Readers often email us asking us for advice about new businesses they are thinking about starting and we often find that many of them don’t have a framework for thinking about a more fundamental question: why should or shouldn’t you start a business?

Below, you’ll find how successful entrepreneurs from across the city thought about this very question when they were considering whether to start their businesses.

Joey Reger | Photographer Slash Videographer

I won $20,000 on a scratcher in 2014. Decided I’d buy a professional camera that I had no business buying hah! I had no clue how to shoot but I knew I had a creative eye or whatever. Started photographing all kinds of things and then fell in to weddings. Read more>>

Dupé Aleru | Keynote Motivational Speaker & Content Creator

I was laid off after my first year teaching due to budget cuts, only to be brought back the following academic school year. Then I was laid off after my second year teaching, and brought back a third year. Unfortunately, I was laid off TWO MORE TIMES until finally, in 2010, I made one of the toughest decisions of my life — to leave classroom teaching altogether. Though I had invested so much time and energy into teaching, I knew that I had to find a different way to make an impact. While I began taking a serious look at my future and what I wanted for myself, I accepted a job working for The Beverly Hills Courier as its Director of Education Services — a fancy term for education reporter. I threw myself into the work, building the education section from the ground up before being laid off AGAIN due to major staff cuts at The Courier. That’s FIVE LAYOFFS within a five-year period. Enough to make most people throw in the towel; and I admit, the thought did cross my mind. But instead of quitting, I took it as a sign from God — it was time for me start my own company. In 2011, I launched Tutors for Tots, Tweens & Teens — a K-12 tutoring company in Long Beach, CA. Read more>>

Avital Shuster | Pediatric Occupational Therapist

OTPlan.com was created while I was attending the University of Southern California (USC) for Occupational Therapy school. I had an idea to create a website for pediatric occupational therapy activity ideas so parents could use it as a bank of activity ideas to do at home. There was nothing like that in the market and I saw a need because parents always asked me for activity ideas to promote specific skills. Frankly, when I started, I didn’t know what I’m getting myself into. Luckily, I started while I was still employed so the risk of losing everything was smaller but it is definitely something that I wasn’t fully prepared for. There were many challenges along the way and I am sure there will be more challenges. From each challenge, I learn and grow. I put in a lot of hours and effort in everything that I’m doing. I feel responsible for everyone that works for OTPlan and feel very grateful for them. I think we have an amazing team. Read more>>

Kate Wright | Owner, Wedding Planner and Designer at Xo Kate Events

I got the opportunity early on to intern for a Los Angeles based PR company that handled a number of nationwide events on behalf of their clients. I was able to work my way up from being an intern to an associate who would travel to different cities across the US to help activate these events. It was so inspiring for me to watch all the of the hard work and planning that we did at the office in LA, to the fine tuning of logistics (sometimes mid flight), and then landing in a city like Chicago, for example, and put the event together and have it run flawlessly. I found that while I enjoyed and thrived off of the grand planning of it all, I mostly enjoyed the personal and working relationships that I created while putting an event together. So when I was given the opportunity years later (and different jobs and job titles later) in my own career to take a chance and start my own business, I wanted to make sure that I cultivated the same personal relationships and experiences that I had built most of my career on. Wedding Planning is super personal! Most of my relationships with my clients are about a year to a year and half long! If we don’t take the time to get to know each other, let alone trust one another, there will be no success. Read more>>

Elizabeth Munzon | Artist & Director

Back when I was working on my B.F.A. at California State University Long Beach, before Flatline became the artist-run gallery it is today, I had the idea of renting a storefront to serve as my art studio with enough space to utilize a portion of it as a gallery. I wanted to create a space for art exhibitions as a way to stay connected and evolve with the art community in Long Beach and the greater Los Angeles area. A few months after graduating, I co-founded Flatline in the summer of 2017. A passion project for myself and my co-director. For the first year in a half I curated an exhibition every other month. With each exhibition I learned and challenged myself to be a better curator while also juggling my own art practice and a job. As of January of 2019, I took on Flatline as the solo director of the gallery. Around the same time I realized I wanted Flatline to be my job, because I loved working with other artists and being able to give them the opportunity to realize their visual ideas. In order to make my passion project into my job, I worked at creating a self-sustainable space. Read more>>

