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.

Joe Lorenzo | Kids Performing Arts Manager

My thought was, “why am I making someone else money when I know I can do this on my own?” I was just 23 years old at this time and the financial part of launching a business on my own terrified me. I was trying to be an entrepreneur but still working in a bar on the weekends. I realized I had to quit and go 100% with my business to succeed. The fear of having no income was my driving force on making my business thrive. Read more>>

Phillip Bladh | Oscar winning production sound mixer

When I started freelancing I basic just decided to go for it. I started all my contacts online through Craigslist. I knew that if I didn’t invest in good gear from the get go to be competitive then I would get buried with the rest. I wanted to stick out as someone they wanted to hire. Read more>>

Sarah Benvenuti | Founder, Benvenuti Arts

There were two major factors that contributed to me starting my own business. First, I was growing increasingly frustrated with the theater/performing arts industry norms. Small companies and independent artists were constantly stymied, even when they were doing amazing work, by funders who maintained outdated requirements for grants; and ignored by professional and consulting services that were constantly overpriced. I saw so many incredible artists struggling to get their work made because they didn’t have a minimum organizational budget of $250K, or decided not to pay themselves out of necessity. Read more>>

Eden Park | Chef and Owner of Palette Creamery

My thought process for Palette Creamery started with me asking what I knew and what I didn’t know. I knew confidently that the concept is the love-child of my passion for art, my love of flavor combinations and the hidden beauty/art of that process. I also knew that going into this meant that a lot of my time and money was going to be invested into the company, and that there are already so many amazing ice cream shops here in LA that make artisanal ice cream. Read more>>

Andrea Reed | Jewelry Maker & Visual Stylist

I was honestly scared to death, but then I asked myself, “well, what if?” and weighted the pros and cons. At the time, while wrestling with my thoughts, I had a horrible boss that stifled all of our ideas and also refused to promote us, but I couldn’t quit because I was literally a starving artists. So to regain some sort of creative freedom, I began taking jewelry making courses, which became a freedom I didn’t know I needed. So long story short, the need for a creative outlet and proving to myself that I am capable running a business fueled my fire to start my own. Read more>>

Vanessa Lewis | Queer, Fat, Black, Femme performer, facilitator, educator, writer, activist, healer, joyful weirdo, Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution, and Founding Director of Reclaim UGLY.

In late 2019, a party and concert promotor uploaded a picture of me on facebook to make a very painful point: people who look like me are not attractive enough to hang out in VIP lounges with famous and affluent men. After talking with him about his post, he confessed to finding my photo after google image searching UGLY BLACK WOMEN. He wanted to make sure that Black women who he deemed ugly knew they were unworthy of and unwelcome at the events he hosted. Read more>>

Krie | Commercial Artist, Fine Artist, Muralist & Writer

I was working a full time job (8-16 hour shifts) raising two kids and doing art projects part time… That’s when I realized I was wearing myself out and I wasn’t enjoying life the way I should. So I quit my full-time job and started my own business. I had thought about the risks and benefits for a while and there was definitely more risks involved. Specially while raising two kids. But around 2018 when my life got even more complicated is when I finally decided it was the right time to concentrate on my passion for art. Read more>>

Melina Garcia | Wedding & Engagement Photographer

I had no idea where to begin, I was terrified and I battled with myself whether or not to even start a business. Thankfully, with a lot of support I took a leap of faith. I was working at Wells Fargo at the time and it was an amazing job, but I felt like I could do more. My intention upon creating my business was that I wanted to create an environment with my clients where they could picture themselves in my photos, I want all my clients to feel dreamy, and beautiful and overall just be in awe of themselves. I love photographing love, and not just with couples but love between siblings, and parents, and grandparents and love within yourself! Read more>>

A’ndre Davis | Creative: Actor/Singer/Writer/Director/Producer

This a multi-layered answer for me but to consolidate, being able to have full creative control over my projects are extremely important. Whether music, stage, or film, I want my vision to go out to the world as I see/feel it, as opposed to what someone else tells me it should be. Read more>>

Mathew Dagilis | CEO & CO-Founder of The Adventure Buddies

At first it all started as a way for us to capture our vacations as a private keepsake, but when we started running out of iPhone storage, we thought, why not post to Instagram or YouTube (free storage]). Once we started posting, then it started generating a lot of interest from others, where we found ourselves constantly answer questions around vacation/experience recommendations, traveling tips, to our favorite “How do you manage to fit in all these adventures into your normal daily lives?”. Keep in mind Trevi and I both have full time jobs at this point in time on top of running The Adventure Buddies. Read more>>

