One of the greatest aspects of entrepreneurship is that it’s a lifestyle truly open to all. There are no limitations to the number or type of individuals who can choose entrepreneurship and succeed -- it’s essentially limitless. In a way of life where the only limiting factor is you, people of all backgrounds have joined the leagues of incredible entrepreneurs.
You don’t have to be Elon Musk or Mark Cuban to still lead an incredibly rewarding entrepreneurial life. While the obstacles and challenges ahead of you are real, there are many who have gone before and discovered their dreams. These are the brave ones. The emerging stars. The real entrepreneurs putting it all on the line, over and over, day in and day out. They keep a low press profile but run very successful businesses. They’re here to share their adventures going from startup to six figures and beyond to show you just how possible entrepreneurship is when you go for what you love and are willing to put in the work.
Here are three inspiring leaders across three completely different industries who prove entrepreneurship isn’t an elite group. It’s an inclusive reality you can create, too.
The builder: Heath Ryan, founder of Pace Pictures
Australian Heath Ryan moved to Los Angeles in 2001 with nothing more than a small suitcase and a big vision to build his own production company. Ryan was up against the same universal challenges all entrepreneurs face -- capital constraints, minimizing burn rates and taxes and overhead -- but also had to juggle the complex paperwork and staggering expense of being a foreign national founding a business in the U.S. There have been plenty of less than glamorous moments in an industry of notorious glitz, but Ryan wouldn’t change a thing.
“Pace grew from wanting to make my own films,” Heath tells me. “Everything I have built, I built to make the experience of production and post-production the most creative and streamlined it can be. My clients realize pretty quickly that I love making movies, which is not a given in the film industry.”
Living in America and founding a successful production company was his lifelong dream that he’s expertly crafted into a fulfilling reality.
His advice for other entrepreneurs getting started?
“It's great to have a big picture, but once you have the five- to 10-year goal, concentrate on the macro," he says. "Your people that work for you are your most important investment and the most accurate barometer to how your business is performing. No matter how busy, make time to listen to them about what they need and listen to your clients about how they are feeling about your services. If need be, adjust as quickly as you can. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!”
The healer: Sean Croxton, founder of Underground Wellness
It was 2006 and Croxton found himself in a sticky situation: there were only 24 hours in his day. Whether you’re a coach, consultant, personal trainer or all of the above, this realization can be a tipping point to a business breakthrough. Croxton took the problem of limited time and leveraged it into a booming wellness business by creating multiple passive income streams focused on his passion for teaching others how to live and eat healthy.
“I started my business to provide people with the critical health information they are not getting from their doctors and nutritionists,” Croxton shares with me. “I connect my viewers, listeners and readers with knowledgeable experts who stay abreast of the latest scientific research as well as natural, non-toxic methods of healing. I want to give them hope.”
The best part is Croxton was able to create his success on a shoestring budget utilizing free outlets such as YouTube, Blog Talk Radio and Wordpress. There’s no reason to take on overhead with all the free platforms out there to build your brand. A voracious reader, Croxton is primarily self-taught, learning what he needed to know in business from books. He’s managed to create a successful podcast, robust products, large online health summits and most importantly, a vibrant community.
His advice for entrepreneurs? Never give up.
“There was a time when I quit my business. I deleted all of my online content and social-media pages," he says. "I wanted out, for all of the reasons most entrepreneurs give up on themselves and their ideas, mostly fear and what others might think of me. If I had not changed my mind and given it another shot, I would have never known how much impact I could have had on the lives of others. Never give up. Because now, at this very moment, you may be three feet from gold.”
The connector: Jason Okuma, founder of JATI, Inc.
Take a look at any of Okuma’s online followers and you’ll know you’re in the company of a social media and marketing great. Meet Okuma and you’ll know why he’s been called, “the influencer of the influencers.” He’s one of the most engaging, intelligent and genuine entrepreneurs you’ll be lucky enough to know, which comes in large part from the hard work and personal challenges he has overcome in his young life.
For more than 20 years Okuma has been blending his love of marketing with his vast network of global relationships to create and build his business, JATI, Inc. Through Jati, Okuma goes beyond the boundaries of traditional marketing to create real connections and help brands and fans come together in authentic and meaningful ways. Okuma’s business is fueled by those organic and influential relationships that drive value not just for businesses, but also for the people who need and love their products.
“I started JATI, Inc. because I was passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and companies move the needle in their businesses, especially with marketing, which is an area so many struggle with,” Okuma explains to me. “I love being able to guide and provide solutions and results for entrepreneurs that actually take their businesses to the next level. Being an entrepreneur for most of my life has given me experiences, insights and perspectives that I'm passionate about using to empower the clients that I serve.”
What advice would Okuma give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
“Focus on solving problems. The bigger the problem solved, the bigger the pay," he says. "It's best to be passionate about your business as well. In regards to starting a business, you don't have to get it right -- you just have to get it going!"