Being a successful business owner takes a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to find out in what ways our small business owners have gotten lucky with their ventures.
Here’s what they had to say…
1. “It sounds weird to say it, but a family illness was actually the spark of luck that gave me the drive (and the excuse) to start my business. I have family in East Africa, and when one of them became very ill I ended up visiting them and staying there for a few months. I had time to pursue my dream of starting my own company, and it quickly took off. Luckily my family member got better too!” –Max Robinson, Mahlatini Safari
2. “It was 9 am on a scorching Las Vegas morning and my business luckhad nothing to do with gambling! We entered the casino to cool off. Sitting at one of the gaming tables was the owner of a chain of salons in my neighborhood. Imagine my surprise and delight! I was barely 4 months old but I figured my luck was staring me in the face. I walked over, said hello, mentioned that I went to one of his salons and then went right into my elevator (in this case, casino) pitch. It worked! He gave me his card and said to call him when I returned. After a meeting with his spa director, I started selling in all of his salons! It put us on the map in Long Island, that is for sure. I always wonder what brought me to that casino, at that moment, on that day. Luck, Heck Yeah! ” –Roberta Perry, Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc.
3. “I was a flight attendant for over 30 years when I invented Finders Key Purse(r). It’s a long story how it got invented and how many people told me I could never pull this off, but I did. I decided to make my flight attendant friends my sales reps, invented a new two tier commission plan, and took most of life savings and off to market we went-me knowing not much more than “if I like it, so will they!”
I started my company in December of 2004, and by December 2005, we had sold 1 million Finders Key Purse(r)! Now if that isn’t luck, than I don’t know what luck is.” –Sandy Stein, Finders Key Purse
4. “I gave hundreds of presentations about chocolate and nutrition to help sell my self-published book The Chocolate Therapist: A User’s Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate. I decided to reward myself by taking a horseback riding retreat to Wyoming and ended up meeting my publisher from Wiley Publishing on that trip. We were both alternates to a sold out retreat, so even the fact that we were both at the same retreat seemed to be a stroke of amazing luck. Serendipity took over from there and Wiley published my book, I later started my own brand of chocolate which has since turned into a very successful business.” –Julie Pech, The Chocolate Therapist
5. “Luck played a significant role in our current digital marketing agency success. In 2008 when the recession started, we had to shut down our retail brick-and-mortar furniture/home decor store in San Diego. We took what we had learned marketing our retail store online for the past 6 years, combined with our business backgrounds and corporate work experience, and started an online marketing agency with no more than a website and business cards (today we have more than 100 clients and 7 employees). The timing was right because businesses started pouring money into online marketing away from traditional marketing channels like print, radio, and TV at that time.” –Toby Danylchuk, 39 Celsius Web Marketing Consulting
6. “My partners and I run CutCableToday.com full-time, and I’d definitely say we got lucky at the onset of things. The timing just happened to work out when the site took off. One partner had just sold his business, I was about to go on summer break from teaching, which allowed me to transition into working on the site full-time. And we just so happened to get into the niche right before it started snowballing. I’d imagine it’s a lot harder to start a cord cutting site from scratch now and be successful, as there are a ton of them out there now.