T. Juwon Nichols | Founder, Fitness Trainer & Healthy Lifestyle Coach of Gymdorks Fitness

I have been training for over 15 years and I noticed that there are various underserved populations that many professionals within the fitness industry steer clear of or simply do not have the proper education and/or experience to serve them. That is the disabled population and those in the contemplation/ precontemplation stages of starting a fitness regime. I have been blessed to work with these populations and have been successful in providing proper fitness instruction, motivation, and healthy lifestyle change recommendations. Read more>>

Christian Robinson | Actor|Producer|Entrepreneur|Philanthropist

For me it was about taking control of my future, guiding others, taking advantage of the opportunities placed at my feet and going after my heart’s true desires. Freedom is the ultimate goal, and I’d rather work 3x as hard doing what I want to do 23 hours a day than carving out someone else’s dream that doesn’t align with mine for 8hours a day. Read more>>

Santiago Restrepo | Food Truck Owner and Operator

One of the things that made me start thinking about starting my business was the fact that there was something I loved that was not available here in Los Angeles. I grew up in Colombia where the Arepa was a very big part of our daily meals. I was taught how to make arepas at a very young age by my mother and grandmother. At the age of 13 we moved to Los Angeles to live with my father and step mother. My step mother is Venezuelan and she introduced me to the Venezuelan style Arepas Read more>>

Ash Edmonds | Wellness Creative Director

As a creative person, being told where to be and when to be there can feel very stifling. Like meeting a comedian and asking them to tell a joke on the spot. It’s not a conducive environment for creativity. Creativity can strike at any moment, so freedom became something I was seeking. That freedom comes in many forms. The freedom to choose what you spend your time on. The freedom to work whenever, wherever. Read more>>

MOE Entertainment Rose Emanuel, Lucas Marten and Gregg Lawson | Production Company and Film Library

Rose: It’s honestly a bloody scary thought but I watched my dad start his company from the ground up and that really motivated me. He’s always been one of my biggest inspirations and motivators. Bringing in Lucas and Gregg was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This company would be nothing without them. Read more>>

Sousanna Alexander | Founder & Owner of Zeytoon Café

The initial thought process in starting my own business was creating a space for people from different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities to create a familiar feeling of home. I am Armenian but was raised in Syria; therefore, I aimed to serve my favorite food items from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, as I call those areas my original home. My goal was to extend an olive branch of likeminded community and culture to Laguna Beach which is reflective in the namesake of my café, as Zeytoon means olive branch in many different languages. Read more>>

Elaine Proby | Wealth-Builder & Tax Expert

I attended college at night as an accounting major and worked during the day as a payroll clerk during the day. It was my job to process regular payroll checks but when I realized how often there was a request for a final termination check, I discovered then that a regular job can terminate you and bring your only source of income to an abrupt end. I knew then that I had to own my own business where I would be the one to terminate myself by retiring. Read more>>

Reva Santo | Artist and Creative Alchemist, Founder of Honey & Smoke

I am the founder and co director of Honey and Smoke — a global artist community and platform that creates space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time. We operate through themed seasons and create digital and physical spaces for artists to intentionally engage with the world. In starting Honey & Smoke, I was really thinking about all of the main issues I have personally faced as an artist and was seeking solutions. Read more>>

Kara Harshbarger | Inventor

Twelve years ago, I had a baby and I was in the middle of a crisis: I wanted a job (I needed an income), and I wanted to use my adult brain, but I also couldn’t stand the idea of being in someone else’s office pushing someone else’s dream from nine in the morning until seven at night while my daughter spent her days growing up. I knew in order to have the balance I was so desperate for, I would need to own my own time. A friend of mine had listened to me agonize for months when she came up with the idea to invent a product together. I thought: “My brain doesn’t think like that.” I’ve since learned that brains are contortionists, and if I practice bending it a certain way, it will think like that. Read more>>

Raevyn Robinson | Visual Branding Enthusiast

My thought process behind starting my business really was motivated by a dream I had about taking risks. I knew the only way I could properly respond to the dream, was to begin my business. Read more>>

Dodie Sy | Event Designer . Artist . Creative Director

I remember having a conversation with myself before I finally decided to start my own event design business. I was about to turn 39 years old, felt stuck in my current event design job back then. I felt the strong need to be independent, something to call my own, to voice my own design perspective. Call my own shots. All the handwork should benefit me and not another business. I envisioned a business that is focused on the artistic and creative ways to design once in a lifetime events and moments in peoples lives. To design an immersive experience through properly executed design concepts and space plans. Through the beauty of seasonal flowers and textures. Through the delicate balance of lighting etc. Read more>>

