Have you ever felt this way?
The journey of entrepreneurship can be a turbulent one. It stretches your mental capacity, and your emotions on a daily basis.
And as you go through all the ups and downs that come your way, if you’re not connected with other business owners, it may seem like everything you experience is unique to you.
But if you talk to enough entrepreneurs, you’ll quickly learn that many of the struggles they experience are similar. The details may be different, but there are a number of other dreamers who have had challenges quite similar to yours.
And if you’re in the midst of a tough time now, it’s helpful to hear how successful entrepreneurs managed the obstacles they encountered while building their businesses. It can provide hope for you that you can get through tough and uncertain times.
You can make it to the other side in a better position that you began. You can survive. You can thrive. So here are some survival stories from thirty-six entrepreneurs. None of their journeys have been easy. But they are all thriving in spite of it.
Each of these entrepreneurs are featured speakers at the upcoming Entrepreneur Survival Summit. Get more information about this free virtual conference here.
1. Srini Rao of Unmistakable Creative
In the last year I almost quit. I hit a point of thinking that maybe this wasn’t all going to work out and I should shut down my business just because we were struggling so much. But I stuck it out an extra two months, and two months later is when my publisher found me and asked me to write a book.
Srini Rao is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast, where’s he’s interviewed more than 500 thought leaders and people from all walks of life.
He’s the author of several books, including the best-seller The Art of Being Unmistakable.
Srini also created and hosted of The Instigator Experience conference.
2. Matthew Pollard of MatthewPollard.com
I had to find a job quick. The only job I could find was commission only sales. The only trouble with that was I struggled to talk to my own friends, let alone walk door-to-door. So I had to figure out how to sell, and I used YouTube to teach me that. In about a period of 6 weeks of using YouTube and systematizing the process, using a logical process rather than a gift-of-the-gab process like people assume you have to have, I became the #1 sales person for the largest sales & marketing firm in the Southern hemisphere.
Matthew Pollard, known as the “Rapid Growth Guy” is a serial entrepreneur, published author, international speaker, coach, and consultant.
Matthew helps his clients with true differentiation, niche marketing, and sales systemization. He is also the host of the Better Business Coach podcast.
3. Tor Refsland of Time Managment Chef
so basically, when I started to contact people, I got like 40 no’s in a row. And most people would have quit, but I had a really strong why behind why I wanted to do it, and I just had to push myself. So long story short, I learned the game and I evolved, and I managed to build up about 1500 distributors in under 2 years.
Tor Refsland is the founder of Time Management Chef, where he provides productivity strategies to help his clients take control of their schedules and time. Tor’s core philosophy is all about helping people work smarter, not harder.
Tor’s strategies have been featured in a number of blogs and podcasts.
4. Pamela Wilson of Rainmaker Digital & Big Brand System
I built an online business, starting completely from scratch, with an audience of I think 7 people, 4 of whom were me or people related to me. I built it up from nothing and now have this really robust audience at Big Brand System.
Pamela Wilson is the Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. In this role, she heads up the Copyblogger blog and other educational products to help people build a strong presence on the web.
Pamela is an award-winning graphic designer, and founder of Big Brand System, where she helps her audience grow their businesses with a powerful combination of marketing, strategy, and design.
5. Dr. Valerie Young of Impostor Syndrome & Changing Course
It was a really good reminder to hang in there, you’re making more progress than you think you are. And just keep asking, putting it out there, and asking, and play big. See what happens, and take it from there.
Dr. Valerie Young is an internationally-known speaker, a leading expert on the impostor syndrome, and author of the award-winning book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.
She’s also a confidence expert, and dreamer in residence at Changing Course.
On protecting your dream
6. Dr. Atira Charles of The Mask Project
I had to take a couple of months and really say ‘Atira, who is it you want to be, and what type of business do you want to grow?’ and in that moment I had to say, no matter what they may say, or no matter what people have done before, I know I have to do and go in this direction.
