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.

Jess Koehler | Maternity and Family Photographer

As a photographer, I’d experienced different genres of the industry throughout my career. But once I became a mother, my values framework shifted. I wanted two things: to be the boss of my own schedule and have my work be meaningful. With that, I’d moved forward with full focus on only accepting private families as clients. I literally was tearing up on the way to a maternity session the other day. I was reflecting on how grateful I am to have intentional clients who want to document their family AND choose me to do it. I’m sold out for the remainder of 2020, so it’s confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction as a creative business. Read more>>

Cindy Warden | Life Coach & Resilience Expert

Initially, I moved to Los Angeles for the same reason so many others flock here: I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I spent many years as a comedic actress, singer, and pianist. Then eventually, I transitioned into the music industry where I worked at a pop record label. But all the while, behind the scenes, I had a secret: I wasn’t happy. Even more so, I wasn’t happy with myself. (In fact, I struggled with chronic depression for so many years, doctors told me that I was just “one of those people” who would never live her life off medication.) While I’d love to tell you that one day the clouds parted, a choir of angels sang, and in one fell swoop that all changed, it didn’t happen that way. Instead, over the course of many months, like a falling row of dominoes, everything in my world fell apart – my marriage, my social circle, my career, and my finances. Read more>>

Kambiz Silani | Dry Eye Specialist

I sought to build a modern eye care practice that was warm and welcoming yet offered the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies to meet each patient’s unique needs. Ideally, customizing, anticipating and striving to exceed our patient’s expectations. Furthermore, my vision was to create one of the premier, advanced dry eye centers in the country with a forward thinking, hard working and passionate team. Despite some of the unusual challenges during COVID, our doctors and team continue to adapt and improve our office flow to provide a 5-star experience to our amazing patients. Read more>>

April Larson | Ecotherapist, Intuitive Reiki Practitioner & Relationship Coach

Earth Medicine Woman was birthed as a remembrance of my soul’s true purpose in this lifetime, which is to be a guide for others to come home to their most authentic selves; remembering what it is to love living and walking on the Earth. I grew up in a small rural town in Wisconsin and have always been deeply connected to nature, animals and a strong community of like-minded, loving people. When I moved to the cities to expand my horizons and pursue my dreams of working in entertainment, I witnessed and experienced the disconnection, stress-induced disease and lost sense of self in myself and others. I found my way back to vital health, harmony, joy, and connection through rebuilding a strong relationship to nature, my inner compass and community. Read more>>

Molly Schulz | CEO & Founder

The most common question I am asked is why to I decided to start a fox and wolf dog rescue. It seems crazy on first glance to devote your life to caring for animals that you may never be able to hold, pet or cuddle. To some that may sound crazy, but to me, the reward is so much greater! I get to spend every day saving the lives of amazing animals and advocating for those that need a voice. I get to wake up every morning that I am making a difference and helping be the change that I want to see. In 2016 my husband and I welcomed our first wolf dog to the family. Although we had read and researched everything we could find, living with a wolf dog was different than reading about it. There were challenges and a lot of learning along the way, but with each challenge we worked through our bond with Maugrim grew stronger. Read more>>

Roberto Amado-Cattaneo III | Photographer

There’re two stories here… I had been a freelance fashion photographer in Los Angeles for a few years before I started the studio in July of 2020. Up until that point I was working as an independent contractor for other studios, and the longer I shot for other studios the more I realized that I was really just operating as a skilled laborer with very little creative freedom or autonomy. There are certain benefits to punching a clock, but I also knew that I could do more, and that if I were willing to take certain risks that I could benefit greatly. I wanted more control and also more freedom which now seems like an oxymoron because you do sacrifice some freedom for that level of control, but that control does, however, give me creative freedom and the agency to be who I am as an artist. I am finally in the driver seat. Read more>>

Gene Shibuya | Video Creation & Videography

I really enjoy the creative process of visualizing a shooting plan and delivering images that exceed expectations. A freelance production business gives me the opportunity to engage in this process for clients who need videos for their businesses and projects. Read more>>

Mega Hermin | Hustler

Joining the work forces working for other people, you were really starting to know your own traits; choosing your values, building your character, having your own opinions. Typically, along the way, you will also build your confidence and starting to have your own expectations – for a lot of things. Being an employee, part of a team, and later on – leading a high performance one, I came to know quite well the art of hustling. But still, as a subordinate, you wouldn’t have the final say on many things. Watching my boss making decisions, I started to imagine what I would do differently if I have my own business. Starting a family and the need to secure the future was just the final push on the back to start our own business. Not necessarily the same kind of business we have worked with. Read more>>

Samuel Wang Wang | Co-Founder

We saw a missed opportunity for tea in Los Angeles. There were either boba shops or older tea shops that felt a bit intimidating. We wanted to serve tea for sure, but we wanted to do it our way: a place for customers to learn about tea and tea ceremonies in comfort and with ease. We also made sure we were located in a quieter area since tea is calming and relaxing, and it made no sense to be right next to a busy street and busy sidewalk. We ended up in Chinatown, which we thought was perfect for what we wanted to accomplish. Read more>>

Marisa Urrutia Gedney & Beatriz Garcia

“We can’t be the only ones in need of healing from all the harm of calling out injustices at work. Can we?” We kept asking each other forms of this same question on phone calls in furious tears after really difficult work moments. We held space for and acknowledged each other’s harm and gave guidance on what to do next at work. After spending our careers calling out inequities and experiencing pushback, we realized the toll it took on our confidence and power- we said, enough. We were accustomed to fighting to be heard and coerced into staying small. We wanted to stop being seen as disruptive. We wanted to stop focusing our work on demanding to be seen and instead shift to helping marginalized folks do this same work. The seed was planted for what has evolved and become Your Truth At Work. Read more>>

Jane Fernando | Owner

I had always been interested in starting my own business – in having something that was all mine. It was always important for me to be as authentic as possible and for this business to reflect what I valued in my personal life. For years, I teetered between several ideas for what I wanted my business to be about. I went through several exercises to determine what products I wanted to sell, what my unique proposition would be and most importantly, what my values are that I wanted to tie into the business until I settled on something that I felt proud and confident to put my name behind. However, it was timing that made me commit to following this dream. I was in a place in my career where I felt stuck, like I wasn’t where I wanted to be and I wasn’t positioned to take myself where I wanted to go. Read more>>

Ninamarie Jeffrey | Singer, Musician, Songwriter & Digital Marketer

My thought process went something like: I’ve had three different “traditional” jobs and am not thriving in the traditional work model but have a lot to offer. I need a pleasant work setup to be happy. Also a question – what is pleasant to me/what do I want out of life? And the conclusion! Let me create a career that supports who I am and the life I want. The more I read about being intentional with your life I understood that I am essentially trading life force (time/energy) for money, and therefore want to be paid well for my time. I couldn’t believe that working jobs leaving me feeling constantly frustrated, undervalued, and without much flexibility to enjoy the rest of life was IT. Certainly not in the world of abundance I found myself working in every day. In the last company I worked for, I was a part of marketing efforts leading to sales of 5-15 million dollar second-homes at a luxury residential community. Read more>>

Lee Van Dusen | Entrepreneur, Franchisor & CEO

Starting a sustainable business that helps other has been a goal of mine from a very young age. I have always had a passion for helping others and being my own boss. We came up the the idea of (The Lint Man) which started in 2001 in New Jersey. and now have several locations all across the country. While this business started to expand I started a second company called (Static Video Productions). We do TV/Film productions all across the world. My motivation for this business is mostly about passion. I want to make a mark on this planet and what better way to do that than to produce mind expanding content for millions of people? Read more>>

Susan Ashouri | Party Stylist & Party Decor

Starting sugarpartiesla was more than just starting a business. It has taught me about myself. I had to dig deeper to find what was truly my style and not imitating others. I wanted my work to reflect myself, my style and who I was. Each artist, stylist and/or brand always carries a certain style that they offer to people and that’s what I wanted to reflect as well. When someone asks me to create or design something for them I want to be able to freely create because that’s how I personally work best. Being true to yourself. Read more>>

Robin Carey | Chief of Product Development & Owner

IIn 2016 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Breast Cancer at the age of 40. During this time, I had a thriving chocolate company in Santa Rosa Ca. that I had spent years building. To be honest, I was devastated. I had grown up in a family that struggled with illnesses, quite a few members having passed from different forms of cancer. None being Breast Cancer. Regardless of the type, I was all too aware of what living and dying with cancer looked like. So many crazy things go through your head with a diagnosis like this, oddly, my first thought was that I did not want to lose my business, We had thought it were best that I put my business on hold while I had the surgeries and treatments. Just until I had enough energy to get back to the kitchen. Little did I know that I would not end up going back to my little chocolate company. Read more>>

