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How DID they start? Big success can come from amazingly humble beginnings. May their evolution to success inspire you to start your special dream … now!

By Melanie Keveles

Click on the title to go to the Sparker of your choice (Feel free to reprint our Sparkers in your newsletters or send to clients just be sure to attach the copyright info and the link at the end of each sparker)

Rich Man Poor Man
Moving to Change
Living Colors
Announce with Inspiration
Inspired Decorating
Flash of Insight
Better Ideas
Eureka Moment
Creating Credibility
Life is good
The color purple
Solution found in the daily news
Bagels in Tokyo
Sock monkey lady
Sweet success
A two-year-life-changing odyssey
Neckties to boxers
A passion for gourmet cooking
A hallelujah moment
Who could have predicted?
Seeing possibilities in what others take for granted
Their primary goal was partnership
What kind of business will we be?
A little profit on the side
It was just a hobby
An accidental discovery created a revolution
Unfazed by the loss of her job
A great idea while shaving
Driven by motherly instinct
Out of ivory palaces
When you care enough to send the very best


Rich Man Poor Man

In 1988 Forbes Magazine recognized Chuck Feeney as the twenty-third richest American alive. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to a blue-collar Irish-American family during the Depression, a veteran of the Korean War, he had made a fortune as founder of Duty Free Shoppers, the world's largest duty-free retail chain.

Secretly, Feeney had already transferred all his wealth to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies. In 1997, when he sold his duty free interests, Feeney was "outed" as one of the greatest modern day American philanthropists. He is even today a frugal man who travels economy class and does not own a house or a car.  You can read about his life in The Billionaire Who Wasn't by Conor O’Clery (Public Affairs, 2007).

What philanthropies would you like to support with your wealth?

 


Moving to Change

Two women in Canada have started a movement that is changing the world for all of us, one child’s birthday party at a time. According to their own words on their web site, Ecoage.com:

“An ECHOage birthday party is a unique opportunity for you and your child to do something extraordinary - to improve the world - together.

Here's how: Guests are invited to an ECHOage birthday party online. Instead of bringing a wrapped and packaged present, guests simply rsvp and give a secure online gift of money. Payments are pooled for the purchase of ONE special gift and to support ONE meaningful cause.

ECHOage will arrange everything, so no need to drive, shop, wrap or even pick up the phone to make a donation.”

What business could you start that impacts our normal traditions while truly changing the world?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2007 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html

If you'd like to comment on this Sparker, visit the Coaching Toys Blog


 

Living Colors

After leaving a corporate job at IBM, Marissa McTasney enrolled in a skilled-trades course for women, with the goal of starting her own construction company. She spotted a gap in the market on her first day of school. When she and her classmates went out to buy work boots, she was surprised to find they came only in tan and black: men’s shoes in female sizes. According to salespeople, McTasney wasn't the only one disappointed in the limited choice of working gear for women. Not one to pass up an entrepreneurial opportunity, she found a manufacturer in China and developed steel-toe boots in pink, green, blue and red. Matching tool belts, safety glasses and hard hats soon followed, as did retail partnerships with Home Depot and Zellers, a Canadian department store.

Today, Tomboy Trades, www.tomboytrades.com, is looking for retailers outside Canada, and also mentions that franchising plans are in the works.

What living color is missing in your environment that would bring more aliveness?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2007 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html

If you'd like to comment on this Sparker, visit the Coaching Toys Blog


Announce with Inspiration

When Cara O'Callaghan, Santa Barbara, CA, founded www.preggersnproud.com, she wanted to announce her approaching motherhood.

By the time she saw actress Kate Hudson wearing one of her new designer maternity T-shirts, she knew she had arrived.

"Back then there were no maternity slogan T-shirts," recalled O'Callaghan, who started her company in July 2003 while three months pregnant with her son Zaeden, now 2.

"I was playing with the idea of announcing it in a fashionable way," she explained.

Starting with an investment of just $4,000, a "dinosaur e-commerce site" with a simple PayPal account and four prototypes created by her graphic designer husband, O'Callaghan set out to exploit a niche in the new mommy market. Today her site offers t-shirts for mommy, daddy and baby.

What do you have to announce to the world and how can that announcement inspire your business?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2007 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html

If you'd like to comment on this Sparker, visit the Coaching Toys Blog


Inspired Decorating

Intrigued by the beautiful and inspirational possibilities of decorative lettering, Inger Erickson, a professional graphic designer and owner of a successful design company, started Uppercase Living from her home with her friend Stephanie Geisler, a professional writer and trainer. Their company takes inspirational words and phrases and creates lettering with fonts of many shapes and sizes that can be adhered to the walls of any rooms in a house or office without permanently damaging the walls. The lettering can be peeled off easily and transferred to another area as needed.

