Who are the people behind the nation's 27 million small businesses? They're as varied as the enterprises they start, with different strengths, backgrounds and reasons for pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.
Here's a look at three successful, very happy entrepreneurs and what makes them tick.
Jacquie Steiner, owner of Moveable Feast in-home cooking service, started preparing meals for her family when she was only 9 years old, after her mother developed a long-term health problem."I loved it from the start," she says."I could make food that brought my family together, helped my mom, and made people feel happy."
Cooking for others continued to be a passion for Steiner throughout her career as an event coordinator. Last year, when she lost her job because of the recession, she decided to turn her passion into her profession. She founded Moveable Feast, and now prepares meals in the homes of clients all over the Western U.S. Some are just too busy to cook, but want the nurturing nourishment of meals home-cooked to order. Others have health issues that prevent them from cooking. "It's so gratifying to cook for other people. Food is more than mere sustenance. It's soul. It's love," she says.
Robin Baggett, owner of Alpha-Omega Winery in Napa Valley, wasn't always a wine connoisseur. In college, Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill was his wine of choice. But as he grew his law practice over the years, his tastes in wine became more refined. When he saw an opportunity to enter the wine business, he jumped in, with strong financial motivation: profit was his main motive.
The move paid off, with his most recent winery venture seeing a 40 percent increase in sales since last year, and winning raves from the critics. Baggett attributes much of the winery's success to something that comes naturally for him: Being a people person. "To be successful in business, it's about people. I'm a big believer in the team concept," says the life-long athlete. "I'm very proud of the staff I've been able to put together. They're key to our success."
Shira Levine, owner of SuperYenta matchmaking and dating coaching, knows first-hand the benefits of a good fix-up. Her own parents met through one, as did she and her husband. When she's not trying to coordinate matches among her hundreds of friends and acquaintances, Levine doles out sage dating advice for a small fee.
SuperYenta is my calling, says Levine. "Many people need to talk to an objective person who isn't family or friend. It's a huge relief for them to get good, non-judgmental advice on this journey," she says. One of her more popular services is editing online dating profiles. ("I always edit out the romantic walks on the beach," she says.) The more people she makes happy, the better. Her greatest joy: "I like to be able to give the speech at the wedding."