Deciding to work for yourself is often cited as the best decision folks in our community have made. Hearing the same response over and over led us to ask them about the next best decision folks have made and we’ve shared their responses with you below

Portia James | Board Certified Behavior Analyst & CEO

The single most important decision that I have made thus far is trusting the process and trusting myself to carry out that process. Being in business requires me to make what feels like a series of never-ending, incredibly important decisions, so it’s difficult to single out just one. But I am faced with the courageous, and insanely scary, decision every single day to trust my knowledge, my experience, and my intuition and to bet on myself. Even when things are going well, entrepreneurship can be so intimidating! It can be a field of uncertainty and unknowns. But I remind myself that as long as I am walking in my purpose, staying authentic, and doing right by the people that are on this journey with me, I can’t mess it up. Read more>>

Beth Waldman | Visual Artist & Arts Educator

I have been a self declared artist since the age of 15. I double majored in studio art and art history in my undergraduate studies at Wellesley College knowing all along I wanted to pursue the path of being an artist, but the art history major was out of love and for job safety as much as one could call it that. I landed my first job as an art consultant at the age of 23 in San Francisco. It did not take long to sell my first Rembrandt, my first Picasso, my first M.C. Escher lithograph to eager new collectors from the tech industry. My job was to read catalogs about art all day to then share my passion and knowledge with gallery visitors with the aim to sell works from $5000 to $110,000. I continued this path for a few more years while keeping a lost wax sculpture studio set up in the second bedroom of my Victorian apartment in Lower Haight as I was immersed in the bronze casting process with my practice as a sculptor. Read more>>

Jessica Cruz | CEO & Founder of Vegan Street Fair, VSF Nights, & Vegan Exchange

I made a conscious decision to stand out from my peers and do everything opposite of what they were doing in the event industry. I did this purposefully as a way to make sure I was staying true to myself but also to pay respect to the pioneers who came before me. I started my own systems of accessing food lines faster, I created the very first free entry large scale vegan event in Los Angeles at the time, and I made sure it was as accessible as possible. I believe wholeheartedly that carving my own path and staying in that lane has contributed to the success of Vegan Street Fair and Vegan Exchange. Read more>>

Rachel Dolan | Choreographer, Director, Educator, and Founder of Best8

Other than working for myself, the most important decision I’ve made is to say “no” to projects that don’t align with my mission. I’ve decided to turn down jobs over the years for many reasons, but mostly importantly, I am committed to not accepting free gigs. On the flip side of that, as the founder of an artist project and organization, I am also committed to offering a wage to every artist with whom I work. As creatives, we have to know our worth. We are worth more than a free gig. If you want me to lend my expertise, then I deserve to be paid a fair wage. Read more>>

Brian “Free” Mills |Artist/Creator of Yahmeans and Financial Advisor

I think the single most important decision I’ve made (and candidly struggled with at times) is continuing to stay true to myself, and authentic in my work. I believe this applies to a lot of the moving parts at play in being an artist/creative, and running your own “shop”. From the actual art (or content) you create, how you choose to or not to represent and market yourself, your interactions and conversations with clients, the list goes on. It’s a space where there’s a lot of external influence, some of it welcomed and some of it not. Personally, staying grounded in the things that moved me to dive into art in the first place, forces all external noise to move accordingly. My work feels, looks, and sounds like me, and I believe it’s made a world of a difference in how it’s received, and how much more enjoyable it is to create. Read more>>

Ashkaan Hassan, Esq | Attorney & Tech Guru

Going to law school. That was the best business decision that I’ve ever made. Read more>>

Thee Hermanas | Performers/Choreographers

Besides starting up a business with many competitors the single most important decision we made that contributed to our success was expanding our services through social media. Expanding (as all small business owners might know) can be exciting but scary as well; especially through social media because 1. we all know it’s not always a judgement free place and 2. often times it’s a hit or miss depending on what consumers/followers are looking for. As sisters interested in the same artistry it was a sort of instinct for us to realize that we would love to teach others what we know which is how we came up with the idea of choreographing quinceaneras. Expanding on social media has definitely brought us more opportunities, clients, and collaborations. We are constantly aiming to expand and improve our service/skills but with that comes eliminating doubt and fears by just going for it because, “Either it will work out, or it wont. That’s life” (@theloveinspired). Read more>>

Ted Alevizos | E-Commerce Specialist & Off-Road Adventurer

Before I started to become more of a freelancer I felt like all my time was owned by my employers, and this affected my life tremendously. Then one day I decided that I needed to start living my life on my own terms, and I think that benefitted me greatly and led to success in many different aspects of my life. However, initially sacrifices have to be made, and the journey is not easy, but if you put your mind to it things will eventually line up. It’s important to recognize your strengths and to capitalize on them. If you can do that then you’re already one step closer to living your dream. Read more>>

Dario Forzato | Composer and Music Producer

I’d definitely say moving to Los Angeles from Milan, Italy. That decision changed completely my career arc and it allowed me to eventually pursuit my real passion, even if it took a few years following different routes. I came here to LA after 5 years working as a touring musician back in Italy and I was looking for a new challenge. My goal was to establish myself as a musician in the US and eventually to become a composer for visual media. I knew the task wasn’t an easy one since the competition and talent pool here in Los Angeles are insane: you find all these talented musicians on every corner. That’s when I realized that, in order to make it in this town, I had to outwork everybody else. And that worked out: first I toured multiple times across the US for a few years and then I successfully transitioned into writing music for visuals, both as myself and through my music production company Evoq Music. Read more>>

