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.

Camrin Agin | Founder, Lawyer, Mom

I’d been practicing law for about 20 years, and had worked as a movie studio lawyer – at the same company – for over ten of those years. I had this urge to build something of my own, something that I felt needed to be out there, something I’m personally connected with while also being relevant to consumers. I was having issues with back and neck pain, and no doctors were able to treat it successfully, so I turned to holistic healing methods: acupuncture, reiki, meditation. Read more>>

Michael Khamo | Graphic Designer

Throughout the years, from my time studying design in school to working for the profit and non-profit world, I noticed that “church graphics” as a whole were either of poor quality due to the lack of design emphasis, non-profit marketing dynamics, etc, or just completely non-existent. And I wanted to be a part of that shift to design excellence Read more>>

Julian Espinosa | Founder @ Papi Digital

I had been working at agencies for 9 years and always felt like the businesses focused on their profits over their client’s success. I fundamentally believed we were in the business of growing our client’s businesses while the agencies believed in delivering products. When it came time to look for the next agency I was on a bike ride and realized no one is going to believe what I believe. Why waste months looking for the next company and just start one. Thus the birth of Papi Digital. Our goal is to find fast and cost-effective ways to revenue for our customers. Through the years we’ve mainly served the eCommerce space. We’ve recently decided to make the pivot into growing our customer’s podcast. We have implemented the same tactics we learned in eCommerce and now applied our growth hacking tools to podcasting. Read more>>

Alexandra Machover and Amanda Oleri | Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Dreamy Goods

Our journey toward starting our own business was way longer and more complex than what you might imagine. Upon graduating college, we both had to take full-time jobs to financially support ourselves, pay off student debt, make a life that we wanted for ourselves in NYC, etc. But throughout 10+ years of working full-time, we both knew deep down that we wanted to own our own business, build our own brand, make an impact, and have full creative control in a way that just isn’t possible at a large company. Read more>>

Latoya De’Shaun | Personal Makeup Artist to High Profile Talent/Transformational Leader & Strategist

My business was created out of the need to find stability within my career and within my life. The layers of rejection I received daily walking this earth as a Black woman took a major toll on my mental and physical health. Tired of working on the back end of my life, I decided to move “on purpose.” It started with a few decisions and one of them was seeking mentorship. My business has been on my mind since 2005 when I took my first international trip to China. The amazing thing that followed after my decision to seek mentorship was a real discovery of my identity and core values. Read more>>

Sergio Cazares | Beeswax Candle Maker

I have always been drawn to the creative side of life ever since my college days. In college, I always enjoyed 3D sculpting and classes where I was engaged hands-on in creating something. When the pandemic hit, I had a lot of free time in my hands while being stuck at home, and during that time I was able to perfect recipes for air purifying candles that were nontoxic and didn’t make my head hurt. My partner loves to burn candles but a lot of candles have chemicals in them that make my head hurt. I wanted to find a way to burning candles and enjoy them and it would be a plus if they had an added benefit. So I came up with beeswax candles which as it turns out beeswax is a natural air purifier so I was serving two purposes here. Soon I was making great smelling beeswax candles and skincare products so that’s when I decided to start my own business. Read more>>

Amber Williams, MBA | Selfcare Strategist

I started ScentsXchange four years ago after starting my first Human Resources position and realizing it wasn’t a good fit. I was enrolling in grad school, balancing being a single mom, and making next to nothing. I found myself overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. As you could probably imagine, I never made time for myself. And to be honest, I didn’t even know how to make time for myself or what self-care looked like. I just knew that I was stressed. And I was tired. It’s not until I realized that taking care of myself was the solution to my problem – and what’s crazy is that it didn’t take any extra time. Read more>>

Lavina/Lidia Crawford/Santos | Owners of Tea Time Over

I was taught by my aunt how to make my first batch of soap and from there I continued to make batches of my own, I started sharing with family and friends, started testing different batches and started selling. Eventually TTO started becoming an actual brand, it wasn’t until I met the wonderful beautiful amazing and intellectual Lidia that she cheered me on to pursue making TTO an official brand – and then it began to really flourish. Together along with support from my sister we created a social media following which grew beyond just our friends and family. TTO is on track to become a Social Brand in the US and eventually internationally. Read more>>

Joanna Todaro | Multidisciplinary Designer & Illustrator

I’ve been really fortunate to work at some incredible companies and be part of teams of great people, which has been essential to my growth as a creative. I had always felt a nagging desire, though, to see what it would be like to do things completely on my own terms – having autonomy over my projects, schedule, workload and location. I had a feeling I would enjoy the challenges and rewards of exploring that, and it has definitely been the case! I couldn’t have anticipated the ways it has pushed me personally and creatively. I’ve had to learn a lot more about time management, accounting and business planning, and I think I’ve become a stronger designer from working across industries and feeling a bit more freedom to explore mediums. Read more>>

Beck Black | Performer/Musician

In order to be a successful band, you need to have a brand. I decided to go forward with my musical business escapade and trademarked my name. Read more>>

