Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy. So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Nepal Arslan | Film Writer & Director

We had just moved across the country from New Jersey to San Diego, and I was about to begin my freshman year of high school. For years I was obsessed with filmmaking, creating little videos about anything I could find inspiration from. After my first few days in High School, I wanted to prove to my dad that film is something I can focus on as a career, not just a side hobby. So I asked him one literal question, “can I start a company?” Read more>>

Cocoe Voci | Couturier & Creative Director

I knew I could do it “better!” I had just finished school and got a job in textiles because of my love of fabrics and fashion…I thought it was going to be much more glamorous than it was! I left to take a sales job at a Beverly Hills bridal salon because I had always loved the “gown”, the symbolism of this dress and how much this garment is treasured and sometimes passed down to future generations. Read more>>

Lauren Tafuri | Co Founder of Preppi & Costume Designer

It all started after experiencing a small earthquake in Los Angeles in 2013. It was very much a wake-up call— the catalyst that prompted us to found Preppi. We realized we weren’t at all prepared and when talking to friends and fellow Angelenos about earthquake preparedness we realized that very few people had adequate or any supplies at all! We quickly wanted to change that and decided to start Preppi to engage people in the preparedness conversation through good, eye-catching design. I (Lauren) had been working in fashion styling for commercials and advertising for 15 years at the time of founding Preppi, and it was important to me to put something out into the world that could actually help people and our communities. Read more>>

Dayveon Shawver | Cake Architect

The thought process to starting my business was initially easy because I am naturally a “go-getter.” So, when a close friend of mine wanted to order some cheesecake cupcakes from me in 2013 that she saw me post on my instagram, I quickly jumped at the opportunity. She was somewhat a socialite in Los Angeles, so once she posted my cupcakes everything took off and I seized the opportunity on starting a cupcake business: the rest is history! Read more>>

Kyra Anderson | Skin Care Services

The thought process I had behind starting my own business didn’t come with a strict plan or with any type of organized thought process. It happened so fast and all of a sudden. I woke up one morning fustrated with the fact that it was extremely hard for me to find natural soap products in your local grocery store; countless times of disappointment and frustration when entering the market, I eventually said enough is enough and thought of the idea that I should make my own natural soaps. Telling myself that I could do it and to not be nervous about it. So, I started to do research on my own, purchased a numerous of books, and continued to study the different skin types to see how to go about it. Read more>>

Krystal Chang | Artist & Designer

I’ve always known that I wanted to work for myself. A few years after college I was doing free-lance design work, making furniture, and writing, but I don’t think I was fully ready for it at the time. I went to a graduate design-build program at Auburn University for a year, and then came back to LA and worked as a project manager for a construction company for seven years—my longest work stint anywhere. In job reviews, when they ask where do you see yourself in five years, I knew I wanted be on my own in five years, even if I wasn’t sure how to get there, or even what exactly I would be doing. Read more>>

Addison Henderson | Artist

I started my own film company when I was twenty-four years old. When I started making my own films and screen them the natural progression for me was to start my own company that could represent everything that I stood for as a filmmaker. Also, it gave me some professionalism when going out in the world and pitching myself as a filmmaker who should shoot your Commerical, music video, short film, etc… I grew up with two business minded mentors. My Uncle Jeff Friday created the American Black Film Festival. Read more>>

Angel Westerman | Incontinence Specialist

To do better! Asking the question “There has to be something better than this, right?” led me to Dependable Daughter. I managed assisted living communities for over 10 years and found that incontinence products we used were not very good. They leaked and caused health issues. After researching I found there were premium products out there, but few people knew about them. Read more>>

Jane Gee | Founder & CEO

Starting janegee was truly about survival. In my early 50’s I found myself in a very challenging position in my personal life. I found myself in a foreign country with one option, survival for my daughter and myself. In the 1980’s I ran a very successful skincare business in Australia, so when it came to deciding what I was going to do to support my family, starting a skincare business here in the United States was what I knew I needed to do. Read more>>

Margaret To | Designer, Animator, Filmmaker

I founded Studio SAKA in 2019, a design + video production studio amplifying social and environmental stories. Starting Studio SAKA really began with finding purpose in my work. Discovering what I love, what I’m good at, realizing what the world needs, and how I can best serve others. As a kid I have always loved art, design, and our natural world. With the immense challenges that our planet is facing with the climate crisis, I have felt powerless and frustrated about what my role is to help solve an issue that seems insurmountable. Read more>>