Jamies Shuford | Social Entrepreneur

Collaborating With Like Minded Individuals. Read more>>

Mardi Miskit | Squarespace Website Designer | Chef | Reiki Practitioner

I grew up with parents who both explored many different creative careers and it really paved the way for me to feel confident doing the same. Over the years I’ve been a photographer, a chef, a reiki practitioner, a marketing manager, a brand lead, and a web designer. I’ve often felt torn going back and forth between all of these paths that I love and sometimes even discouraged when I would drop one thing to focus strictly on the other. Then, at some point I decided I could make space for all of it. I decided to stop judging myself for not sticking with just one thing. Even if I’m not working as a full-time professional chef or a reiki practitioner, I can create space in my days to cook and develop recipes, or do a reiki session. I can focus my week on developing a website for a client and take on a freelance photo shoot on the weekend. And I can do it all without the burnout because all of these things are a form of meditation for me. They’re creative endeavors that both energize me and bring me peace. And they all lead me to unexpected places and new connections. Read more>>

Gina Lombardi, RDH, NSCA-CPT*D |Owner Coach Lombardi, LLC & Co-Host of The Health Interrupted Podcast

Other than deciding to work for myself, which by the way, was always my desire since I was thirteen years old, I also decided that fear wasn’t going to play a role in my decisions to move ahead with I what I wanted to accomplish. When you are out on your own, with no mentor, no help, no employees yet, you are faced with having to make things happen on your own. Only YOU are responsible for the outcome of your day, week, month year, your income and ultimately your success. Another decision I had made a long time ago was not to care about what other people think of me or what I am doing. When you are on a path that you know fulfills your purpose, do not let other sway you. I’ve had people come right up to my face and try to shake me as I am getting onto a stage to speak to 800 people. Read more>>

Cesurian Champagne | NuMentality Fitness and Training, LLC | Owner

I decided to walk away from coaching high school basketball after 15 years. Initially, I didn’t think I could because my passion was to help kids reach their personal goals of earning a scholarship. The only difference is, I chose to work in the background instead of pacing the sidelines. Read more>>

Anthony Hadley Jr. | Filmmaker & Writer

Though it may sound so simple, I believe what has made the biggest difference in the rate of progress towards my goals has been the ability to identify and trust my inner voice. Often we have so many other people’s voices or external influences – be it loved ones, business associates, or friends – in our heads, that it can drown out the things that our hearts and mind are often trying to communicate to us. And while I am a firm believer in heeding sound advice, I also believe that when walking one’s path, it does not suit you to be at odds with yourself. Once I was able to trust my instincts and inner voice, I found myself second-guessing decisions I made a lot less, as well as being satisfied with the results and outcomes of my efforts, regardless of where they landed. Read more>>

Tabatha Collymore (TabbsFit)  Wardrobe Stylist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Sports Performance Specialist

The single most important decision that I made that contributed to being successful, is investing my time and money. That is a big part in expanding and growing in whatever your career may be. If you have a plant and you never invest your money and/or time with the plant, then how is it going to grow successfully? Time, money, and marketing (which can fall into place with money), all of these are key factors into being successful and growing. Investing your time goes into perfecting your craft and what you love! It takes time to become the best at what you love to do. Investing YOUR OWN MONEY, is important because if you do not even want to invest into yourself and your craft, why should they? Please invest some money into your marketing scheme too! It is not hard to reach potential clients and/or customers all over this world when we have multiple sources of social media platforms. Read more>>

Jason Stuart | Actor, Comedian, Content Creator

The power of no. I say no when sometime is not what I want to work on as an artist. But I also don’t make the decision alone. I speak with my agent, manager, PR and close friend’s. It all comes down to the type of career you want as an actor. Knowing what I am good at and what Im not. Also if Im afraid of something, thats when I chat with close actor friends. I ask for support to make the right decision for me. Read more>>

Myles Stephens | Co-Founder of Masego Footwear. Can You Please Include The Other Co-Founder. His Name is Max Justice.

I think the most powerful thing anyone can ever do is to never give up on their dreams. People used to make fun of me for saying I wanted to have my own sneaker brand. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen in a couple of years. It took time. But now that it’s alive and breathing, I feel like there isn’t a task or a job that I can’t do. It makes me sad that people think giving up on their dreams is a normal thing to do these days. Read more>>


Nancy Irwin | Clinical Psychologist/Therapeutic Hypnotist/Author

When I discovered that I had an approval addiction, it was as if great tectonic plates shifted for me psychologically. Previously, I had made every decision, unconsciously of course, in order to prove something: basically, that I was good enough. After this awareness, I began to make choices based on what is truly meaningful and fulfilling for me, how I can be of service to make a difference in the world, to help others vs enhancing my own ego. It was then quite easy and painless to leave the entertainment industry and explore what “called me”…to help others heal, grow and be whole. So deciding to get off the addictive cycle of feeling like I had to prove something was absolutely the best decision I ever made. Read more>>

Alexander D. Paul |Director of Photography

To be honest I think the decision that had the most impact on both my career and my life happened when I was 17. At that time I was a freshman at the University of Rhode Island. I was a history major but I realized that what I really wanted to do was make movies! I didn’t really know what that meant but some how I got it into my head that what I really needed to do was transfer to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts for film studies. I don’t remember how I even learned about Emerson but I remember my first few days like they just happened. Boston seemed like such a beautiful and old city and the student body resembled a The Strokes cover band. It all felt new and familiar. I remember thinking I had found my place and my people. That was true for the entire time I studied there. It was through Emerson that I discovered my love of cinematography and it was through Emerson that I was able to find an internship in Los Angeles where my career began. Read more>>