The result? We have a site that gets anywhere from 500,000-1 million visitors a month in a niche that’s booming.” –Chris Brantner, CutCableToday.com
7. “We have a saying that motion creates luck. Back in 2013 when we were waiting for the initial version of our product to be built there wasn’t a whole lot to do. However, believing that motion creates luck I took that time to meet every other tech entrepreneur in the city of Nashville where we reside. I made some contacts through those meetings that we landed by being proactive, as it turned out one of those entrepreneurs knew a local journalist that ended up covering our launch. That PR hit gave us the first thousand customers that we needed in our local market to get started. Without much needed boosts from that coverage I’m not sure we would be where we are at today.” –Bryan Clayton, GreenPal
8. “I guess you can say I was lucky/blessed because I would send Cookie samples to producers, celebs, host, TV shows and they would respond after consumption with rave reviews. Basically they did not know me from Adam but ate my baked goods 🙂 This is how I have appeared on so many shows.” –Zenobia Dewely, Zenobia’s Sweet Tooth
9. “Luck was a huge factor three times in my business. Living with someone at University who happened to be interested in the same areas of business and who wanted to pursue a similar idea. Finding the right technology lead by quite literally bumping into them at an event (and spilling my drink on them), which has led to an awesome partnership going forward. Lastly, an email was sent to me by accident asking for someone to feature in the Guardian (national UK paper), I responded and they liked what I was saying and I was given an opportunity which quickly lead to more opportunities to make things happen.” –Xavier Parkhouse-Parker, Recommendable
10. “I was looking at selling my business because it was just getting too big so I shopped around. Through this I just happened to come across a group of men that were buying website-based businesses and ended up making the best business relationships ever with them! They ended up buying 70% of my old company and helped me promote my new one! Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know (Or who you run into).” –Ashley Wirtz, Cheap Beauty Deals
11. “In a short period of time, we scaled up to meet the nationwide demands of our biggest client, thereby giving us the amount of recurring revenue we had only dreamed of (good luck). During that same period of good luck, I resisted the urge to spend and expand operations, instead focusing on saving and becoming more efficient. The proper management of good luck (staying lean and conservative), lead to our being able to outlast a period of bad luck, as 2 and-a-half months later, our client had to place our business with them on hold due to a capital raise (bad luck). Without recognizing and managing luck properly, we would have been out of business.” –Julian Wright, Shotzu
12. “I started my business in October 2014 because of random events beyond my control. In January 2014, I was recruited to be an editor at a startup financial news site. I quit my job as a reporter at Investor’s Business Daily. Then a few days later, the startup retracted its job offer because I was named as a defendant (along with Investor’s Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal and a columnist for WSJ) in a frivolous lawsuit. When I told IBD my job offer was dead and that I would like to stay, they said I had shown I was emotionally ready to go. They couldn’t let me stay but let me freelance for them. A few months later major financial services firm gave me job offer and retracted it also because of the lawsuit.
I was radioactive to prospective employers. Thus I started my own content development practice and called it Key Financial Media, which is a play on in my first name, Ky — pronounced key.
Funny, the lawsuit was dropped in 2015. This past December the startup offered me the job again but I have moved on. I have no regrets and I’m as happy as can be. I am sorry this was longer than four sentences.” –Ky TrangHo, Key Financial Media
13. “I think of myself as the Forrest Gump of private investigators, mainly because I’ve always been in the right place at the right time and I rose to the occasion. I was born into a family of private investigators, rebelled during college, moved to Los Angeles, fell back into the family business and here I am. The family connection got me my first job, but I was tortured as the company whipping boy for years before I, eventually, was appointed to run the organization. It was a long road, but worth it.” –Rob Holmes, IPCybercrime.com
14. “Luck has played a role in my business repeatedly, and this is a business that I never even planned to start. My background is in sales, marketing and web development. I happened to make a friend through my wife, who became my neighbor when I moved house. He’s a successful oil and gas industry veteran, and we decided to start an online recruitment agency. While trying to attract clients to that business, they kept asking who made our website, to which the answer was me! So a new business was born through a series of coincidences and luck.” –Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
15. “Luck got me into college at 16… on orientation day, when applications were long closed. A month later, I started my PR practice. I was lucky again to land a freelance gig that allowed me to quit my full-time job in 2015, travel, and then launch my PR firm in Atlanta.” –Alexis Chateau, Alexis Chateau PR, LLC
16. “As Malcom Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ succinctly puts it though, even the ‘luckiest’ among us can attribute their success to something more tangible. I was certainly lucky to have the right connections and more so timing that made my start-up a success, but with hard work, your 10,000 hours practice (if you’ve read the book) and a mixture of other social factors you’ll notice luck doesn’t play as much of an active role as some may think.” –Jack Barmby, FM Outsource
17. “As a road markings company, we travel all over the UK to complete our services for our clients. For us, our location was a huge part of our luck – based pretty much exactly in the middle of the UK mainland, our trucks can get anywhere in a relatively short space of time. This has earned us a reputation for being swift and efficient, and has attracted clients such as BMW and Burger King to our services.” –Grant van der Harst, Anglo Liners
18. “When we started in 2001, our mission was to create a level playing field where small businesses could survive and thrive against the chains in their trading areas, by offering wholesale and closeout products sold by the case so the little guys could compete against the big guys.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, because our site was ranked high in search engine optimization for thousands of words on Google and Bing, nonprofit organizations like churches and schools, who were seeking products to help the victims, found our site; and we began shipping much needed products like blankets, socks, hand sanitizer, food, health and beauty products, housewares and more to Louisiana and Mississippi.
