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.

Morgan Greene | Chronic Illness Advocate, Content Creator + Self Love Coach

When I first started out, it was out of necessity for self-perseverance. I had been diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a rare chronic illness, the year before and I was having a really difficult time coping. I was in my 20s faced with an illness that could rip my life apart before it even got started. When I googled, I found a few blogs and accounts that talked about some of the more major illnesses but none that talked about mine. I felt so incredibly alone and hopeless. Writing has always been my most comfortable form of expression so I went back to my basics. I used my writing to vent about my new reality. Artists tend to be very sensitive and protective about our work but for some reason, I felt compelled to share what I had written. I wasn’t looking for validation or pity. I did it for self mostly – self-empowerment and self-realization. I was looking for an understanding of myself and my situation – to make sense of what was happening to me. I was looking for my voice. Read more>>

Alexandra Bender | I am a Dancer, Teacher, Choreographer, and Stylist.

When California went on Lockdown due to COVID and the studio I was working at went virtual I created a routine of daily exercises and stretches that always had the ability to put me in a better mood and make my body feel so much better. These exercises consisted of those I learned in dance classes over the years or was given by Physical Therapists based on previous injuries I had been seen for. As a dancer, teacher, and choreographer my body is always sore or in some sort of pain so to find that in lockdown I was in the best shape I had been in since High School and feeling better than ever people were asking what I was doing. After my last community class I taught for the studio I was working at some of my regulars asked if I would be open to teaching a beginner level class that would keep them active and increase their flexibility. To hear these people all over the world were craving a class they could take in the comfort of their homes without needing any equipment or much space sounded exactly like the routine I was already doing on my own each day. Read more>>

David Parra | Mixed Media Artist, Photographer and CBD Creator/Retailer

There really wasn’t that much of a thought process that went behind starting my business. It started off as a hobby that grew into something more for me. I never really thought what I do could have been a business. It was always like, “who wants to buy something off me?” I think the more I sold and compliments received was when I fully thought that I actually had a business. Once I reached that point, I started to research on what I needed to do in order to become a legit business, what I needed to do marketing wise, social media accounts, and the list goes on and on. Thinking back on everything now, I feel a bit naive when I first started. But if I had the opportunity to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing. Read more>>

Channing Smithson | Host to Vessel | Art as a Doorway Podcast

My wife and I are both ceramist. She’s more of a sculptor and I prefer to wheel-throw and hand build ceramics. As a medical professional I’ve always tried to have a bedside manner with my patients. As I’ve assisted doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to care for others, I’ve always had a fascination with the way that art and the environment would have on my patients. We wanted to create a podcast that specifically addressed this issue. Most art podcasts focus in on how artists have developed their craft. However, Vessel: Art as a Doorway Podcast hones in on how art affects us emotionally and psychologically. We interview TED speakers, scientists, musicians and art collectors to discuss the impact art has had on them and the environment we live in. Read more>>

Jorge Maldonado | Pianist, Composer & Music Educator

When the pandemic began and forced us to stay indoors, I saw a significant need for a network(platform?) to allow people to receive the best possible music education remotely. The need inspired me; I created JamArts Online Music Learning, a program that provides an opportunity to expand your music skills from home by following a structured methodology that helps musicians at any skill level to be their best creative self. This program is constantly evolving. I’ve devoted my time and my heart to make it accessible to anyone and for them to reach their goals. Prior to the pandemic, I taught students in person and in March 2020 we quickly shifted everything online. It was a challenge to adapt to remote teaching and I had doubts that remote music lessons could be as impactful… but it was great! My students were able to adjust and thrive. So it started with private sessions and has already opened to small groups. We will have more than 2,000 people this year from various countries around the world. Read more>>

Eyeamki | The Internet’s Popstar

as an artist that has to market everything she does, it was almost instant. A must. Musicians, people dominating the social space. They have to monetize everything they do. So it was like a rush for me and it only gets grander. Read more>>