Renata Meirelles | Director | Photographer | Executive Producer

My thought has always been to think about the values that we can take people when our priority is to be generous, innovative, and to understand that the value is in relationships and in the way you behave with the world. I have always tried to bring social values to my company BLACK3, and I have always treated my clients as friends, because at the end of the day, my work is part of who I am, and we need to put this into practice on a daily basis. Honestly, there are several ways to make a business a success, but I have no doubt that in all these ways, the essence and the love that you apply it, inside and outside, will always be your differential. Read more>>

Christopher Scardino | Artist & Teacher

Any of my former superiors would tell you that I am not comfortable with that relationship. I am an independent thinker and just like the process of creating art, I am better off alone to my own devices. If I succeed or fail then that is the end result. No one to blame except myself. The other aspect of starting your own business, as small as it may be at the start, is the fact that you have confidence and trust in yourself to make the right decisions or at least correct the wrong ones. Read more>>

Emily Binder | Photographer

When the pandemic hit I lost every revenue stream I had in place and needed to start fresh. My partner has his own business and was extremely supportive and encouraging in getting me started on my own entrepreneurial path. I’ve always been obsessed with photography and have been taking photos worldwide for many years. It felt so natural to turn this passion of mine into a business and I couldn’t be happier that I made that leap and began this journey. Read more>>

Tav Byerhoff | Kung Fu and Tai Chi Teacher

I had been doing kung fu for about 10 years or so when my teacher asked me if I wanted to move to LA to help him open a school. It was an opportunity to potentially get much better at something I loved to do and the idea of teaching as a living – doing what I loved to do and get paid to do it, like so many entrepreneurs, seemed like a perfect situation. Read more>>

Haley Hill | Architectural + Interior Photographer

Honestly, I never thought I would own my own business! I had been working for a company as their in-house photographer for years and wanted more flexibility in my schedule. They were unable to give me that so I went part time and started taking small shoots on the side. It really just spiraled as I started gaining more clients on the side and working less at my job. Eventually I took the leap and never looked back! The freedom of being my own boss is the absolute best and I always try to encourage anyone thinking about starting their business to just JUMP 🙂. Read more>>

Bryan Yonki | Sign Painter

My thought process came from the (maybe cliche) idea of “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life” I’ve always been drawn (no pun intended) to painting, even when my mom used to throw away my paintings and even while attending psychology school for 6 years. Ever since I discovered painting in high school through graffiti I knew I there was something there that I needed to keep pursuing. Back when I was living in Chile (where I lived all my life until 2013) I was already interested in Sign Painting, all my school years I’d admire the hand painted signs on the buses that would take me there every morning. But it was a dying art form. It wasn’t until I moved to LA and discovered that there was a tradition of painting signs by hand and the only school in the world that was still teaching the craft in a traditional manner. I never attended that school. Read more>>

Nicolle Allen | Bakery Owner/Pastry Chef

It was 2013 when I first thought about starting my business. I was 16, a junior in highschool. At the time veganisim was not very well known and most people thought that it was a trend that would pass quickly. I had decided that I would go to culinary school with the goal that I would open a vegan bakery when I graduated. In 2016 when I was getting ready to graduate college veganisim was starting to gain popularity. Back then there weren’t many options for good food and definitely weren’t any places to get a dessert other than frozen and sad items in grocery stores. The market was totally lacking! I officially started my business in May of 2016 while still in school and all of my chefs told me that it was never going to be successful or sustainable but I knew they were wrong. I had done my research, I was vegan myself. I knew that it would grow in popularity over the years. In school this is the kind of thing they were preparing us for (though many do not end up starting their own businesses) We took several classes on how to build businesses and market ourselves. Every. SIngle. Project. I EVER did throughout my time in college was based off of the concept of a vegan bakery in Long Beach. Read more>>

