Makoto Kai, 62, is the founder and CEO of Hatagoya Co., which operates Japan's only motel chain. Kai, an avid biker, started the business in 1994 out of frustration with the lack of comfortable and inexpensive accommodation across the Japanese countryside. After traveling around the United States and staying at motels there, he was sure that many Japanese would appreciate the freedom and service they provide. Time proved him right and today 45 Hatagoya motels offer a good night's sleep to drivers and their passengers — including furry ones, as a few rooms in each motel are reserved for those traveling with their beloved pets.

At the end of the day, you just can't listen to others. Better yet, don't listen to anyone from the start. If you want to begin a business and you share your idea with others, whether they are successful business owners or just friends, Japanese will likely respond with: "Yes, we need such a business in Japan! But if this was really a good idea, someone else would already be doing it." But in the U.S., the usual comment is: "Great! Do it!" I figured that nobody knows anything when it comes to doing something new. So instead of talking, I began doing.

The biggest issue for a new company is to gain trust. In Japan, this takes years, which is often enough time to lose the business.