What Was The First Business You Started? — Experts Weigh In

Remember the first business you started? Maybe it was a lemonade stand outside of your house during the summer months in middle school or a photography company started up once you graduated from college. We spoke to 47 experts about the first company they ever started, how old they were when they got their foot in the door, and what that experience taught them about the industry.

1. “The first company that I ever started was a lawn mowing company. By the time I was 17, I had all the ‘yards’ I could handle, and was maxed out. At that point I realized that by hiring someone and making less money on a property initially would help me grow, and generate more revenue.” — Matt Schmidt, CEO, Diabetes Life Solutions

2. “I had the perfect business when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town and I was a skateboarder. There was a guy in town who owned a used hubcap store and he wanted inventory. He would pay me between $5 to $20 for used hubcaps. I got to do what I loved (skateboard all over town with my friends) while making cold-hard cash for hubcaps that needed a new home.” — Kevin Oldham, CEO, Diffactory

3. “The first business I ever started was a landscaping/lawn mowing business for offices. I was 14 when I secured my first commercial client. I learned many lessons, including cost of goods sold/purchases, cash flow management, invoicing, and customer service, the difference between B2B and B2C relationships, and competition. More specifically, I learned the importance of timely invoicing to maximize cash flow. Today, efficient billing to customers to optimize collections and cash flow remains a staple of the business — and the efficiency actually allows us to provide more value to our customers for each of their dollar spent. I also recognized the value of prompt delivery of service. Not only does it build credibility and trust with clients, but it also improves efficiency by reducing inquiries from clients asking for status updates. Today in the business, we pride ourselves on lighting fast delivery and rapid response to customers to continually earn their trust and deliver our services with minimal frustration and distraction to all stakeholders. The end result is happy customers and better operational performance, which translates into higher revenue performance for us and better value for our clients.” — Terence Channon, Principal, NewLead

4. “I started Orange Ink Public Relations, a public relations and marketing agency designed to fill the need of small-term project work for agencies and companies in the Southern California market in 2010 at the ripe old age of 27. For six years, it was a dream come true. Having been a reporter for a local business journal, my first clients were businesses I’d written on and liked working with me, although several initially thought my old connections to the paper meant they were guaranteed to get ink. The first two years were rough, where I went from feasting to famine based on available project work in the OC and LA area, although I eventually grew a decent pipeline to prevent long periods of drought. I ended up working with some amazing PR and marketing agencies and companies in the consumer entertainment space and making a name for myself as a go-to project person who could hit the ground running and show good ROI. I eventually ended up working full-time for another agency and closed the doors on Orange Ink Public Relations in 2016 after a serious good run.” — Mike Volpe, Brand Strategist, Beyond Fifteen Communications

5. “My first business was selling golf balls. I grew up next to a golf course, and if you had a hook on the 9th tee — your ball became mine. I would collect golf balls in egg cartons and sell them back to golfers by the dozen. With zero cost of goods and the target marketing literally in my backyard, the business was quite successful. One thing I learned is that you should get a partner who excels where you don’t. I had a buddy who wasn’t afraid to be loud and get attention. Giving him a cut of the profits was worth it since he attracted most of the customers.” — Brian Dooley, Founder, Independence Digital

6. “My first business was a private tutoring service based in Los Angeles, California. I’m still running it to this day, and we’re thriving! Learning Period was founded in 2011, when I was 21. We had to work hard to get our name in front of parents, but we’ve found that it’s better to satisfy clients and keep them around, as opposed to constantly bringing on new ones.” — Addy Williams, Family Liaison, Learning Period

7. “I started a successful snow shoveling business in the northeastern hilly neighborhood I grew up in. Every time there was a snow day during middle school I would recruit my friends, who always wanted to go sledding, to shovel driveways with me instead. We regularly made upwards of 30 bucks a driveway, which would be a cool 10 dollar bill for each of us. Eventually, my employees would give up on me and go sledding, so the business never really did last unfortunately! However, it was always a good time drilling each other with snowballs when we caught each other off guard shoveling. Even though the business didn’t take off, it was definitely worth the laughs and the memories!” — Andrew Schutt, Owner, Elevated Web Marketing

8. “My first business was taking proceeds from my paper route to buy used books and comics to sell to kids from my red wagon on weekends. I was 12-years-old living in a small town with a twice a week newspaper which left me time on weekends to re-target my customers and their kids. The biggest lesson I learned was to know your customer and that the best customers lived in the cul-de-sac.” — Trevor Doerksen, CEO, ePlay Digital

