We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Haibei Wang | Cross-genre composer and instrumentalist

It took me a while to understand that pursuing music composition as a career is similar to running a business. Apart from writing music, I have to deal with clients, paperwork, self-marketing, budget management etc. Composing becomes the easiest one among all of these. The advantage of running my own music business is having a full control of what I want to do and what I make. However, the disadvantage is also obvious, which is time management. . Read more>>

If The Shoe Fits | Long Island Rap Collective

Around summer 2017 the four of us (Katharsis, Candid, Robert Dawkins, & Grant Sounds), came to the same conclusion that it would be better for us to dedicate our time and attention to creating music and building a sustainable lifestyle from that, rather than working a 9-5 doing things we don’t quite enjoy. The four of us had individually endeavored to make music in various capacities over the years and had all decided that this is what we wanted to do with our lives for better or worse. Read more>>

Noureddine El Warari | Photographer and Master Printer

To be my own boss. try my own luck. Read more>>

Julie Kraus | Image Consultant

I had unique experience in different areas from special education to counseling to behavior to sales to marketing to leadership to fashion – and it was through the combination of those experiences that I was able to transform my own confidence to find a place where I knew I could help change women’s lives on the biggest scale by starting my own business. I saw a hole in the marketplace that it became my passion to fill. Read more>>

Pamela Mora Abby Guerra | Producers & Head Goats

We felt that a lot of the comedy scene in LA was unnecessarily intimidating and sometimes unwelcoming, especially to women and marginalized voices. We wanted to answer the need for a comedy variety show that kept it wacky and more importantly created a welcoming environment for everyone. We celebrate performers of all experiences levels and treat them like the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) performers they are. Read more>>

Dean Tanglao | CEO/Founder of Kinda Fit Kinda Fat, LLC

Growing up, I was a chubby, awkward, and nerdy kid. Not being blessed with the talent of athleticism, I struggled with sports, and as a result, I struggled with my self-esteem. It wasn’t until college that I picked up my first weight at the gym which ultimately began my fitness journey. The journey, however, was not smooth. I struggled initially with “gymtimidation.” Although a large percentage of gym patrons were friendly, going into the fitness environment with no real athletic background was tough. Read more>>

Jose Lopez | Artist at heart.

At first the thought of owning my own business was something I never dreamt possible due to my disability condition and the conditioning from my surroundings. Where I grew up taking about success and betting oneself wasn’t a comment conversation. But on the flip side those very same circumstances made find something which could get me out that ugly and painful state. I found art and that led me to where I am now. I never though Art could impact my life the way it did. Little by little things began to change and also the way I perceived the world. Opportunity’s followed right after and I took every single one them. I first opened my studio in early 2000. Read more>>

Alejandra Magana Gamero | PhD Candidate and Co-Founder of Latinas Talk Dinero

To be honest this first started as a hobby where we thought it would be beneficial to share what we were learning about personal finance through social media. However, we quickly came to realize that as first generation Latinas, first generation college students and first generation professionals both us and most of our family and friends had never been exposed to financial literacy education growing up, nor as adults. It was then that “myfinancejourney” became “latinastalkdinero,” a business that seeks to support the well being and growth of first generation professionals and BIPOC communities through our commitment to culturally relevant financial literacy education. Read more>>

Yassa Tattoo | Artist & Mentor

Growing up I always wanted to be a tattoo artist. I would draw 24/7, draw tattoos on myself with sharpie and binge ink master. However, my parents are super traditional, conservative and have a huge distaste for tattoos. Because of this, I never thought a tattoo career would ever be an option for me. In school, I had severe undiagnosed ADHD and felt alone so I dropped out my Junior year at the age of 16. I found a website that sold fake diplomas and transcripts that I used to get into cosmetology school and later fashion school. My parents were not happy with my decision but let me do it anyways. Read more>>

Lenay | Singer Songwriter and Game developer

I love business !! lol. no but for real I love starting ‘companies’ by myself or with friends or family, and by companies i mean startup ideas most of which flop but i learn something every time and im not afraid to fail ! & guess what a few have worked yayyy. so I guess my thought process is … ooo this idea seems fun let’s try it ! now how can i connect dots and people to make it happen Read more>>

Adrian Miller | Worker bee @Xyion Inc.

