Contributed By


Cindy Bates

Vice President, US Small and Midsized Business & Distribution at Microsoft

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3 Entrepreneurs Who Tapped Personal Inspiration to Launch Businesses

March 20, 2017

Learn how three entrepreneurs were inspired to leave a cubicle and the security of a nine-to-five job to seek out new adventure.

Entrepreneurship is part of the fabric of America.

Since the nation’s birth, people have taken their dreams and transformed them into goods and services, which have, in turn, created millions of jobs and tremendous economic opportunity. Today, approximately 550,000 new businesses are started each month; more than six million annually.

Most of these ventures aren’t born overnight. Many would-be entrepreneurs, even those with profitable ideas and dreams of small-business ownership, teeter on the edge before taking the courageous leap into entrepreneurship — and with good reason.

Entrepreneurship often means major financial and lifestyle adjustments, especially in the short term. Sources of individual inspiration vary greatly from person to person, and I’m a big believer in inspired change. Early in my career, with faith and some calculated risk-taking, I moved cross country from Manhattan to Seattle to work in an entirely new industry. And through so many varied ways, there are others inspired to leave a cubicle and the security of a nine-to-five job to seek out new adventure.

Below are three examples of entrepreneurs tapping their individual inspiration to launch successful businesses:

Ariela Suster, Sequence

Even with a successful career, Ariela felt the tug of her native El Salvador and was driven to give back in a meaningful way. After moving to Los Angeles to launch a denim line, Ariela began to reevaluate where her life was going and set out to turn that longing into a business.

She started Sequence, an organization that employs at-risk youth who create handcrafted products as a positive alternative to the cycle of violence in their native El Salvador. She uses her keen eye and fashion background to mentor teams on how to incorporate traditional artisanal techniques to create a variety of accessories, most notably bracelets. Other entrepreneurs can learn from Ariela by taking a deeper look at what motivates them and building a business around it.

Mikaila Ulmer, Me and the Bees Lemonade

Inspired by her grandmother’s flaxseed recipe and love of bees, Mikaila started a lemonade stand when she was only 4 years old. By age 9, she had appeared on Shark Tank, and now, at age 11, her lemonade is on the shelves of Whole Foods Market, the world’s leader in natural and organic foods.

Mikaila found success by turning into a business what she was already doing for fun. So many could-be entrepreneurs dismiss their hobbies and passions instead of thinking of them as potential businesses. Take a cue from Mikaila and take a second look at what you already enjoy doing and how you can transform it into a business.

Chase Jarvis, CreativeLive

Award-winning artist and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis co-founded a streaming education website offering more than 1,500 courses on various subjects such as photography, video, music and art. Users can stream the content from anywhere at any time, which has helped CreativeLive become the number one website of its kind.

Chase looked at what he wanted as an artist and used that insight to create a product he knew would be appealing to other creatives.

Many people think “I wish I had a product that would make this task easier,” or “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a solution to this problem?” But instead of creating a product to fill the need, they wait for someone else to bring it to market. Consider what tools would make your life or job better and build a blueprint for a solution that could help others solve a similar problem.

This article originally appeared on Cindy Bates’ Blog.

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