day be your client."
7. Mike Collins, founder and CEO, Big Idea Group
How it all started: "Very quickly in my career, I figured out two things: I was neither very good at, nor very interested in, working with large companies. I've really been involved with startups since business school. Since 2000, I've been running Big Idea Group (BIG), which is a platform for my partners and me to start other businesses."
What you can learn: "I would advise people to start a business in an area where you have some expertise and experience. It's going to be a challenge, so you'd better have a passion for it and a head start in terms of knowledge and resources. It's also always smart to start small, without quitting your day job until it's obvious that you have a real winner. Another tip to keep in mind is to be sure to find partners and advisors who complement your skills — entrepreneurship is really a collaborative endeavor. Finally, race to find a paying customer; it really focuses you on what matters.
Originally published on Business News Daily.