Business Owners Tell All: How Do You Define the American Dream?

Olivia Garrison

When our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they envisioned America as a land of opportunity for creative minds and innovative thinkers. They didn’t have telephones or laptops. They couldn’t rely on social media to help spread their message. All they had to rely on was the belief in their vision and the ingenuity to make this American Dream happen.

While the entrepreneurs of today have the modern technologies needed to make their business thrive, they still rely on this same belief in their vision and the ingenuity to make their American Dream come true. In honor of the 4th of July, these business owners are sharing how they define the American Dream and how their business has allowed them to reach personal and professional fulfillment.

 


 American Dream

L. Wayne Smalls, President of L. Wayne Smalls & Associates, LLC

I don’t believe I truly started living the American Dream until I decided to start my own business . After retiring from the military from a 20+ year career, one of the biggest things for me was finding another career that would motivate me enough to get up every morning and perform at my best. I also knew that I wanted to do something that would benefit others while I make a living for myself and my family. I could not imagine working for someone else again after working so hard for so many years. I determined that if I was going to work hard, I should work hard for myself, fulfilling my own dream.

Starting my own business has given me the opportunity to build a brand that can become a legacy for my children and grandchildren. I also get to do what I love, which is to help other people realize their dreams and turn them into reality. The leadership and counseling skills that I acquired through my military, academic and professional careers, have worked together to equip me to fulfill what I believe to be my purpose in life, which is to help people grow personally and professionally.

 


 

 

American Dream businessIrina V Andreasen, MBA, LUTCF, Private Wealth Manager at Andreasen Financial, LLC

Having been born and raised in Moscow, Russia gives me an acute appreciation for the definition and appreciation of the American Dream. My journey became when we moved here in the early 80s when I was fourteen and a newly registered high school freshman. Fast forward through high school, college, and graduate school and I joined the workforce as a corporate trainer for new financial advisors. Five years ago, after eighteen years of training advisors, I opened my own wealth management firm in Hampton, NH. I think my dad cried when I told him I opened my own firm!


When we lived in Russia, every enterprise was state owned and run. Though my parents were well educated, their jobs were assigned by the government and their income was regulated based on the Karl Marx’s theory of to each according to his needs compensation model. The idea of being free to choose your position, have control over your earning potential, and even start your own business is an unachievable concept in Russia. In America, though, we take it for granted that each person can be the author and benefactor of his or her destiny.

My definition of an American dream is absolute autonomy that comes from owning your own business – the freedom to work as hard as you need to for your company or vision to succeed, to be compensated for your hard work, to give back to the community you are a part of, and to model your work style based on your lifestyle.

 


 business american dream

Tom Ingrassia, Founder & President of The MotivAct Group / Tom Ingrassia Productions

The American Dream means having the opportunity and ability to live into your dreams and achieve your heart’s desire…whatever that means to you…Achieving YOUR hopes and dreams, YOUR goals and aspirations.

Growing up, I was told I wasn’t good enough by my teachers and the school band director. And I carried those words with me into adulthood — always feeling less than. Today, I run a successful motivational speaking business AND a successful entertainment production company. I host a weekly three-hour radio show and have written two award winning books. I worked for Mary Wilson of The Supremes for five years. ALL the things I dreamed of as a child…and I have never looked back!

 


 american dream

Barbara Farfan, Management Consultant & Producer of Ask the Expert Online Q&A Live Online Events for Anyhows.com

When people define the American Dream in terms of financial success – the net worth of a business, the size of a house, the luxury of a vehicle, the extravagances of a lifestyle – I find that to be a very narrow and slightly offensive definition. Living the American Dream is much bigger than what you own and how lavishly you spend.

The American Dream is about Freedom. The freedom to have an idea and bring that idea into reality…the freedom to do what you love and turn an avocation into a vocation… The freedom to open a business without insurmountable barriers, and to define it to be anything you want it to be… The freedom to express yourself through your work and build an organization with values that are in alignment with your own… The freedom to try, to fail, and to try, and to fail and to find the victory in the trying, not necessarily in the winning every time…. This is what the living the American Dream means for a business owner, in my opinion. And anything less than that is not only a diminished definition of success, it’s a diminished state of being.

Surely we love our monetary success and the (seemingly) carefree lifestyle that it affords. But we should cherish our freedom even more because without freedom, the unlimited advantages of American business ownership that we take for granted would not exist.

 


 

american dreamBrandon Crossley, CEO of Poindexter

The American dream is the idea that we have the freedom to live life on our own terms, and that no matter how bleak our circumstances are, we always have the opportunity to turn things around and achieve a better life for ourselves and our families. This is the idea that drives immigrants from all over the world to seek citizenship in the US. We are the land of opportunity, and anything is possible here.  

My business helps make this dream a reality by providing the opportunity to shape my life as I see fit. Although, I haven’t yet achieved any degree of financial freedom, entrepreneurship provides a different kind of freedom that allows you to create a living by solving the problems you care about.

 


 business owner american dream

Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck, Event Planners and Designers at Alison & Bryan

We are definitely living the American dream because being a business owner has allowed us to create the life we want. We work really hard planning 10-15 event experiences a year, but when we aren’t planning we are enjoying life. We’ve been in business for a decade, and although it took a really long time to build a successful brand and business, we are now at the point where we can choose which projects we take on, and when. We work with clients living all over the world which allows us to work remotely. As a result, we’ve been able to merge our love for travel and spend several months out of the year working from our laptop in places like France, Italy, Greece, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, and the list goes on. When we aren’t traveling, we live in Santa Barbara and love every minute of it.