Ryan Edwards | State Farm Agent

Having control over how quickly or slowly I succeed has become extremely important to me over the years. As an employee, I frequently went above and beyond in an effort to do well or serve my clients better. No matter how average or above average my performance, I was only able to make incremental improvements in my financial situation and career. The reason is because someone else, my employer, was the one deciding when I deserved a promotion or pay raise. Read more>>

Grady Runyan | Record store owner & operator

I had worked most of my life in the music field – sales, shipping & receiving, mail order, warehouse work. So when the opportunity to start my store presented itself, I realized I had a pretty good resume – though I hadn’t thought of it that way before. So, in the face of the risks involved, I felt that I could at least do the job well, and decided to give it a go, based on that. In retrospect, I think having that little bit of self-confidence was important. At the time, the music business was changing and the future was uncertain – I may not have done it otherwise. Read more>>

Carolyn Elliott | Entreprenuer

Strath Haven Ranch emerged out of a spirit of making the most out of what I have at hand: a lot of optimism, experience working with artists, a desire to connect with and support my neighbors and community of artists, a love of nurturing young people and a few cute animals. Read more>>

Kyra Roberts & Nijhélle Maxwell | Co-Founders

We started our own business because we no longer wanted to work for anyone. We wanted to work everyday on something we loved (clothing) and are extremely passionate about. We felt like we had the potential to be our own bosses and to call the shots. So far, starting our own business has been the best decision yet. Read more>>

Dr. David Dada | Business Owner & Optometrist

My parents are Nigerian immigrants who owned their own business and taught me and my siblings that, as minorities, we had to work harder than everyone else. They gave us the foundation for the drive, work ethic, and discipline necessary for anyone who has plans to start a business. Thus, going into optometry school, I knew that I wanted to have my own practice in the future. I first got the idea to open my own optometry clinic after growing dissatisfied at my previous places of employment. When I worked in other commercial places, I noticed there was always something missing. Read more>>

Barry Woods | Businessman, Investor, Entrepreneur

There really wasn’t much of a thought process, as such. I got fired from my previous job, couldn’t survive by playing beach volleyball everyday and needed to do something. It was something that did not require much: money, experience or brains at the entry level, so bingo, sign me up. Okay, granted, it did require some brains but at a different level. Read more>>

Jason Ryan | Owner & Chief Creative Officer

I started my company, A Leading Role, because there was a void in the market of dress up. All of the existing companies (including the one I was working for at the time) were in a race to the bottom–servicing mass market retailers and not paying much attention to quality. So, with the experience I had gained from working at corporations and an array of resources to produce my designs, I started A Leading Role in 2018. Since then, we have worked with FAO Schwarz, Disney, Universal, Hello Kitty, Netflix, and numerous other boutiques. Read more>>

Kyle MacLennan | Director of Photography

I always loved photography and film-making. I just didn’t realized it could be an actual possibility as a job/career form until I was in my mid/late 20’s. I always thought about the cool people that were able to photograph and film all over the world and that is what I wanted to do. So, I figured I would try to do it. Read more>>

Alex Bear Hayden | Luxury Real Estate Agent

Family is everything to me. I decided to build a business because I want to retire my parents early & live the lifestyle I dreamed of as a kid. I want to travel all over the world, and inspire others to better themselves. I’m a regular guy, who served in the military. I wasn’t born rich by any means. I want to be an example for those who have big dreams. To show others that in life, the only formula for success is legit brutal hard work, consistency, and faith in yourself. If you have family that supports you, GREAT! If not, you’ll have me in your ear yelling that “You got this! Don’t give up. Keep up the pursuit!” I can go on about this for hours. Read more>>

Adam Gomez | DJ, Singer/Guitarist & Emcee

I’ve always loved bringing joy to people through music and entertainment. At an early age I was in show choir, band and participated in talented shows. As a young adult, I moved out to L.A to pursue music and continue my education. While attending CSULB, I was working at Yard House in Newport Beach and I got linked up with a Vietnamese Wedding band and I was performing all over Southern California. I slowly started to realize that the Wedding & Events industry is an industry that would never go away and that I could potentially make a living off of it. I began going to networking events and continued showcasing my talents. I started my company ADM Entertainment in 2018 and in 2019 I left the Food & Beverage industry and became a Full Time DJ, Musician and Emcee. Read more>>

gaelle jaunay calendini | Producer & creative director

After 8 years working for big production companies, I was very tired of the way this industry was treating it’s people. Fashion requires a lot of work often hidden from the public’s eyes and runners, assistants, catering are often yelled at and not considered. I didn’t want to have a team who was afraid of me, a boss ruling with fear… I had a very naive conception on how I wanted to be and act as a leader to a team, with kindness and patience. I have since learned a lot but the listening and patience has stayed in our core Read more>>