Ernie Watkins | Chef and Restaurant Owner

I have always dreamed of owning my own restaurant. Even before becoming a chef it was a dream of mine growing up. I would cook for family and friends but never worked in a restaurant before. After working as a sushi chef I wanted to keep getting better and worked many years and gained knowledge about business and operating a restaurant. I used my skills as a chef and started posting pictures of my food and started an Instagram food blog called Konfucious Eats. First posting about food I made as well as exploring places to try. After going to Japan I started to teach sushi classes and started to make home made ramen. Using instagram as an advertising tool I started ramen pop ups around town. Then covid hit. The week California was shut down was the same week I was doing another ramen pop up and had to cancel. So my thought process of starting my own business started right there. It was out of necessity and for survival since I only worked half the amount at the sushi restaurant. I started making ramen kits. A full bowl of ramen to enjoy made fresh in your home made by you. Read more>>

Anthony Parisi | Owner & Operator

Fitness, health, and rehabilitation have always been my passion. As a young boy I played sports, and unfortunately/fortunately sports led to injury. It was my experience at physical therapy that led me to love Fitness, Performance, and Rehabilitation. I originally went to school to become a physical therapist, but my mentors encouraged me to go in a slightly different route; athletic training. I am glad I took their advice because it led me down a path of success & feeling of purpose. My education was full of clinical hours on and off the courts and field. I was able to help athletes the same way the physical therapists helped me when I injured myself. My initial plan was to go to grad school to become a Dr in Physical Therapy; however after my undergrad, I studied and became a certified personal training (CPT) while also working at a physical therapy clinic. I fell in love with fitness and performance even more, and I found that as a personal trainer I was able to apply all of my knowledge as a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and a physical therapy aid and develop a dynamic program called Parisi Fitness and Rehabilitation. I originally started training clients one on one, but was getting so busy I started training clients at the same time. Read more>>

Libby Lavella-Perfitt | Vocal Coach, Voice Therapist (M.S.) and Singer

I have to admit, when I originally started as a vocal coach, there wasn’t a huge thought process behind it. At the time it was something I really enjoyed, and it was a flexible gig that supported me while I was pursuing a career as an artist. Ultimately, teaching singing brought out the “nerd” in me. I always wanted to know more…more about the science, how the brain worked, how language impacts production, the physiology and anything else. It led me on a quest for knowledge and now, with a BA in Linguistics and an MS in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, there is a much deeper and broader thought process behind my business! I still work with singers, but I can also work with singers who have a vocal pathology, whereas before I had to refer. Additionally, I can work with non-singing clients seeking gender affirming voice or actors seeking dialect coaching and more. My business is really a different animal now than when I started out. Read more>>

Innis Casey | Photographer, Actor, Artist, & Dad

I had been acting for a long time. I had a singing career before that. I still go out on auditions from time to time and book now then as well. I have always know it was such a blessing to be working as an actor when I did work. Bottom line, I’m a creative at heart. Being in front of the camera lens for many years, I thought many times what it might be like behind the lens. Getting into photography was a natural progression for me. Starting my own photography business allowed me to have a bit more control over my creative ideas and goals. It offered something that felt a bit more stable. It is tricky always waiting for the next audition. Being a photographer, I could make a business plan and see it grow…put it into action. I was able to find my own client base, close my own deals, make my own money and plan a bit more for the future. I was my own boss. It’s not easy though! I’m very grateful to do something I still love and make living doing it. I keep creating from my heart and trusting the universe to guide me. I just released my first book called “Quartraits: Portrait of a Community in Quarantine.” Read more>>

Chloe Mei Espinosa | Founder of Skip the Plastic Straw & Co-Founder of Sustainable Sisters YouTube Channel

