The first step to starting a business is deciding to start a business. They say the first step is the hardest and in our experience this is especially true when it comes to starting a business. Getting over the mental roadblocks can be tough, often harder to overcome than the challenges you’ll face once you actually start the business. Fellow entrepreneurs share their thoughts below.

Mark Valenzuela | Blogger & Designer

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? I knew in High School I wanted to work for myself. I failed at many business ideas before finally creating a business that made money. My thought process was I had a passion for music production, and I wanted to share my knowledge with others. I saw other people talk about making a living from blogging, and I wanted to do the same. I wasn’t going to let my poor writing skills stop me from sharing information that could help others. I want to see others pursue their music career goals, and I want to provide insight to help. I have also always had a passion for creating. A blog has been a great creative outlet to write, design, create videos, and test marketing ideas. Read more>>

AMBER VALICENTI | ENTREPRENEUR & KINESIOLOGIST

I really wanted to have more flexibility with my time. For me it is truly about having the freedom to go about my day as I please. Read more>>

Leah Fortson | Mental Health Advocate & Coach

I wanted to create something that aligned with my passions and values in a way that my traditional 9-5 didn’t fully capture. I also grew tired of being dependent on systems and individuals making decisions about my livelihood without knowing me or how their decisions would impact me. I wanted more autonomy and to assume the driver role in my life and finances. Read more>>

Jane Baker | CEO, High Ticket Sales Strategist & Luxury Broker

I was a high school dropout with no qualifications, I didn’t really have that many options. I had worked when I was 16 but didn’t stay in that job long, in fact less than 8 weeks later I was kindly asked to leave. I fell pregnant at 18 but sadly she was stillborn at 32 weeks, I knew there was something bigger for me to do with my life I just didn’t know what that was. A few months later when I was 19 I woke up one morning and had a random idea for a business, the next hour it was up and running. Read more>>

Rachel Nicole | Adventurous and intimate wedding and elopement photographer with a strong affinity for traveling and authentic storytelling

It was never a thought process for me, actually. Around age 11 is when I started my very first business, and I think from then on, I always knew that owning my own business was just going to be what I did. It wasn’t a researched project, I didn’t know anything going into it. I had talents, I knew how to use them, and I used them to work for myself. I’ve always been very driven and hardworking, so putting those together with my talents, and the desire to make my own money by using everything that was my own, and not working for someone else has always been the way I’ve done things. I’ve never worked a full time job for anyone but myself! It’s so rewarding and I wouldn’t change one thing. Since that first business I started as a preteen, I have owned at least three other businesses, before deciding the one I wanted to pursue was within the wedding industry in photography. I absolutely love it! Read more>>

Travis Swope | Owner TWO FELONS SKATE SHOP

I didn’t plan on opening my own business. But, I was always a hustler and just knew I needed to be my own boss. Read more>>

Andre Junget | Illustrator/Fine artist

There wasn’t too much to think about, really. I had just been laid off from my factory job, my daughter was three months old, I had a mortgage to pay and I had just 6 months or so of unemployment benefits to “rely” upon. I needed to move fast. All I knew was, I always wanted to be a working illustrator. Now was my chance! I never bought into the starving artist mentality, that I wouldn’t make money as an artist, and being an artist meant living in poverty.
All I wanted to do was work in pen and ink, and I sought out areas where I could. Read more>>

Josh Spencer | Bookstore Owner

In the very beginning, it was just “how do I make more money, because I’m always broke and I hate it.” Then that morphed into “Oh, I can do X and make money, and the more I hustle the more money I make.” But my business didn’t really take off and become something significant until I asked myself “What do I want to see in my world that isn’t currently there, and how do I create that for myself and others?” Read more>>

Jason Sensation | BBoy, Stunt Performer, Actor, Athlete, Humanitarian & Ophthalmology Technician

My thought process behind starting my own business was to give back to the community, the youth, but more importantly create a legacy for myself in this vast world. To “Take A BREAK & FIT It In” is the key foundation to BREAKFIT!! People are too invested in living to work & not working to live. Read more>>

Shayla Hudson Riggle | CEO Partner & Executive Producer

I definitely did not start The Hudson Sterling Firm & Genre TV on my own. My partner Narlyia Sterling has been integral to the success of the company. The thought process behind starting the company was service. We wanted to come from a place of servitude to our community. We saw that there was a need for access and film business education particularly among filmmakers of marginalized communities. Read more>>