Dr. Atira Charles is an Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business & Industry at Florida A&M University. Her research, consulting, and training facilitation seeks to shed light on and further understand the unique narratives revolving around the manner in which individuals manage their differences while striving for personal, professional and organizational success.
Dr. Charles is also the author of the audio-book The Art of Unmasking: Peeling Back the Layers to Maximize Personal and Professional Success.
7. Rob Wilson of Wilson Insight
There was no shortage of people telling me I couldn’t do it, and consequently, I was afraid to tell people. But sooner or later I said ‘look, this is what I’m going after and I’m just going to tell everyone that will listen to me.’ And a funny thing happened when I started to do that. I started getting referrals, and people started helping me that I would have never thought they could have referred me a professional athlete or entertainer, or help my business in any way.
The biggest lesson for me there was that you have to be unapologetic about what it is that you want. You have to stop listening to other people and letting them impose their limitations on you. Because just because they can’t do it, or they can’t see readily how you could do it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
Rob Wilson is a financial advisor, and founder of Wilson Insight where he teaches his clients next-level wealth building strategies to help them become financially independent.
Rob serves as a financial advisor to professional athletes and entertainers. He’s also been featured in Black Enterprise and a number of television media outlets.
On how you work
8. Henneke of Enchanting Marketing
It really changed my whole life around, because at once I saw my whole approach to work was wrong…what I found actually was that when you work fewer hours but when you’re concentrated and you’re focused, it’s amazing what you get done. I think I probably get more done in 25 hours a week than what I used to get done in 50 or 60 hours.
Henneke is an irreverent copywriter and marketer.
She’s the founder of Enchanting Marketing, where she’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook, and to add sparkle to boring business blogs.
Henneke is the author of two 5-star rated books about writing and blogging, and she’s a regular contributor to popular blogs like KISSmetrics and Copyblogger.
9. Stephen Guise of Deep Existence
I’m an international best-selling author right now, and the platform that I used to launch my products is my blog, and I almost quit that 5 or 6 times. And it was interesting that in those times I saw bloggers who were more popular than me, had more readers, had more subscribers, more comments, likes, tweets, they were all quitting around me. And I was like ‘oh man, they’re more successful than me and they’re quitting’ and I’m still here 4 years later because I decided to persist. And it’s largely because of my habits, that allowed me to be consistent. That’s really the turning point – when I started being really consistent with my writing. That helped me survive.
Stephen is also the founder of Deep Existence, where he provides a logic and science-based approach to personal development.
10. Dorie Clark of DorieClark.com
I think often times one of the best success secrets and skills that entrepreneurs have to have is the abilit to adapt and to pivot…originally I was mystified ‘why are my target clients not coming to me and all these random people are?’ And eventually I realized the important thing is listening to your customers, and figuring out what they want and who wants it. So very quickly I pivoted and said ‘yes, ok great.’ So I started being a marketing consultant for non-profits and corporations, and stopped being a political consultant.
11. Jerod Morris of Rainmaker Digital & Primility
All I’ve had is this vague idea of what Primility is, and the site has been a kind of sandbox to play with it, and I know eventually that there is a business there, but I have no idea what it is. But 5 years later, I’m still here, I’m still figuring it out, and at some point it will reveal itself, but I refuse to quit because I believe in the idea, and I believe I’m the right person to carry the idea forward, so it’s a survival story in that maybe it’s in like the 3rd or 4th chapter of maybe a 20-page chapter book.
Jerod is the founder of Primility, a growing community that explores the ins and outs of balancing pride and humility in our daily lives.
12. Melissa Dinwiddie of Living a Creative Life
it was one of the worst moments of my life, but it’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now, because it was a pivot point for me when I realized the business I was running at that time was not fulfilling me, and I needed to create the life that I really, really wanted. And that’s what led me to create my current business.
Melissa Dinwiddie is the founder of Living a Creative Life where she teaches people how to turn their creative taps to “on,” so they can live a live in full color.