Debbie Henderson | Designer and Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was a little bit organic. I worked in the guitar industry for 15 years and designed a symbol/logo in tribute of that industry as a tattoo for my own enjoyment. 5 years later, an old friend who was a Silversmith, saw my logo and asked me to send it to him so he can make me a gift for helping him buy a guitar. He made a sterling silver necklace out of my symbol and I wore it everyday with pride. After 101 people stopped to ask me about it, I decided there was enough interest to follow through and start my jewelry business. It was truly an unexpected surprise that my logo created a business! Read more>>

Sean Farkas | Founder, Chief Marketing Officer

When I went into college as a freshman, I anticipated wanting to continue the advertising work I had involved myself in during the years prior. While in high school, I had an internship at an advertising agency, and that’s what led me to pursue a media/communications based major. But by the time I made it through my sophomore year at UC Berkeley, I had opportunities to work as an independent contractor with a variety of small start-ups doing various digital marketing and branding projects. Through that case-by-case involvement, I was able to see the potential of how easily theses processes could be completed from just my just my laptop. At the time of this epiphany I had three clients, and at first it was the appeal of tax benefits that led me to establish an LLC, but that moment almost 4 years ago marked the day I unintentionally began my own boutique agency. Read more>>

Courtney Gerhardt | Event Manager turned Business Owner of Loungewear & Event Decor Boutique

Making Monarchs out of Caterpillars Oh 2020, the year that kept on giving! My name is Courtney Gerhardt, owner of Monarch Creatives. I specialize in Tie-Dye, Bleach Dye, Apparel, Tumblers, Event Decor and so much more! Monarch Creatives, is in honor of my mom who passed away in 2010. We like to think of her as a Monarch Butterfly which was how I came up with my business name. Over the past 10 years, I have done everything in my power to make her proud of me. Read more>>

Hannah Alys-Marie Guzman | Owner of socutejewls

Although socute did not start until 2020 the research and development process began in 2018. In summer of 2018 I downloaded TikTok and at the time it was in the early stages of what we know TikTok to be today and there were not that many users on the app but it was a key element in the development of socute. The app was a looking glass into people’s lives from all different walks of life and I fell deeply in love with the fashion side of the app because it broke so many boundaries and had such a powerful influence. I was so in love with seeing all these real people just living their life; it was so different and refreshing at the time and all these people making content were my inspiration at the time. Read more>>

Shariece Paschal | Blogger & Accountant

I realized there was a need for an open discussion regarding mental health specifically in motherhood. I became a first time mom back in September 2020 and I had no idea how much my mental health took a toll. Which forced me to create a lane and community where I talk about the struggles with mental health in my motherhood journey. Read more>>

Paula (Miz Korona) Smiley | Hip Hop artist, photographer and clothing line owner.

Well When it came to the brand the thought process was for us to create a family owned fashion line that’s affordable yet very upscale. My partners and I knew it would take lots of time, research and patience to get it off of the ground so we made sure we were all up for the challenge before releasing it. Read more>>

Sahir Hanif | Founder & CEO of Ghost Tech

I had started my brand of drums [Masters of Maple when I was 14 so I think I was a bit of an entrepreneur from the start, and Ghost Tech really started out of necessity. I was touring with bands as a drum tech, and then just started taking the reins when i saw the need to start applying my skills to the other aspects of touring. I took the opportunity and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

DJ Exeqtive | Deejay, Radio Personality & owner of Exeqtive Entertainment LLC

The thought process behind starting my own business wasn’t a easy one, because if my business fails it doesn’t only effect me, it effects my family. What made me decide it was time was while at my 9-5 I noticed I was on my phone handling dj bookings/events daily instead of paying attention to my day job. Read more>>

Vihanga Sontam, Miles Jackson | Fashion Designers

We launched the brand Vihanga as a way to combine our two different perspectives and cultural backgrounds. Both Miles and I (Vihanga) have loved clothes and paid attention to style in our own lives for a long time. I Have dreamt of starting my own label since working in fashion industry in Mumbai. In contrast Miles’ sense of style comes from his American upbringing as a Breakdancer. It wasn’t until we started seeing each-other that the idea of working for ourselves became demystified and starting a label became a real possibility. We use the brand to focus on bringing my South Indian representation to the world of designer clothing. Read more>>

Caeresa Richardson | Founder & CEO of Ecodessa

During my corporate engineering career in I learned skills that continue to be helpful to me as an entrepreneur. I wanted to start my own business because I wanted to contribute to our communities in an impactful way. I personally wanted to figure out how to align my consumer habits with my values. As I became a more conscious consumer I realized that there were other women like me. I created Ecodessa to empower and encourage other women to support brands that align with their values. Read more>>

Vincent Cilento | Owner of Mantra Medallions and Low Oxalate Kitchen

Ever since my first summer of work stocking shelves at Target, I knew I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job. I remember being 16, sitting in the breakroom eating lunch in the middle of another obnoxiously boring day, turning to a coworker and saying “I’m not sure if I can do this whole 8 hour shift thing.” Everyone looked at me like I was nuts, and even though I didn’t know what I would be doing in the future, I had a pretty good idea that it wasn’t going to be working for someone else. Read more>>

