June 24, 2013

PlanetSoho Celebrates Bravery of Small-Business Owners, Awards Prizes for Taking the Leap to Become a SOHO

Thousands of small-business owners shared the story of how they found the courage to pursue their passion in PlanetSoho’s “The Leap” contest. The winners—who received up to $3,000 cash—included a mom who became a photographer, a laid-off cabinetmaker who started making bunk beds, and a 9-1-1 dispatcher who opened her own marketing firm.

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Every day, people around the world overcome their fears, put aside their doubts, and take the Leap to follow their dreams by starting their own business. PlanetSoho, the leading provider of easy-to-use online management tools and services for small office / home office businesses (SOHOs), invited people to share the story of the moment that changed everything in the Great Leap Contest, which wrapped up on May 31.

Thousands of people—over 1 percent of PlanetSoho users—shared their stories on the Great Leap Locator and posted them to Facebook. The stories brought encouragement and inspiration to 700,000 readers, and 500,000 people viewed the accompanying video. Many thousands of people voiced their support on social media. PlanetSoho awarded six prizes—$3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 cash for the top three winners, plus lifetime PlanetSoho memberships for those winners and three runners-up.

“We were moved and touched by the stories our users shared. Many people have faced incredible hardships and somehow found a way to turn them into success,” says Yuval Lev, CMO of PlanetSoho. “If you’re looking for inspiration, just read a few of the stories in this contest. You’ll be blown away!”

“Your hobby can be your passion
and your passion can be your career!”

The top prize, $3,000, went to Kim Harris, a mom in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada, who decided to become a photographer when she couldn’t find a family photographer who could really capture her family’s personalities. She started taking photos as a hobby in June 2006, and with the encouragement of friends and family, she turned her hobby into a successful business, Kim Harris Photography.

“Photography is a passion...It fills me with joy and enriches me like nothing ever has before. I feel so grateful to be able to earn a living with photography. It never feels like a job,” wrote Harris. “It is very exciting and rewarding to know that the average Mom who thought she could do it, actually did it! Your hobby can be your passion and your passion can be your career!”

Les Holbrook, the owner of Boulder Valley Bunk Bed in Longmont, CO, was awarded the second-place prize of $2,000. After working for others as a cabinetmaker for thirty years, he was unceremoniously laid off at the age of 50. When he couldn’t find another job, he started woodworking from home in November 2009. Four years and 200 bunk beds later, his company is thriving.

The third-place winner, Donna Hogan, was awarded $1,000. She was working the night shift as a 9-1-1 dispatcher in Norwich, CT when the economic crisis hit. She noticed how many local small businesses were closing and decided they needed creative, targeted, affordable marketing to make it through the recession. She began a marketing firm, Start From Scratch, in November 2011 with a free campaign for a friend’s business, and within a year she had quit her other job and never looked back.

The contest also gave three runners-up lifetime memberships. Sara Parthasarathy of Madison, WI, started FillMyRecipe to give cooks just the right amount of ingredients for a recipe, so they don’t have leftover bits and pieces cramming up the pantry. Natasha Clarks discovered the healing powers of wheatgrass after searching for a way to heal her neck injury and jaw tumor. Since February 2012 she’s been advocating raw foods and selling wheatgrass to local businesses in Pungo, VA. Scott Miller was teaching music in Rapid City, SD in June 2002, and he realized the kids didn’t have anywhere to practice, so he opened Rock School, where kids practice music, form bands, and perform concerts.

Visit the Leap Hall of Fame to read the stories submitted by the winners. See the thousands of Leap stories, and add your own, on the Great Leap Locator.

PlanetSoho is the online destination for existing and aspiring SOHOs. Members enjoy simple tools for online invoicing, contact management, selling online, inventory tracking, increasing Web presence, marketing and promotion, getting paid online, and more.