9. “In elementary school my hustle was selling Pixy Stix. You could buy 100 of them at the dollar store, and I’d sell them for 2 cents a pop. First day, sold out. Next day, sold out. The day after that, someone offered me a nickel for one, and that quickly became the new price and they still sold out. It taught me a very important (and obvious) economic lesson very young: price is not dictated by costs.” — Chris Yoko, CEO, Yoko Co

10. “The first company I started was at 17-years-old when I was a senior in high school. It was a multimedia agency where I offered web design, web development, and video production services to businesses. I ran this company for two years, grew it to 20+ employees and sold it after that while I was still in college.” — Jeet Banerjee, Digital Marketing Consultant, JeetBanerjee.com

11. “I was 25 when I started my first company, Connected, which provided contact management without the work for outbound professionals. We made it easy for people to build, leverage, and maintain their networks and this core insight ultimately led to the company being funded and then acquired by LinkedIn. The experience of starting a company taught me to internalize the principles of ownership and accountability. There is nothing like the realization that nothing will improve with your business and you’re going run out of money unless you do something to create a direct tie between your actions and the outcomes for a business. Now when I see a problem that needs to be fixed, I roll up my sleeves and get in there, regardless of whether it’s in my job description or not.” — Ada Chen Rekhi, Founder & COO, Notejoy

12. “It was the 6th grade and I had just discovered hamsters with my brothers and sisters. We each had one at first but when two supposedly female hamsters ended up breeding, I had to put things into overdrive. What was I going to do with these babies? I decided to call all the local pet stores, as a 6th grader, and try to sell the babies. To my surprise, a local store offered to pay me $3 for each baby hamster. I was hooked instantly. I saw dollar signs! It was so easy too, without any coaxing, they would breed, and then a month later, I would have 6-7 babies worth $21 bucks. I then went big time and started purchasing new cages, new breeding hamsters, and lots of supplies in bulk… All with my earnings thus far. I ended up with 10 or so fish tanks in my room with an elaborate breeding system to maximize profits. I never kept track of expenses or profits because I was just a kid and for me, I loved it. I remember each cage had its own stationary wheel for the hamsters to run in. It was my first entrepreneurial adventure that led to a lifetime of entrepreneurial pursuits. Later on, I discovered saltwater fish tanks and started making clippings of corals and selling those to pet stores as well.” — Dane Kolbaba, Owner, HoustonPartyRide.com

13. “My first business was back in 2005. Around the same time, Facebook started up. The idea was very similar to Facebook and it was called 12kit. I spent several months developing it, but when I finished I didn’t really know how to market it and it just sat there until I killed it. I made all the possible mistakes with it although the idea was great. The design was not good enough, I didn’t know how to market it, and I stopped trying very fast… But I learned a lot from starting the business.” — Yaron Shaool, Co-Owner, Ka Gold Jewelry

14. “When I was 12, when I was out of school for the summer. I rented a popsicle/ice cream cart (one of those that I could push around with a bell I could ring) and sold ice cream around my neighborhood for 25 cents each. My cost was 20 cents, so I made a nickel per ice cream sold. This was 44 years ago. It was very exciting to peddle a product that had a market, especially during the hot summer days. Even though a small market, I still was able to make $20 to $30 per week which was a lot of money back then for a 12-year-old.” — Yungi Chu, Owner, HeadsetPlus.com

15. “I was 21 when I started Beast Media. It has been an amazing experience for me. In only 6 months we have made just under $14,000. I’m currently in college, I play basketball, and I’m a resident advisor (RA). The business lessons I have learned include patience because businesses aren’t built overnight and how to focus on building relationships. Relationships are key to building and scaling your business. You will have wins and you will have losses, so enjoy the journey.” — Jourdain Bell, Co-Founder & Owner, Beast Media

16. “I started my first business when I was 23 and I was making websites for local businesses. I’m not a talkative person so it was hard for me to make contacts and get people to pay me to do it. I ended up with some interesting clients and even more interesting website requests. It taught me how to speak up for myself and network with different kinds of people. But, what I really learned was what kind of business I wanted to start up. I figured out that working on the client to client basis wasn’t for me so I started a business that fits my personality better and it has been successful.” — Milecia McGregor, Software Engineer, Flipped Coding

17. “My first business (that I can remember) started at age 10. I used a sewing machine to create Beanie Baby beds from scraps of cloth my neighbor gave me, and would sell them door-to-door for $5. I was pretty successful! Sadly, it was built on a fad, so it lasted only a summer.”  — Veronica Kirin, Author/Speaker/Coach, VeronicaKirin.com