Melissa is an artist, singer, and also the host of the podcast, Live Creative Now!
On stepping outside your comfort zone
13. Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur On Fire
When I was just focusing on my fear of starting my podcast, I was doing such a great disservice to our community. Because I did have knowledge and information that I could share to help them create systems and processes, and I could be teaching people that. And so I got to the point where I finally realized that I was being so selfish holding that in because I was scared of it. So launching my podcast was a huge leap for me, I was so scared to do it, but now I couldn’t be happier, because now I’m making an impact with my content.
Kate Erickson is the content creator at Entrepreneur On Fire, a seven-day a week, best of iTunes podcast that features the stories of inspiring entrepreneurs.
14. Dr. Kevin Cuccaro of Straight Shot Health
the biggest thing for me was the courage to change…it’s easy to say that you’re doing something for the right reasons. It becomes much more difficult when you have something like golden handcuffs on. That was the major, major challenge for me, to actually take that step. It was also remarkably freeing. It’s amazing what happens when you choose to do good…for the right reasons.
Dr. Kevin Cuccaro is an anesthesiologist and chronic pain specialist. He used to struggle trying to help patients get well in a “healthcare” system focused on sickness.
Now, he’s the founder of Straight Shot Health, where he works to help patients find honest answers and solutions about their health. He’s the author of the book The 7 Questions You Need to Know Before Seeing Your Doctor, and the host of the podcast Straight Shot Health Talk.
15. David Shifrin, PhD of Filament Life Science Communications
Everyday is survival. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, and it’s getting out and sending the emails, and learning how to speak the language of normal human beings, and not the language of science. And getting out, and sitting down for coffee, and listening. For me, that’s the daily challenge.
David Shifrin is the founder of Filament Life Science Communications where he helps biotech and healthcare start-ups tell a great story with their data.
David is also the host of the podcast Science Writing Radio, where he teaches how to incorporate storytelling into scientific presentations.
16. Donald Kelly of The Sales Evangelist
I remember going in and quitting, and telling my boss that I was done, I resigned. I recorded it. It was an emotional time for me, shaking and trembling, but it was the right thing to do. I feel so much better. So you’re going to have those hard times, difficulties, you’re going to question yourself, but when you feel it in your gut, you just gotta do it. And for us it was a great thing as we move forward with The Sales Evangelist.
Donald Kelly is the founder and host of the podcast The Sales Evangelist where he interviews some of the best sales, business, and marketing experts.
Donald provides training and coaching to sales professionals and entrepreneurs so they can take their careers, businesses and income to top producer’s status.
17. Navid Moazzez of Virtual Summit Mastery
When I was creating my virtual summit…I was scared, and I was reaching out to my designer, and I was like ‘how is this going to work, is anyone going to sign-up for this summit? Is anyone going to buy it?’ And I really had to make this work, because I had been spending so much time. Then I launched it…and people started signing up for it and buying it, and I got like 200 sales…and I was like ‘this is working!’
Navid Moazzez is the founder of Virtual Summit Mastery, where he teaches students how to create, promote, and profit from a virtual summit.
18. Bianca Lee of White Rose Marketing
Because I got out of my head, and did something that was a little out of the ordinary for me, something I had never done before, didn’t really know a lot about, I actually opened up a new line of business for my company, a new potential space for me to work in. And that is going to sustain my business for quite some time. You never know when opportunties are going to come…and what I learned from this story is that you’re never going to get it if you don’t go for it. Going for it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it. But you definitely won’t get it if you don’t go for it.
Bianca Lee is the founder and Chief Strategist of White Rose Marketing, an outsourced marketing department for small business owners. Bianca and her team help their clients find and connect with their clients, by telling the benefits of their products in a unique way.
Bianca is also the author of The 4C’s of Relationships.
