I love reading success stories. The good ones always include accounts of adversities that were overcome and then with lessons I can apply to my own home-based business. Best of all, they inspire me. If Ben and Jerry can start an ice cream empire with a five dollar investment, just think what I can do! So I read up all the Top 500 lists published by the glossy business magazines… which is how I came across this interesting statistic:
Nearly half of the companies on the Inc. 500 list were started from home!
Think about it – not long ago, guys like Thomas Massie, CEO of SensAble Technologies( #211) and Edy Bedoya of EBC (#81) were building computer gadgets out of their dorm rooms (although not together). And we all know the story of Michael Dell (not on the list – he’s too big).
But it’s not just high-tech. Corporation #32, Twin Hills Collectables, started out as a hobby of the owner Steve Halsell. He earned $8,000 his first year selling die-cast replicas of NASCAR cars and $200,000 the next – At which point, his boss told him he should quit his day job because it cost him too much money. His 1998 sales revenues reached $8 million.
These stories underline the fact that there has never been a better time to start a home-based business: 500,000 new ones are launched each year, and that number is expected to grow, thanks to new tax rules that make working from home more cost-effective than ever. Affordable technology makes it possible to offer products and services that rival those of big corporations.
That same technology is rapidly becoming a staple in households where owning a laptop computer was too expensive just a decade ago — in new yet familiar forms, like TV’s and telephones — creating new markets.
The companies on the Inc. list share some things in common. One is a founder/owner with vision; someone who identifies a need, has a good idea and the courage to run with it. Another is perseverance. Bedoya’s story is especially moving: a Peruvian immigrant, he arrived in the States in the mid-80’s with just $100 in his pocket. After his first job — cleaning toilets in a restaurant — he worked his way up to dishwasher and finally to head chef before switching gears and entering the jewelry business.
A few years later, his car was stolen – along with all of his money, credit cards and inventory. By this time, Bedoya had enrolled in a college work-study program to earn a degree, and this is when he discovered computers. Six months later, he was in business buying and reselling parts. In 1998, his company’s revenues reached $13 million.
Successful businesspeople also know how to get the capital they need to launch and maintain their ventures. The Internet has recently become a force in funding startups; several underwriting organizations have sprouted online to help match investors with projects. One good place to start the search is Garage.com (https://www.garage.com).
Interestingly, almost 200 of the companies on Inc. list were capitalized with investments of under $10,000. And 79 were founded just five years ago.
Anything is possible, even becoming the subject of your own Success Story.