18. “The first business I ever started lasted for only a day, but it was a fantastic day in the eyes of a 10-year-old kid. I was at Walmart with one of my friends to get some ice cream and I noticed a clearance basket full of name brand cat food with a big sign saying $1. After checking the regular price at the back of the store, which was $10 I had an idea. I bought 50 bags of it for $50 dollars and decided to go door to door in my neighborhood with my friend selling the bags for $5 dollars each. I don’t know if it was that people really needed the cat food or just simply felt sorry for us, but after 5 hours and a lot of door knocking we sold it all. Ever since then I’ve been an entrepreneur, however, I’m not in the lucrative cat food arbitrage business anymore.” — Ryan Frampton, Founder & CEO, Frampz Marketing

19. “My first business was when I was seven to eight years old, I would make cards for birthdays, holidays, Father’s Day, and sell them out front of my house. I would also sell lemonade on hot dogs.” —Dana Humphrey, Owner & Lead Publicist, Whitegate PR

20. “The first business I ever started was selling books door to door 80 hours a week on straight commission was I was 18-years-old. It was after my freshman year at Marquette University. I was an independent contractor with Southwestern Advantage and I paid for all business expenses including travel, lodging, shipment and delivery, credit card fees, and permits. I can’t tell you how much I learned or how that has helped me in my career. I was in insurance for nine years after that and used the sales skills, but also the mindset I learned. You learn grit and how never giving up will always pay off. My first year I made $7000 and took a heck of a lot home for over $4000 after expenses. Each year after that I made more. My best 13 week summer of selling was making over $40,000.” — Rebecca Gebhardt, Self-Employed, Southwestern Advantage

21. “I had a very successful babysitting business in high school and college. I started with family friends and made sure I did a really good job in that I keep the kids safe and entertained. I also left the house neat and clean, often better than when the couple left so that they had little to do when they returned home from their date night out. I was reliable and always arrived a little early whenever possible. As a result of this good work ethic, I had a steady flow of families wanting to hire me because these families would recommend me to their friends. It got to the point where I could decide which families I wanted to babysit for and which jobs I would refer out to my friends.”  — Heidi McBain, Licensed Professional Counselor, Heidi McBain.com

22. “I started making jewelry and hair accessories when I was 15-years-old. Once I’d nailed my craft, I sold my creations to friends and family and by the time I was 17, I’d made enough that I could have opened my own store but needed to start my college education studying architecture. One of my friends back in the day had nicknamed me “Roxy,” so I named my new venture “Designs by Roxy.” I created the coolest packaging and went door to door in some of the big cities in Kentucky to consign them to their stores. It wasn’t enough to make a living but it definitely helped pay some of the bills through school and fueled my desire to ultimately become the entrepreneur I am to this day.” — Lori Cheek, Founder & CEO, Cheekd

23. “I started my wedding photography business at age 32. I candidly joke with my clients that I have a split personality disorder as I am a computer engineer by profession. The brutal truth is that the client experience matters. The bride gets to visit the venue or try on her dress, but she can’t see her own wedding pictures when hiring a photographer. What she buys is faith, what we offer is a promise to deliver. Somewhere in between there’s trust. Not only do we need to inspire our clients, we need to reassure them that we have what it takes to make it successful when there’s so much at stake.” — Jimmy Chan, Photographer, Pixelicious

24. “I started my own miniature food business on Etsy about 5 years ago when I was 41. I create realistic polymer clay mini food for American Girl Dolls. Since people don’t all own the dolls and wanted to wear my work, I created mini food jewelry as well. I had just had a baby and needed another source of income without going out to work. Since I homeschool my other kids, starting a home business just seemed the best way to go. I’ve always been a creative person and this was a way to allow my creativity to have an outlet and earn income at the same time. I have learned that I can never stop growing and improving. I’ve also learned new skills that I never knew I had. Like tissues in a box, one skill leads to another and another. If I am willing to learn a new skill, many more skills will follow. This is a very empowering feeling. From a business standpoint, I have learned to appreciate other small business owners, their hard work and determination, and to not take them for granted. We need to support one another.” — Katie Baker, Lead Artisan & Miniature Food Artist, Mary’s Remedies