As a result, people have more options for decorating the space around them with words and images that are unique and individual. Move over paintings, photographs and wall hangings, here comes words and phrases to inspire you!

Uppercase Living has rapidly become the leading provider of decorative lettering for homes and is now one of the fastest growing party-plan companies in the industry. What started as a dream for two talented friends has now become a reality.

What unique business can emerge from the combined talents of you and your friends?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2007 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html

If you'd like to comment on this Sparker, visit the Coaching Toys Blog


Flash of Insight

Roger Adams grew up in a family that owned a roller rink, repairing skates and manning the check room where patrons stored their street shoes. Early on, he invented quirky homemade devices, inspired by James Bond movies. In junior high school, he used the center of a flash cube to design a ring that temporarily blinded people when they bent down to view it. Later, he created sound and lighting systems for skating rinks, helping pay his way though college.

In the fall 1998, he was sitting on a friend's porch in Manhattan Beach, California., watching roller skaters, skateboarders and bicyclists on the boardwalk, thinking back to a "happier, simpler time" at his family's roller rink. That led him to an idea. "It occurred to me that all those things -- roller skates, skateboards, bikes -- had been around for a hundred years," he says. "It seemed to me that there had to be some new way to have fun on wheels."

That flash of insight lead Roger to create a sneaker with a wheel embedded in the heel, launching his business, Heelys, also the name of his skating shoe, in 2000. Since then, the company has sold more than 4.5 million pairs of Heelys. In the six months ended June 30, 2006, sales rose to $44.6 million from $16.1 million a year earlier.


What business idea lies hidden in your memories of happier, simpler times in your life?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Better Ideas

How DID they start? Big success can come from amazingly humble beginnings. May their evolution to success inspire you to start your special dream … now!


In 1967, Skip Yowell's cousin Murray had an idea for a better backpack. It would be built around a lightweight, adjustable aluminum frame. Cousin Murray formed a company. The woman he was dating at the time just happened to be a wiz on the sewing machine. Murray promised that if she would marry him, he'd name the company after her. "She did, and he did," Yowell writes in his book, The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains" and JanSport was born."

The JanSport team was just "three hippies...no business plan...even less money...All we had was Murray's innovative design, Jan's skill, my creative instincts and a shared affinity for Dylan music and beer."

Yet, the JanSport pack was an improvement over the standard backpacks of their day, and the entrepreneurial trio had providence on their side. Nature and outdoor adventure were popular. Their first big break came with an order of 300 backpacks.

Today the brand is truly recognizable and the company's signature product - a little pack is now worn by students in every part of the world.

What better ideas do you have that your friends will band with you to realize?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Eureka Moments

How DID they start? Big success can come from amazingly humble beginnings. May their evolution to success inspire you to start your special dream … now!


When Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix was asked by 60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl about how he came up with the idea for his company, the former math teacher told her he had rented a video and had misplaced it and it was six weeks late. He was faced with a $40 late fee he didn’t want to tell his wife about. On the way to the gym he thought about his situation and he realized – “Whoa! Video stores could operate like a gym, with a flat membership fee.”

For Hastings, this was the eureka moment.

Most movies were still using VHS (videos) nine years ago, and VHS tapes were too bulky and too expensive for the mail. Then a friend told him about a new technology called the DVD and he wondered if those might be a viable option. He mailed some to himself to test out the idea and saw that it worked.

Today more than five million Americans are receiving their movies in skinny red envelopes, by snail mail, and keeping them as long as they want, with no late fees. And Netflix brings in 50 million dollars a month. All because of a $40.00 late fee!


What have you misplaced that could lead you to a business idea?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Creating Credibility

How DID they start? Big success can come from amazingly humble beginnings. May their evolution to success inspire you to start your special dream … now!

After 9/11, Mike Shiley, 39, quit his corporate sales job and went to Iraq to create a film that he says, "would give a greater understanding [of] the war." He convinced his local ABC affiliate to take him on as a freelance reporter, but was refused media credentials. With the station's permission, Shiley created a fake press pass at Kinko's. He rented a used bulletproof vest and equipment, cashed in frequent-flier miles, and left for Iraq.