Danielle Beckmann Timothy Reese | Actor, Producer – Brooklyn Quarter

The thought process was, “This is going to be hard, but we’re going to do it anyway.” We both have always dreamed of being entrepreneurs and owning our own businesses. When it comes to production, if you’re not doing it yourself, you run into a lot of gate-keepers. Now we can execute on an idea without asking anyone for permission. If we dream it up, we can create goals to make it happen. Read more>>

In My Black Opinion | Bryant Tyson, Chavaya Newton

We actually stumbled on the idea when talking one day and both shared that we had an interest in doing a podcast. So, we sat down and talked about what we felt we could bring to the podcasting world and what was important to us. We knew we wanted it to be very Black, very informative, but also very entertaining. During the brainstorming stage, we talked about our experiences as Black men and thought it would be interesting to share our perspectives on various topics because, although they are similar to the experiences of others, they are also unique and the way we present them is unique. We understand the importance of representation and inclusivity and feel it important that Black stories come from Black voices. We wanted to highlight things we find interesting in pop culture, shed some light on various areas of Black excellence, talk about mental health in our community, and just bring laughter and light to this world. Read more>>

Lani Gahiji | Healer & Spiritual Coach

My thought process behind starting my own business was my strong desire for freedom. I had just finished getting a Master’s and working in an extremely toxic work environment where I was restricted in every way. My Blackness, womxn-ness, and my overall presence was minimized and I knew that no matter where I went I wouldn’t be as free as if I would work for myself. I also knew it was time to take the leap because I always knew I’d be a CEO, I just thought it would be a little later in life when I had more “ducks in a row.” Read more>

Sacha Granger | Owner

Cheesecake de Granger was created through a simple challenge over 10 years ago. Initially, we were receiving requests from friends and family members to bake whole cheesecakes, but then my partner at that time suggested that we create a smaller alternative to the whole cheesecake. Most people in California are very health conscious, so it seemed like a great idea for portion control with such a decadent dessert. We worked tirelessly with various oven temperatures, baking times, and endless recipes changes until we perfected our cheesecake cupcakes. Read more>>

Erica Abell | Head Chef & Owner

The thought process behind opening up our own business, The Burbank Pub, was to own/work at a restaurant that is part of the community. I’ve spent over a decade building a family from the staff I work with as well as our guests. Read more>>

Victoria Kimani | Recording Artist & Songwriter

My process was based on survival and longing to use what I’m Good at to make money. Read more>>

James Knox | Philanthropist & CEO

First and foremost thanks for taking the time to giving me and other creatives this platform, but the answer honestly is pretty simple. The thougåht process was mainly to create more opportunities to other young creatives out there, you know many times jobs have these crazy qualifications for young people and I wanted to set the tone and be the change. You shouldn’t have to have a Bachelors degree in any specific field IF you have the experience, sometimes you can have that degree and no experience which lands up being more of a hassle. So my initial thought was let me create and build something where I can give you creatives like myself a platform and outlet to showcase their work and introduce them to my network of colleagues. Read more>>

Lucy Liu | Business & Life Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host The Lucy Liu Show

I’ve had several businesses in my life and we’re here today to talk about my coaching business. It’s funny how before I started formally coaching, I didn’t even know about life coaching as a career. I was always asked by others how I am so positive, how I stay motivated or why I don’t need support etc. I originally started a personal development blog and turned it into a coaching business after I realized that I have the natural superpower to turn any negative into positives. Read more>>

Sydney Valiente | Multidisciplinary Artist

I’ve always known I couldn’t work for anybody but myself. When I was 16 and realized I could make money with photography, I never looked back. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. The business part was just a natural progression from that initial realization. Read more>>

