As Americans come together to celebrate the nation's Independence Day, we asked business owners to reflect on their own "independent's day." Here, we asked small business owners across the country to weigh in on the benefits of business ownership -- and the best part about forging their own paths.
Linda Appel Lipsius, 40
Launched in 2006
Linda Appel Lipsius, co-founder of organic tea company Teatulia, says being independent is in her blood -- her parents started Orange Glo, the company behind the Oxy Clean brand for which the late infomercial star Billy Mays was a long-time pitchman. Despite her familiarity with entrepreneurship, she still finds the daily task of running Teatulia "equally thrilling and terrifying." The best part: "I use all parts of my brain, every day -- and I love that," Lipsius says. "The creativity that you get to unleash when you're setting up and running a business is just so satisfying -- it makes you feel alive."
Rebecca Minkoff, 30
Rebecca Minkoff LLC, New York
Launched in 2005
Accessories and apparel designer Rebecca Minkoff has always leaned toward independent and creative endeavors. Originally from San Diego, she grew up designing and sewing clothing. So it's hardly surprising, that Minkoff -- in starting her own company Rebecca Minkoff LLC -- treasures being able to carve her own path. "Running my own business allows me to be in control of my vision," she says. "Unlike working for someone else, in your own independent company, you get to decide. It's a great feeling when you can be successful at it."
Loren Bendele, 39
Savings.com, Los Angeles
Launched in 2007
After working at giant companies like Dow Chemical and the Boston Consulting Group, Loren Bendele, founder of deals website Savings.com, values the ability to create his own company culture, where jeans, T-shirts are the norm -- and man's best friend are welcome in the office. "Creating an environment where you can control the type of people you hire and set the tone in the workplace was huge," he says. "When co-workers can enjoy each other and where they work, they work hard -- not out of fear but passion."
Fabio Rosati, 46
Elance, Mountain View, Calif.
Launched in 2007
Before starting up freelancer job site Elance, Fabio Rosati worked at a company that employed 60,000 workers. So he knows a few things about being at a big company, which makes him cherish his independence even more: "When you run a small business, you get to choose who your clients are, which markets you serve, which products you provide and which people you work with. In a big company, you don't get to choose at all," he says. "Making those decisions is the most powerful thing about entrepreneurship."
Sarah Wallace, 38
The Good Bean, Berkeley, Calif.
Launched in 2010
A veteran marketer in the natural products industry, Sarah Wallace has worked with her share of breakout brands -- namely: Clif Bar, Kashi, Bear Naked and PopChips. But the most rewarding aspect of launching her own company, The Good Bean, is creating snacks -- in this case, seasoned chickpeas -- that are healthy alternatives to the more common sugar- or salt-laden options. "It's incredible that for startups like us, we can make a product and see it on shelves next to products from Fortune 500 companies," she says.
Hans Hess, 39
Elevation Burger, Arlington, Va.
Launched in 2005
When Hans Hess walked into his boss's office with a surefire way to cut costs and grow the company's profits, his boss got offended. That's when Hess realized it was time to strike out on his own and launch Elevation Burger, a grass-fed beef burger franchise that now has 18 locations. "Having the idea that I pitched get unceremoniously discarded was really discouraging," he recalls. "For me, the best part about running my own business is being able to innovate without any boundaries. It's one of the reasons why I enjoy being my own boss so much."
Chris Porter, 36
Training Camp, Philadelphia
Launched in 1999
For Chris Porter, owning and operating Training Camp, an information-technology training boot camp, has its challenges. But he's happy he took the entrepreneurial plunge. "It's a tradeoff," says Porter who founded the company when he was 24. "You truly don't have to report to anyone else and you don't need to share in the creative process. But not having a boss ultimately means you're accountable to employees," he says. "Meeting payroll is a lot more stressful than worrying about your job performance."
Peter Shankman, 38
HelpAReporterOut, New York
Launched in 2008
After being a serial entrepreneur 15 years, Peter Shankman now works for someone else. In 2010, he sold Help A Reporter Out (HARO), a service that connects reporters with resources, and stayed on as CEO. Though he continues to run the day-to-day operations at HARO, he misses the rush of growing his own company. "Every time a new member would join or a new advertiser would purchase an ad, that was it for me," he says. "I didn't advertise, so that interest was all word of mouth; it meant I was doing something so useful that people told their friends about it."