Small Business Ideas That Went Big

philmckinney | March 10, 2014

Article

Start small

Everyone has to start somewhere and this is often true with a small business. Starting off with small business ideas doesn’t have to stay small, however. There are many that can grow into giants. In today’s world of small business, we can take inspiration from those who took a little idea and turned it into big business. Inc. Magazine highlights five entrepreneurs who started off solo but grew into companies that we can all recognize.

Steve Ells, Chipolte - Steve Ells first opened in Denver, Colorado in a building that use to be a Dolly Madison ice cream store. His idea was to simply open a restaurant where people could eat healthy, delicious food at a great price. He had no intentions of expanding. He dedicated his business to running a restaurant that makes things better without exploiting animals, people, or the environment. They continue this tradition and fight for the humane treatment of animals, fair treatment of farmers, and removing chemicals from the foods served.

Margaret Rudkin, Pepperidge Farm - A mother of three children in Connecticut, way back in 1937, found one of her sons had an allergy to commercially made breads. So she began experimenting with a way to make bread that her son could eat. The whole-wheat bread made from all natural ingredients was created. The popularity of her bread soon had her selling it locally from her own kitchen. Today, Pepperidge Farm, Inc. exceeds $1 billion in sales and is in the top 2 percent for quality in brands. Not bad for starting out in her kitchen.

Michael Dell, Dell - From the first computer Michael Dell ever purchased, an Apple which he took apart to see how it worked, he was destined to change the world of computers. His focus in college was to built computers to sell directly to people with a focus on customer support. Starting out with only $1,000 and an idea, Dell launched a business that would revolutionize home technology.

Anita Roddick, The Body Shop - With no real business experience, and more need than entrepreneurship, Anita Roddick launched The Body Shop as a means to support her and her two daughters while her husband traveled in the Americas. But more than business sense, she learned the secret was to create a product that people wanted to buy. Using her knowledge of body rituals she learned as she traveled the world, she created products that now sell in over 2,200 stores in 55 different markets. She also based her business practice on the belief of frugality. Why throw away when you can refill, reuse, and recycle. That is a business practice still followed in all of the stores today.

John DeLorean, Delorean Motor Company - While some dreams come to an end, such as the arrest of John DeLorean for cocaine trafficking, there are many who now long to own a DMC-12. He started off as a shining star, raising the ranks of the auto companies, working in the Packard research department, GM’s Pontiac division, and then heading Chevrolet. But he dreamed of building his own cars. He established the DeLorean Motor Company. Despite many problems, they did reach major status, with thousands of DMC-12s on order. The dream never did succeed, with the company eventually collapsing. However, with only 8,500 completed cars, there are many who still dream of owning one.

Dreams may be big, start out small, grow out of necessity, or even crash and burn. But the secret to success is to take the first steps and reach for your dreams. It is the dreamers and the doers who change the world. For help in taking your dreams from idea to innovation,  sign-up for our newsletter.