Carys Garvey | Sustainability Ambassador

I’ve started two companies in the past year as a high school senior to address critical environmental issues — I developed a sustainable clothing company (www.alamode-usa.com) and established a non-profit environmental education organization (www.4ourplanet-usa.org). Many of my teenage peers constantly strive to be “on trend” when it comes to their clothing choices. People think teens are unaware of the negative environmental effects of their purchases of cheaply made, unsustainable clothing from fast fashion companies, but in recent years, I’ve observed that this is not always the case. Many teens do understand the benefits of environmentally friendly apparel and want to purchase it, but they don’t have anywhere to spend their money! Although there are sustainable clothing companies, there aren’t many that are specifically geared towards teens. I created À La Mode (https://www.alamode-usa.com) to fill that niche. Read more>>

Petra Northmore | Artist, Creator and Mother

My thought process was … How can I show my children how to adapt to difficult situations, for instance Lock Down 1 in the UK. First of all my son wanted to make thank you presents for his teachers, as he was leaving Primary School to go on to Secondary School. And it was my daughter who said….Signs. And my ever resourceful husband said lets see if we can recycle some wood. It was really about how can we survive and make us happy. And we Like colour! And in LD1 we made signs for teachers, friends and family as so many were and still are struggling. And then people started offering to pay for commissions and it slowly begun. And to be honest it is slow, but I knew it would be. Read more>>

Ishmael Pruitt | Speaker & Co Founder of Project Optimism, Inc.

When I first decided that I wanted to establish a business I was extremely motivated with an overwhelming feeling of nervousness. I had not create something from scratch that I would stand on its own. I lacked the foundational knowledge of business which included marketing, finance, organizational structure. Without these elements, I wasn’t certain that the organization would thrive. However, my time as a student leader at Sacramento State, provided me the confidence in leading people toward my vision. I knew that the community needed my skills and expertise, and to not take a chance would be selfish. I knew that the success of the organization would create new opportunities of advancement for historically underserved communities. The resolution of my internal conflict came through the relationship that was established with the Co-founder, Armoni Easley. His passion for the work and resiliency was enough to give us the boost we needed to get momentum. From this we were able to us the organization as an art form to create new ways to serve our community. Read more>>

Mariah Romero | Small Business Owner & MSW

In full transparency, a stage of depression guided me to open my own business. I have been working since the age of fifteen and when I started my MSW program I had to commit full time to school and stop working. During my schooling, I began to learn the importance of therapy, self-care, mental health, and overall well being. My field stressed the importance of mental health and self care which I see laid the foundation for my store. After graduating from my master’s program, I decided to take a break and focus on my own self-care. I did a lot of self-reflection and I had this reoccurring thought that I wanted to own and create something but I was not sure as to what exactly. During my post-grad path I went a year looking for jobs and was constantly being told no or not getting a change to interview, which greatly impacted my own mental health. I can say I went through a depressive state due to all the rejection and negative self talk that comes with that. Read more>>

Cristina Zapata | Chef/Baker

It just felt like the appropriate move. I have been working for other’s for so long, and I have learned so much along the way. I felt prepared to take all those skills, and bring all that energy to my own business. Read more>>

Eliran Nargassi | Fashion Designer

To be honest, It was completely random. I graduated from Fashion school and started working at a local commercial fashion house, one day I was approached by an artist who tried to set up an exhibition and wanted me to take part in it, I agreed and started working on some pieces. Eventually the exhibition was cancelled, but I was so blown away by the ideas I had and I couldn’t stop developing them into garments and prints. I decided to quit the job at the commercial company and develop the collection, once the first collection was out I received a lot of positive feedback both locally and internationally. Read more>>

Ross Lower | Co owner of Miffies Coffee

Didi and I fell in love with California in 2019 when we did a tour from San Diego up to San Francisco. Living by the water was an absolute must as we are from Brighton in the U.K. and are water babies at heart. We both love coffee and the culture that goes with it. From sitting in a coffee shop reading a book to socializing with your friends as if you were in a bar. We wanted to create a business and space that lived and breathed the coffee and travel culture. So the thought of opening a plant-based roaming coffee truck in a completely different country seemed an amazing adventure that was too good not to pursue. We would have forever regretted it otherwise. So here we are 3 months into having our business running and whilst it’s hard work and tough at times the adventure and opportunities are beyond exciting. Read more>>