Shiley filmed the war in Iraq over a two month period. He briefly embedded himself with a National Guard unit where he became a tank gunner and received a civilian combat award. He made income providing newspapers and ABC stations with stories and footage. Shiley says, "I [went] in a nobody, and came out a bona fide journalist."

Shiley's documentary, Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories, was released in October 2004 and is now in its fifth edition. The film won best documentary at three film festivals and has earned more than $500,000 in sales. His company, Shidog Films in Portland, Oregon has projected sales of $205,000 in 2006.


What credibility can you create by just doing what you’re yearning to do?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Life Is Good

How DID they start?  Big success can come from amazingly humble beginnings.  May their evolution to success inspire you to start your special dream … now!
 
Anyone who has tried to make a living selling t-shirts knows that life can be tough.  After all, t-shirts are a dime a dozen.  Brothers Bert and John Jacobs set out to sell t-shirts in dormitories on East Coast college campuses and found themselves barely scraping by for five years.  Until they created a focus and a logo for their business that seemed to strike a chord – Life is Good!  They credit a guy named Jake on a poster they had in their room for coming up with a logo and an approach.  When you see his unique smile on the back of one of the t-shirts or on the lifeisgood.com Web site, you'll instantly know how Jake had a hand in making this business come alive.
 
As the brothers tell their story on their Web site, when they were desperate to make their business go, they decided to print Jake's smiling face and optimistic comment about life being good on 48 t-shirts in September of 1994.  They brought these shirts to a street fair and by noon, they were sold out.  They realized at once they had a hit – and a success in the making – in stark contrast to the difficulty they had previously had to selling their products.
 
Today their Massachusetts based company provides clothing, pet items, children's items and otherwise “cool gear” to retailers nation-wide.

What unique focus is waiting right under your nose that could propel your business to a success beyond your wildest imagination?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


The color purple by Melanie keveles

Oprah Winfrey revealed to Ann Curry on NBC's news magazine TV program Dateline that a book she read more than twenty years ago completely changed her life and led to success beyond her wildest dreams. According to Winfrey, reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker made all the difference in her life. Oprah was so taken by that novel that she bought as many copies as she could get her hands on and began handing them out to total strangers. When she finally got the opportunity to star in the film based on the novel, directed by Steven Spielberg, she vowed she would never let others dictate her fate because she had to negotiate heavily with her employer to give her time off from her successful television talk show to make the film. From that point forth she was determined to be her own boss, launching her own company, Harpo which put her fate in her own hands. As a result today she is worth more than a billion and a half dollars and her time is strictly her own.

What have you read that inspires you to heights beyond your wildest dreams?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Solution found in the daily news by Melaine Keveles

Mike Plott wanted to find a better way to earn his living than working as an armed guard at Hoover Dam under the scorching heat and the discomfort of wearing his sweaty bulletproof vest. What does a 49 year old man with a GED high school equivalency diploma do in this day and age?

He found his solution when reading a news item about several U.S. states auctioning online the property that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) confiscated from passengers at airports.

He contacted the mayor of McCarran where McCarran International Airport exists, serving nearby Las Vegas , and proposed that he collect the discarded items at the airport, sell them on e-bay and share the proceeds with the city. The mayor agreed, made some phone calls and Mike Plott's business was born.

Having now expanded to other cities, his commission earnings are about double his last salary, more money than he ever thought he would make.

What business ideas can you generate from reading your daily newspaper?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Bagels in Tokyo by Melanie Kevels

Five years ago, Miho Inagi, a 29 year old from Japan quit her job as an office assistant to pursue a unique dream. On a trip to New York, she had fallen in love with a New York classic food - bagels and hoped to open her own bagel shop in Tokyo.

Even though bagels were hardly known in Japan, she was determined to learn the trade properly. Ms. Inagi talked her way into an apprenticeship at New York's Ess-a-Bagel. Six months later, she returned to Japan.

Eventually, Ms. Inagi opened Maruichi Bagel, a tiny bakery located between a coffee shop and a hair salon in an upscale Tokyo neighborhood. Her bagels have become so popular that when she sells out, customers wait the 15 or 20 minutes until her next batch is ready.

- What's an exotic item you could transplant to a new location?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Sock monkey lady by Melanie Keveles

"Sock monkey dolls make everyone smile," said Dee Lindner, known as the Sock Monkey Lady. She makes and sells old-fashioned sock monkeys using the same red-heeled work socks used to craft the home made dolls of 60 years ago. In addition to these dolls, she makes handmade greeting cards featuring photos of her whimsical sock monkeys. Images of her crafted items appear in Monkey Love, her new gift book and in a new collection of Valentine fun packs from Peaceable Kingdom Press. Lindner also sells kits for those who want to make their own dolls.

