12 founders reflect on what they’re thankful for.
By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
As the holidays near, we’re often more vocal in our appreciation of those around us. You don’t want to spend so much time focusing on your business that you forget to thank those who have helped you make it possible.
In the spirit of the season of giving, we asked 12 startup founders: What’s is the main thing in your career thus far that you are most thankful for?
1. My Business Partner
The main thing I’m thankful for in my career is my business partner, Jade Driver. We managed to start our company with zero funds, and keep it alive and growing for eight years with no investors involved. I’m lucky we both would always rather invest our money back in the business rather than pocketing it ourselves, and that we have the same long-term vision. – Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
2. Great Mentors
I’ve made mistakes along the way in business, but having mentors and coaches has helped me avoid making some huge ones, and they’ve pushed me to try things that I never thought I could do. Check out organizations like Toastmasters, local entrepreneurial groups and groups specific to your industry to find a support network to reach out to. You can also look at private industry Facebook groups. – Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography
3. Having Never Taken “No” for an Answer
Starting your own business is not an easy road to go down. You hear “no” a lot, and many people look at you as though you’ll never be able to do it. If I gave up after my first no, or even after my first 50 no’s, I’d never be where I am today. Thanks to my resilience and determination, I’ve been able to surpass even my own expectations and get to where I am. — Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
4. The Opportunity to Help Encourage Other Women
In my field (finance), women are a rarity — they only compromise 17.6 percent of executives in the field. Women feel out of place in finance, and the judgment and “old boys’ club” attitude on Wall Street doesn’t help. I’m grateful that I was able to start LexION Capital, which is the only woman-owned and run firm in the nation, to help women feel like they belong. – Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
5. The Intersection of Opportunity and Timing
When my co-founders and I incorporated EarlyShares in 2011, the investment “crowdfunding” regulations under which we would operate didn’t exist yet (not even in draft form). That created challenges, but it also engendered our success. By getting in early, we seized an unprecedented opportunity before its tipping point and shaped a brand-new industry as it emerged. I’ll always be grateful we did! – Heather Schwarz-Lopes, EarlyShares
6. My Business Network
I’m grateful that whenever I’m faced with a challenge, advice is very accessible. I have developed great relationships and acquired insightful mentors throughout my career. I like to think that everyone I surround myself with is extremely helpful. I feel like I usually know at least one person who has gone through a similar challenge at any given time. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
7. My Team and Our Company Culture
Every day I wake up thankful to have formed a dream team of people each talented in their role, intensely committed to our mission and motivated to move fast and work smart. We’ve done this through creating a culture of listening to one another, testing new ideas, agreeing on fair timelines and not seeing failure as a faux pas. – Heather McGough, Lean Startup Company
8. The Ability to Become Both a Mom and a Career Person
People often ask me what is the greatest difficulty with being a “female” entrepreneur. I usually pause, smile and say, “Well, men can’t have babies.” Obvious, I know, but it really is something we as women must consider. Having a child is a major life decision. I feel very fortunate that six years ago I found a way to work my amazing child into my life. – Tammy Leigh Kahn, Constant Contact
9. The Opportunity to Surround Myself With People Better Than Myself
One thing I learned early on is that it’s way better to have a team around you that you trust to perform than to be the smartest person in the room. From mentors to advisors to employees, I feel incredibly grateful for their competence, honesty and loyalty. In every functional area, the people leading are way better than I could be, and that is really something to be grateful for. – Joanna Schneier, Cognotion
10. My Family
I’m thankful for family. I started Allocadia with my twin sister Kristine, and family has been a core part of our journey as entrepreneurs. Kristine and I couldn’t have built our business without the support we’ve given each other — or without the support of our families. Our success would have been impossible without the help of our parents, in-laws and spouses every step of the way. – Katherine Berry, Allocadia
11. Freedom of Time
I’ve always highly valued freedom of my time, which means that I can choose how I spend it. I’m most grateful that this has become a reality that allows me to choose with whom I spend my time, where I spend it and what I do with it. I think there are few privileges greater than that!
– Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
12. Taking the Time to Get an MBA
Nothing can beat the technical training or the confidence that an MBA can give you. I use it every day. It was the best investment I made in myself and my business. – Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects