All the Good Businesses are Taken — Not!

It never ceases to surprise me how inventive some entrepreneurs can be when starting new businesses. Even in industries that you might have thought of as saturated already — food service, construction, consulting — enterprising and creative people can create successful businesses.

How do they do it?

Sometimes it is by finding a niche within a large category — for example, creating greeting cards. And not just any greeting cards, but rather, upscale, fashionable and unique greeting cards.

Or maybe they give a new spin on a tried and true business, like a salon.

Or perhaps the business owner just gets out there and executes exceptionally well and sticks with it.

This inventiveness and resourcefulness is what struck me about the winners in the Make Mine a $Million awards ceremony in New York this past week.

Twenty women business owners were awarded with financing, coaching and mentoring, and assorted training and services. When you look at their businesses, many of them are not involved in anything terribly exotic, or for the most part, requiring specialized educational degrees. Take a look at the 20 winners:

  • Christine Cunneen, of Johnston, Rhode Island is CEO of Hire Image, a specialist in the field of background investigation services.
  • Theresa Daytner, of Mount Airy, Maryland is president and CEO of Daytner Construction Group, a commercial construction consulting company.
  • Kelly Driscoll, of Providence, Rhode Island is co-founder and president of Digication, a developer of educational software that leverages social networking and learning management systems.
  • Melinda Earl, of San Diego, California is majority partner of Stone Impressions, a manufacturing company that makes decorative natural stone tile products using a unique patented process.
  • Valarie King-Bailey, of Chicago, Illinois is chief executive officer of OnShore Technology Group, a company that is dedicated to keeping technology jobs on America’s shores.
  • Lynne Lambert, of Chappaqua, NY is founder and president of Prak Productions, a designer and distributor of NYC-themed products.
  • Fiona Macaulay, of Washington, D.C. is founder and president of Making Cents International, a training and consulting firm committed to poverty alleviation by supporting micro-entrepreneurs.
  • Bonnie Marcus, of Westport, Connecticut is president of Bonnie’s Style Press, a fashion-forward invitation and greeting card company specializing in chic, stylish greeting cards and invitations.
  • Marie Moody, of Brooklyn, New York is founder of Stella & Chewy’s, a wholesaler of all-natural, raw and freeze-dried pet food for dogs and cats.
  • Nandini Mukherjee, of New York City is founder and president of Indian Bread Co., which serves fresh, flavorful and affordable Indian food.
  • Christie Nightingale, of New York City is owner and principal of Premier Match, an upscale matchmaking service for single professionals.
  • Elizabeth Perelstein, of Mamaroneck, New York is president of School Choice International, a global educational consulting firm working with families being relocated.
  • Renee Schofield, of Ketchikan, Alaska is owner of Tongass Substance Screening, which conducts drug and alcohol testing for federal and non-federal programs.
  • Gina Stern, of Newark, New Jersey is president of d_parture spa, three full-service spas located in airport terminals.
  • Dawn Stokes, of Fort Worth, Texas is CEO of Texas Driving Experience, which teaches high performance driving and accident avoidance at major race tracks.
  • Caroll Stoner, of Haddonfield, New Jersey is founder of Stoner Innovations, inventor and producer of the Ornament Safe, a product that protects ornaments and makes tree decorating easy.
  • Damaris Valero, of Key Biscayne, Florida is founder and CEO of Animus Group, which produces lifestyle content for television and new media outlets.
  • Sandi Webster, of Newark, New Jersey is principal of Consultants 2 Go, a consulting firm that provides marketing and analytic solutions to Fortune 500 companies.
  • Renee Wood, of Geneva, Illinois is founder of The Comfort Company, an online retailer of unique sympathy gifts.
  • Doreen Zayer, of Staten Island, New York is founder and president of Relax on Cloud 9, a full service spa.

I talk to a lot of businesspeople at speaking engagements and workshops. Recently after one of my talks to a group of sales and marketing executives, a person came up to me afterwards and said, “What you say about owning your own business sounds so compelling. I’d like to start a business, but all the good ones are taken.” Not true! For creative entrepreneurs pursuing excellence, there is ALWAYS room for new businesses, as the winners of the Make Mine a $Million awards demonstrate.

Note: See my earlier post about attendees at this event: It Takes A Million Dollar Mindset. Many thanks to American Express OPEN for making it possible for me to attend the event.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

5 Reactions
  1. Wow. . those were all very impressive. I especially liked the invention by Stoner Innovations as I am a bonafide Christmas fanatic and have well over 500 vintage and antique ornaments dating from the 1840’s to the 1950’s. I’m always looking for new and safe storage for them. Only wish I would’ve thought of it!

  2. Entrepreneurs all over the world are constantly disproving the cynical saying “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I have an idea I’d love to see an entrepreneur take and run with. Labeling eye glass holders with your contact information doesn’t help if you lose only your glasses. How about embedding a computer chip — with the owner’s contact information — into one of the stems of eye glasses? If this is already out there, I want to know about it!

  3. I agree, this is an impressive list of businesses. I’ve read that it’s not the idea, but the execution that makes a business. Even in a crowded space, the s/he who executes on the idea best usually wins. So go ahead, start that business!

  4. Thanks for that, Anita.

    Makes you remember that quote from somebody in the US Patent office at the end of the 19th century? when he said that all things that need to be invented has already been invented.

    Definitely businesses continue to evolve, and there are always opportunities!