Vivienne Okafor | Brand & Content Strategist

It didn’t really start as a business? I kinda stumbled upon my business as a brand and content strategist after asking my Instagram audience at the time what they were struggling with and gave them some time to chat. I had started my brand as a travel blog and thought I would make it a business planning people’s trips/experiences but I quickly realized that, that wasn’t it. During the pandemic, I had signed up for a 12-month business mastermind to explore the travel business but in the meantime I was just simply creating content on social media and when I went on my Instagram stories, and asked that question, 50 calls later and I realized people saw me more as this storytelling and content person than a travel person. Read more>>

Maja Liv Groves | Company Founder + Owner, Artist Manager, Tour Manager

Queers to the Front started out of frustration after coming out as a trans woman in the music scene. I faced loads of discrimination, being made fun of, getting sexually assaulted. I didn’t feel safe and comfortable anymore in the same venues that felt like home before. I wanted to do something to make this process easier for trans and other marginalized people coming after me, and so i had the idea of starting this company. And now we’re here… Read more>>

Carlos Parada | Editorial portrait and fashion photographer

The way I realized to get into the business of photography was pretty straightforward. I originally went to film school. One of my favorite things about filmmaking was the cinematography. I’ve always considered myself a very visual person. So to become a better filmmaker visually, I started taking some photography classes. I immediately liked it and little by little I fell in love with photography. Throughout my whole time in college, I ended up taking almost all classes that could be offered of photography even though it was never my major or even a minor. Read more>>

Andrew & Ivette Montejo | Creatives & Parents

The reason we started our business really started out of a need to express our creativity. As a newlywed couple we learned and created our wedding invitations, and wedding decor because we couldn’t find what we wanted anywhere, we didn’t feel seen. After learning a skill, Andrew continued to take more art courses which triggered more creativity. During this time, which was around 2016, we were actively attending local art festivals and craft fairs and felt inspired by the creativity around us, but also wanted to share something special and unique to us, something that we hadn’t seen before. Read more>>

Christy Scott | Owner of The Gathering Basket

This sounds cliché but I knew I wanted to start my own business after waking up one morning and thinking I was SICK of how fast time is flying by and not being able to do anything about it. The last few years I’ve kept thinking, and I know so many people can relate, “WHERE did that entire month go?!” So I wanted to do something about it. My goal in creating The Gathering Basket was to provide more moments for people to enjoy, and to make more memories! Whether it’s gathering with friends for a classic picnic or brunch, having a special date night or really enjoying some R&R with an at-home spa day, I hope to give people a convenient and special way to create more moments in their lives. Read more>>

Sarah Jane Nelson | Songwriter, Artist, Nashville Real Estate Agent

As an artist, an entrepreneurial spirit is one of the most important factors in any success I’ve had. I began my career as a theater actor on Broadway, touring, and in film and television. I had an agent and was in the unions but I treated my acting career as a business with marketing, branding, and hustle to make things happen. Read more>>

Alexandra Michelle | Kundalini Activation Facilitator and Spiritual Mentor

Honestly? My thought process was along the lines of… “Oh my god, I can’t do that! I’m not a teacher, who do I think I am? What if I hurt everybody in the process? What if this is just my ego? How am I going to make money?? Nobody is going to trust me! How dare I??” Then there was the quiet certainty that everything I’ve been through was qualifying me to be exactly that: a healer, teacher, and a guide in the process of personal and spiritual emergence. Read more>>

Michael Kitano | Chef/Owner of Hapa Meals

My thought process behind starting my own business was finally pursuing my passion and to stop being afraid of failure. I have worked for a family member for majority of my life but it didn’t make me happy. I knew starting off in the restaurant industry was going to be competitive and hard but that’s what drove me. Being able to create something that people enjoy, bringing smiles to their faces even only for that moment is what inspires me and makes me extremely humble and happy. I only found this out recently while volunteering at a local church. The ability to not only help those in need but to bring the happiness back to their lives in such a dark period helped me decide on opening my own business. I’ve always cooked for others but nothing like this. I know there’s a high risk in starting a business but it’s the risk I’m willing to take. Read more>>

Tico Lorenzo | Social Media influencer & Designer

Im really excited to announce that I’m starting my own clothing line. Fashion is something that really inspires me and excites me at the same time. The main reason why I wanted to start my own line is because I would find myself going to stores and not finding what I wanted or not liking the fit of it. I want everyone to feel and look there best without them spending hundreds of dollars on pieces. Im still in the process of getting everything ready hopefully to launch before summer ends. Read more>>