25. “When I was 12-years-old, I started to hand make custom skateboards. To create these mini surfboards I laminated alternating light and dark wood slats, ran them through the planer at the local middle school, fiber glassed the top side, and screwed worn out roller skate wheels from the local roller rink to the bottom. They were great, or so I thought until the clay wheels disintegrated fairly regularly, causing crashes and the related loss of customer loyalty.” — Daniel Feiman, Managing Director, Build It Backwards

26. “Mother Erth is my first business venture at 30-years-old. The experience has been much more challenging than expected, even though I told myself it was going to be more challenging. It has shown me the importance of making a plan of action that will allow you to fail or see an initial success as quickly and cheaply as possible. This keeps you from getting into a project that gets larger, taking longer than you initially anticipated, and which may end up not working or worth all the time and funds invested. Fail cheap, fast and smart by breaking your big goals into projects or experiments and then working the plan.” — Daniel Scott, Co-Founder, Mother Erth

27. “When I was about 6 or 7 my parents made a doll I really wanted. When I asked for it, my dad said to me nothing is free — you’ll have to make the money to buy the toy. I was confused. What could I possibly do? The next day he returned home with these postcards — on one side was Hello Kitty with the words Samantha’s Toy Shop and on the other side Saturday 11-3pm — Toys $1.00. My dad explained that I would set up a store in our house and he would bring home some generic product — like Tarbie instead of Barbie and I would sell them for $1.00 each. He sent me to put postcards in all the apartments in our building. That Saturday, to my surprise, there was a line outside our door. I sold and sold and sold with no help from my parents. At the end of the day, I had made $54.00 which was a fortune to me considering the doll was probably $20.00. I jumped for joy knowing I could buy the doll and lots of clothes for her. However, my dad continued to teach me valuable business lessons. He told me that I sold my toys to my friends for a dollar and that he was my manufacturer. Therefore, I needed to pay him too. He charged me 30 cents per toy I sold. Then, he removed even more of my money. Those cute little cards were considered marketing. He removed another $5 from my pile. Finally, he said you had your sale in our home and that’s considered rent — and he removed another $10 from my slowly deflating pile. I remember tears in my eyes and apparently said, ‘Next time I want to put my store in the street where it’s free!!!’ Of course I got the doll and all of her clothes, but my father taught me an amazing lesson — nothing in business is free. I have shared that story with classes I have lectured at, clients I work with, and my own employees. Nothing in life is free and while being an entrepreneur is great I learned early the cost of doing business!” — Samantha Martin, CEO, Media Maison

28. “I started my first business while I was on maternity leave with my first child (7 years ago, when I was 30), and kept it up as I went back to corporate full-time work. It all started when I walked down to my local diner and offered to make their website for free. They agreed, and the rest was history. I posted their new website on Facebook, and I started to get referrals. I never had to advertise or do marketing because word of mouth was keeping me busy enough nights and weekends. In the process of running this business, I taught myself WordPress, PHP, CSS, and Photoshop and I still make websites on the side to this day.” — Ina Coveney, Business Expert & Side Hustle Master, Ina Nutshell, LLC

29. “I got my start while in elementary school. I was 10 years old. I made about $6 which was a lot back then especially since I loved penny candy! I had a lemonade stand and I sold cups of lemonade for 25 cents each. I had gotten lemonade packets from our local store and added sugar my mother gave me and had an old cigar box to keep the money in. Whenever I got a customer, I always thanked them for stopping by. I sold AVON in high school and did very well with it. I am still selling it now. I also opened my own business selling bath and body products and jewelry and gifts in two separate online stores. I am about to open a third which will be a marketplace store with furniture and home decor as product offerings.” — Dana Rankin, Entrepreneur, Dana’s Marketplace

30. “I loved the early vintage original Mickey Mouse animation drawings the animators in the 1930s used to make those classic Disney cartoons. Out of college, I started buying and selling these drawings and started my first business Name That Toon. Then I had the idea years later to expand the concept and create the first ever animation art lines of the classic characters from the Coke, M&M/Mars, Pillsbury, Campbell Soup, California Raisins, etc. It was very successful and I loved working with all these iconic advertising icons. I also learned a lot about the need in business to really create something totally different from what everyone else is doing and in owning your niche. If you can innovate a different mousetrap and have the patience to let your idea seep into the culture over time, you will be successful!” — Craig Wolfe, President, CelebriDucks.com

