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.

Kim Gingras | Professional Dancer, Public Speak & Mentor

I’ve just wrapped up my very first round of my online mentorship program The Kim Gingras Experience and I’m on cloud nine! What a joy it is to watch what was once just an idea flourish into something so wonderful and so unifying! Throughout my 15+ year career as a professional dancer, I’ve always had a passion for teaching. As the years passed, I started defining what it was exactly that I enjoyed sharing with others, and what they really looked forward to learning from me. It went beyond movement. I kept being asked similar questions or receiving similar messages such as “How do I get signed to an agency? How can I audition for Beyoncé? How should I brand myself? How do I build meaningful connections with choreographers in the industry?” And the most reoccurring question : “How do I build my self-confidence?” It was becoming very clear to me that it was time to create a program where I could tell ALL. Read more>>

Tisha Morris | Publishing Consultant & Literary Agent

As an author of five books, I decided it was time to, not only write myself, but to help other writers become authors. I started Morris Literary & Management and The Publishing Portal as a way to merge the business and craft of writing and publishing. I want to help the voices that can make a positive impact on our world be heard and out into the world through story, expertise, and unique perspectives. Whether through traditional publishing or indie publishing, I want to lift up all voices. The publishing process can be overwhelming for most people, especially since it’s changing so fast. My mission is to take the overwhelm out of it, while allowing the author to get the royalties they deserve. Publishing should be a win-win. The mission of The Publishing Portal is to produce books that are of the highest quality, equivalent to traditional publishing with the author receiving 100% of the royalties. I also help writers find their voice through nonfiction and memoir. Read more>>

Noah Bernett | Entrepreneur

I’ve always been drawn to business. As cliché as it might sound, I remember having a few lemonade stands when I was a kid. When I was 8 years old my father introduced me to the lucrative business of cotton candy where we would setup a stand in front of his ice cream store during street festivals in my home town of Montreal, Canada. After a few years of doing this with him, I decided to buy my own machine for $1500 so that I could hire an employee and sell cotton candy at multiple street festivals happening simultaneously. I would say that this was where my entrepreneurial spirit started to grow. I started my first real business, CoolWay Ice Cream, when I was 18. My love for creating businesses with the need to find an alternative to going to university -something I was never quite drawn to -is what pushed me to move forward with CoolWay. When my partners and I spoke about creating a high protein ice cream for the first time, it felt right to me and gave me the drive to take the risk and start the company. Read more>>

Travis Hite | Loving Human and Hair Artist

The previous salons I had worked in seemed to serve the owners’ egos more than the guests that visited for hair services. The intentions were often misguided which was bothersome for me. I always found myself mentally interpreting their owner behavior as “what not to do” if I ever landed in that role myself, rather than being inspired by or choosing to adopt their work style. One day, I decided that I could no longer be annoyed with clowns, if I was the one choosing to go to the circus. I quickly realized I needed to take a risk, jump off a metaphorical cliff and trust I would be able to catch myself. The glass box was a decision to create a selfless space to serve guests the way that I had envisioned — with complete transparency, care, and centered on the guest, not myself. Read more>>

Donna Malatino | Hairstylist & Men’s Groomer

I decided to do things very differently and focus on personalized service, building long term relationships with my clients and not focusing on high volume. This plan has served me well. My clients love and appreciate the high regard I have for them and the integrity with which I work. Read more>>

Joey Farese | DJ

In 2014 I graduated from Florida State University and the studying, partying and sleeping till noon came to a screeching halt. I was thrust into the real world and needed to make a decision that would affect the rest of my life – what career path did I want to take. I sat down to make a list of aspirations and traits I would want in a career. All I could think about was how much fun I had been having the last 4 years during college. I liked partying, I liked studying and I loved sleeping in. So I decided to choose a career path that would allow me to do all three. I’d been DJing every party I had ever been to for the majority of my life so I thought that might be a good place to start. I spent the next 6 months studying up on how to start my own business. It was countless nights of reading about advertising, website development and most importantly customer relations. I was already a great DJ; I just needed to figure out how to share my passion with the world, and make money doing it. Shortly thereafter I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams of starting a DJ company. Read more>>

Dave “Chachi” Denes | President of Benztown Branding USA, LLC.

