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Small Business Success Stories

Small Business Success Stories

Many large corporations that are household names started from humble beginnings. Their success came from great ideas, lots of hard work, and steadfast dedication. Turning your small business into a corporate powerhouse doesn't have to be just a dream - it can be a reality. Check out these small business success stories that show anything is possible:


What began in 1945 as a small business ran inside of a garage has turned into an empire. Ruth and Elliot Handler, along with Harold “Matt” Matson, started selling picture frames as their first line of products. Soon after, Elliot began creating and selling dollhouse furniture, gaining serious attention from consumers. This pushed the group to focus on producing toys, which eventually sparked the creation and success of the Barbie doll. Mattel completely changed the toy industry, promoting their merchandise on popular kids’ television networks. This trend-setting toy company has stayed at the top of its industry for years and continues to provide quality toys.

Yankee Candle Co.

16-year-old Michael Kittredge came up with the idea to turn crayons into scented candles as a gift for his mother. The candles turned out so well that once his neighbors heard about the candles, they began asking Michael if they could buy some from him. This was just the start of what we now know as the Yankee Candle Co. A few years later, the first store opened, with expansions to follow throughout Massachusetts. Now, the Yankee Candle Co. owns 515 stores and sells their candles to thousands of wholesalers worldwide.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry’s first ice cream shop was at a rundown gas station in Vermont. The owners, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, had a knack for creating fun flavors and used that to propel their small shop into the company it is today. Once the pair started selling their ice cream through several distributors, their popularity began growing and it’s now a worldwide ice cream brand. This household name will continue to bring unique and delicious flavors to consumers everywhere.

Burt's Bees

When you think of personal care products, Burt’s Bees is one of the first that comes to mind. One of the most recognized brands in the personal care industry, they weren’t always so well known. Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby started the business in Maine, crafting candles from natural ingredients. The candles were made in a one-room schoolhouse and included leftover beeswax from Shavitzs’ honey business. Quimby began creating more personal care items with beeswax, expanding the product line as the business grew in popularity. Burt’s Bees is wildly successful today and in 2007 was sold to Clorox for about $925 million.

Whole Foods

John Mackey and Rene Lawson Hardy started the Safer Way Natural Foods grocery store when they were only twenty years old. The store had a rough beginning and was evicted from its original location. Determined to push through, the pair found a new location and saved money by living at the store. A few years later, they merged with another natural grocer, Clarksville Natural Grocery, owned by Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, renaming it Whole Foods. From this point forward, the company soared in popularity, quickly expanding to new areas. Recently, Whole Foods was bought out by Amazon for $13.7 billion and will continue to be a staple natural grocer for years to come.

While each of these businesses have become well-known brands, they all started small. Through determination and innovation, these companies have found that the sky is the limit on their success. With this kind of dedication, you could find your small business next on the list!

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