31. “My first business was a mortgage brokerage company. I enjoyed and recognized at age 21 the importance of financing and established my company. I utilized the services of a very good law firm that helped me properly and legally incorporate the business. They also addressed personal risk, recourse, and liability. It cost me $750 to start my firm and conduct business for the first 5 months from my home. The moment I rented an office, my business rapidly took off. I owned the company for 18 years and rose to become ranked the 6th largest mortgage brokerage company in the state of Florida. I consistently advertised, paid myself first, and made sure all associates were treated like family. At time of sale, we had 42 employees.” — Jim Angleton, President & CEO, AEGIS FinServ Corp

32. “The first business I ever started was a small pet sitting business when I was 11 or 12. I’ve always loved animals, and I thought it’d be fun to take care of a lot of different kinds of animals. My mom took me to hang homemade fliers around all the pet stores and animal shelters. I only had one client, but she was a repeat client: I took care of her bird and ferrets for years!” — Lindsey Turnbell, Founder, MissHeard Media

33. “My first business was traveling and doing hair. I was in cosmetologist school at 17-years-old, so I would travel to the client and do their hair. I primarily braided hair, but would also do roller-sets and iron outs. It was a great transition into making custom fashion designs and now I’m working on a ready-to-wear fashion line.” — Denisha ‘Dlang’ Ferguson, Fashion Designer & Event Logistics Stylist, Dlangdesigns.com

34. “My first business ever was back home in the Czech Republic back when I was 15. I was a DJ, and I used to play events. If I’m being honest, it was actually a terrific experience in that it taught me two core lessons. First, you are always accountable to someone. Even if you are your own boss, you can never lose sight of the fact that your customers are your boss. If I played a bad gig or things didn’t go well, I let my bosses down. Second, it taught me that I could do it. Venturing out on my own gave me the confidence I needed to draw upon when it came time to launch ShipMonk.” — Augie Kennady, Media Relations Director, ShipMonk

35. “My first business was a swimming lesson business I started and ran in the summers during college. I started the business when I was 19-years-old, and it taught me the basics of online marketing, running online ads, SEO, sales, customer service, and entrepreneurship. It was the basis for everything I do today!” — Stacy Caprio, Founder, Accelerated Growth Marketing

36. “I was 26 when I started my first business in non-medical senior home care. It was all heart and little planning. I spent thousands of dollars on licenses, office space, scrubs, and advertising. The problem was I didn’t have any clients yet! I put the cart before the horse and learned many lessons. I’ve started a couple of businesses since my first and it’s important to vet your idea, ensuring it solves a pain point for your audience. It’s okay to get scrappy and take time to be resourceful instead of throwing money (that you may or may not have) around. At the end of the day, there is nothing better than entrepreneurship… Bumps, bruises, and all!” — Christal Allen-Harrahill, Owner, Your Real Estate Transaction Coordinator

37. “I started my first business when I was 9-years-old selling sour gumballs to my classmates. There was a candy vendor at a nearby shopping mall who sold gumballs in bulk at 5 cents each. I invested $5 from my weekly allowance to purchase a bag of 100 gumballs every weekend. On the following Monday, you could find me near the jungle gym where I sold delicious sour gumballs for 25 cents each. For an extra 50 cents I would throw in a handful of Creepy Crawlers (look them up!). I managed to make a few hundred dollars over the course of three months before parents started asking where their kids’ lunch money was disappearing to. I really enjoyed the experience because I was giving my friends access to products that they couldn’t get otherwise. I made money, but it was more important that I was making my friends happy. One thing I learned by selling stuff as a child is that people buy your passion. My excitement about my own product is what generated the demand for it which has become a core principle at my marketing firm today.” — James Milliron, Founder, Inflayt Marketing

38. “I started my first business at school when I was 13. I used to collect records and cassettes, and decided to set up a music lending library. I laboriously photocopied all of the album covers over the course of a weekend, and created a bound catalogue for my classmates to select from.” — Ben Taylor, Founder, HomeWorkingClub.com

39. “After working at a large law firm for several years, I began to get the ‘itch’ and had an entrepreneurial spirit. I decided to start my own practice at 31. My wife and I had a three-month-old son. At first, it was pretty scary because I left without any cases and had a fair amount of start-up costs. All this being said, three years later, I couldn’t be happier.” — Kevin Patrick, Owner & Founder, Kevin Patrick Law, LLC

40. “At age 14, I started a piano playing business. Since it was the mid-1980s, my primarily lead generation tools were targeted direct mail letters to local hotel general managers and local restaurant managers. The offer was for a free one hour engagement — essentially a live demo. The experience was fantastic. I learned so much about the basics of identifying a need, copywriting, creating awareness, sampling, closing sales, earning referrals, and managing a schedule.” — Joshua Feinberg, President, Data Sales & Marketing Institute