Iguehi James | Founder, Designer

Starting Love Iguehi was certainly a leap of faith. I am not a classically trained designer, I don’t have a background in fashion, in fact, my education and prior career in the healthcare industry is completely unrelated to the business that I started. Nevertheless, I had developed a gift for sewing as a hobby and with the encouragement of my husband and close friends, I decided to turn that hobby into a business. Frankly, I wasn’t sure about taking the leap but after witnessing the success of my first vending event, I knew the quality and care we took to create each piece was something that people not only wanted but really needed. Starting a business, especially one in fashion retail was not something that I had imagined for myself, but as the daughter of an artist, creating contemporary apparel that infused my Nigerian heritage and Oakland roots felt more natural than anything I had ever done. Read more>>

Brittany Burns | Yoni Steam Practitioner

My journey to healing began in late 2018. I always experienced heavy cramping and severe breast soreness prior to and during my menstrual cycle. My sister (and massage therapist) suggested that I try yoni steaming. I had no idea what a yoni was or how steaming would help me. I began searching on google and social media and saw a few websites explaining what it was and how it worked, but I quickly lost interest because none of these sites went into the detail of what I was looking for. I stumbled upon Supreme Naturalz on Instagram and observed my future mentor for months before deciding to take the leap to start yoni steaming. Read more>>

Brandon Moorer | Entrepreneur

While in college, I co-founded a national non-profit organization providing minority college students with the tools, resources, and connections to secure internships and build upon their respective ventures. I ran this organization for 3 years. I have also published a book and launched a mentorship program helping students turn their ideas into tangible products, services, and businesses. Most recently, I co-founded a new company, Blacket, which will make it easier and more convenient for people to buy Black owned products and services on one platform. In turn, we will simplify the marketing process for Black business owners and making it easier for customers to find and purchase from them. Read more>>

Phillip & Karen Hang | Owners

My wife Karen and I always dreamt about running our own business but never could figure out what it would be. She comes from a service industry background and I’ve always enjoyed building rapport and connecting with individuals. After some light discussions of various businesses, we stumbled upon a failing restaurant business for sale. We talked about it for several weeks and kept thinking to ourselves if we could really rebrand this business and turn it around. Read more>>

Paige Jellison | Personal Trainer & Fitness Model

I started my personal training business 20 years ago with the thought process that I was going to help as many people as I could mentally, physically and emotionally through their health and fitness journey. When I was younger I was given an aptitude test which resulted in it saying I should grow up to be a social worker! Well with my personality, I knew that I would bring every patient/child home with me to try and save them all haha. I wouldn’t be able to leave that type of work at work. Read more>>

Monica Monfre | Creative Business Strategist for Service Based Entrepreneurs

At first my idea for the business was to simply have side money as a teacher. I thought having an extra $1000 a month would be nice. After my sister passed away, my thought process changed. I wanted to create something that would change lives including my own. I wanted to inspire other women and teachers who had a desire to start something of their own but were afraid. Afraid to fail. Afraid to succeed. I wanted my business to be impactful and to create lasting change. Read more>>

Kai Ellis | Owner/Artist/Creator @ Artuvkai Graphic Design

I was raised by a King & a Queen (RIP MOM) tbat always stressed/placed focus on “doing for self” & having control of your life. I’ve always had had that independent creative hustle spirit. I’ve always wanted to create/pave my own lane, be my own boss, & pass the fruits of my labor, prayers, & dreams on to my 3 Suns (Jay, Myles, & Maison). Read more>>

Ben Morrison | Comedian, Producer & Filmmaker

The thought process behind starting my own business was one of self-reliance. After a decade of being bounced around the Hollywood system with middling results It was obvious to me that my options were either quit, or take matters into my own hands. Thus Superfunny Inc. was born. Read more>>

Shaleena Cole | Headshot and Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

I’ve always loved taking pictures. It represented a way for me to document and remember specific events and moments throughout life. I had an eye for it, most would say, I was naturally good at composing shots and capturing candid moments. It brought me so much joy to share my gift with others so they’d have beautiful memories of their lives too. Read more>>

Shaneka Heard | Makeup Artist and Licensed Nail Technican

My thought process behind my business was to jump into something I can never get tired of. I wanted to have something I can give to my daughter if she wanted to take over in the future. I truly enjoy makeup and nails and every time I do someones face or a set it’s fun to me! Everyone says if you do something love you will never work a day in your life. I feel that is true. Often times you find a job that you like but after a while it takes a toll on you mentally and monopolizes your time, you then grow to dislike it. Read more>>