I was always taught to create your own capacity and stay in a lane that’s open. My mom would say to me make sure it’s something people want and then go above and beyond to service that need. I have an always wanted to do service but I’ve always wanted to be of service. Read more>>

Jessica Owusu-Afriyie | Designer & Founder, Suite Creative Studio

I started my business when I had recently become a mom. I was coming off of a job as Design Director for a private label intimate apparel company that worked with some of the largest retailers in the country. My work there had been extremely price focused at the expense of many of my own ideals such as sustainability and ethical manufacturing. It left me feeling very empty. Going into business for myself I knew I wanted to work with brands whose mission I respect, factories I felt comfortable partnering with, and to be able to impact the decision-making towards sustainable materials and more ethical, inclusive design. Starting my own business was in pursuit of feeling great about the work that I spend so much of my time doing. Read more>>

Deionna Gipson | Business Coach & Strategic Mastermind

I started my own business because I wanted output to equal input. I wanted my reward to match my work ethic. I know that I work best autonomously and my creativity can spark up at any given time not just between 9 and 5. I decided to become an entrepreneur so that I never have to worry about a time clock, a schedule, a performance evaluation or being micromanaged again. I love using my gifts to help others and not being confined to an annual 3% increase after each amazing year in business. Read more>>

Derek Smith | Confectioner

I approached the idea of starting Ann’s Creole Candies with a lot of skepticism and trepidation. Praline candy making is a very finicky and time-consuming process that requires your undivided attention. As well, I didn’t realize how special our candy was because I grew up so close to it. I watched my mom, Ann, make her New Orleans praline candy as gifts for the holidays and it was also a favorite request for parties, but I didn’t realize just how much people loved it until I learned to make it myself. Read more>>

Samantha Joy Pearlman | Singer/Songwriter, Actor/Creator, & Owner of SJP Voice Studio Inc.

I own my private voice and acting studio with students on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regionally and Film/TV. I taught voice and acting for about three years at various drama programs around NYC. I managed my own scheduling, built relationships with students, and essentially ran my own business within the drama programs, but wasn’t able to take home the full salary due to the schools’ taking a fee. I had the hustle of a small business owner without the payoff of autonomy and self-determination. One day, my mentor Mike Ruckles encouraged me to go out on my own and ever since then I’ve never looked back! Read more>>

Lisa Lurie | Survivor, Patient Advocate & Co-founder, Cancer Be Glammed

Cancer Be Glammed was born out of my own struggles to restore my body-confidence and self-esteem after my treatment for breast cancer. At age forty-seven, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer. Within two weeks, I underwent a double mastectomy (without reconstruction) and chemotherapy. In a very short period of time, I became bald, breast-less and bloated from steroids. It was soul destroying. Not just for me but for my family as well. I felt like a cancer-created Humpty-Dumpty. I didn’t know how to put myself back together again. Read more>>

Ejere (EJ) Okorie | Registered Nurse, Physical Trainer, Entrepreneur

The main reason of starting my own business is having something to own that was uniquely mine and something I can pass down and keep within the family. My motivation behind it was fueled by seeing my immigrant parents coming from Nigeria work all their lives to provide for their children and doing their best for them. From my end I knew they missed some of our important life accolades (whether it be achievements in school, athletics, and other things), due to the fact the worked to provide for us. Read more>>

Keana Nicole | Artisan Soap Maker, Faith-based Podcaster

I have always had a heart for Entrepreneurship. I knew I would own my own business one day, because I hated working under people, and I hated the thought of my salary being in the hands of a corporation that don’t even know my name. During the Pandemic I prayed and asked God when would be the time to start a business. After six months, I heard God say, “Now!” I started reaching out to vendors and stumbled across some Vegan soap. The vendor I went through didn’t allow their soap to cure fully so it dissolved quickly. So I googled, “How to Make Vegan Soap” I learned and posted on Facebook and people were ready to place an order that same day! Read more>>

Reggie Scott | Smart Home Technician

In previous years I worked for AT&T as a cable installer & I also worked for a security installation company named GHS interactive. During my tenure with both of this jobs I would always do side jobs which including mounting equipment or installing additional cameras on the weekend. When COVID hit our cities I was laid off from directv due to “lack of work”, so I decided it was time to build my brand and work for myself rather than rely on an employer. Read more>>

