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Small Business Spotlight

What Are Entrepreneurs Grateful For?


Entrepreneurs and small business owners are often known for their creative spirit, competitive drive, and relentless motivation to keep working, achieving, and making a difference. But even though entrepreneurs are known for being ambitious go-getters, the flip side of these productive impulses is often a sense of humility and gratitude.

Entrepreneurs tend to have a special appreciation for the value of being grateful. Why? Because life as a small business owner isn’t always fun and easy. Entrepreneurs know how hard it can be to get a business off the ground. They know how hard you sometimes have to struggle to get past other people’s negativity and doubts. Sometimes even well established entrepreneurs have to overcome big disappointments and unnerving challenges and seemingly unsolvable problems. Sometimes entrepreneurs are kept awake at night by nagging worries and stresses that never quite go away. Every entrepreneur has stories of clients or colleagues who failed to keep promises, didn’t pay bills on time, and otherwise tested their patience. Every entrepreneur has seen new products fail, watched competitors go out of business, or has struggled to make payroll and keep the lights on.

All of these feelings give entrepreneurs a unique sense of resilience. While entrepreneurs are excited and optimistic about the businesses they’ve built and the lives they’ve created, they also appreciate how unpredictable the business world can be. What’s here today can be gone tomorrow – so it’s good for entrepreneurs to appreciate and express their sense of gratitude for their success.

We talked with several entrepreneurs and small business owners about what makes them feel grateful:

Nellie_Akalp  Nellie Akalp, CEO,

I’m extremely grateful for the freedom of being an entrepreneur and business owner because I get the chance to change people’s lives by creating solutions that simplify their daily lives. I am grateful that I live in a country that gives us the freedom to spread our entrepreneurial creativity to its fullest potential without any government dictatorship. Best of all, I get to do all of this on my own terms and call the shots and live my life to its fullest with my beautiful family at work and home!

Danielle Kunkle, VP, Boomer Benefits

Our agency helps Baby Boomers with their Medicare supplement plans. We employ 17 people and are a small but growing business. My brother and I often discuss how grateful we are that Medicare is so confusing. Because this one government program is so bewildering and hard to understand, we have built a very successful business out of explaining this program in plain English to new Medicare beneficiaries. It is incredible that we have been able to find the most financially and emotionally rewarding careers for ourselves – and provide jobs for 15 other people, too – in simply educating people about their government health insurance benefits.

We are also grateful to be working with Baby Boomers, too. What a great generation of hard working, delightful people to have as your clients!

Ebonie Allard, the Entrepreneur Enabler

I’m a small business coach who takes freelancers, business owners, and entrepreneurs from ARGH to AHHH!!! And I’m all about gratitude!! I am grateful that I get to wear what I want and be 100% “me.” I get to work with misfits and creatives and all the unemployable geniuses who have started down the path of entrepreneurship and need a little support. I am grateful that they allow me to cheerlead and challenge them to be, do, and have the adventurous lives they desire! 

Samantha Van Vleet, General Partner, Cassava Shop

My husband Daniel and I own an organic, non-GMO, vegan, Kosher, and Halal herbal supplement company specializing in fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and male and female reproductive health.

We are grateful for our customers’ loyalty. The supplement business is a tricky one and unfortunately, there are a lot of inferior products that can be very tempting price-wise. In the beginning, we decided we would only carry the best, which is why all of our herbs are wildcrafted or organic and each capsule and bottle is made by hand. There was a lot of pressure to use non-organic products initially, but we stood with our decision, knowing that anything less would not render the same benefits
to the customers who use our products.

We are so grateful that our customers recognize the quality of our products and are loyal to us! Nothing feels better than seeing customers come back again and again and again. When they come back, you know you’re doing a good job! What’s even greater is when you have a customer who orders fertility supplements for several consecutive months, then almost a year down the line, that same customer pops back up and is ordering breastfeeding supplements. You know they got their baby. 

Safiya Jafari Simmons, Principal and Chief Strategist, SJS Consulting LLC  Safiya_Jafari_Simmons

I am grateful for the freedom to be radical! To color outside the lines, take big (calculated!) risks, and live on my own terms. To elevate unheard voices, amplify the overlooked stories, and advance the work of people and organizations that are doing good work. Being a small business owner means I’m empowered to take on clients and employees who are just as passionate about their work as I am.

I believe with every fiber of my being that none of us were created to fit in, to be the same. I stepped out on radical faith when I left high-profile jobs in local government and Congress to start my firm and give myself space to prioritize my family. I try to harness that same boldness and confidence in every project, every deliverable, and every client conversation. Fitting in is for squares. I’m radical! And I love it!

Allan Branch, Co-founder, Less Accounting

I’m grateful for the free time this business has created for me to spend with my family. Our businesses are tools to help us live better lives right now; we’re not supposed to be slaves to our businesses. This business has given me a relaxed schedule to enjoy my family.

I’m also grateful for my wife. She always believes in me and has always believed in this business, even when it was just an idea. She’s put more faith in me than anyone else. She reassures my doubts, cuts my ego and inspires me to drive this business forward. 

Joe Montgomery, Esq., Montgomery Law, LLC

As an attorney with a law practice focusing on special education law, I am grateful to have been given a unique opportunity to advocate for children with special needs. Too often these children do not receive an appropriate education from their school
districts and it takes a lawyer’s intervention to obtain the necessary supports and services. 

