The Secret to My Success ... in This Economy

In today's economy, personal and professional failures are abundant. Personally, we're tired of hearing bad news. Instead, we wanted to know how people have stayed relevant and successful.

Here's what we found out:

Candida Canfield, Dinner in Hand Founder

I conceived Dinner in Hand while returning home from work on the train and realizing what a pleasure it would be to have a fresh and delicious dinner delivered to my door. Planning, testing, networking and evolving have been keys to my success. I initially tested the service on 22 families and I learned many lessons, including the need for hiring an exceptional chef.

Secret to success: In this economy I have learned to be flexible, be willing to kill an original concept and experiment with new ideas in order to grow.

Ann M. Clemmer, Stampin' Up!

Ten years ago, I became a Stampin' Up! demonstrator to bring in a little extra money. Five years ago, I got the opportunity to leave my job in the television industry. I felt that if I was ever to try this stamping job full time, this was it. The first year I did this full time, I doubled my best sales year. I've made it twice into the top 100 demonstrators of the U.S. and hope to again this year, as I bettered my best year by about 19 percent.

Secret to success: There's always someone making money in every economy. Listening to the news can help you decide where to go, but it also can bring you down. I've often felt that the only 'no' that counts is the last one I accept. If someone doesn't want what I'm selling, I just keep looking for the next person who does. My mantra is that I'm only one new customer away from where I want to be.

Joshua D. Crumbaugh, Platinum Mortgage

I am the head of marketing for a regional lender. With the mortgage implosion, then the credit crunch and the recession starting, I was extremely concerned that I wouldn't be able to hold on to my job throughout the worse crisis our industry has seen. I'm proud to say that over the past two years we have grown by nearly 1,000 percent.

Secret to success: I kept my job by digging in, studying my ailing competitors and learning from their mistakes, which combined with our top-notch customer service, has turned us into one of the fastest-growing lenders in our industry. Image and knowledge are everything. Whether it's B2B marketing or applying for a position, image will make all the difference in the world.

Karen Burns, editor

I've had 59 jobs -- fired from only one -- doing everything from ditch digger to consultant. But most of my jobs involved writing. I wrote marketing materials for corporate America and then supported myself by writing brochures in English for French companies. When I moved to Seattle, I became a scientific editor, based on my lifelong love affair with grammar and on my extensive writing background.

Secret to success: I spent a lot of my free time studying up on the finer points of grammar, style usage and diction -- but my employer didn't know that. A willingness to go the extra mile has always helped me. Plus, I am fanatic about meeting deadlines. I think those are two reasons I've always managed to find, and keep, jobs.

Lev Ekster, CupcakeStop

was on my way to securing a position at a law firm, but the change in the economy took that off the table. During late nights studying, I took breaks to trek to a popular bakery to wait in line for a sweet treat, but was disappointed with what was supposed to be the "best of the best" the city had to offer. I decided I could do better. Thus, the concept for CupcakeStop was born. It's New York City's first mobile cupcake truck that offers high-end, delicious, fresh-baked cupcakes of every variety.

Secret to success: No matter how good or bad the economy is, without a good product, fair price and exceptional customer service, I don't believe a business can be successful. I'm looking for CupcakeStop to be around for a long time to come and for that goal to be reached, I know it's necessary to be consistent and never sacrifice quality.

Rich Close, The Recycled Retriever

I own a business called The Recycled Retriever, which started as a Web-based business from our home. My partner and I researched eco-friendly pet products on the market. We were unable to find one place that offered nothing but Earth-friendly products. We developed The Recycled Retriever as a resource that pet owners could utilize knowing that the products they purchased from us were not only good for their pets, but great for the Earth. As the Web business began to grow, we decided to take the concept to a retail-store version and now have a storefront open in Provincetown, Mass.

Secret to success: Taking a risk and going forward with the idea. If I didn't try it, I would never have known whether it would be successful or not. By believing in the idea and putting it in motion, success was destined to come.

Rob Allen, franchise owner, ShelfGenie

I worked as a mental-health counselor for nearly 10 years before trying my hand as an IT professional for an Atlanta-area Fortune 100 company. I remained in that field for 23 years and most recently worked in auto logistics for two years. Due to the struggling economic situation, I have been laid off twice in the last five years. Tired of peddling my résumé and given the current job climate, I decided to open ShelfGenie, a franchise that designs, builds and installs glide-out shelving solutions into existing cabinets throughout the home in South Atlanta.

Secret to Success:In times like these, one must take calculated risks and invest wisely when seeking money-making opportunities. Opening ShelfGenie, a home-based business with little expenditures and minimal staff, has been a key element to my success as a business owner.

Thea Zagata, Gumdrop Cookie Shop

Before starting Gumdrop Cookie Shop in 2007, I worked in public relations for 10 years. I left my career to start my business because I wanted leave the fast-paced agency lifestyle and create my own schedule. I knew I wanted to start a business in baking yet still exercise my PR skills, so I wrote a business plan which helped me come up with a unique and new-to-the-market product.

Secret to success: With my history in PR, I was able to do all of the publicity myself without having to spend a lot of marketing dollars. I also think finding a smart balance with where to spend your time and when to outsource is key. It's important to apply your skills where they make the most sense.

Next: Success Stories: How I Change Careers >>

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