I started my campaign in sixth grade as part of a Passion Project that my class participated in. Each student was asked to create something that aligned with a passion of his/hers; for example, creating a sketchbook, baking a cake or starting a pen pal. I decided to focus my Passion Project on removing single-use plastic straws as I was heartbroken after watching the video of the straw stuck in the turtle’s nose. As a certified scuba diver, I wanted to keep the ocean clean and safe for the marine animals and so I created my campaign Skip the Plastic Straw in April 2018 with my website www.skiptheplasticstraw.com and instagram @skiptheplasticstraw to educate people of the harmful effects of plastic straws. During the pandemic, my sister (Ella Lin) and I launched a Skip the Plastic Straw YouTube Channel, called Sustainable Sisters, to promote eco-friendly brands and share ways people can choose to lead a sustainable life with these brands. Read more>>

Samantha Pulsifer | Sampul Dance Academy Owner & Director

Since a young child I always knew that I was going to be a dance studio owner. As I got older It was important to me that I didn’t just run a studio but I did something that brought good and joy into this world to inspire the youth and allow a space for any dancer, of any level, with any ability, the opportunity to share the love of dance and do that at a safe and fun space. Read more>>

Meggan Kimberley | Owner and Manager of Prospector Ranch

My business had become more and more difficult because of all the mergers in the entertainment industry. It was a combination of events that lead me to start my own business. We bought the ranch in Westlake Village so my commute to Santa Monica was going to be more difficult, my company did several rounds of layoffs and I was in the second round. My husband and I had dreams of making the ranch an income generator so now seemed the time to explore those dreams. I continued to look for some kind of work consulting in my business and at the same time as I spent more time at the ranch, I realized maybe now was the time to make a business out of it. In January we decided to start Prospector Ranch and I started working to register it on sights as a location for filming, photo shoots and small events. We also planned to put up 3 luxury safari tents up in the mountain on our 10 acres. Then Covid hit but I am still pushing ahead thinking of different ways to make money. Read more>>

Graham Pechenik | Cannabis & Psychedelics Patent Attorney

I had been working close to a decade at big law firms as a patent lawyer, and although I was working on high profile cases with lots of talented and ambitious people, it felt very bureaucratic and I wasn’t finding much personal satisfaction. I knew I wanted something different, but I couldn’t really imagine what it would look like. In 2015 I went with my friend to a cannabis business conference, and although I had enjoyed cannabis since high school, gotten involved in some of the reform efforts, and grown a handful of times, I had never been to an expo like this before. I had little idea just how much entrepreneurship and innovation was going on in the space, and the amount of energy and intensity just blew me away. I spent the whole weekend talking with different people about their cannabis-related inventions, and kept hearing the same story from many, about how they struggled to find a good lawyer to help patent their invention—because law firms were hesitant to take on cannabis clients, they couldn’t afford $800 or more an hour in fees, they couldn’t find a lawyer who understood or cared about cannabis culture, or some combination of the three. Read more>>

Launa Penza | Launa Penza | Modern Creative Family and Senior Portrait Photographer

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” LOL, I’m not sure I agree with that quote completely!!! Photography is my love and passion, however owning and running your own business definitely takes a lot of work. But I can say that even when I’m burning the midnight oil I have a smile on my face and true joy in my heart. I’ve been in business for four years. Prior to photography I worked in the entertainment industry as a model and actor, I was an NFL Cheerleader for the Los Angeles Raiders, I worked as a Spokesmodel and Corporate Speaker for 25+ years, Real Estate Agent and Interior Designer. Looking back, everything I’ve done in the past has helped me do what I do now. For as long as I can remember I’ve driven my family and friends crazy, haha, with taking photos! I have photo documented our entire life. A few years ago I started hearing my friends more often than not say to me “why don’t you turn your photography into a business?” About five years ago I started thinking about it seriously and made the decision to go for it! I knew I loved capturing memories. Read more>>