Today now half of our business is with nonprofits to help them stretch their dollars. This directional change in our core business would never have happened if Katrina had missed Louisiana.” –Marc Joseph, DollarDays International, Inc.
19. “For me, both bad and good luck played a part in my small business getting started. After studying filmmaking in Los Angeles, I got connected with a lady who planned to start a web TV series and wanted me to produce it. To get ready for this, I learned everything I could about working online with websites. Shortly before we were to start, however, this woman took off for Europe for what was supposed to be a short vacation, but turned into her moving there after she had met the man of her dreams. This left me with no job, but a wealth of knowledge about websites, so I started a web design company instead and that has been a great success.” –Rafael Romis, Weberous
20. “In 2000, in the Dotcom Era, I worked with a guy for whom I had a lot of respect. We kept in touch through the years. When I started Growella and was in need of office space, the same guy had some available for sub-lease in a part of town I would have never considered for the business. We moved in, and joined the #StartupCincy community which I would never have done if we hadn’t moved in to this guy’s space. Through the community, I’ve met amazing people and have been able to make terrific hires that have been crucial to our business.” –Dan Green, Growella
21. “My father is one of the most incredible advisers and mentors of his time. I’m lucky to have had someone like him build a business from the ground up, and present it to me in a way that was challenging, yet extremely rewarding. I always say luck is driven by opportunity, and the opportunity my father presented me with was the ability to run my own business, so for me, luck was and is still, the aftermath of a great mentor, many hours of preparation and a lot of hard work.” –Matt Sole, Anago of the Bay Area
22. “Luck played a minor role early on in my company. For new ecommerce service-based companies like mine getting the first few clients can be luck-based. It is a bit like fishing in that you put the work in preparing, but just because you did everything correctly does not mean they will bite. Getting those first few clients is affirming and motivating, I am lucky to have gotten them early on.” –Michael Pesochinsky, MyBrandMark.com
23. “I run an online marketing consulting company, and like a lot of marketers I sort of “backed into” my career generally. A friend of mine had read my (overly long) AIM away messages in college (which I guess dates me pretty specifically) and hired me to write content for a company he was starting. I started to research online marketing and search engine optimization as a means to get more traffic to what I was writing, and over time got more and more involved in SEO and online marketing in general. Eventually my friend introduced me to the person who became my next boss at the company where I ultimately met my current business partner, so there was a lot of serendipity in my getting into the specific line of work I’m in and meeting the right people to help get my business off the ground.” –Tom Demers, digitalexaminer.com
24. “For me I was looking to get into building a website with a blog. The problem was I didn’t really know where to start. I got lucky though because my cousin started dating a web designer. So, I ended up asking him helping me build a website from scratch which he did. 10 years later which is today I’m proud to say I’m still going very strong with my website.” –Chris Pontine, Creating A Website Today
25. “I founded a hosting company but had an interest in investing so launched a little blog on the side. My timing was perfect (2009) as personal finance blogs were about to take off. Google rewarded me for being an early bird and today I have close to a million page views and managing this site is now my primary business. However, it was lucky for sure, if I started out today there is no way I could compete.” –Larry Ludwig, Investor Junkie
26. “Twelve years ago, and just weeks after founding Heritage Link Brands, a woman and family-owned company, an article in Time Magazine catapulted my dorm room business into a multinational company! It now holds the distinction of being the largest black wine producer and importer in the world, curating 80 million liters of wine annually. I also own Silkbush Mountain Vineyard, in South Africa.” –Selena Cuffe, Heritage Link Brands
27. “One day I was looking for an editor for my first book and I was at a dead end. A mom of a player I coached emails me and asked if I was busy. I usually tend to not give too much details into what I am doing, but this day something told me to tell her that I was looking for an editor. When I told her this she referred me to her friend who is well known; because of this chance of luck, I was able to start my publishing business and put out my very success book, You Ain’t Hungry Until I’m Starving.” –Vid Lamonte’ Buggs Jr., Author, Athlete, Philanthropist