We're all entrepreneurs now, Casey Gerald stated in his eloquent and passionate CreativeMornings talk in New York recently. Casey is the co-founder and CEO of MBAs Across America, a national movement of MBAs and entrepreneurs working together to revitalize America. The entrepreneurial mindset is not new, it's part of the American DNA. The 16th President, Abraham Lincoln was a small business owner (plus the country lawyer, ran a legal practice and is the only U.S. President to ever receive a patent). That never give up, persevere problem-solving mentality of Lincoln's is reflected in the foundation of the U.S. economy: while Apple, Uber, Walmart, Facebook, Google and GE grab the headlines, the small business half of the U.S. economy is equally vital for innovation, job creation and GDP growth. The 28 million small businesses in the U.S. (companies with less than 500 employees) are generating 54% of all sales and creating 66% of new jobs.
For me "we're all entrepreneurs now" is the renewed embracing and enthusiasm for the dynamic of uniquely solving problems as well as taking ownership of our financial health and opportunities for wealth creation.
Celebrating the independence of entrepreneurship seems fitting on Independence Day, however what does "being an entrepreneur" mean every single day of the year? To inspire you on this July 4 and perhaps set off your own entrepreneurial fireworks, insights on why they chose the entrepreneurial path and what it means to them to be an entrepreneur from 17 entrepreneurs who are presevering, innovating and pursuing the American entrepreneurial dream day-in-day-out:
"I became an entrepreneur because my own previous choices closed every other door available...Having so few palatable options was what finally pushed me over the edge to take the risk of beginning a new journey where I could redefine myself. Founding a company I believed in and seeing the growth and real solutions we've provided for others--that is the most intoxicating reward for having had the courage to take this risk." - Lisa Abeyta, founder and CEO, APPCityLife.
"I have this burning desire to create something out of nothing."--Brenda Coffee, founder, 1010 Park Place.
"Why am I an entrepreneur? To make a difference for my clients in their lives, their businesses, and ultimately, in the world. I want to create a world in which everyone has the opportunity to use their inner gifts and achieve great things--where everyone gets a shot."--Colette Ellis, author, coach and founder, InStep Consulting.
"I like to dream big, and build things."--Melissa Gonzalez, pop-up architect and founder, The Lion'esque Group.
"Dedicating my life to solving problems for others is what I love doing. Being an entrepreneur is the core of how I think and function in the world. It's part relentlessness to build and create solutions, and the rest is a stubborn belief in an ability to execute, and a willingness to adapt and learn. Your life and your work are integrated the same way that muscle moves bone. They're not independent."--Aileen Gemma Smith, founder and CEO, Vizalytics Technology Inc.
"I was born for this."--Sian Morson, author, mobile thought-leader and founder, Kollective Mobile.
"I saw a giant hole in the market for comfortable yet sexy woman's lingerie, and saw an unconventional way to fill it." - Stefanie Mnayarji, CEO and co-founder, Luxxie Boston.
"I can't work for someone else on their schedule, I get bored with routine, and I love trying to bring new ideas that few think are possible into existence."--Ginny Gilder, investor, Olympian, co-owner WNBA Seattle Storm and author Course Correction, A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX.
"A risk taker. A leader. An innovator. A person who wants to take a bite of the pie, and is not afraid to buy the ingredients, mix it, bake it and serve it too!" - Christina Esterly, founder, SmartGirl Bags.
"Entrepreneur means this for me: spending many waking moments dreaming of doing my own thing; pushing forward despite downer comments; feeling 'it' in your gut, your heart and your soul; having limitless energy and passion; maintaining a desire to keep taking steps forward; not getting hung up on the 'what-ifs'; and waking each day feeling confident and determined!" - Kerri Couillard, founder, Babierge.
"Entrepreneur? An individual who designs and develops profitable new products, initiatives, and programs that enhance people's lives and businesses." - Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder, OnRamp Fellowship and Legal Talent Lab.
"I wanted to create something that was all my own; something that I could expand on and grow based on my visions of what a successful business should be, and I wanted to be my own boss." - Andre J. Moore, owner, Andre's Ribs.
"My friend Chris Guillebeau says that we don't become entrepreneurs for the money, we do it for the freedom, and that's something that really resonated with me. For me personally, I think that I am Just That Kind of Person. By that I mean, I never wanted to have a boss, I'm very motivated by opportunities to solve problems, and I like to rock the boat. I like to over-work and over-execute. I'm extremely motivated by freedom and by the opportunity to write my own story. I like to test lots of different strategies. So I have this foundation that compels me toward entrepreneurship."--Megan Hunt, co-founder, Hello Holiday.
"I had a lightbulb moment in 2008 that wouldn't go away, so I decided to bring my idea to life. My idea has become more than just a business over the years... it's become my mission." - Lori Cheek, CEO and founder, Cheekd.com.
"The scrappiness appeals to me. I think founders--and people who thrive in small businesses or startups--have a tenacity that is completely energizing."--Erica Wassinger, Managing Principal, ERW Public Relations.
"An entrepreneur is someone who wants to do something different with his or her life. It is someone who can withstand criticism and doubt. While I am running a tech-focused company, I still seek advice from anyone who has grown something. Some of my most valuable business advice came from a service-disabled veteran who started a company out of his basement--and five years later, had a ten million dollar federal-contracting business. There was also a hairstylist from Africa who left her job as a mall hair stylist to rent a station in a high-end salon. Both businesses are very different in size and goals--but both individuals have a keen business sense and are extremely successful in their own right." - Andrea Armstrong, CEO and founder, Turnaround Technology.
"It's so much more fun than the 9-5 world."--Lisa Tanner, Tanner Photography.