41. “I’ve been working in the tech industry for over 20 years and founded my first business while I was still studying at college. In the early days of the internet, I founded University.it, which was Italy’s first university portal. I was in my early twenties and the experience was exciting and fast-moving. The key lesson I learned was that it’s extremely important for a startup founder to stay laser-focused on their goals. This sounds obvious but as opportunities start rolling in, it can be difficult. It’s necessary to decide what your goal is and set a single KPI to monitor it. Then, you need to say no to anything that doesn’t bring you closer to this ultimate goal.” — Davide De Guz, Founder, Rebrandly

42. “In middle school my best friend Shante and I ran a little candy business from our book bags and purses. We were about 12-years-old at the time. The most precious commodity to a young teenager at the time was access to good candy and snacks. But, our classmates didn’t always have enough spare change to buy something from the vending machines just outside the cafeteria. Shante and I would pool our allowance money together to get candy from a convenience store near her home. We were very interested in items where each piece was individually wrapped. Those were products we could break apart and sell with ease. We would fill our purses and book bags with the loot and re-sell it during lunch and recess. If someone didn’t have enough change for a packet of Starbursts from the vending machine, they could buy a couple of individually wrapped Starbursts from us for a dime. At the end of the week we would meet back up to count our money. It was so exciting to show off to each other with our hands full of coins and dollar bills. I can’t remember the exact amount, but we would put some money back into supplies and then pocket the rest. I spent that money on movie tickets, candy, and arcade games. It was the best. Looking back, I remember the thrill of being able to provide a product that fulfilled a need. I learned about supply and demand in terms of making sure to always have the popular candies in stock and to make enough to cover the cost of the next run to the convenience store. It also felt good to have money in my pocket that I made myself; I went about it my own way. This was the start of many adventures in entrepreneurship for me, and the feeling of creating my own path has never escaped me. It only fuels me further.” — Jessica Watson, President & Creative Director, Points North Design Studio

43. “I started my first business at age 23. It was an eCommerce site that sold golf training books and videos. I left a safe, secure job because I knew I wasn’t challenged, creative, or building anything or providing value to the company. At that time, I had already been working on my business at night, but I was so excited to work on it full-time. I’m on my third business now and one of the earliest lessons I learned is still true: You need to find a hungry crowd and people who have a very specific pain that needs to be solved. With Hubstaff, I can’t imagine doing anything else. It gives me such satisfaction to be able to create value from thin air. That’s what drives me, really. I think a lot of people are afraid to take that leap. They’d rather keep the security of what they have now, despite the fact that they’re not happy.” — Dave Nevogt, Co-Founder, Hubstaff

44. “At 7-years-old I started a shampoo and body soap business, selling to my endearing neighbors. My dad traveled for work from time to time and he would always bring me back the shampoo and body wash mini bottles. Rather than keep the souvenirs, my mind saw the opportunity. My production process in re-purposing these bottles was simple: combine all the body wash in a bowl and all the shampoo in a bowl, top each with water, as needed, and refill the bottles. I would then take to the sidewalk selling these bottles for quarters, even getting a dollar here and there.” — Anne Churchill, Event & Wedding Planner, AnnaBelle Events

45. “I started a graphic and web design business when I was 23-years-old. I created and designed marketing materials for my friends and various student groups. Most of my clients were friends, acquaintances, and classmates. Because of this, there were multiple occasions where I had to mix business with pleasure. What I learned from this experience was the ability to effectively manage business with pleasure, such as maintaining a healthy personal and professional relationship with my clients by making sure the quality of my work wasn’t hampered by my personal relationship with my client.” — Marcus Williams, CIO, Homenova

46. “”When I was 12, a friend and I started washing cars in our neighborhood (this was before there were car washes on every corner). We’d charge two dollars a car and we thought we were making great money! In the beginning, I was always so nervous to knock on the door and give our pitch, but over time I learned that the more I did it, the easier it became and the rejections really didn’t matter anyway.” — Fiona Adler, Founder, Actioned.com

47. “The first business that I started is the business I have today: blueberrycloud. I started it shortly after leaving my previous place of employment (a local software company). I found that no matter where I worked, I would always find a ceiling that my employers could no longer help me move beyond. Starting my company gave me an opportunity to work in a place that has no ceiling. I will always see my departure from working for others as the day I started my first and last business: The business of working for myself.” — Mazdak Mohammadi, Owner & Founder, blueberrycloud

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