I've worked for a lot of big brands in my career -- Arizona Iced Tea, Starbucks, Bed Bath & Beyond, About.com and Ford Models to name a few. And though I loved working with those brands, there was always something missing; quite simply: they weren't mine.
I helped them succeed, but I didn't found them. Like most entrepreneurs I had an intense desire -- no, a need -- to start my own company.
For those of you who have started companies big and small, you know that there is no harder job. It's like pushing a rock up a vertical hill with hurricane winds blowing in your face. It's painful and gut-wrenching and filled with failure and disappointment -- except for those amazing moments when it isn't. And during those moments I've never felt more triumphant, more fulfilled, more happy.
Every day is an incredible challenge and each night I go to bed more exhausted than the day before... until I wake up at three o'clock in the morning because there's so much to do and I can't wait to do it.
If you're reading this and you've ever started a company, you understand.
I share the stress, drive, anguish, pain and triumph of every passionate small business owner out there and that's why I founded my own company with the mission of helping my fellow entrepreneurs. I want to help every person who makes a product with sweat and love to break through the clutter and be heard by the world.
But this is bigger than OpenSky, which is why we've teamed up with 9 other companies to launch The Small Business Break Through, a movement to help celebrate, recognize and promote small businesses and American entrepreneurs. Together, we're asking people everywhere to stand-up behind their favorite small business, share it with friends and shop small.
Need a gift for your niece's birthday? Shop small. Looking for a new outfit to wear to a party? Shop small. Furnishing your home? Shop small. Going out for a quick bite? Shop small. Grabbing a coffee on the way to work? Shop small. And make sure you tell every one about the great place you spent those hard earned dollars.
Because any small business worth their salt truly cares -- they care about their customers, they care about their product, they care about their people. If they didn't, they wouldn't be in the small business business, it's just too damn hard.
I truly believe that the world would be a better, more unique place if we could wipe all the big box stores off the map and replace them with little guys who were driven by passion instead of profits.
I know that will never happen, but I do believe that if we all join together and pledge to support small business whenever we can, we can make a difference -- one small shopper at a time.