I would love to say we had a grand plan and the company was throughly thought out and researched before we launched Benztown. However, It was really out of necessity. In the throws of the financial crisis, the company I was working for had massive layoffs on President Obama’s inauguration Day and I was one of 2000 plus employees who were invited to leave. At the time I was terrified but in retrospect it turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me professionally. Read more>>

Phoenix Gonzalez | Co-Founder | Head of Sales (Please Include: Sandra McCurdy Co-Founder | Head of Distribution )

Our thought process was very organic! Silked was born out of necessity. As two diverse women of color silk was never a beauty secret in our lives, it was in fact a constant nightly ritual that our mothers and grandmothers performed to promote healthy hair and smooth, moisture-rich skin. For centuries, women have incorporated silk or satin scarves around their head or over their eyes to promote the integrity of their hair, face and skin; we wanted to create an easy and accessible way to share this age-old, age-defying secret with the world and in April 2017 they established Silked in Los Angeles, California. Driven by a desire to share a more environmentally responsible, innovative, and travel-friendly pillowcase that would offer a convenient and versatile way to boost beauty sleep; we invented the Silked Pillow Sleeve. Read more>>

Joyce Gerber | Certified Nutritional Consultant, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, offering Functional Medicine and Naturopathic Solutions.

Actually, there was no thought at all…it was pure passion! From the age of 20, when someone I hitched a ride from brought me to my first health food store/restaurant, I was hooked! Within a few years, I knew that I wanted to share what I’d learned about nutrition, detoxification, and healing the body naturally with the world! I knew that I wanted that to be my profession, and from there, I chose the modalities I wanted to learn, and with whom I wanted to study. Read more>>

Mauro Gatti | The Happy Broadcast Founder

I suffer of anxiety and I realized that the fear-mongering and click-baiting headlines were making my condition worse. While it’s important to report problems and issues so we can prevent bad things from happening again, I believe there is so much good in this world that just needs to be found and promoted. So I’ve decided to use my talent (I am a creative person) to spread some positivity and highlight the good happening in the world. That day The Happy Broadcast was born, it’s a counter hate and fear culture project that features weekly illustrated positive news from around the world. I call them Anxiety free news, an antitode to the doom and gloom portrayed by the media. It’s a collection of news stories that highlight the work of the fixers, doers and problem-solvers in order to inspire and show that the world is not the frightening place portrayed in the media. Read more>>

Opal Unicorn | Artist

It was a natural thing, honestly. I think that being part of corporate america designing toys for so long had something to do with it. I think it make my mind capitalistic, and i reflect on that, and think why do i wasnt to make products now? I love manufacturing , its second nature to me, i have been in in this business for o long, that i guess why not make your own small business , using sustainable materials , with better messages than what we see in big business. Read more>>

Carina La Dulce | Singer & Composer

I was a session performing artist for many years and never thought about building my own business based on my music, till the exact moment, in which I started to create my own music. I faced a lot of questions such as “how can I release it and where should I share it to find the people who will like it, without struggling to find and sign a contract with a big label?” I found out that the modern world gives amazing opportunities to the independent musician, that help you to get heard by the many people from all over the world, who like your music style, your ideas, and, which is the most important for me personally – it gives you a good chance to stay connected with this people and infinitely expand this circle of your like-minded music family. I’ve started to search all the ways I can use to expose my music as well as defining all the things I can share with them. Read more>>

Taya Brooks | Model & Fitfluencer

I’d had the opportunity to model for many activewear brands and I had a strong opinion of what I liked and what was comfortable, fashionable and functional. I couldn’t always find items that ticked all these boxes. My good friend, Tayla Hope, had just graduated from university studying fashion design. I approached her to see what her plans were following completion of her course and she jumped at the chance to join with me and create Flextt. I was a dancer and she was a cheerleader and we both love to live healthy active lives. We made it our mission to inspire others to live healthier lives by feeling more confident in what they wear. A priority for us from day one was offering sizes XS to XXL to cater for as many body shapes and sizes as possible. We wanted our range to be accessible to everyone. Read more>>