Jeff Kitchen | Scriptwriting Instructor

I thought long and hard before starting this business. I was already considered one of the top scriptwriting teachers in the business, but I wasn’t satisfied with how I had taught for eighteen years. I took some time off and then came back to it fresh, determined to find a better way to teach writers than doing 30-hour intensive weekend seminars. The materials that I teach are complex and require proper training and experience to get their full power. I made a professional study of how people learn, and in the process came across several innovative training models that made huge differences in how I train screenwriters, TV writers, and playwrights. Read more>>

Keith Jackson | Founder of Exclusive PR & Bumpr2Bumpr

Honestly, I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I know that sounds cliché and you hear that from every business owner my age. But it’s true. In high school I found ways to sell things and make money on the side of working a normal job. Some of the things I did were the smart and legal… while others weren’t. Either way, they all served for a great lesson by the end and helped me realize really where I wanted to end up. By the time I was in college I knew that I wanted the lifestyle and freedom of an entrepreneur. Read more>>

Teni Olasimbo | Entrepreneur, Makeup Artist & Content Creator

Growing up, I really enjoyed watching makeup videos and tutorials and would always try to recreate looks on myself (even though I wasn’t that very good when I was younger). I just grew to have a passion for makeup and its art. I started playing around in makeup on my friends, family, and myself and I began to realize that I was starting to get pretty good at it. My freshman year in college at Howard University, people grew to love the art I created on myself and the makeup I did for others who came to me and asked for help. Read more>>

Paola Tacchini | Founder

It all started the minute I was told to temporarily stay home and stop all the running my job and life require daily: pandemic mode – a real pause like I have never experience since my first year working. The urge of feeling busy, the sadness of increasing cases back home in Italy and the forced distance to all my dearest people have soon made me start a project called “Familiar Faces”: Read more>>

Shannon Payne | Family Law Lawyer

I knew I wanted to be a business owner fairly early in my career. I wanted control over my client list, my schedule, and my income. As a lawyer, it is important to me that I believe in my cases and connect with my clients. I could not be as effective if I were simply assigned clients by a managing attorney. I am a mom, and a lawyer. Flexibility with my schedule and working around my daughter’s needs is a substantial benefit to being a business owner. Financially, I always felt professionally limited when working for other companies. Read more>>

Robert Mack | Ivy-League Educated Positive Psychology Expert, Celebrity Happiness Coach, Published Author, and TV Personality

I didn’t want or intend to start a business, initially. I only wanted and intended to be happy. That was my deepest desire and greatest intention from the start. It only became a business later. Read more>>

Alana Holland | Licensed Clinician

I ran into an old friend I grew up with and previously worked with. He let me know how he started a private practice and was enjoying what he did. After talking to him for a while, the main thing I remembered he said was “Alana this is the first job I’ve had where I’m not stressed out at and I enjoy what I’m doing”. At the time I was working for another company making decent money but a few months passed by and I was complaining to my husband about some changes happening at my job. Read more>>

Christopher Camorlinga Rivera | Your friendly wine guy

Essentially I saw a need for a brand of traditionally made wine that was welcoming for the Latino community. I had been making wine in Lodi, Ca for 8 years dead set on never starting my own brand but I frequently had experiences where I’d go to a tasting room in various California regions including my own and could feel that the wine industry and tasting rooms weren’t especially welcoming to people of color. It wasn’t not outright disrespect but it’s a cold reception, lack of attention and a subconscious dismissive attitude. I’m not easily offended but it happens enough that the common denominator in these situations was that we were a group of Mexicanos. Read more>>

Nellys Siria | Owner & Designer of Cocoa Loves Grey, cat mom, plant lover

I was working a full time job that didn’t align with my passions or interest and I felt like I was being stifled. My creativity was non existent, I didn’t have an outlet to help me decompress or just do something fun and different. I got the idea to try my hand at making accessories because I enjoy wearing them, and figured it was pretty low stakes. Once I did, I realized I had found the creative outlet I was looking for and from there I just decided to keep going at it and see what my little idea could become! Read more>>

Peter Vargas | Credit Specialist/Expert

Well prior to starting Kredit Guy Peter LLC , I was a college Instructor and college football coach. It was honestly one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. The reason being that I was new to the “entrepreneur world” and “credit world”. But I’ve always believed in myself and know that when I’m focused and motivated , I can achieve anything. Four years later, here I am , owner of a multi-million dollar corporation. Read more>>