Uli Nasibova | Owner and Operator at Gelateria Uli

I always admired brave people who went out on their own and started their own businesses on their own terms. I had my a-ha moment when I simultaneously discovered my love for consuming gelato and no options in my beloved neighborhood of Downtown LA. I dove headfirst into recipe formulation where I had another surprise – I was actually pretty good at it. It’s not that all of my recipes were a huge success right away – I had the patience and the food chemistry know-how to formulate the right taste and texture. Read more>>

Kathy Lawless | Life Story Curator

After 20 years in corporate leadership roles leading teams and projects, I found myself eager to accept the severance package that I had successfully dodged for several years. Not sure why I was dodging it when for the last three years my roles were centered around cost saving projects aka layoffs. While I knew it was time to leave, and was excited about new possibilities, I was also surprised by how sad I was driving away from the building that last time. Course it didn’t help that I walked out alone, pushing a cart with my 4 boxes of stuff. My boss and team were located in different cities, so no good byes, no happy hour with colleagues wishing me well. Just me and my boxes. What pushed me over the edge was Lynard Skynard’s song Free Bird playing on the radio while I was driving away, looking at the building in the rear-view mirror — “if I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” I burst into tears! 20 years is a long time man? What do I have to show for 20 years of my life? Then of course the verse shifts to…”but I’m as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot chain!” Just like that, the pity party is over! I’m excited to be moving on! At the same time, I couldn’t shake that feeling of how important (and cool!) it would be to find a way to capture and celebrate a 20-year career. Read more>>

Ryan Houston | Co-founder of RCE/ Event Director and Content Producer

To be honest I wanted to create my OWN! Make my own lane. I was so grateful to everybody that I worked for and learned from but I was done working for other people. It was time to build my own empire instead of building somebody else’s. I wanted to own my ideas and see a business grow from my dreams. I would watch people on TV like Jay Z and how powerful he was as a business man and I wanted that. The feeling of being the one that sees your vision come to life. I was inspired to make the jump from employee to boss! Of course its scary quitting your job in a secure place in the entertainment industry and becoming a full time entrepreneur, but I knew that sometimes you have to take a big risk for a big out come. I knew that my ideas for events have been proven to not only make a lot of money but make people genuinely happy, uplifted, and inspired. And if I could just put my full energy into creating that for people and I would be successful. I believed I had what it takes to make my goals and dreams happen. So I push fear aside and jumped into the deep end. Read more>>

Dalphin Tao | Photographer & Photo Booth Entrepreneur

It all started back in 2017, when Nick was asked to be the best man at his friend Jason’s wedding. Jason mentioned that he wanted to have a photo booth for his wedding. So Nick, being the resourceful person he is, built one. It didn’t take him that long to build, but doing all of the research and planning took around 1 month. Once he was done, we had our first gig at our church’s Valentine’s Day luncheon. Of course we didn’t charge them, and this being our first gig, we wanted an opportunity to go through the process of setting up, working the booth, and taking down. After that, we slowly but steadily started getting more gigs; mainly from family and friends, and then friends of friends. As resourceful as Nick was, it was Dalphin’s vision that took the company to a whole other level. You see, anyone can set up a photo booth, press a button, and hand people their pictures, but it was Dalphin’s keen artistic eye and social media savviness that differentiated us from other companies in the market. Read more>>

Ashley Reed | Founder of Body Art Noire & Certified Yoga Instructor

I simply wanted to see more people who looked like me practicing yoga and meditation. Yoga came into my life at the time when I needed it the most. The uncertainties of life had come crashing down on me and left me searching for something more. I connected with a local donations based studio in DTLA and immediately knew that I had found what I was looking for. Daily practice led to the realization that my focus on a fast-paced career had allowed me to neglect my physical, spiritual and mental health. I fell in love with how my body and soul began to flourish as a result of my practice. Body Art Noire is dedicated to making a positive impact on Inglewood and its residents by cultivating a culturally sensitive community space for healing, health and wellness through yoga and meditation. We are an inclusive yoga community that welcomes yogis from all backgrounds. We are currently offering donation based yoga classes via Zoom so that people can begin or continue to build their practices from the safety of their homes. Once it is safe enough to do so we will launch our studio location in Inglewood, CA. Read more>>