Dérly Barajas | Multimedia Artist & Owner of LOVEYOURS

I want people to feel powerful when using my products. My overall message is for people to love what they have and truly love themselves. Read more>>

italij Martynow | The Breathwork Guy

I wanted to help people take two steps that i have already taken. Those steps can change anyones life because we all have a similar system in place. The first step is to realize that majority of the mental health and even chronic physiological issues are caused by unprocessed trauma. The second step is to release, process and heal that trauma. There are many ways to do it- and after being paralyzed for over a year and trying tons of ways to heal- I found that breathwork is one of the most effective modalities. Read more>>

Alex Loprieno | Founder & CEO of WeShort

This process is started after a life of passion for movies, I have always dreamt to do something valuable in this industry. I was sitting alone in a movie theatre waiting the movie to begin and in that moment where my spirituality meets my passion, I got the first sparkle, I asked myself why the people don’t watch short films everyday? In our times the life is running fast and neuroscience studies show that the level of attention span of the people dropped drastically. Read more>>

Francesco Zimone | Owner Designer

As an Italian born, I was missing the inclusion and the magic you would feel when you meet with your family and friends in places that give you that feeling of familiarity. So, I decided I was going to build one. I needed something secluded that would transport you away from reality. A backyard, a piazza, somewhere you would let yourself go, immersed in the experience, transported by the overall energy. Our place in Hollywood provided me with all that. Read more>>

Curt Collins | Owner of Daily Would Radio and Host of Morning Would

I started my own business after deciding it was time to follow my dreams. It has always been a dream of mine to have my own Morning Show on a radio station or on Television and I thought it will be challenging to get one, especially in LA with limited experience For as long as I can remember, I have always loved radio and music. When I was growing up, I was on the radio all the time, calling and requesting my favorite songs and then making mix tapes. Eventually, I was doing funny bits with the DJ’s, and it was a lot of fun! Read more>>

Danny Klein | Chef

Our daughter, Zoe was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and she has been wearing hearing aids since four months old. At the age of three, the levels at which she could hear were diminishing and it was due to chronic ear infections. After a few rounds of antibiotics we found some really good strains of probiotics recommended by her pediatrician to help restore her immune system. Zoe’s chiropractor also suggested the removal of dairy in her diet to help with the ear infections. Read more>>

Alexis Brown | CEO of KAYDA Films

In my family, we are always pushed to create the foundation for ourselves. I honestly was always against that, because they also tried to push me to create a business that I wasn’t passionate about for quick money. However, during the pandemic, I was in a creative dump. There wasn’t any opportunity out there, but with the ideology of my family, I decided to create something that I was passionate about. With my best friends, we started KAYDA so that way our creative minds and filmmaking didn’t have to wait. We have the freedom to make what we please and we are determined to continue forward. Read more>>

Andie Gechtman | Artist & Founder

I have been a creative my entire life, ever since I could hold a crayon. Growing up it was never a mystery as to what I would end up doing in my career, as I always knew it would have something to do with art and creativity. After studying fashion design in college, I worked as a women’s contemporary designer for several years. While I loved designing clothes and it let me be creative, I always felt myself longing to be more original and more artistic in my work. My favorite part about designing clothing was the fabric and prints that I got to use. Read more>>

Tiona Smith | Founder & CEO of Rare Radiance, Wellness Enthusiast

Ultimately, I created Rare Radiance based on my God-given purpose to uplift others and spread light. Through Rare Radiance, I enjoy living out my God-given purpose and indulging in my love (borderline obsession) for candles. Our mission is to promote intentional wellness by spreading light and inspiring others live a quality life on purpose (with purpose). We encourage others to let their light (life) shine radiantly, as an examples God’s glory. Through our products and speaking engagements we help others develop a mindset and environment suitable to live in wellness, on purpose. Each candle is labeled to bring the energy you need into your space, whether it be your home or workplace. Read more>>

Holly Goodenow | CEO/Founder

I have worked in the Food/Beverage industry for a little over 20 years. I worked on the manufacturer, distributor and broker side of the business and have seen how each part functions. I wanted to create something innovative to my industry so I started Good Now Foods. We are the only sales agency that focuses only on Organic, Clean and Non-GMO CPG products. We don’t accept any product that does not meet our standards even if its a high volume sales item. We also work closely with our clients (the manufacturer) by having a “hands on” approach as if we are an extension of there sales arm. We have used this model for three years and have grown 900% YOY. Read more>>

