Want to know what it really takes to start a small business? Successful entrepreneurs share what they learned beyond business school to help transform personal passions into thriving companies.
Perfectly-crafted business plans and large initial investments might sound like the must-haves for starting a small business — but many entrepreneurial stories have simpler roots: an idea and the drive to bring it to life.
It might also seem that hard-earned wisdom taught in business school is what's required to successfully steer a company through the inevitable ups and downs, but there's more to success than that. It also requires calculated risk, innovation and gut instinct.
Travis Weaver learned this when he started his small business, Manready Mercantile, in 2012. He didn't begin with a large investment or a complex line of products. Weaver simply believed that in-demand products, such as candles — which had proven success but mainly marketed towards women — could take off with men as well.
Investing just $100 of his own money, Weaver made a batch of soy candles in whiskey glasses in his kitchen and created labels that were more unisex than the typical high-end gift candle. He then sold them door-to-door at local businesses, markets and even from the back of his truck.
Just six years later, Weaver’s business has blossomed into an online store with hundreds of premium products geared towards men, as well as a brick-and-mortar store in Houston, TX, and 18 full- and part-employees. “You’ve just gotta just start somewhere, with something,” says Weaver.
Like Weaver, other small business owners have found success by bucking traditional wisdom and replacing it with hard-won expertise wrought from experience.