As the Capital One Spark #SmallBizProud tour rolled through the great states of Oregon and Washington, Trisha Dalton and John Sears’ small business vid-spiration was all about changing lives and having fun. For some, starting their business was about building on a dream, and experiencing that dream as it came life. Enjoying work makes the everyday pass faster and fuels a different kind of success (and stress) for these #smallbiz bosses, making business as much about the number of smiles as the number of dollars. These small business owners will get you energized with their success stories, laughter and smiles. Sure, it’s hard work, but when you get to see your dream becoming a reality? It just feels great!
Ergo Depot: Portland, Oregon
For David Kahl, owner of Ergo Depot, an aerodynamic chair business, running a business is his life’s unexpected surprise. As David puts it, “I didn’t really know that this was going to be a business, I just knew that I loved what I did.” After finding a solution to back, neck and shoulder pain related to sitting at a desk, and changing his life for the better, he decided to share his discoveries with others. The result? His small online business with one or two ergonomic chairs met with such a positive response that David started a full-fledged company. Today, David has a showroom where visitors can try out his products first-hand and his chairs bring better posture and healthy sitting to people of all ages and body types. People regularly tell him that his product has changed their lives. For David, this is what it’s all about: “it helps me get up early and go to bed late at night because I know people’s lives are better because of this.”
Clever Cycles: Portland, Oregon
For Dean Mullin and Eva Frazier of Clever Cycles, making it work means making it fun, especially when it comes to making their bike shop stand out from over 70 other bike shops in Portland. They made a name for themselves by making a splash (literally), starting a service that delivers hot tubs by bike. They soon got a reputation as a “toy store for grown ups” that offers a unique biking experience for families, commuters, and riders of all skill levels and styles. Dean’s path to owning his own business started after ditching a high-stress career, where he was “stressed beyond belief”. Starting his bike shop was a “lifestyle choice”. How do Dean and Eva measure success? By the smiles on customers’ faces.
Hear Dean’s startup story for yourself, as he describes life in small business:
Board and Vellum: Seattle, Washington
Jeff Pelletier of Board & Vellum took a “running leap” into the unknown to launch his dream career, leaving his stable job to work one-on-one with clients and start his own firm. The pressure was on; he went from being given a project, to getting a project. But Jeff worked “non-stop,” networking and hustling, and it paid off. Now, every day he’s excited to go to work and working on what he loves is like “being in school and getting to dream what you want to build and then just getting to do it.” Today, he as a team of people working with him and feels empowered to be part of the community’s small business buzz. He feels that he’s changing the way that architects build things, and, he says, “once you have that, there’s nothing better. It’s awesome.”
Hear Jeff’s story and check out the truly unique bookstore he created:
Clear Focus Law: Richland, Washington
Eric Hsu “just kind of fell into” starting his own business when friends seeking his legal advice asked him what he would charge. Soon, Clear Focus was born. Eric is a master of keeping his business streamlined, accessible and modern, even if it means taking a profession rooted in tradition—law—and working it into the digital age. Bucking tradition, Eric does everything online, skipping costly printed documents in favor of a digital cloud-based practice management. This keeps things easy for his clients, who can access documents online 24/7, and keeps costs down, too. Letting go of the old and embracing the new is what Eric’s all about, and it’s what attracts him to working with entrepreneurs, too. As Eric puts it “I like to think that it’s possible to take something and do it differently” and, for him, that’s what makes business fun, and him in the driver’s seat.
Capital One Disclosure: The #SmallBizProud content series is sponsored by Capital One Spark. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Capital One.