Her flourishing business grew out of a hobby she started when she and her husband moved away from Chicago. She had purchased a sock monkey for good luck from an antique store. She began making her own sock monkeys for companions to the original and the collection started to grow. She used her photography skills to capture the images of her craft on greeting cards and even on custom made quilts. On her website ( www.sockmonkeylady.com ), she encourages people to purchase her items for good luck and good feelings.

What's a nostalgic item you have or know about that is ready for a big come-back ?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2006 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Sweet success by Melanie Keveles

Working on a movie set as a prop man, Pete Croyle brought some of his home-made confections, based on a cherished family recipe to his colleagues for a celebration one day. The crew and actors liked his home made marshmallows so much, they wouldn’t leave him alone. They wanted more. The treats were nothing like the sweets they bought in the supermarket. He experimented and dipped his light, fluffy treats in chocolate, caramel and many other toppings. Before long, people were asking to purchase these sweets. Eventually, his budding business took more time and energy than he had to devote to his day job, so he left to start his business which he calls Pete’s Gourmet. (http://www.petesgourmet.com/)

What family recipe do you have that could generate excitement, pleasure and a business opportunity?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


A two-year-life-changing odyssey by Melanie Keveles

In early 2002 Ward Powers awoke in the middle of night with an idea that called him to action. He wanted to make a film that would express the importance of understanding our interconnectedness, the idea that WE ARE ALL ONE. Powers, a Detroit-area trial attorney who knew nothing about film making, mail ordered a video camera and launched what became a two-year life-changing odyssey.

The film seemed to have its own life. Powers began by asking for help from friends and family but soon, doors opened and support flooded in from all directions. They had no prior experience, industry connections and very little budget, but because of the project's theme they were able to attract an array of technical, creative and production talent required to successfully complete a feature length documentary.

Today the film has become an industry in itself. A visit to its related Web , onethemovie.org reveals a variety of ways in which Ward Powers is reaping acclaim and monetary rewards for his $10,000 investment.

What idea do you have that could evoke resonance in others?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Neckties to boxers by Melanie Keveles

As a performing musician, Nicholas Graham couldn’t find neckties that suited his style. So at age 24 he visited fabric stores, buying up patterns he considered "more interesting." On a sheet of plywood set on his bed, he cut and sewed the swatches into ties. He later sold his ties to specialty shops, cash-only.

After two years of such sales, a buyer at Macy's suggested that if the fabrics Graham was using for neckwear were made into underwear, he would generate more money. The necktie business became Joe Boxer, a name that popped into his head.

In his first year as Joe Boxer, Graham took in $600,000, "hired some labor," retired the plywood, and subcontracted the sewing. Six months into Joe Boxer's second year, sales had topped $1 million.

What ideas have popped into your head that could be spun into a million dollars?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


A passion for gourmet cooking by Melanie Keveles

Chuck Williams, now 90, introduced American consumers to restaurant-quality European cookware and small appliances nearly 50 years ago when he took an old hardware store in a rural California town and turned it into Williams-Sonoma. Williams was a former department store window dresser whose passion and hobby was gourmet cooking.

According to Williams he got the idea for his upscale kitchenware store on a two-week vacation trip to Paris he took in 1953. He opened his first store in California three years later.

Without Williams, American cooks might not have learned to make pesto in a food processor or to dress a salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Williams changed the way we cook and dine and buy pots and pans. He offered Americans a very different selection of merchandise.

What idea might you be inspired to evolve because of what you encountered within the environs of your vacations?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


A hallelujah moment by Melanie Keveles

Amanda Horan Kennedy was frustrated with the way her bra's back strap looked beneath a tight-fitting cashmere sweater. Even after scouring the finer department stores, she was unable to find a bra that did not accentuate the unsightly appearance of "back fat." On Valentine's Day in 2003, inspiration suddenly struck Horan Kennedy: She cut the legs and crotch off of a pair of control-top pantyhose, slipped it over her head and onto her torso, and put on her cashmere sweater. "Hallelujah!" said Horan Kennedy, and the Sassybax prototype was born.

Horan Kennedy, who still works from a home office, estimates 2004 sales at $750,000. She is developing strapless, augmentation, and racerback bras to extend the line beyond the six versions currently available in stores and on the website www.sassybax.com.