19. Scott Barlow of Happen to Your Career
It was one of the most painful things that I’ve ever gone through, very very close. I found myself questioning ‘how am I doing this, why am I doing this? Working 18-hour days’. It was this massive struggle of negative self-talk and everything else, and the only thing that got me through it was the people that I was helping at the time – my customers, and then I had about 15 people working for me. And they depended on me for paychecks, and depended on me for those things so I ended up picking myself off the seat of my truck, and other times the seat of my couch at home where I’d come home and collapse. And just refusing to be able to give up.
That’s what led me, that type of discomfort is what caused me to grow and understand the things that I’m really good at, and some of the things I don’t like and never want to do again, and also some of the things I absolutely love. The thing that it also taught me is that you can do amazing things when other people are depending on you and you’ve got stakes in the game.
Scott Barlow is the founder of Happen to Your Career, where he and his team help their clients do the work they were meant to.
Scott is also a speaker, coach, and the host of the Happen to Your Career podcast.
On falling and getting back up
20. Jonny Nastor of Hack the Entrepreneur
and everybody with more experience than me with business were like ‘yeah, this happens like 99% of the time. Deals go so far and they just fall. It’s just how it is – it’s not you, it’s not your business, just keep moving.’ And I heard that like 5 or 6 times and I was like sigh, ‘move on.’ Now when things like this start to even happen, I’m like ‘cool’ and I take it more with a grain of salt. But it was a hard one.
So now when I talk to people about defeat and fears and things going wrong, I’m talking about it from a very very well known spot of my own. Just massive things and small things that kind of knock you off your game, and you have to get back up.
Jon Nastor is the host of the podcast Hack the Entrepreneur, a show which reveals the fears, habits, and inner battles behind big name entrepreneurs and those on the path to success.
Jon is the author of the best-selling book Hack the Entrepreneur. He’s also the co-founder of Velocity Page, a WordPress plugin that allows anyone to create beautiful landing pages in minutes – without code.
21. Mario Jannatpour of The Honest Real Estate Agent
Always try something new. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. And if it doesn’t work, don’t freak out about it. Just let it go. And if you have a “failure,” let it go, move on. I tried to do a course and a consulting thing last year. Nobody was interested and I spent a lot of time creating it. But it was ok. I realized there was no audience, and no customers. And I’ll create something else.
In addition to helping his clients buy and sell homes, Mario teaches and trains other realtors on how to be successful. He’s also the host of the Real Estate Mastery virtual conference.
22. Kemi Egan of Freedom Academies
Come 2008 I had a really successful business until the recession came along, the world-economic crash. It took all of our money and all of our clients away. I ended up homeless living in my office, and within 12-months I had a multi-million dollar real-estate portfolio, and I had completely transformed my life.
She teaches entrepreneurs how to build ethical, sustainable wealth through real estate investing strategies.
23. JV Crum III of Conscious Millionaire
For two years I had to say to myself…I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to the other side.’ And I’m going to barrel through, and I didn’t get lost in the emotions, I just said I’m going to work my you know what off, and I did. And I was determined I was going to work my way through that. And it does make you stronger. Because everytime something doesn’t work out the way you think, because let’s be serious, that’s the business we’re in, not everything turns out the way you want. But now I have reference points, that hey – I went through that, this is nothing.
JV works with entrepreneurs to help them grow a business that combines making profits with creating an important difference for their customers and our world.
24. Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting
We were just failing. But I’m stubborn, and I wasn’t going to let this thing fail. And I remember the biggest thing for me was I started getting on the phone and making these sales calls when I didn’t want to. I was so uncomfortable with people. But the thing is if you do anything 100 times, it just becomes second nature…I sold my way out of massive debt and Tostino’s pizzas.
Matt McWilliams is the founder of Matt McWilliams Consulting, where he helps businesses build intimate relationships with scale.
Matt is also a business coach, and host of the World Changer Show podcast. He’s also a contributor to the book Internet Marketing from the Real Experts.