Gretchen Zelek | Aging Enthusiastically Influencer

In my fifties I started a fitness products company designed to provide support for the knees, wrists and neck. I presented the topic “Exercise Tools for Baby Boomers” at fitness conferences around the country and met fitness professionals who had clients over 50 who wanted to stay fit and healthy. I was one of them and I imagined aging to be a whole lot different than what my parents and grandparents experienced. It was one thing providing people with the tools to workout, but I wanted to be a real part of how to continue to live a happy, healthy, fun and fulfilled life. I became a Functional Aging Specialist and Certified Group Fitness Instructor and, with a friend who was a personal trainer, we started the website DonutsandPieFitness.com. We share interviews with national fitness, health, wellness and lifestyle experts about innovative ways to age enthusiastically. Read more>>

Dayna Mance | Owner

Ever since I was a young girl, I always knew I wanted a clothing store. I ended up working retail most of my life and and spent ten years at a corporate retailer. I had the burning desire to go out on my own. I knew I would be ok if I failed, but I knew I could never live with myself if I didn’t try. Read more>>

Esther Hess | Developmental Psychologist

I have been a developmental psychologist specializing in autism spectrum disorder for the last 40+ years. For the first part of my career I was a mental health provider in private practice, helping families with the basic challenges of identifying and navigating the maze of autism. But when you have a child with a developmental delay, they generally need a variety of support services in addition to mental health support that can include occupational therapy, speech and language support and educational therapy. My parents began to ask for me to create one spot where they might be able to access all services necessary for their child to grow and thrive. And I listened! Read more>>

Lausanne Miller | Jewelry Designer & Business Owner

I dipped my toes in slowly at first, not having the courage right off the bat to go for it but started researching and taking first steps while also keeping one foot in my previous career of fashion design. I did that for a couple of months until my conviction and desire to create a line of unique, affordable luxury jewelry outweighed everything else and felt too right not to follow. Read more>>

Ronique King | Artist & Energy Healer

I started Callico California for two reasons, creative expression and freedom. I find we as people often get stuck in the rat race because we have responsibilities, and that sometimes these obligations run our life far more than our actual desires. I am also a firm believer that working for yourself gives you the ultimate form of freedom, control of your time. Having the option to decide how you’d like to spend your day is something that makes me innately more happy. With that said I knew I wanted to combine my artistic passions and spiritual beliefs in whatever direction I decided to go. Read more>>

Llewellyn Cox | Founder & CEO

Lab Launch was born out of a community of LA-area scientists and entrepreneurs who were frustrated by the lack of facilities and support in the area for startup biotech companies. We collectively realized that one of the key problems was a paucity of affordable, quality laboratory spaces, and so we founded our company with the express goal of closing the infrastructure gap with more established biotech hubs such as San Francisco or Boston. Read more>>

Jennifer Karuletwa | Yoga Teacher

The idea of Ground Down came to me while I was on a yoga retreat. I’d been a yoga practitioner for over 20 years and realized I wanted to start sharing the benefits with others. The concept grew during Covid quarintintine, as I had to start practicing in my living room since yoga studios we’re closed. My son would sometimes watch and sometimes join in. I realized yoga is something that can be brought into the home and incorporated into a lifestyle. It’s not just about going away twisting yourself into a pretzel and then coming back home. I’m also adament about expressing + living ALL aspects of yoga, not just asana (postures) which is how most of the western world has interpreted yoga. Read more>>

Jennifer Prado | Concert Pianist & Business Owner

My inspiration to open a Music Academy comes from my teenage ages when I first started teaching piano at the age of 16. I was realizing that something so creative and fun such as music, was thought of in a very repetitive and monotonous way. Learning music or how to play an instrument requires plenty of effort and coordination skills. There are also musical concepts, musical notes, and technique skills involved that have to be learned properly. At this point, I found myself asking how I could develop a music curriculum more attractive and engaging for the students. After years of research and training, I developed my own music method where the students really enjoy the learning process that is completely oriented to develop their musical abilities while exploring the music through different perspectives. Read more>>