Breyana Meeks | Realtor & Author

When I graduated college, I moved home and after having almost four years of freedom, moving home was a big challenge. At that time it was a few years after the housing market crash and my mom, an underwriter for over 25 years, suggested I look into purchasing a home, instead of simply moving out and getting an apartment. So after six months of saving one entire paycheck and combining it with my previous savings, I had just enough savings to purchase a home. Read more>>

Lee Nicholas | Apparel Designer

I always knew that I wanted to work for myself for creative reasons but Nicholas for The People gave me a voice that I felt I hadn’t had before. I started a business that was rooted in equality, sustainability, community and environmental justice so that I could advocate for the things I believe in. NFTP gives me a platform to talk about things I think matter, a reason to get involved, a sense of freedom and a source of income to give back to organizations that are doing the work I am aligned with. I didn’t start this business for myself, I started it for the people. Read more>>

Michelle Tu | Event Planner and Designer

At Somni Events, we believe that planning a wedding doesn’t need to be overwhelming, and the planning process is just as important as the event execution. Somni Events is passionate in providing a unique and customized client experience that goes beyond just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. We have created a workflow streamlined for our modern-day couple that can be easily accessed through our online client portal. Clients can view their planning dashboard and make edits on their checklist, timeline, budget, design boards, and diagrams anywhere on the go. Read more>>

Dirk and Michelle Uys | Owners of Temecula Wine Country E-Bikes and Uys Wines

We live in the center of Temecula Wine Country and wished to share our experience of this beautiful unknown gem of SoCal with others. We started offering a Vineyard and Winery Experience through AirBnB called Discover off the beaten Track Winery, providing guests with an opportunity to tour our boutique vineyard and experience the workings of a small winery. We recently became a bonded winery and now offer tastings by appointment and started the Uys Winery Wine Club. Read more>>

Jeff Allen | Founder + CEO

When I formed my first company (Chromatic Content) in 2016, I did so because I saw a need in the marketplace and believed that this need for custom online course development would only grow larger over time. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, growth in the eLearning market was on the rise, and now that many companies are implementing permanent work from home and hybrid workplace strategies, that demand is increasing even more. Read more>>

Crystal Romo | Makeup Artist & Flight Attendant

Covid impacted us all in so many different ways and when I had to leave my career as a newly fledged flight attendant (because of furlough)- I was forced to pivot. I had recently found a career I loved with all of my soul and thought to myself, well what now? Well, I’ve always had a creative side to me that I could never turn off. Those creative skills translated into makeup artistry when I turned 18. I came from a long history of beauty and fashion retail which I’ve always loved and felt so inspired being around. Read more>>

Linnea Hodson | Professional Dancer | Makeup Artist | Designer

When I decided to take the plunge and become a freelance artist, the main thought process was about what I could NOT do. I couldn’t handle working in a 9-5 office environment. I couldn’t spend my whole life waiting tables. If I wasn’t passionate about it, I simply couldn’t do it. As I embarked out on my own, moving across the country to chase my dreams, I boiled down my thought process to one thing: “Does this make me happy?”. Read more>>

Anne Delorier | Owner of ELEVEN11 Accessories

I have always been into fashion. As a kid playing dress up, studying fashion in college, working in the Fashion Industry post-college… 13 years ago, I took a break from working to raise my kids… Recently, I started feeling the need to get back in! I thought the subscription box model was a perfect way to start because I set up ELEVEN11 to be a quarterly (or seasonal) fashion accessories box so I could have cycles or “bursts” of work…. making the transition to work/ family life a little more gradual. Read more>>

Jennifer Johnson | Founder & Owner of SóL Visors UV Protection

When I started SóL Visors I felt that I had no choice. I knew there was a problem and there wasn’t a solution out there. Knowing that I wasn’t alone I felt obligated and excited to create a premium, comfortable, fashionable, and most importantly efficacious sun visor. If you go back 8 years prior to the conception of SóL Visors, there I was with dark spots on my face. I had been talked into doing a laser treatment only to become extremely sensitive to the sun. Being a California beach girl, there was no keeping me out of the sun and my face repeatedly had pigmentation issues no matter what I did. Read more>>

Clifford Hayes Jr | Entrepreneur

At the time of starting the buisness I was working for various industrial construction companies who would require you to travel A’lot throughout the U.S. The money was good but their was A’lot of down time in-between Jobs like 2-3Months before next gig. I wanted to start having more productive time in between gigs. Read more>>

Cara Franke | Art Educator, Business Owner, Connector of Dots

I opened the studio when my son was six months old. I wanted a more flexible schedule to be home with him while also doing something I love. I guess you could say I grew two babies. Read more>>

savannah landeros | Business Owner & Entrepreneur

I started my business out of SURVIVAL! The pandemic caused me to level up As an Up and Coming Model & Actress I was distraught that my first tour was on pause and every single entertainment outlet was shut down, literally overnight. I went from walking on red carpets, booking photoshoots, appearing on radio and Television interviews, having more than enough funds to pay my bills while living the glamorous life, to working as a security guard at a major hospital in Sin City. The day the news came that Vegas was officially on lockdown was the day I crashed and burned. Read more>>