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.

Yu-Chen Shih | Founder & CEO

To be very honest, my thought process behind starting my own business was simply driven by the desire to solve a problem. When I was a student at Pepperdine, I attended a talk by Naveen Jain (founder of InfoSpace, Moon Express and Viome) which changed my whole perspective of entrepreneurship. I used to think that starting a business was very complicated, and I would never be qualified enough to be an entrepreneur. In his talk, Mr. Jain said, “Entrepreneurship is very simple. Identify a problem, then create a solution. Read more>>

Jennifer Jacobs | Content Creator & Realtor

I was never satisfied with a regular job & knew early on that working a 9-5 wasn’t for me. At first I bounced from one job to another thinking I just needed to find the right field. But deep down I knew I wanted to be in the talent creative field & I also wanted more freedom and flexibility. Read more>>

Jessica Gonzales Deniz King | Principal Planner & Designer

We started Amethyst Event Productions to pursue our passion for the extraordinary. Our company began with a mission to develop a wedding planning company that celebrated each couples’ unique style and story. We saw a lack of creativity in the execution of weddings and a cookie-cutter approach, which inspired us to offer a different option. Ultimately, we know that all weddings are not one size fits all. It is essential for us to provide the highest level of service and attention to detail, which is why you’ll have two seasoned wedding planners with you from beginning to end. Read more>>

Megan Gallagher | Motivational Speaker & Author

For me, I wanted to be the role model I needed when I was growing up. I struggled severely with chronic anxiety/panic attacks as a teenager and felt that there weren’t enough open conversations about mental health or loving yourself. I know how badly I needed someone to tell me, “Megan, you are beautiful, smart, important and you will accomplish big things. It’s okay if you don’t resonate with academics- go follow your passions”. Read more>>

Lester Villarama | Fashion & Portrait Photographer

It honestly started as a hobby for me. Starting the Shot By Lester brand, I really just wanted to develop my photography skills and be more comfortable working with models and people as subjects. I didn’t mind accepting free / tfp work during the beginning because I knew that I was investing on a skill that eventually would be a money maker for me. Read more>>

Jack Nunn | Owner

Over the past 30 years I’ve been extremely lucky and grateful to have known and been coached some of the best rowing coaches in the world. I’ve taken that knowledge and applied it to my business model of teaching indoor rowing classes with an incredible view overlooking marine stadium in long beach which was the site of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games rowing venue. The idea is simple: Teach the general public how to use the indoor rowing machine correctly and effectively to get the most amount of calories burned per hour all while looking out over the water and sunsets that we have in Long Beach, Ca. Read more>>

Sofia Dedola | Herbalist

Initially, I started Faze & Flow as a passion project. I really love social media and building an aesthetic so I thought why not start there. One of my biggest passions is herbalism. I’ve been studying for a while now and wanted to share some of my knowledge with women who struggle with hormonal imbalance. Faze & Flow has a recipe book in the works, along with 1:1 coaching for women who want to get their diet and body balanced. I haven’t really promoted any of this because It’s kind of accidentally happened. LOL As I started posting the more people reached out asking questions. Read more>>

Dennis Kleinman | Voice Actor

As I was growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, radio theatre was our primary source of entertainment. I was captivated by the power of this media as it created such a fertile imagination, in many ways more intense than visual media. In my late teens, a young producer had told me that I had a very captivating and good sounding voice. That never left me. After emigrating to the US, I worked in various fields trying to find out what worked. Ib=nvariably, I always came back to performance and acting, and slowly started working part-time in voice over. Read more>>

S Mitchell | Mobile Bartender

The idea of starting my own business was something I didn’t consider until, I did. I was encouraged and supported to take a huge jump and make a side project a business. After consideration and taking advantage of the skills I gained from my 9-5, I knew if I put the same time and energy into myself the roads of success was endless. I gathered my thoughts and made them a plan. A plan become a goal and here we are now, YO FAV MOBILE BARTENDER!! Read more>>

Caia Diepenbrock | Owner

SpiralEyez Designs has been a slow and steady build since I first started printing designs on t-shirts by hand in a college printmaking class. At the time, I already loved restyling vintage graphic tees, so when my love for printmaking found its way to clothing, I felt like I had discovered something unique and exciting. I began selling these tees to my friends and at the college craft fair, and at first it was just a fun thing to do. Being a full-time student and going on to work full-time jobs, it became my mini side business that got as much attention as I could give it, which varied. But as I kept making sales & feeling more encouraged, I continued growing. Read more>>

Amanda Brown | Art Dealer, Curator & Businesswoman

This new business venture, The Howard, started by simply noticing a beautiful, vacant building in my neighborhood. I wasn’t sure how I would transform it then but knew in time it would come to me, there was this consistent draw to the space that never went away. After 4 years of driving by and ready to make a big transition in my career, I finally made the call. The ideas came rushing in the second I walked inside. 30ft high ceilings braced by historic railroad tracks, a 6,000 sqft showroom space with so many intricate details. Read more>>