For us, our time is valuable, and the fewer projects we take on a year, the better our work is for the projects we do take, and the more time we have to seek inspiration. Of course, we are naturally less profitable than some, but that is not our priority. The American Dream, to us, is not about how much money you make. It is about having a business that affords you the opportunity (and time) to do what you love professionally and personally.

 


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Christie Maruka, Fashion and Wardrobe Stylist

Achieving the American dream for me started when I was 12 years old and began working. Growing up fashion obsessed at a very young age and believing one day I would work and own a business/company in that field. Achieving success, prosperity & happiness through hard work is what I believe to be the American Dream and I have accomplished all that. For me its not about having the nicest possessions, it’s about the many people I’ve made feel happy, confident and stylish, all while doing what I love to do.. which is dress and style people.

 


 

american dreamMarc Joseph, CEO & President of DollarDays

The American Dream includes a sense of self worth and accomplishments that you strive for from the beginning of life. While my American Dream was no different than that, I also believe we were put on this earth to help others and my business has helped make that dream a reality.

Every retail and online business needs to build into their plans and then do it all year long, a give back to their community program. When your customers know you are engaged with helping their community, they become more loyal and in some cases feel the obligation to give back themselves. which is a win win for you, your customers and your community. This pay it forward attitude is how I feel my business helps fulfill my American Dream.

 


 

american dreamKathy Tremblay, Vendor Relations Specialist and Creative Editor at MyFavDeals.org

My idea of the American Dream has always been one of freedom – both financial and lifestyle – freedom to live how and where I want, free of historical and societal role expectations and constraints due to my looks, gender, age, etc.

I had a taste of lifestyle freedom when I worked as a contract worker for the US Antarctic Program in the 1980s. That taste made me hunger for more! But, other than that, none of my past jobs offered even a glimmer of hope for freedom – especially financial.

Now, as a partner in an affiliate website, I have lifestyle freedom, with hope for my financial future, because the internet creates a more level playing field than working in a typical office ever did for me.

Today, I need only my computer and a good internet connection. No one judges me for anything but the quality of my work. I spend my summers in lovely New England, and my winters in sunny Florida. The sky’s the limit for my American Dream now. My partners share my enthusiasm, and are nothing but supportive in my personal reach toward the stars – as I am for theirs. It works for us!

 


 business american dream

Danielle Kunkle, Co-Founder of Boomer Benefits

For me the American Dream is walking up the stairs to work every day with a smile on my face. There are financial rewards, yes, but what has been more rewarding is having control over your own destiny, getting to know other amazing entrepreneurs, and setting my own work hours (which are many, because I love what I do). Not having to report to anyone else and instead getting to be the one who strives every day to make this the best place in the world to work for my employees. The freedom to implement my own ideas and grow a tiny little company into a multi-million dollar business is the best American dream I ever could have asked for.

 


 

american dreamSacha Ferrandi,  Founder & Head Principal of Source Capital Funding, Inc.

Having been born in Spain, I have experienced the “American Dream” first hand as an entrepreneur, business founder, and business owner.

To me, the “American Dream” means anyone from anywhere that has a unique idea, relentless work ethic, passion, determination, and grit can make something of themselves and be successful.

Owning my own business has allowed me to live the American Dream in many ways. It has allowed me to live comfortably, meet incredible people, visit amazing cities, and most importantly, it allows me to fulfill my passion. From the inception of Source Capital Funding, Inc., we have had a clear vision – to help those in need of financing when others would not. This company vision also allows me to assist other individuals live their version of the “American Dream.”

 


 american dream

Steve Silberberg, Founder of Fitpacking Fat Loss Backpacking Adventures

My American Dream is less about money than what most people traditionally visualize. The American Dream is manifested via the fulfillment you get from being able to live your passion and spend your days as you wish them to be. Of course there must be enough money to meet basic needs such as food and shelter, so there is a financial component but stockpiling wealth seems to be an obsessive trait of people who are unable to be happy with the considerable amount they already have. One caveat to my view of the American Dream is that if I have to crush others in order to obtain my dream, it is not really an American Dream. There should be no casualties.

 


 american dream

Garrett Philbin, Founder of Be Awesome Not Broke

I believe that freedom is the new currency of the American Dream. It’s no longer about how much money you make, your job title or how big your house is compared to the Joneses – it’s about having the freedom and flexibility to live life on your terms.

Running a location independent business gives me that freedom. I work from home, travel when I want, decide when to work and get to choose the clients I work with. Of course, this freedom is contingent on my business being successful, and that success is in my hands and mine alone. But the reward – independence, autonomy and freedom – is more than worth the added risk and responsibility.

Bottom line: The American Dream is no longer about money, status or possessions – it’s about freedom and flexibility.

 


 

why I love my businessVladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO of Printwand, Inc.

As an immigrant, I think I often have a different concept of the American Dream than someone who was born and raised in the U.S. Many native-born Americans seem to define the American Dream as material wealth and high social status. But to me, it’s about choices. As a child in the Soviet Union, I felt frustrated because every product and service was the same. There was nothing to set oneself apart. In America, I could make choices about everything from my clothes and cars to food and furniture. I could (and did) choose to open my own company. Many of the choices I’ve made have led me to material gain, but my American Dream is about the freedom that brought me success—not my possessions or status.


What’s Your American Dream?

We want to hear from you! How do you define the American Dream? Has your business helped you make this dream come true? If your American Dream includes starting a business, why wait to get started? Reach out today and let us help you launch your business and elevate your digital presence.

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About
Olivia is Director of Communications for Creative Click Media, Communications degree holder from Rutgers University, and lifelong lover of words, syntax and grammar.

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