Below you will find the stories of people who probably would have done very well working for someone else—but who instead took the risky, exciting step of striking out on their own.
Although the stories here naturally display a variety of twists and turns—these are distinctive companies, run by people with distinctive talents, addressing specific market needs—each provides an example of entrepreneurial insight: the ability to detect opportunities not perceived by others, along with perseverance, energy, marketing savvy, and managerial skill.
These enterprises, like larger ones, now face the uncertainties of a troubled, volatile economy. But we suspect that they have the nimbleness and strength to make it through to the other side.
Twin Cities Business has put a spotlight on local smaller enterprises like these since 2002. Each year, we’ve worked in collaboration with Associated Bank, the sponsor of Small-Business Success Stories. Last summer, we asked readers to help us identify small companies of notable achievement. We received more than 50 nominations, each presenting a company with an inspiring story. This made for some very difficult choices for the judges. But we think you’ll find that the companies we’ve chosen to profile here each have a quality that deserves special notice—and celebration.