Neil Angevine | Owner of Hollywood Aesthetics

After going through internships throughout college & working for other companies outside of my acting career, I started to realize that if I’m going to be putting in the amount of hours for a paycheck or for something I do or don’t care about, I might as well create my own business where I have complete control over my schedule & what I do to make an impact. It’s by no means easy or enjoyable at times & it definitely has its ups & downs. You might even find yourself working way more hours for far less money than when you were working for other companies! But the why behind creating your own company & the roadblocks, successes, trial & errors, are all worth it & force me to grow into a better person & business owner. Being an actor as well, I’m an owner of my craft & how I’m pitched for roles or seen to book the job. In a sense I’m not only a CEO of my fitness company but of my acting career as well. Read more>>

Broken Slate Productions | Creative Collaborative

Broken Slate is a creative collaborative made up of five young creatives in film and theatre (Lucy Houlihan, Robert Mahaffie, Corrina Leatherwood, Anika Kan Grevstad & Sasha Faust). Our goal is to support and empower each other in the creation of film, theater and other media, through collaboration and creative problem-solving. As young creatives starting our careers in the film and theatre industries, we wanted to create a space for ourselves to make projects we were passionate about with collaborators we cared about, instead of waiting around for other people to give us permission. We all moved to Los Angeles with big career dreams and were told over and over again that we just had to make projects in order to be noticed, so that’s what we did. We built a platform for ourselves and our peers to make art with eachother’s support. Read more>>

Samuel Isaiah Hunter | Creator

Some of my main goals have always been to uplift people, inspire them through testimonies, bring people together and show them they aren’t alone, and spark hope in those who may need it. I believe long term the seeds I’m planting with this business will be able to do just that and more on a worldwide scale and last for generations to come. Read more>>

Delo Brown | Actress, Comedienne, Host, Producer, Model & Writer

My thought process behind starting my own business started from me working for other people and simply not being happy with my day to day life. I knew I had to make a change and I knew it started with my environment, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Read more>>

Ashley Guinn | Holistic Health + Wellness Coach & Founder of Natural Nana

In 2016, after about four years of working with LA County, I started to realize I had to prioritize my own growth and development, rather than that of the company. I didn’t see myself working a mundane office job for the rest of my life, so I quit to pursue my undergraduate degree at UCLA. I knew I had to figure something out, but at that time I didn’t know exactly what that would be. The answer came to me two years later during a trip to Ghana. My introduction to natural health and beauty began as I journeyed to heal myself naturally, from the inside out. Herbs were my saving grace for internal wellness. For my skin, when I started looking for chemical-free alternatives, I was led to the holy grail for naturalistas: black soap and shea butter. They actually worked wonders on my skin and I haven’t been without them since. Read more>>

Brittany Tran | Brand Strategist

Good Hause began with a dream to uplift and innovate through human connection. We all thrive when we rise together. I wanted to build an agency focused on creating meaningful experiences for brands to take flight. Our agency offers branding and design as well as digital marketing services like paid ads and social media management. We provide our clients with consulting, campaign planning, content creation, and strategy to launch and scale their creative processes. My biggest achievement has been turning Good Hause from a dream into a reality. It has been a wild ride, so wild that sometimes I forget I am pursuing my passion. Starting this agency has helped me become more empowered — and with that, I empower others. It has been so uplifting to receive feedback from our clients, helping them foster important conversations with followers and even with each other. I am so lucky to represent Good Hause in various spaces and among leaders from across the globe. Read more>>

Steve Tiseo | Creative Director & Experience Maker

I’ve always wanted to start some form of business that I could say is mine, to some degree. I just didn’t know what that business would be. When I was new to Los Angeles, I was working in VFX and the thought of starting a boutique ad agency interested me. There was not much urgency and it sort of went by the wayside until a few years later while I was working in experiential marketing and, while loving the type of work it entailed, something wasn’t sitting well with the types of clients I was dealing with. Most of these were in direct conflict with some of my personal values. Also, at this same time, I had coworkers who were feeling the same. Read more>>

