Starting a Business from Scratch? 7 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets


You have just graduated from college and find yourself at the brink of a forked road. You can take the safer route by looking for a traditional 9-5 job or take the less-traversed path, starting a business and step into the mercurial world of entrepreneurship. If you choose the latter, you should be aware of the laws of entrepreneurship. In this article, we share the stories of lesser-known entrepreneurs who started from humble beginnings and succeeded in creating a business from the ground up.

1. Develop your own story

Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis co-founded the Cousins Maine Lobsters, a food truck restaurant that sells lobsters across different parts of the world. Reflecting back on their journey, Sabin Lomac said, “It took us a long time to understand that. The first week prior to opening, I started sending out tweets to our 200 followers, and it would usually be a photo of Jim and I and my grandfather on the rocks in Maine eating lobster.

Little did he know, that this would become his brand story! He did it simply because he thought, ‘Hey, We’re from Maine. We are cousins. Let me paint you a picture.’ However, a couple years down the road, he realized that this was indeed a family business, built on age-old, tested, and loved family culinary secrets and recipes, and this should be their major selling point. The first thing you need to do is to craft a heartwarming brand story by going back to why you started your business in the first place. This would make sure your brand resonates with your audience and make them trust you more when they see your human side.

2. Make it More Personal

Neil Grimmer is the CEO of Habit, an innovative DNA testing service that helps customers identify their specific nutritional needs. What makes them stand out is their focus on personalization. In addition to DNA testing, Habit also offers its customers personalized recipes to cater to their specific nutritional needs. Shedding light on his startup journey, he said “Starting a business requires long hours and personal sacrifice, and can be tough on you as an individual. So it has to be meaningful and something you truly believe can transform lives”.

Further elaborating his point, he narrated the inspiration behind his first startup, plum. As a young parent, striving to feed his progeny (notoriously picky eaters) with the best of nutrition and disgruntled with the options proliferate across the shelves, he introduced an all-organic baby food in pouches which even infants can eat on-the-go with independence. Similarly, his own wellness journey and personal health were the drivers behind the idea for Habit. After numerous trips to specialists and a plethora of blood tests later, he finally found a diet that worked. He came up with the idea of making this process of personalized nutrition easier to access for all and sundry.

3. Keep Your End User on “Top of Your Mind”

Kelly Peeler, the CEO, and co-founder of NextGenVest believes that customers should be your top priority from the word go. Her startup helps students navigate the choppy seas of the financial aid process. It puts trained college students in control so they can guide college applicants through text messages. Sharing her experience of launching a business, she said, “There are a lot of problems to solve when building a business that can distract you from delivering real value to your users.” Her advice, “You should wake up thinking about your end user and go to bed thinking about your end user.”

4. Hire Smarter People

If you are thinking of flying high on the entrepreneurship sky alone, this is not going to happen. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need an incredible team comprising of smart people having a diverse skill set that. Ilir Sela, CEO of Slice, a local pizza ordering service, also believes in this notion.

Sela’s advice, “build up an incredible team that will help you scale the business that will bring world-class knowledge and ability. Learn from them. You win with people.” He is not alone. Amy Chasan, the owner of a bakery in New York known as“Sweet Generation,” also works along the same lines.

5. Focus on what you do best

Books Are Magic is an independent bookstore that organizes literary events in Brooklyn and offers a great selection of both fiction and non-fiction books for book lovers. The brainchild of Books Are Magic, Emma Straub thinks that you should put all your focus on things that you do best and leave the rest to others. This is where a task management software comes into play. Her advice for startup success is to, “find people to help you with things you struggle with–you are constantly bombarded with a plethora of tasks when it comes to running a bookstore, and one person cannot be the jack of all trades.” Hone in on what you do best and establish yourself as an authority to skyrocket the credibility of your business.

6. Stay In the “Testing” Mode at all times

The only bridal consignment boutique in New York City, Our Story Bridal has its own way of doing things. Its owners are takes testing to the next level. Jacquelyn Ward and Ana Maes are the co-founders of Our Story Bridal, popular for offering designer wedding dresses at astounding prices. They offer irresistible discounts to their customers. Their advice, “Do not wait for the perfect! The only way to really know if something is going to work is by testing it in a quick and scrappy way.”

They launched their business by putting together a collection of 40 bridals from around the city. They hosted the launch at the showroom owned by a friend. Being the new kid on the block, they only managed to attract a few brides, but even then, they managed to learn and adapted their marketing processes from their scant clientele. By the fourth pop-up, they had solicited a whopping waiting list of more than 300 brides. Their business evolved as their business grew. They never stopped testing with the information they had at hand. Keep testing and keep improving and you will eventually achieve your desired results.

7. Never Give Up

Jen Rubio is the President and co-founder of Away, a company selling affordable luggage for modern travelers. He believes that entrepreneurs should follow a “never give up” philosophy and have a never say die attitude to succeed. She suggests that entrepreneurs should not be discouraged when things do not go according to plan.

Here is what she said about establishing your business from the ground up, “When you are building something from scratch, there will not be a playbook, so it’s inevitable that you will make some mistakes. Being flexible and able to adapt to the unexpected will help you stay focused on what matters, rather than allowing yourself to get derailed over little things.

What is the best advice you have ever received regarding starting a business? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.


  1. You have compiled a very good list of some of the most useful tips which can be used by an entrepreneur. Thanks for providing this informative and valuable post.