Fitpacking Steve Silberberg, Founder, Fitpacking

My company is called “Fitpacking,” and we lead people on amazing fitness backpacking vacations where they can lose weight, see stunning outdoor destinations, and create lasting changes in their life by renewing their sense of adventure and appreciation for nature.

Weight-loss backpacking is a wonderful business for me to be in, because every time I walk into the wilderness, I’m grateful that I can live an outdoors lifestyle and bring that same sense of fun and fitness to others. While I have the same stresses as every other business owner, at least I get to fulfill my passion by doing it. I’ll be headed to the Grand Canyon for the first time this April!

Cody McGraw, Founder, SCOUT Military Discount App

 I’m the founder of a comprehensive free app that helps military service members find special discounts and services. I am grateful for the customers we serve, which is the military community. Not only are our brave service members the prime example of selflessness, but they also inspire so many people in so many ways. The overwhelming amount of support the military community receives from family members, friends, and loved ones is incredible.

SCOUT had a challenge on Facebook for our app users to submit photos of their family members. How can you not be grateful for people like this? Just looking at these pictures and from interacting with our users every day, we hear lots of cool stories, and see the unique close relationships that come from people serving their country.  

Erin Zwigart, Founder, Georgia Crafted 

I used to work for a small marketing agency for nearly 13 years, and for 8 of those years, I had a two-and-a-half-hour commute. When we started having kids 5 years ago, I soon discovered that with my long hours at work and in the car, I was barely seeing our babies – maybe 1 or 2 hours per day if I was lucky.

Then, one night, my husband and I came up with the idea of Georgia Crafted – an online service that ships Georgia-made products and gifts. By starting this business, literally, my whole world changed. My husband encouraged me to quit my job so I could try and get the business off the ground, which would allow me to spend more time with our beautiful girls (now ages 3 and 5).

My biggest motivation for starting this business was to spend more time with my family – but the one thing I didn’t anticipate were the number of wonderful relationships I formed after creating Georgia Crafted. I have gotten to know so many incredible artisans from all around the state, and so many amazing customers who purchase our gift boxes and sign up for our Georgia Crafted subscriptions. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be sitting here at my kitchen counter, drinking a cup of coffee on this cold day and getting ready to pick up my girls to take them to their first gymnastics class. 

Erika Kerekes, “Condiment Queen,” Not Ketchup Not_Ketchup

Today’s the 1st anniversary of the launch of Not Ketchup, my new line of gourmet fruit ketchups, so it’s a perfect day to be thinking about gratitude. I am grateful for:

The generosity of other food entrepreneurs. I have had a lot of questions and needed a lot of help this past year, and never once have I reached out to a fellow food entrepreneur and received anything less than his or her undivided attention, full cooperation, and complete willingness to share advice and contacts.

The unflagging support of my family, especially my husband, who has lifted and carried enough cases of Not Ketchup in the past year to grow some serious muscles. My teenage sons (Weston 13 and Emery 16) are pretty awesome too.

The Internet. Without it, seriously, I would never have been able to start and run this business. I don’t know how people did it 30 years ago.

The growing appetite (pun intended) for specialty foods and, in particular, gourmet sauces among U.S. tastemakers. And today’s parents, for encouraging their kids to become adventurous eaters. There’s nothing better than feeding people who love to be fed.

Gail Robinson, Founder, Generosity, LLC 

As a self-employed fundraising consultant, I’m most grateful for FREEDOM! I create my own hours. I can attend conferences and seminars in the middle of the day. When it snows I can stay in my PJs and just log on to my computer to get work done (except for when I have meetings). The feeling of owning your day and income is a feeling like no other. I got 99 problems and a boss ain’t one. I’m also grateful for my relationships – my network has been wonderful with keeping me motivated and being a sounding board when I need to vent or throw out ideas.

Marnie Swedberg, Restaurateur and Business Mentor 

As the owner of a restaurant, retail store, and espresso coffee shop (after never having worked in a restaurant or retail store, and not liking coffee), I’m thankful for gracious people. There is the occasional harsh customer, but over the past 13 years of learning as I grew, most of our guests have been absolutely awesome. Grace is truly a gift!

Michael_Motylinski Michael Motylinski, Caribbean Wedding Officiant

I used to work as a lawyer, but now I am a tour guide, concierge and wedding officiant in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. My main source of income is a site that sells a coupon book for vacationers to our islands. I also generate income from commissions/referral fees to boat trip companies, excursions, and just about anything else my clients enjoy while on vacation. I also am a wedding officiant and perform about 150 weddings a year.

Because of my website and weddings, I no longer have to practice law or have a “normal” job. I get to spend my days meeting and chatting with sunburned tourists, wonderful brides and grooms, and adventurous travelers that are having the time of their lives in the Caribbean.

I am so grateful to my wife for allowing me to work on a beach instead of an office. I am also grateful to all of the travelers that come to our islands and make my life possible.

Mayer Dahan, CEO, Prime Five Homes

I’m the CEO and Founder of Prime Five Homes, an eco-friendly, modern, luxurious real estate development company located in Los Angeles, CA. I’m grateful for the ability to approach projects how and when I want. Having the power to do things differently and smarter than my predecessors did has greatly improved the business. Because I have the freedom to explore different opportunities, I have had the chance to grow this business from solely a real estate development company to include a nonprofit called The Dream Builders Project and also in the future, a clothing line and a mobile real estate app.

What makes you grateful as an entrepreneur? Tweet us at @KabbageInc and let us know!


Kabbage Team

Kabbage is here not only to provide access to the small business funding you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at