Raven Paris | Multi Media Strategist & Consultant

I’ve always been passionate about using my voice to empower and motivate creatives and entrepreneurs that reminded me of myself. No one taught me how to break into the industry nor how to start and sustain entrepreneurship. I wanted to become an example for others by giving back and supplying them with resources to help grow and perfect their businesses. Many people want to build successful companies but have no idea where to start because society does not teach us the basic skills to thrive as an entrepreneur. My business challenges societal norms because I do not hold back information. I never went to school for marketing, communications, nor journalism. The minimum amount of success that I have been able to achieve thus far have all been self taught through personal experience of trial and error. Read more>>

Ani Harutyunyan | Entrepreneur & Baker

I have started my first business at the age of 21. The idea of working for big corporations was very foreign for me and I wanted to do something that would be creative and inspiring. My connection to food has been shaped from a very young age and since I loved cooking and baking, I decided to pursue my career in the baking industry. After my move to Los Angeles from Armenia, I had spent a lot of time researching other areas for inspiration but once again I proved myself that food plays a very important role in my life and want to continue my journey in that direction but in a new market. Read more>>

Andre Kealii | Creative Director & Filmmaker

My thought process behind starting my business was to use my talents as a creative to help black business owners promote their products and services using video strategies. I noticed a discrepancy in quality video marketing resources available within our community and decided to do something about it using my own resources. Since going full time in the biz in 2020, we’ve been fortunate to services over 30+ businesses and online brands. Read more>>

Monique Jackson | Esthetician (Skin Care Specialist) & Makeup Artist

During my employment as a makeup artist with company’s like Sephora and MAC, I was able to meet and connect with women of all different shades, cultures, and backgrounds. Along the journey, these women expressed the positive impact I had on them while doing their makeup. I was able to connect with women in a way that was more than just outer beauty but was able to know more about them as a person. My clients would vent and share their lives freely. This included life experiences and insecurities. I began to realize the effects that beauty practices had on women and their self esteem. I have been fortunate enough to help them feel beautiful even in times when they may not have felt so. After realizing this, I decide to expand my business in a way that would be more than just makeup and outer beauty. But it would be more about empowering woman to embrace and love their natural beauty. Read more>> 

Juan Paredes Jr | Entreprenuer

When I first started EverydaySuede I truly just wanted a pair of shoes that would stand out, be colorful etc, for myself. That started my search for a yellow suede shoe and I could barely find them, so than I created the Bumblebee Oxford. After that it led me down a journey to were I am now. I had to create different colors etc. and next thing I knew I had a whole shoe line, different styles, colors, everything. Whatever you want to do just make sure its something you truly do like or care about. Read more>>

Danielle Swanson | Actor, Writer, Director & Producer

When my co-producers (Anne Arreguin, Walter Kartman and Brian Larios) and I first formed our production company, 3D1S Productions, our original intent was simply to make more content for ourselves as actors. We came up with some goals and an overall vision of what we wanted to accomplish, and then within the first year, things completely took off – people kept approaching us to work on so many different types of projects that our vision transformed into something beyond what we even originally intended. So while we first started off as actors wanting to make content for reels, we’ve grown and transformed into producers, filmmakers and storytellers. Read more>>

Dooney West | Musician

I’ve always been a very abstract thinker and individual. Starting a brand was something I wanted to do since high school, because I felt like there wasn’t anything out there that fully represented me and how I feel. Since I started making music in my teens, that was naturally the first thing that I wanted to go off, but as I’ve gotten older, so many of my other interests have started to fall in line with that music brand. I recently built out a website (dooneywest.com) and have started planning how to branch out and reach audiences that have similar interests to mine. It’s such a big task, so I just take it step by step and make sure that I’m not rushing anything. It’s such a beautiful thing when you’re able to do something naturally instead of trying to force it. Read more>>