Will Hackner | CEO of Varsity Gay League

Starting Varsity Gay League was never in the front of my mind or the back of my mind. In fact, it took players years to convince me to even ask for a donation to events that we would do. My background was corporate entertainment and my focus was building that career, while Varsity Gay League was a hobby that allowed me to entertain missing aspects of my life: socializing with the queer community outside of bars, playing games and being silly. In 2012, my life took a dazzling turn in the wrong direction. In a matter of weeks, I was dealt with numerous challenges I wasn’t sure if I could get through. I was diagnosed with a major chronic illness, I was laid off from my job, my father was struggling with multiple brain tumors, while my Mom and Step-Dad were fighting to save their business from a failed CEO, and then my best friend broke his neck while with me in Mexico and almost died. After all of that, I took a step back and looked at my life, where it was going and how it could make me happy. Varsity Gay League was the answer. Read more>>

Lawrence EM Hart | Fine Jewelry Designer and Manufacturer

I had worked in the corporate world and realized I was being dictated to constantly and decided that being the boss was the best way to go to achieve my goals. Read more>>

Tray Wilkerson | Artist & Designer

Behind starting my own business, my thoughts were Legendary! I’ve always wanted to leave a big impact on people while and even after i am living. I also didn’t want to put all my time and effort into working for someone else and helping their business skyrocket, when I have just as big or even bigger dreams of my own. Through my business I would hope to create generational health for my family members to come as well as leave them with something to call their own, manage, and continue. The legacy must go on. Read more>>

Lawrence Suare | Allay Cremation Founder

The thought process and motivation started at my last job in the corporate world. I worked at a well-known cemetery/funeral home for 8 and a half years, but the last 4 years I started to feel like I was looking up at “glass ceiling”. In other words, I was stuck. I worked hard at every position and built great relationships, but it was either someone I trained would get promoted or, as someone once said to me,”Although you’ve done this longer, I’m older than you.” My experience started as a receptionist and I worked my way up through the company with high hopes of being where everyone wanted to be, a memorial counselor. I remember throughout my time at the funeral home I always said to my coworkers,”We should just start a funeral home. We can do all of this.” Little did I know, I was manifesting. Before I even knew what “manifestation” was, before the instagram motivational meme’s, I was manifesting. Once I realized the company I worked for was just another corporate ladder that was dictating my future. Read more>>

Tash Hamilton | Intuitive Life Coach

I knew I wanted to help others through my intuitive gift. When I was six years old that I had a gift to see into people’s lives. It’s when I worked in corporate and was conducting sessions after work hours and became more in demand is when I realized I had to make a choice; either my 9-5 or making myself more available for my clients to avoid spreading myself too thin. Finally, I took a leap of faith and stepped into action to be of service by way of my gift. I now support thousands around the world including top celebrities in the industry. Read more>>

Erika Bellitt | Designer & Creative Director

Starting a creative design business in the middle of a pandemic definitely has it’s ups and downs. I have been so blessed to work with so many amazing creatives and learn from the best in the industry. As I produced some of my favorite designs under other brands, I became to realize that if I wanted to really step into my craft, I had to take the plunge and go out on my own. As much as I would love to say I had it all figured out, Covid was actually the push that forced me to make some tough decisions and start ARRAY Creative Design. When you are a creative, you give a piece of yourself to every design you produce and as my heart grew deeper for this passion, I wanted to inspire others to follow their dreams. To do that, I had to follow mine. As the pandemic turned our industry upside down, I took the time away from events to curate what I wanted ARRAY to stand for and what I wanted it to represent within our industry and the creative world. It’s lead me to so many amazing relationships and growth as a business owner and creative. Read more>>