Vicente Cordero | Music Video Director & Feature Filmmaker

When I was a teenager I was introduced into the world of cinema, and it was such a moment of clarity and awakening that I knew from that point on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, it was my calling and it was a way to express myself fully and the feeling of having created a film reciprocated something internal in me that was completely worth spending the rest of my life to fill myself of this feeling. I pursued film as it was my religion, after high school – I continued making films, went to school for film – and it was clear that I needed to turn this passion into a way of also surviving off my passion, so I knew I had to turn a profit from what I love to do. It wasn’t until about 2012 that I really started my company, but once I had it and was serious about it, I could officially have a business that would allow me to keep making the films that made me feel fulfilled but also be able to make a living. That was the thought process behind starting my own business, the business came through the thought of wanting to make a living but still being able to do what I love. Read more>>

Rachel Mautner | Interior Designer

The thought process behind starting a residential inteior design studio was that I have a keen eye for design and had a passion for branding and customer service. After college I knew I wanted to be self employed and thats where the idea of of launching RMID bloomed. Read more>>

Bryan Jimenez | Brand Strategist, Creative Director & Producer

Business equals opportunity. Having stemmed from a less than privileged beginning, this meant I could potentially create my own opportunities. This realization was huge for me, it opened up my mind to possibilities I could not previously fathom. I realized that the impossible could become possible, you just need to go out and grab it. Read more>>

Can Ahtam | Professional Photographer

When I was studying to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Marketing and Management dual focuses) in Istanbul, Turkey, I wanted to understand and learn marketing from various disciplines and perspectives that fed into the concept of marketing. I took courses in psychology to understand human behavior decision making process and took courses in sociology to understand collective human thought process and behavior, and took photography as a visual communications tool. Taking photography classes was an easy decision as I was doing photography as a hobby during my day-to-day routine and travels but wanted to get a deeper understanding for a professional experience and practice. Throughout my internships, I’ve noticed that it is crucial to communicate brand briefs to photographers and videographers and felt like it would be of strategic advantage if i knew that side of the business for efficiency. Read more>>

Cara Bell-Alex | Passionate Baker, Wife & Mother

Having my own business has always been a passion of mine. Being able to work on my own and on my own terms has always peaked my interest. Not having to punch a clock at a specific time of day I have found to be very rewarding. But one of my main reasons for starting my business was to be able to spend quality time with my family. Being able to work for myself, has allowed me the opportunity to be attentive to mine and my families needs. Having my own business has given me FREEDOM. Read more>

Kendra Jordan | CEO & Educator

My business was create to assist scholars with their social-emotional learning as well as their academic progress during this pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, I was teaching a group of neurodiverse and neurotypical second graders in March of 2020. When we were forced into remote learning, my scholar diagnosed with Autism struggled the most. These scholars thrive off and require social interactions to better assist them with their progress. It was difficult to replicate the social interventions and social-emotional activities on a remote platform. We adapted our curriculum to embed these interventions to help our neuodiverse scholars succeed. My S.E.A.T. LLC was created with these scholars in mind. I strived to give my scholar the social-emotional approach to their tutoring experience. Read more>>

Yuki Tsugawa | Artist

I used to paint things for fun, so I just painted whatever I like, and didn’t care about the quality. But occasionally some people gave me money when I painted for them. Then I felt like I should improve my skills to deserve the payment. Since then, I have been studying anatomy, lighting, colors and composition. And also, I have been painting on a regular basis. After a while, I got confident in myself, then I started my own business. Read more>>