Cory Graves | Author & Life Coach

Identifying the need for people to become aware of who they are from the inside(self awareness), without the need of validation from others. Through our product line which includes clothing and books for adults and children, fragrance and all natural body care our customers are proud to show their outward expression of their ability to define who they are. Read more>>

Suzie Soghoyan | Holistic Esthetician

I knew from the start that I wanted to work for myself. And, thanks to 2020, I didn’t have another option. Read more>>

Sarah van Slagmaat | Education Specialist & Podcast Creator

The launch of my podcast Catch Up Crew has had a pretty long journey. I moved to Los Angeles from the Netherlands in November 2018. I have always worked with children, but with my visa I wasn’t allowed to work anymore. During the pandemic, I realized that there was a lot going on in our world and many parents and educators were having a hard time communicating this to their children. Heavy stuff like the pandemic, but also the protests last summer and the then upcoming election. In the Netherlands we have a daily news broadcast especially for kids and I used to love watching those. Read more>>

Michael Kushner | Co-Founder & Creative Director

Well, it really wasn’t my idea. In 2014, my co-founder Trey (who I grew up with since I was 4 years old) talked me into it. At the time, he was going to Wharton for an MBA and I was in advertising as a Creative Director. He wanted to start a company, so I helped come up with some ideas on how to execute it on the weekends. That led to joining as a co-founder and sort of diving in head first to the startup world, working on nights and weekends. We had gotten into an accelerator program called Techstars with our previous brand, and once we were accepted, I had to make the choice to quit my job or stay in advertising….and I decided that the advertising industry would always be there, so I jumped. The previous company that we started led us to BABOON TO THE MOON and meeting our third co-founder Andy. We’ve been up and running for almost 3 years now. So, to answer your question, my thought process behind starting my own business was, “it’s now or never”. Read more>>

Renée DeCarlo | Resident Artist and Founder of The Drawing Room

I’ve been representing myself as an artist most of my career, however it wasn’t until rather recently that I decided to put myself out into the public with my workspace and expose the inner workings of my studio life, sharing space with a gallery that I could curate and open up to other artists. This space, I call The Drawing Room. I conspired a very rough business plan for what I consider an “art project and residency”, after graduate school in 2000, but didn’t make it a reality until 2018 when life’s twists and turns forced me to take the leap, and I also happened to find the perfect space for such a plan. Read more>>

Jade Rocca | Floral Designer, Entrepreneur

In February 2018 I checked myself into a local women’s recovery program. I was in a very dark place, healing from drug addiction and an abusive relationship. The journey inward was raw, painful and challenging to say the least. I was in complete reflection of myself and trying to discover what the next chapter of my life would look like. I quit my bar tending job and enrolled in treatment full time. Read more>>

Asa Dugger, M.A. | Content Creator & Brand Strategist

Honestly, I was scared, excited, and uncertain. As a Content Creator who’s a full-time entrepreneur working with brands, selling merch, and teaching courses for other Influencers/Creators there’s a lot of pressure and expectation. Quite frankly, you are your business. You’re responsible for the marketing, the accounting, the logistics, the photography, social media, and everything else in between. You’re also your own biggest competition and critic. There was a ton of doubt, insecurity, and inconsistency I had to push past to operate at my full potential. Every day, I’m still learning to push past the deficit thought process and continue to create with faith. Read more>>

Alessandro Marianantoni | investor, founder at M Accelerator

A common denominator among all projects is my passion for technology. However, M Accelerator was born because can’t be only about technology. Pretty early I discovered that in my first projects I was putting so much work into developing products even when they don’t necessarily were a good fit for other people. If you think about what happened over the past decades with the convergence of many fields and Information Technology, over the years I was able to work in many different projects learning in-depth about aspects of different fields including environment, healthcare, entertainment, and finance. Read more>>

Thea Mercouffer | Documentary filmmaker

Honestly, I think I was afraid nobody would hire me, so I figured I’d have to go it alone. Some days I wish I had a company above me, to do all the nitty gritty work. But most days I relish the freedom to set my own pace. It takes a lot of discipline and willpower to get things going, especially on a new project. Read more>>

Dr. Calvin Bonds | Entrepreneur/Coach/ Entertainment Professional

My calling in life is to help people. I knew that to successfully do that to the extent that I wanted to be effective, I had to start my own business. Read more>>

Kerstin Hovland | Post Disciplinary Artist, Video and Lighting Designer, Screens Producer