What’s something that’s frustrating you or others you know that could be turned into a product and launch a business?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Who could have predicted? by Melanie Keveles

Those wearing Gucci sunglasses probably don't know that the original designer, Guccio Gucci started his business humbly in the 1920's in Florence, Italy. Guccio would have never predicted that his small little leather goods shop would have grown into the fashion empire it is today!

That single little business expanded with the help of his sons Aldo, Vasco, and Ugo back in the late 1930’s, and another son joined the company in the early 1950’s by the name of Rodolfo, who eventually opened a Manhattan store in the United States, thus launching the famous Italian designs of the Gucci brand we all know so well.

What practices have your family been engaged in that could be turned profitably into a business with growth potential?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Seeing possibilities in what others take for granted by Melanie Keveles

Imagine going to your local grocery store and having to ask the clerk behind the counter to get your groceries for you!

If it hadn't been for a man named Clarence Saunders, a grocery wholesaler from Memphis, Tennessee who took a patent out in 1917 for what he called “Self-Serving Stores” we all might have been at the mercy of store clerks who kept the goods behind a counter. He thought it would save time and money to have the patrons gather their own goods and bring them up to the front of the store where clerks would ring up the purchases.

We generally take for granted the process of going to a grocery store or department store and collecting what we want in our baskets and checking out with the clerks, but if you've ever had occasion to visit a historic restoration site such as Gettysburg or Old Sturbridge Village, you'll see general stores set up on the pre-1917 plan with long counters winding in front of stacked shelves.

What is it with people like Saunders who see different possibilities when the rest of us just take what is habitually handed to us for granted? How do they see the value of change when many of us would argue for the status quo?

What habitual process do you or others engage in that is just begging to be transformed?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Their primary goal was partnership by Melanie Keveles

Sometimes businesses start from a resolve to partner and nothing else:

When Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded their company, in the late 1930s, they had no specific idea to pursue. Their primary goal was to go into business together in the vaguely defined electronic-engineering field. Here is how Bill Hewlett described the early days (courtesy of HP company archives): "We didn't have any plans when we started -- we were just opportunistic. We did anything that would bring in a nickel. We had a bowling foul-line indicator, a clock drive for a telescope, a thing to make a urinal flush automatically, and a shock machine to make people lose weight. Here we were, with about $500 in capital, trying whatever someone thought we might be able to do.''

Who would you partner with if given the chance?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


What kind of business will we be? by Melanie Keveles

Sometimes businesses start without an idea of what the business will be – if you can believe it!

In 1945 a young inventor named Masaru Ibuka decided to start a company among the ruins of a defeated Japan. He rented a room in a bombed-out department store in Tokyo and, with seven employees and $1,600 of personal savings, started to work. But what to work on? Ibuka had a company but no idea. According to Akio Morita, who joined the company shortly thereafter, "the small group sat in conference in the depressing surroundings of the burned-out department store, and for weeks they tried to figure out what kind of business the new company could enter.'' Ibuka's company is known to all of us today as Sony Corp.

Sony's first product -- a rice cooker -- didn't work properly, and its first significant product -- a tape recorder -- struck out in the market. The company kept itself alive in the early days by stitching wires to cloth to make crude but sellable heating pads.

Who would you gather together to launch your next business idea?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


A little profit on the side by Melanie Keveles

Sears, Roebuck and Co. beginnings were humble. Its founder, Richard Sears, was a railway agent who sold goods on the side. He stumbled onto a shipment of gold watches, which he sold at a profit to other station agents.

A year later, Sears sought out a partner to expand the business. Sears hired Alvah C. Roebuck, and in 1893 they renamed the company Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Their first taste of success came with the launch of their mail-order catalog. By offering prices lower than small-town stores and free shipping, Sears prospered. Sales in 1895 topped $750,000.

As cities became larger forces in shaping retailing, the company opened its first retail store in 1925 inside Sears' mail-order plant. By 1927, the company had 27 stores. The rest as they say is history.

What business can you begin with goods you sell "on the side?"

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


It was just a hobby by Melanie Keveles

George Grubb started PlayStream LLC on a single PC in the living room of his Los Angeles apartment. "It was just a hobby," says Grubb, who holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina and an MFA from the American Film Institute. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1993 to work on film production.

Because he had studied the so-called "new media”, people began asking him to design dynamic presentations for the World Wide Web -- a video followed a slide show, for example -- and set up hosting services for the presentations.

"I just kept getting orders to the point it was starting to take up a lot time," says Grubb.