Adaobi Mozie | Holistic Chef, Artist, Energy Healer

I think Nigerians have a very innate entrepreneurial spirit at heart so I’ve always had the mindset of being my own boss. Both of my parents have been self employed business owners my whole life so the idea of clocking in or having someone else controlling my time and level of income had never been in my sphere of thinking. It was always just a matter of which skills I can hone in to become lucrative enough to sustain my lifestyle and goals. Read more>>

Azurell Papka | Avid crafter & supplier of smiles

I’m a crafter. For much of my life growing up my sister would say that if she won the lottery she would put me up in a house with access to my favorite stores for a year and then open the most eclectic store ever with what I make. I’ve been making and selling everything from headbands to corsetry for years as a way to support my own crafting habits, but only in the last couple of years decided to make a real business of it. Read more>>

Voodo Fé | Painter, Musician, Fashion + Graphic Designer

My thought process behind starting Art Gang was knowing that no other company would give me the space to create the way I wanted to in Music, Fashion, Art and Graphics. I also HATE being told what to do. I’m defiant by nature and by developing Art Gang, gave us the control to create whatever we wanted. I have amazing partners and an amazing team of snipers who understand one target, one bullet, one squeeze. Read more>>

Stacey Rodriguez | Founder of MELROD

A long one. I’ll try to answer without writing an entire novel.. The thought was RELENTLESS in my mind, no matter my course in college, no matter the low paying and high paying jobs I had. The seed had been planted in me in my youth and I couldn’t stir it away. I fell in love with the thought of being my own boss after discovering more about myself and how I function best. It may sound cliche, but I knew what I DIDN’T want to do, and that helped me discover what I was meant to do. I was inspired by all the people in my community I’ve looked up to since I was a child. All the women who have “made it” with much less than what I had. All my resources were at my fingertips. I didn’t give myself reason for excuses. It was go-time, and I realized it a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel very lucky that I decided to act on my dream at the age of 22 instead of 42. When you know, you know, and there’s no reason to wait on anything or anyone else for it. Read more>>

Charoné DeShazier | RVT & Entrepreneur

In May of 2020, I was laid off from my job as a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) due to Covid-19 and I basically had a lot to figure out. There was a lot of emotion involved including confusion, anger and disbelief at what had just happened after being with my job for almost four years. I was angry for being let go, especially from a company that was still doing well and continues to do so and it led me to feel as though I never wanted to return to the field. While in the moment that sounded like a great idea, there was still the issue of needing an income. Read more>>

Stephanie Glover | 50+ Lifestyle Blogger

It started with a name: Grey Fox. Encouraged by the words of my adult son’s 30-something friends, I was feeling more inspired than ever as I entered mid-life and prepared to come face-to-face with menopause. Grey Fox was catchy, but I added one more word to my new nickname: Haute. After all, it would be pretty challenging to describe me without addressing my love for fashion — haute couture to be exact. Read more>>

Fallon Turner | Personal Chef

My grandfather was the cook or chef in our family and I loved his food and wanted to learn to cook. After I had found my passion in cooking I was attending a culinary program and they asked me what was my goal after the program ended and I had not given it much thought. So during the last weeks we had to intern in a restaurant with an opportunity to be hired and I saw that I did not want to work for anyone especially in that setting so I matched with a company that did catering and I fell in love with the work. Fast forward my grandfather had passed and I decided I started my catering company and in honor of him name it Poppy- Poppy’s catering was born. Read more>>

Paolo Galli | Fashion Manager and luxury goods selector

Italy is a beautiful country loved by many Americans, but it is a complicated reality to understand, with ancient traditions and structures different from those of America. My career has allowed me to observe the Italian reality from an external point of view and I understand how the great potential that exists between the USA (and the countries culturally connected to them) and Italy (and Southern Europe in general) needs of a channel that bring the business in finding the right ways. I was not surprised that many great deals have not turned out due to differences and difficulties, but it has always amazed me that no one has focused on solving this aspect, rather than simply trying to do business without preparing the ground. Read more>>

Carolina Trejos (Journalist/Host) Natalia Trejos-Herrera (Producer/Actress | Co-Founders of Pinkafé