Ai Yoshihara | Stand Up Comedian

I asked my agent “What do I need to do for you to pitch me and send me on TV and Movie auditions.” He said, “You have an accent. It’s hard to send you out. BE FAMOUS FIRST, SO I CAN PITCH YOU.” Be famous first…isn’t he supposed to help me to be famous? He meant he wanted me to be famous on social media or become a YouTube star, but I’m not a young beautiful influencer type. I want to get acting jobs that don’t require me to be pretty, sexy or sleep with someone. I was brainstorming then I remembered Amy Poehler said in an interview that she didn’t need to rely on being pretty to do comedy. That’s it! Read more>>

Carol Keiner | Principal Planner & Creative Director

I started out as the co-owner of a dessert business. I oversaw the implementation, operation, catering, and planning of all the major fundraisers, galas, weddings, and other social events. Soon after my own wedding—and five years into the business—my partners and I admitted that we weren’t passionate enough about the business anymore, so we decided to part ways. I knew I needed to explore more deeply the ways in which I could express my creative outlets, so I decided to start writing a wedding blog. I had always loved the extravagancy of wedding planning and enjoyed doing it on my own so much that I wanted to share the work I had done. Read more>>

Dov Kelemer | Toy Dealer & Collector

I had a few jobs working for other people when I was in my teens but I always knew I could do most of it better myself. I wanted to reap the rewards for my ingenuity, not someone else. By the time I was 18 I was in business for myself and never looked back. Not until I sold my business in 2016 did I actually work for anyone else. (I put in a day a week working for the buyers to keep everything running smoothly managing vendors that I have long standing relationships with.) The saying goes that there are two types of self employed people, those who want to go out there and conquer the world and those that can’t hack it working for someone else. I guess I am still not sure which one I am. Read more>>

Jim Osorno | Baker & Small Business Owner

I love to create. I love to bake. I love to share. These are what pushed me to start Broadway Baker. Growing up I was always in the kitchen with my Mom + Dad and Grandma O watching them, learning from them and helping them create delicious food. I was particularly drawn to baking and loved sharing our creations with friends, teachers and family. As an adult I baked Opening Night gifts for casts + crews, created birthday cakes for friends and shared my baked goods at holidays and gatherings. I wanted to do my own thing— and baking + selling my goods seemed the perfect fit for me. Read more>>

Kera Ioane | Artist & Co-Owner

The idea behind the company I own with my siblings was to combine our eclectic skill sets to create an environment where we could freely express ourselves and build a platform that further amplifies the issues we care about. We each spent the last 15 years gathering knowledge and experience in different professional, social, and artistic settings and recognized that we can foster community not only for ourselves, but for other BIPOC creatives struggling to function within the current structures as well. Read more>>

Talia Boggan Chelsea Rush | Co-Founder

In our old studio, we had seen so many things that we just didn’t totally agree with. From training of instructors, to pricing, to how we structured our classes & schedule. We had this great perspective as clients and as well as instructors. Proper treatment of our community was and always will be the number 1 thing to us. We’re determined to be better, continue evolving with the industry and always putting other before ourselves. Read more>>

Sinéad D’arcy | Personal Trainer & Actor

I started aglow athletics with the mission to change peoples lives. There is so much information out there regarding fitness and nutrition. It can be hard to know where to start. I wanted to teach like-minded individuals who wanted to better themselves not only physically, but mentally as well. That’s why I offer customized workout plans, teach lifelong nutritional information, and practice life-changing mental exercises with clients. All while motivating and encouraging them to become the best version of themselves. Read more>>

Marianna Varviani | Artistic director, Choreographer, Actress & Instructor

Working in any field relies on opportunity. In the arts, it may take a while until this opportunity reveals itself. Because of this, I decided not to wait… but rather start on my own. Through my education, I practiced devising as a form of creating from scratch. With the same principle, I wanted to formulate a platform that would enable me to work and create freely. Taking after its name ‘Selcouth’ (my company) aims to curate unfamiliar, strange, and yet marvelous artistic experiences! Centered around theater and dance, we create, produce, share performances, and cultural events. Read more>>

Jay Field | Owner, CEO & Sports Agent

I don’t know too many people who had the desire to start their own company when they were young! I think between the thought of quitting your job, to go out on and do something that maybe your family and friends are telling you not to do is a hard thing to over come and process mentally. Starting your own company is not for everyone, especially if you have doubts, not hungry enough (Work ethic) to know that if you don’t work you don’t eat, try to date someone/ or looking to get married (which I was doing at that time). However for me I got to the point that I want more in life. Read more>>