Sarah Mann | Fitness Instructor, Producer & Performer

Starting my own business happened without too much thought. As an independent Pilates instructor and performer, who works out of a variety of locations, who is fully self employed, and wants to make sure that I have as much liability coverage as possible, it simply made sense. Read more>>

Romain Lecat | Artisan Baker

I’ve always been passionate about good food, and after moving to Los Angeles I was really missing the great tasting bread made from high quality ingredients that I had grown up with in France. It seemed like most of the options in the area were made with refined flour, mass produced, and nutrient deficient. This was not at all what I would have expected here in LA, in the capital of healthy lifestyles! This inspired me to look back to my roots in Paris. I teamed up with my brother Alex and together we studied at the École de boulangerie et de pâtisserie de Paris to learn classic French baking techniques and how to work with the best French ingredients. Now with Sweat Wheat Bakery we are proud to offer Angelinos real French bread and pastries made exclusively with the finest French flour. Read more>>

Wendy Lazar | Plush Organ Designer

I wish I could say I had a master plan for starting this business of making plush organs. But the dirty truth is that it was just a kooky idea I had while drunk-drawing organs as a heartbroken 20-something. It would sound better if I had it all figured out. I have always loved drawing and science. I Heart Guts turned out to be the perfect marriage of these two passions. I didn’t choose my path as much as stumbled into it and kept going. Even though the business was born from my passion for drawing and science and super-cute artwork, ultimately I Heart Guts is a service — plush organs help our customers get a dose of that “laughter is the best medicine” thing. We are not just producing a product, we are giving people the power to giggle in the face of illness. Read more>>

Christopher Olsefsky | Small Business Owner & Chef

I have always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit and have consistently portrayed a great sense of ownership with any job that I’ve held. I would have never expected to be starting my own business so abruptly, but with the pandemic raging and my savings dwindling fast, it seemed the most obvious move was to take what money I did have left and take a chance on myself. Read more>>

Stefanie Greenberg | Learning Specialist & Founder of Creative Learning Studio

I wanted to create a learning center that did not offer a “cookie-cutter” approach to learning. After being in education for over three decades, and working with so many different types of students, I developed an affinity for individualized education. Over ten years ago, I was hired and trained to work as a Learning Specialist at Sasha Bornstein’s Kelter Center. Through this invaluable training, and subsequent training in Educational Therapy at UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge, I accumulated additional educational techniques to use with students with all types of learning differences. I discovered that being a Learning Specialist was a perfect fit for me. These experiences encouraged me to open my own business. I created my own program of individualized education to “fill in the gaps” that my students so desperately needed. Read more>>

Colin Wright | Author & Analytic Journalist

My main motivation in starting my first business, back when I was still in school, was wanting to do the work I was already doing better—according to my personal standards for “better.” I didn’t intend to get rich or achieve notoriety: I was just tired of having other peoples’ metrics of success determine the shape of the work I was doing, and that resulted in some research and footwork to figure out how to start my own company, balance the accounting books, and so on. I could never really go back after I’d experienced that freedom of behavior and alignment of my beliefs and actions. Transitioning to running your own business is not easy, and it comes with a lot of additional responsibilities, but the trade-offs, to me, were more than worth making for the benefits they provided. Read more>>

Ashley Kravitz | Clearance Business for the Entertainment Industry

Honestly, I had not given much thought to starting my own business, however, my dream was always to work from home. I was pregnant with my second child while working at a large company and really wanted to stay-at-home and raise my kids, or at least I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, however, I truly believe that I love to work. Just before I was to go on maternity leave, I received a call and I had mentioned that I was not sure if I was going to return after having my baby and that if they ever needed help, to please reach out. 9 months later I received a call to ask me to work on a film. I was able to start my business very slowly and gradually build it up to what it is today. Read more>>