25. Jay Papasan of The ONE Thing & Keller Williams Realty
I will tell you as having been a part of and launched 5 or 6 businesses, what [Stephen] Covey said is true ‘first who, then what.’ Ultimately the best businesses are going to be founded on great people. You’re not going to build something amazing alone. It’s highly unlikely, let’s put it that way. So put a lot of energy behind finding an amazing someone to be on that journey with you. That’s such a better way to go about it. When I tried to do it alone, not so great. When I started with investing a lot of energy with someone who is just as excited as me, great results.
Jay is also the executive editor and vice president of publishing at Keller Williams Realty and president of Rellek Publishing.
He also co-owns a successful real estate team with is wife.
26. Jesse Krieger of Lifestyle Entrepreneur Press
If there is a problem, if there is something going on in your business – ultimately as the entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to solve it. So there’s been many times when I’ve gotten very low on my bank account, or have been overextended financially or have gotten into a partnership or business relationship prematurely without mapping out all the if’s and’s and but’s. And when those things are done out of enthusiasm, it feels good at the time because you want to get it done and get moving, but it’s worthwhile to get more clarity on the nature of the relationship and how you want a partnership or something like that to unfold.
Jesse Krieger is the founder and publisher of Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press, where he helps authors become #1 best-sellers, and build thriving businesses and brands.
27. Renita Bryant of SightsSet
For me, I launched with a partner, and within not even a year, my partner came to me and said “hey, I don’t think entrepreneurship is for me”…And that can be scary when you have a partnership with someone. You’ve formed a relationship. It’s like you’re married, you signed a lot of paperwork, you have a bank account, you’re connected. Having this business now with just me at the helm, I thought I was going to be nervous about it and afraid, but it’s actually been very great for the business.
Renita Bryant is the founder of SightsSet, a strategic consumer-centric consultancy that helps clients integrate consumer insights into every element of brand strategy and market execution.
28. Morgan Dix of About Meditation & MorganDix.com
I needed to switch gears and start to think ‘how am I going to bring in a reliable revenue stream, quickly?’ And so all those skills I’d been building in digital and online marketing to build up AboutMediation.com, I repositioned and levered those to a consulting context, and now I have quickly shifted into helping people build their own online platforms, and now it’s going awesome….I had to think quickly and shift gears and lanes quickly, and here we are.
Morgan Dix is the co-founder of AboutMeditation, where he helps new and seasoned meditators to discover meaning, purpose, and life-changing positivity through meditation.
Morgan is also a content marketing consultant, and host of the OneMind Meditation Podcast.
29. Christina Griffin of Splendorlust
I had really started to ramp up my business back in January 2015 and then in May, I moved. I moved house, I moved country, I moved to a different job. And things kind of went really downhill. I wasn’t keeping up with my website, I kind of stopped in terms of the design work that I was doing…and I kind of lost it over a six month period in which I literally did nothing…But now I’m in a new country, in a new place, and I’m getting right back on that horse.
Christina Griffin, founder of Splendorlust, is a visual designer with a love for unique designs and a passion for creating sanctuary in the home.
Christina creates one-of-a-kind prints, that can be translated to textiles, paper goods and ceramics. She also has a line of fabrics, pillows, and pet beds.
30. Amy Jo Accardi of The Cooking Diva
I was in accupuncture school in Seattle, and I got the NoroVirus. A cruise ship came into town, and my friend and I got so sick. And I ended up losing about 30 pounds, chronic fatigue, and I had to dig myself out of a hole. And in doing that I got to put all my medicine to the test. I got to learn what I’m about, and I got to figure out what works for me, and through trial and error, I’ve learned all these different specialized diets, and now I’m a restorative diet specialist.
Amy Jo Accardi, also known as The Cooking Diva, is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and restorative diet specialist. She helps her clients create amazing health now, and health that will last a lifetime.
Amy Jo is also on a mission to create culinary rock stars, by teaching clients how to increase their confidence and tenacity in the kitchen.
