I’m obsessed with the back stories of how people started their companies. From 2011 to 2013 I read 197 books, dissecting the tech sector, which resulted in my first published book, Hacking The Valley.
Recently, I created a Facebook group for entrepreneurs that now includes almost 9,000 members. Last week, I posed the question to the group, “What made you start your business and how did you do it?”
Here are 50 entrepreneurs’ reasons for starting their own companies:
1. Emily O'Connor says, “I complained to a company that wouldn't fix their problem, so I sold them the solution.”
2. Gemma Meeding says, “A magical, spur-of-the-moment epiphany, brought to life with a startup amount of funding from my supportive parents.”
3. Arne Giske says, "I branched out to a stranger and made a call. I made a website without knowing anything about them. I learned the rules of the game then put the pieces together."
4. Jouni Heikkilä heard about a product in Moscow, with origins in Japan, then analyzed the product and improved it.
5. Tom Stothard slyly replied, “with difficulty.”
6. Kwadwo Ofori-Mensah shares, “I couldn't find Ghana music online so I created a platform.”
7. Phouphet Bounsana says he felt like he was meant for something bigger and then found it.
8. Mark Whelan started his business by “writing a good old-fashioned business plan.”
9. Isobel Hamilton had an idea, bought supplies, made a website and launched a business.
10. Ryan Okrant says, “I bought something that broke too many times, too quickly, and I set out to make a better one.”
11. Jacqueline Nelles started her business to pay for her brother's university education.
12. Dylan Jay Sehyr Weitzman found a problem he was interested in, found other people with the same problem, then kept tweaking his solution until it fit everyone's problem.
13. Lori Robinson Myers explains, “Flipping designer clothes from consignment stores.”
14. Yigit Ispir's inspiration came while eating lunch: “Had an idea while eating lunch, then made it happen, although I’m still working on it.”
15. Arielle Jordan says, “I felt like ‘there should be something that exists like this already.’ But it didn't, so I thought, ‘I'll make it exist.’”
16. Trevor Wilson started his business pieces at a time, until all the pieces came together.
17. Jenny Cameron declares, “On the heels of failure, with nothing but tenacity and a proclivity for risk.”
18. Kevin Carlson took the straightforward route by flushing out a value proposition, identified his weaknesses in the context of that value proposition, and sold the vision to the people who can do what he couldn’t.
19. Jeneen Ford took the simple route by charging for the assistance she was providing.
20. Dilyar Askar found himself in need of bringing financial freedom to his family. He then catalyzed one of the many ideas that he had, which he saved up from other struggles he had faced.
21. Annabelle Freeman was inspired by “positive visualization, determination and taking a leap of faith!”
22. Simon Kelly says, “I broke my ankle and couldn't walk for three months, and needed money.”
23. Carey Suante started by writing a blog.
24. Tyler Aldridge was inspired by crowdfunding via Kickstarter.
25. Elijah Ndereba says, “Conviction that I can fix problems.”
26. Angela Cordell used motivation to push through exhaustion and doubt.
27. Tony Jones built personal value, which lead to investment.
28. Michael Williams had a vision and pure arrogance.
29. Chirag Bansal got into medical school and found he didn't want to do it, then applied his talent to business.
30. Andrew Martin says he was "sick and tired of seeing other people make money off my skills and experience. I quadrupled my income overnight." He self-funded with his savings and 401(k).
31. Nicole Aline dedicated her extra time to researching, brainstorming and applying the advice she found, in small baby steps, until it began to click.
32. Zach Wolfgang bootstrapped and put the plan into action.
33. Jason Meader used Google auto suggestion and persistence.
34. Stuwart Kitila was inspired by identifying the incompetence other businesses had on delivering quality service.
35. Michael Levine explains, “My clients told me they were tired of making other people rich and they would support me if I started my own company.”
36. David Bador was inspired by “a great team, a lot of passion and love for the hustle.”
37. Morgan Desaulniers licenced his company, designed his brand, constructed pricing, built a website and was off to the races.
38. Ben Vickers built a website while using his customers to start it for him.
39. Alyson Fel says she received “help from Google” to figure out what to start.
40. Lesia Finnberg obtained a degree, then found clients by asking friends and acquaintances if they were interested in her services.
41. Nathalie Garrett started “by accident.”
42. Jose Carmelo Hiraldo started with “the last $100 left in his bank account.”
43. Kyle Sutter was frustrated by a nagging, everyday problem. It turns out his friends were frustrated as well.
44. Daniel Farahdel says, “I was really passionate about making a difference in this world, so I attended a fashion trade show to study the market and I have been growing since.”
45. Craig Lowe knocked on doors for two years to save money. He then found a problem that he was passionate about fixing.
46. Wendy Queen asserts, “after the economy tanked in 2007 and no one was hiring, I realized that I had to create my own opportunities.”
47. Ruchika Roy shares she “talked to people. Talked to more people. Talked about what I wanted to do. Found people who were interested in what I wanted to do. Then we went ahead and did it. Everything else is logistics.”
48. Brian Williams validated his idea through Facebook groups, sub-Reddits and help from entrepreneur groups.
49. Kesia King explains, “ I was on maternity leave, 12 weeks of free time -- well outside of the whole tending to a newborn part.”
50. Siyabonga Ridge Ngcobo had "crazy business ideas" while serving customers as a cashier.
Join the Facebook group, where we share stories, give advice, provide mentorship and collectively get better at being entrepreneurs. Request an invite here.