The thought behind starting Pinkafé was to share high quality information and content to a multicultural community of entrepreneurial and corporate women who are hungry for knowledge to better their lives and be successful, by sharing the inspiring stories of other women already doing it. We also want to be part of the conversation of the need of more Latino representation in the general market and Hollywood. Read more>>

Frankie Morales | Publisher and Co-Founder,

I was born with the entrepreneurial spirit. Some call me a “serial entrepreneur” but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I launched my first real business when I was 25 years old – it was an LGBT lifestyle magazine and the first of its kind based in Long Beach, CA. When the market crashed in 2007, I ended up making a deal with a large LGBT media firm in Los Angeles and merged my company into that one. From then on (and for the past decade or so), I’ve worked for other publishers, but even working for other publishers, I launched new titles for them. It was like I ran my own company without all the stress… but also without all the rewards, per se. Read more>>

Nash Jacquez | Fingerboarder

Sorry For Fingerboarding had started as a passion project. Fingerboarding has always been a subculture of skateboarding, There wasn’t many events or meet ups going on around in my area and i wanted to change that. As a kid I always watched videos of the meet ups in europe or the east coast and wished for something like that, When i got the opportunity to be able to host and create the community for fingerboarding here on the west coast i couldn’t pass it up. Read more>>

Leah Thompson | Owner & Photographer

My thought process…oh man! I first thought about starting a business when I graduated from college with my associate’s in business marketing & management. After graduating, I researched everything I needed to know about starting a business from a bank account, business license, EIN, and that’s when my first online baby was born. Read more>>

Leslie Marmol | Designer @viragoswim

Seeing the lack of diverse representation in the fashion industry as a young girl catapulted my desire to build my own business one day. People come in all colors, shapes and sizes and it was something I desperately wanted to see not only displayed but celebrated. As a mother, it’s imperative that my children be able to see themselves where I could not. My goal is to always create something that will empower all people to be their most confident, powerful selves. Read more>>

Adam Hasper | Owner/Winemaker/Alchemist

A winery, to me, is family and friends. It is sharing and partaking. It is talking and learning and growing. I started my winery with my family and daughter in mind. I worked for over 20 years in the music business and always knew it was not something I could hand down to my daughter. In 2017 I started Parhelion Cellars with the thought that I could create something for my family. Something that we could all enjoy spending time together doing. Now my daughter helps me with harvest, bottling, and dreaming about how our tasting room will look when we have the opportunity to open one. Read more>>

Alyssa Miller | Online Business Manager & Creative Entrepreneur

I wanted the flexibility in my schedule to take breaks where I need them, explore the world with my family, and build something that was my own. I’ve worked in many different industries and learned a lot from the corporate jobs I held. I needed more creative freedom than some of them offered, so with a lot of help from my friends and mentors, I built my own little world to work in! Read more>>

Kimbreli Flournoy | Web and brand designer

I just finished graduate school and started my new career in the government as a webmaster (web developer). After 3 months of just going through the same everyday routine and watching the people around me whose positions I thought I wanted to be in, I knew this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I kept having the same lingering thoughts. There is no way I was put on the earth to work 40 hours a week for 40 years just to retire off 40 percent of my income, there was just no way! Read more>>

Jonathan Lotz | SAT/ACT Tutor

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak, which I think I got from my dad, who has started multiple successful enterprises over the years. I am an independent person, and after a short stint working at Goldman Sachs in private wealth management, I knew I wanted to be in control of my own life and time. I am a traveler (I’ve been to over 50 countries), and working in education has always given me two months in the summer to see the world, which was a huge bonus for me. I have a strong academic background (I graduated in three years from Stanford and also have a master’s degree from there), so tutoring was an easy fit. Read more>>

Annie Bang | Wedding and Family Photojournalist

I wanted to create a business that offered pure wedding and family photojournalism service. When I started in 2015, I could not find any photographer in Los Angeles or Southern California (at least online) who practiced photojournalism and focused on storytelling. With my academic and professional journalism background, it only felt right to highlight and capture genuine moments of our lives instead of manipulating them for photos. Read more>>

Lynn Downey Braswell | Actor & Mindset Mentor at Work of Art Coaching

I started Work of Art Coaching to help brokenhearted artists free themselves from the shame of their own expectations, empower them to see themselves as Works of Art, and create authentic, aligned relationships with the business, their craft, and themselves. I want artist to be Safe, from the Inside Out, so they can freaking go for it! I wanted to do that, because that’s what I needed to do for myself. Read more>>