Five top business ideas that made millions – Page 5 of 5 – StartupSmart

5. Burt’s Bees




Honey salesman Burt Shavitz met out-of-work waitress Roxanne Quimby in 1984 and they decided to make some extra cash by making candles from beeswax.


By the end of the first year, sales stood at $20,000. Impressive, but not enough to sustain a decent size business.


The breakthrough came when the duo started cooking up natural soaps and perfumes on gas stoves, while an accompanying lip balm became a best seller.


In 1991, the year the business incorporated, it was making half a million candles a year, as well as the natural soaps and perfumes. It also had 40 staff as orders started flowing in from across the US.


Quimby told Inc: “In the early years, I had some midnight-of-your-soul type of times. Once, I came home from a fair and found the window in my cabin blown in. Snow was all over.”


“It was 20 below and three in the morning. I hadn’t made any money and the car had just barely made it there.”


“I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall. It doesn’t come from one brilliant idea, but from a bunch of small decisions that accumulate over the years.”


“And you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that’s involved, the amount of fear that’s involved.”


“I’m not sentimental about products – they perform or they don’t. We tried lots of different things. One was beeswax lip balm. It was clear, very early, that people bought lip balm 10 times faster than they bought beeswax furniture polish. Next was a moisturizing cream. It sold better than the polish too.”


In 2009, Burt’s Bees hit its 25th anniversary, with revenue topping $250 million.

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