After a two-week vacation, the Inc. staff is back online and back to work. So, for my first post of 2004, I'd like to share some reading I was doing over the long break. The book, "What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson (I know, it's been out a while, but I'm always behind in my reading), sucked me in over my vacation while I contemplated making New Year's resolutions.

Bronson joins a slew of professionals who embark on a journey to answer this very question. Not all of the vignettes he shares have happy endings, but most are pretty enlightening and provide some interesting insight into the complexity of finding such an answer.

One story, however, struck me more than the others. Being the editor of a website devoted to business owners, it was Bronson's profile of a young couple who purchased a tree nursery in Washington state that drew me in. Both had been in the telecommunications industry, but not happily, and their decision to buy a business they had absolutely no experience in was born of their desire to, well, be happier. It wasn't about money nor about some huge need to grow trees or save the environment. It was simply to be happier in what they did. After somewhat reluctantly putting up their house and unfinished ski cottage for collateral on a bank loan, they became business owners, and according to Bronson, they find that it's been a worthwhile and fulfilling adventure.

Why share this story? Because I thought it would be nice to start off the new year with a quick shot of inspiration for those who are thinking about going off on their own in 2004, and I thought it would be great if others would share their stories of why they started businesses. Why did you start your business? And has it been all that you expected it to be? Let us know.