On the journey
31. Farissa Knox of RLM Media & WhatRUWearing
Every day is a survival story. There’s ups and downs when it comes to having your own company, no matter how big or small it is. And every day you decide to continue to do it, and this might sound preachy, but it’s true, is another day that you survived being an entrepreneur.
So there will be clients that don’t pay you, there will be clients that promise you business and it doesn’t come, there will be employees that might be crazy, there will be a ton of things that you come up against. But if you wake up every morning and decide to do it one more day, then you are a survivor.
Farissa Knox is the founder and CEO of RLM Media, a boutique media advertising agency. Farissa and her team help their clients reach their customers through paid media.
She’s also the founder of WhatRUWearing, an interactive fashion app and style showcase.
32. Kyle Eschenroeder of Startup Bros
I’ve failed in almost all the businesses I’ve ever started. StartUp Bros didn’t start making money until 2 years in. So my whole story is a survival story. You keep trying things that aren’t working, and then finally getting something that is. The story is to keep going.
Kyle Eschenroeder is the co-founder of Startup Bros, where he kickstarts entrepreneurs to change their lives through their businesses.
Kyle and his team help their community of entrepreneurs build eCommerce businesses from scratch through coaching, training, and motivation.
32. Guillermo Merlo of Happy Body Tips
I believe I need to fight with me, every day, and speak with me and understand what I need to learn…..When you learn more, you know there is more to learn. Every moment you learn more, and you see ‘oh, but it’s more, and more, and more’ and in these moments I need balance.
Guillermo Merlo is the founder of Happy Body Tips, where he provides information to help people feel and look better, move with more energy, joy, and with less stress.
Guillermo has long studied the body in a variety of ways, including his formal dance training, as a yoga instructor, and through many years as an athlete. He combines his unique combination of experiences, with his training in health and wellness in the workplace, to develop unique strategies for effective body movement.
34. Jim Joseph of Cohn & Wolfe Brand Communications & The Experience Effect
When I ran my own agency, which I tried to go and make it a thriving organization and eventually sold it. My survival story was everyday licking envelopes, putting FedEx envelopes in the mail, writing brand strategy, writing copy, doing visuals. As an entrepreneur you have to do it all. And it is exhausting. But you just go with the flow, you hang in there, you start to grow your team, and eventually you get to where you want to get to.
35. Brian Clark of Rainmaker Digital
Everything about being an entrepreneur in one way or another is a survival process. Even when things are going well, you have to keep yourself in check, to make sure you don’t start getting ahead of yourself with your ego, and remember why you get to succeed, is because you help other people succeed.
Brian Clark is the founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, an 8-figure business that provides training and resources for businesses creating content online.
Through their various products, Brian and his team have served nearly two-hundred thousand unique customers over the last ten years.
36. Danny Iny of Mirasee
You said entrepreneurial survival story. Well the business didn’t survive. It fell apart, it imploded. It took a couple of years for me to lick my wounds, and figure out what I was going to do next and eventually try something new…that business failed, but entrepreneurial survival is not about the business, it’s about the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is the engine of making things happen.
Danny Iny is the founder of Mirasee (formerly Firepole Marketing), a best-selling author and sought-after business consultant. Danny led his company from zero to $3+ million in just five years.
Danny and his team help thousands of students build audience businesses to achieve their own version of success.
You are a survivor
Through the failures. Through life’s unexpected surprises. Through the successes. No matter what comes your way, you can reach your goal.
The journey may take longer than anticipated. The destination might change a few times along the way. You may not even arrive with the same people by your side as you started out with.
But if you keep going, you will get there. You will build a business that survives. You will thrive.
So take these stories as a lesson. And encouragement. Come what may, you will survive. And if you need a bit more inspiration to help propel you forward, let these lyrics from Destiny’s Child carry you through:
I’m a survivor
I’m not gon’ give up
I’m not gon’ stop
I’m gon’ work harder
I’m a survivor
I’m gonna make it
I’m gon’ survive
Keep on survivin’