Clarrissa Ross | Boutique Owner & IT Consultant

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I definitely thank my Mom for being a visionary—she’s a seamstress, designer, and interior decorator. The earliest innovative memory I have is creating and selling these bags to store our track shoes so they would not only be easy to carry around when needed but so we wouldn’t scratch our hands against the spikes as we rummaged through our track bags for other things. Fast forward to my 30s where I begin to feel uncomfortable in my body due to my weight. I feel like every woman relates to a time in their life where their confidence dissipated due to being unhappy with their physical appearance. I really enjoyed fashion my entire life – even working in retail in my 20s –but it was beginning to feel like a chore because who wants to spend hours trying on things in the fitting room only to walk out with a couple of things that they really loved. I felt like there had to be a better way. That’s when a friend introduced me to an MLM clothing line. Everything just fit and I began to fall in love with clothes again. Read more>>

Honeybee Henderson | Spiritual Guide, Soul Diving Sessions, Women’s Wisdom

Life has a way of gifting us opportunities to have our greatest desires met. My greatest desire has always been to help people fall in love with who they are, in service to a world that swirls in LOVING presence…yes, my desire and my dream and my mission! While I can’t say there was much “thought” about starting my own business, I can say that the Universe prompted me to get off my ass, and do something about it. It was 2009, I was fired. I was never really cut out for selling people things, or working for anyone else, but I didn’t know what to do. So I turned within, and tuned in to my Soul’s Master Plan, and I got a glimpse of my work in the world. And that day I was fired, I made the decision, kind of pact with the Universe, that if I took this step in helping people, I asked to be supported, held and guided each step of the way. Read more>>

Alvinya Key | Writer/Published Author, Entrepreneur, and Documentary Filmmaker

I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I want to leave my children a legacy to take over and pass down to their children. I have had several different jobs, but I would love the job initially, and after a year, I was ready to leave. I have children, so I could not quit and pursue my dreams if I were not financially stable. I have an MBA and even tried to work in my field, but I just was not happy with that. I thank God for my partner Frank because he has allowed me to work full time on my business. Business is empowering and inspiring other women, especially moms, by publishing books and producing documentaries geared to them. I’m part owner of a coffee company called Hustler’s Cup, with an amazing coffee aficionado, LaNisa Williams. We both have a love for coffee and wanted to bring the true coffee experience to our community. Read more>>

Helena Kaylin | Founder, MINDD Bra Company

I have worked in the intimate and active apparel industry for the past two decades. As a former executive at Victoria’s Secret, I led innovation and product development for many years, specifically with the goal of defining the future of bras, which had a profound impact on my career. Yet ironically, I found that even Victoria’s Secret wasn’t creating bras that were true to my size and addressed my needs. As a 34DD, there were incredibly limited options available for me, and unfortunately, I ended up seeing this trend pretty consistently across all intimate and apparel companies I worked for throughout my career. I’ve found that the innovation teams within these bigger companies always seemed to focus on creating the “ultimate high-impact sports bra” or the “ultimate running bra”. I started speaking with an increasing amount of D+ women every day, and I learned that while they care about a great sports bra, they are desperate to find a comfortable. Read more>>

Robyn Carter | Chef

My passion is cooking! I absolutely love every part of it…….from prep to clean up! I love watching people eat the food I prepare and enjoy it. I have been a professional chef, in the game for over 20 years now. For so long, I always worked so hard for someone else’s business. If I can make their businesses succeed, surely I can start and make my own business succeed. I was afraid of failing for a very long time. Then I realized (real eyes) not starting my own business would be the real failure. I am great at what I do and a damn good professional! Thats not conceit, its confidence. I have paid my dues, and continue to. Learning is a continual process, never stops. Once I accepted that, failing doesn’t even really exist anymore. Each situation is a new opportunity to do it even better!. Read more>>