Terrie Velazquez-Owen | Hairstylist ,Lover of planet Earth

I had always wanted to start a beauty product/brand since I started working as a hairstylist many years ago but didn’t want to create just another me too line with cheap ingredients in plastic bottles that I slap a label on . I really wanted it be something useful and beautiful and packaging waste has always weighed on my mind since as a hairdresser working in film and TV production we have a ton of waste and beauty packaging is not easily recycled . I had toyed with the idea of refillable products years ago when I read on the label of a Dr Bronners Castile soap bottle ,saying to take this bottle back to the store to refill from the barrel! When the pandemic hit I found myself with a lot of time at home and on the encouraging of a friend she keep asking me for some sanitizer and what do I use at work since she was a photographer and looking for ways to stay safe on set as well. There the idea for germaphobe was born when I took a formula I had been making for myself and my own work station and decided to make some for a friend. Read more>>

Moni Lam | Chef and Owner. (Pronouns: We/They/Them)

INOMONI Vegan was unofficially conceived in 2010 when Chef Moni’s Mother and Sister created the first version of Our now Best Selling Vegan Siu Mai (Pork & Mushroom Dumpling). It was just an idea then but with no formal training or experience in the Restaurant Industry, both Mama INOM and Chef Moni used to merely daydream of one day opening their own Restaurant/ Cafe. After a 9 year stint as a Fashion Designer, Chef Moni made the leap in 2018 to pursue Small Business in the Food Industry. We (Chef Moni tends to use the Royal “We” and “Their/Them” when referring to INOMONI) started with a Meal Prep and Catering Concept not specifying in Dim Sum. But soon, We decided to revisit our Family Siu Mai Recipe and decided to rework it. Very quickly after finalizing the Siu Mai recipe, We had to include another Classic Dim Sum dish, Har Gow (Crystal Shrimp Dumpling). And what’s Dim Sum without Variety? Within a week. Read more>>

Alexandra Reed | Yoga Teacher, Voice Actor, and Energy Worker

I followed the nudges that I felt in my heart… it sounds simple but it was definitely the more challenging route to choose in the fork because there was no guarantee and there really is no guarantee ever, so why not do what lights you up??? I knew I was drawn to something that would change the course of other peoples lives whether or not it would change mine. Which of course it has. I do more than one thing in terms of “my business” but each industry I am involved in supports the other, my kids yoga biz supports my voiceover biz with the storytelling aspects of both which in turn supports my work in energy/reiki realm to help people unravel the stories they tell themselves that hold them in a place that may no longer serve their dreams. I may not have a traditional looking business, but it all serves me and my livelihood and most importantly keeps me fulfilled. Read more>>

Ash Gupta | Photographer/ Founder of 838 Media Group

I moved to Los Angeles in 1992. A young fashion photographer from India and New York now in LA. So difficult to break in. Did not know where to start or where to end. One thing was for sure things were happening here in LA behind closed doors and I needed to find those doors. Four years of rigorous interning and assisting a time came when a hand full of people and art directors/buyers started to know my name and work. For a guys who just came to LA with dreams and his talent without knowing anyone it was a perfect time to start a platform. I wanted to start a place where any upcoming artist can walk in. It was my turn to teach back. Brooke’s and other photography schools began to send their student to intern with me. They work, learn, and leave. Then the transition period and a new team would come. This was the time we had to rethink the strategy. We decided to create a collective where internship was a good tool to get to know the artist. In another way, it was a three month long interview. Read more>>

Jackie Robbins | Fine Artist/Photographer & Couture Leathermarker

According to my parents I talked about being an ‘Artist’ from as early as 5 years old. I didn’t know what an artist was really, but I seem to have come into life ‘knowing’ that. Next I began, as most children do, to color with crayons and developed the desire to paint, and because of my intense intrest was provided with these materials. By the time I was in elementary school, my teachers were informing my parents that I was clearly talented in the arts and that if possible I should be supported with extra curricular activites, which I was blessed to recieve. I became a prized student at the Chouniard Art Institute in Los Angeles, being the youngest person ever enrolled in Saturday life drawing classes at 11 years old. My Grandmother had created a ‘Knit Shop’ (also in Los Angeles) featuring her own designs but also focusing on teaching knitting and creating custom patterns for her patrons in the 1940’s. This business well-supported her and her 2 young daughters after her husband died at the tender age of 30-something to well through her middle age. Read more>>