My partner and I had been freelancing for a few years. When I graduated with my MFA I was having absolutely no luck applying for existing jobs and none of the jobs were quite what I wanted to be doing in the industry anyway. I figured if I wanted to be hired to do my job, I would need to hire myself. We decided it would be nice to have a container of sorts to put all the freelance work into and to start building on what we were already doing and make something potentially larger that could employ more people and do larger projects. Read more>>

Kim Simich | Social Media Strategist & Photographer

I crave freedom and independence. Even in college, well before I started my own business, I wrote down that I never wanted to be the person working a 9-5 that I hated. While many of my friends left school with secure jobs at companies where a clear path was laid out, I opted to take a year off and waitress instead of jumping into a career I wouldn’t love. I worked at a marketing agency after that for about 7 months, then quit to do my own thing. I’m a very creative person and needed a job where I could express that without a ton of hoops and hurdles. Once I get a taste of what that freedom felt like, I knew I could never go back to working on someone else’s schedule. You have to be very disciplined and passionate about the work you’re doing to make it work, but so far that hasn’t been an issue for me. I have so much to learn, and there are aspects of being a solopreneur that are constant battles for me. However, I can look back proudly about all that I’ve taught myself. Read more>>

Shonda Melton | Baker and Sweet treat maker.

My thought process behind starting my business was “can I really be successful with this?” Everyday I would think about failing and giving up. But then I would think about the power I have to become a successful entrepreneur. Read more>>

Jason Orellana | Website Developer/Owner

Emphasis.la was formed to serve an undeserved community of small and midsized business owners who likely don’t have access to large marketing and campaign funds. We saw a need in the community that we serve and we knew that we had a service they could benefit from. Read more>>

Cynthia Arias | Event Designer & Planner

I have always wanted to create something of my own, something I was proud to say, “I built this from the ground up.” Also, running my own business meant having a flexible schedule. I was determined to live my dream of being both a boss and a mama and not having to have my child be raised by a baby sitter. Read more>>

Chi Walker | Co-Owner’s Chi Walker and Nik R. Cole

Fried Chicken and Caviar was very organic from the beginning. Food is our love language. Prior to COVID, we were hosting regular lunch meet-ups, which called “Test Kitchen Tuesday”. This gave us the opportunity to try out fun recipes and commune with friends. At the beginning of the year, we decided it would be great for us to officially bring Fried Chicken and Caviar to the masses, and did Valentine’s pop-up, “Single in the City”. It was on from there. Things kind of snowballed and we decided to lean in. We like the idea of doing pop-ups because it gives us the freedom to move about, and explore different spaces. Read more>>

Kala Wahl | Interior Design Consultant & Talent Acquisition Expert

I’ve known that starting my own business is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I would have visions of what this would look like, down to the clothes I would wear, the events I would go to, the people I would associate with, and the brand I would present to the world. On the other hand, the realm of fine arts and interior design had been my passion throughout my youth, the world in which I’ve thrived. Read more>>

Beck Hoehn | Acupuncturist & Fertility Specialist

I got into the business of acupuncture because I loved that this medical system is able to help a lot of people. It’s a very successful method that can treat a wide variety of conditions with a simple medicine, and oftentimes people know very little about it. My mission has always been to educate and empower people to know they have choices when it comes to their health, and their health IS important. We are trained to not invest in our health and especially not our healthcare because it’s expensive and insurance should pay for it, but this is rarely the case. People need to prioritize their health and wellbeing because when you’re in good health you can lead a better, fuller life. Read more>>

Luc Cadet | Founder, President and CEO

The initial thought processes was really how do we bring about more enlightenment to our society. There’s so much history and stories that have never been talked about or discussed that in schools or else where that has caused an ignorance as it pertains to our understanding of one another, ourselves and other cultures. So the goal was to find the most easily accessible way to bring about this these stories and audiobooks was simply the best platform. After doing research on the publishing industry, however, it become more about diversifying this industry by empowering more of our diverse voices and stories. So it added to our vision, goal and purpose. Read more>>

Brittni Dixon | Entrepreneur & Producer

There is no greater feeling than seeing my vision come to life. I always knew that I wanted to work for myself and establish my own brand. I have always been a person who has big dreams and goals so making the decision to start a business was an easy one to make. Before Starting my brand Bobbie Miche I did extensive research on the beauty industry and what it would take to launch my brand from the ground up. My parents taught me early on the importance of ownership and entrepreneurship. When I decided to start my own business I knew that it would take determination, dedication, hard work, patience, self discipline, and consistency. Most importantly I believe in myself and I have faith that anything I do will be successful. Read more>>