In 1998 he rented a one-room office, hired two employees and PlayStream was born. A year later, Grubb relocated to techno-savvy Seattle. PlayStream recently moved into a 4,000-square-foot space at Fisher Plaza, a super high-tech facility that's home to many Fortune 500 telecommunications firms.

That "hobby" has become a successful business that delivers audio, video and multimedia content in the form of streaming media. Revenue at the Seattle company reached $1.23 million in 2002, up 262 percent from 2000 revenue of $341,667.

What "hobby" can you turn into a serviceable business?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


An accidental discovery created a revolution by Melanie Keveles

Charles Goodyear discovered “vulcanized” rubber by accident. Mid-19th century rubber products cracked in the cold or melted in the heat. While showing off one of his “improved rubber experiments” in a general store, Goodyear accidentally dropped some rubber mixed with sulfur on a pot-bellied stove. The resulting tough substance – patented in 1844 as vulcanized rubber - revolutionized the rubber industry.

What product could your "accidentally" create?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Unfazed by the loss of her job by Melanie Keveles

Charlotte Fowkes was working as a computer programmer when her boss fired her for taking too much time off to care for her very sick child. Unfazed by the loss of her job, she turned it into an opportunity to commercialize a hobby that she had been engaged in for years: creating "baby cakes." These are not edible cakes; rather, a combination of diapers and baby products artfully arranged to look a cake. Friends have marveled at it for years, and she knew that it could be turned into a full-time business. In 1998, she started Baby-Cakes.com (http://www.baby-cakes.com).

What hobby do you have that's begging to become a business?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


A great idea while shaving by Melanie Keveles

King Camp Gillette’s father was a part-time patent agent and inventor. Seventeen-year-old Gillette became a traveling salesman and, following in his father’s inventive footsteps, tried to improve the products he sold. While shaving one morning on the road, he had a brainstorm – to develop a razor that had a safe, inexpensive and disposable blade. His 1904 patent of the double-edged “safety razor” blade changed the history of shaving.

Great ideas come to us when we least expect them to – when we're driving our car, taking a shower or brushing our teeth. Being in the vicinity of water also increases our tendency to be creative.

Watch for great business ideas "popping" for you when you least expect them to!

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Driven by motherly instinct by Melanie Keveles

Amilya Antonetti discovered that her infant son, David, was highly allergic to products she used to clean the house. They caused him great pain and unexplained rashes.

As a result, she developed cleaning products without synthetic-based ingredients. Using vegetable-based ingredients, she created a line of household cleaning products that are safe to use around her son. Before long, word got around of the hypoallergenic cleaning products she developed. Her business, Soapworks, was born.

Soapworks (http://www.soapworks.com) has now grown into a $10 million business in three years that it has been in business. Amilya’s company now offers a line of cleaning products: Laundry Powder or Liquid Laundry, Automatic Dishwashing Powder, All-Purpose Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, and Spot Cleaner.

What unmet needs are plaguing your family that have potential for becoming a business?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Out of ivory palaces by Melanie Keveles

William Procter and John Gamble started business selling candles and
soap from a wheelbarrow. In 1879 John Gamble developed a formula for an
inexpensive white soap. A workman accidentally left the soap machine
running while he went to lunch. Air entered the soap mixture, creating
the phenomenon of a floating soap. The soap's name - Ivory -was inspired
by a Bible passage containing the words "out of ivory palaces."

What passage in your favorite great book inspires you?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


When you care enough to send the very best by Melanie Keveles

Joyce Hall began selling products door-to-door at age 8 in his hometown
of Norfolk, Nebraska. In 1910, at age 17, he moved to Kansas City to
promote his brother's postcard business. Greeting cards were soon added
to the Hall Brothers Co. product line. In 1925, the term Hallmark was
first used on the backs of cards. Today, the slogan - "when you care
enough to send the very best" - is synonymous with Hallmark - the
company Joyce Hall started.

What is your slogan for your life?

Sparkers - Humble Beginnings © 2005 Melanie Keveles for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more inspiring success Sparkers by Melanie at www.coachingtoys.com/humblebeginnings.html


Check out the Coaching Toys blog where a new Sparkers is posted every week. Your chance to share your experience with others. Or email your comments to marcy@coachingtoys.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

Sparkers Creative exercises, while mostly fun and enriching may occasionally tap into unresolved issues or discomfort. This may signal some healing to attend to. If this should happen for you and you feel you need help contact a professional counselor. Coaching, while powerful it is not a substitute for therapeutic intervention.

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