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.

Zach Schueller | Custom Leather Goods Maker

The main reason I wanted to start my own business was so I was the one steering the ship. To pay the bills for the past 13 years I have worked freelance in the world of advertising photography. I studied photography in college and really love working as a digital intermediary technician (DIT). I love being part of a team a working towards a creative goal adding my skills to the project but ultimately I am helping someone else fulfill their dreams. I will alway love photography but I have come to realize that I don’t have the drive and or desire to be a successful photographer in advertising. thought my photographic career I have always been looking for something more that really allows me to create and provide something to the world. In that search I rekindled my enjoyment for custom leather work. The pandemic put a pause on all advertising work and in a never guaranteed freelance world I couldn’t sit idly by and wait. Maybe just to keep my mind and hands busy I dove head first into custom leather work. Read more>>

Tyrrell Shaffner | Writer, Director & Producer

After pitching and developing passion projects in the film industry for several years, I got impatient waiting for someone to tell me “yes.” So I decided to make my first feature film on my own terms. I started Ex Files Productions with my writing and business partner Meryl Branch-McTiernan to produce our feature length script, “The Dropout.” We developed the project ourselves, and we are in charge of producing and fundraising for the film with a crowd equity campaign. During this process, I find I’m often out of my comfort zone but I love being in control of my own destiny. We are aiming to shoot “The Dropout” this summer and I’ve never been so exhilarated as an artist!. Read more>>

Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin | Photographer/Artist

I’ve been a creative person for as long as I can remember and as I started to take on larger projects it made sense for me to establish my business. I established Nonstndrd Creative to serve as platform to sell products based off of my art and to provide photographic and design services to clients. Read more>>

Emily Nash | Actor & Coach

I had been working pretty steadily as an actor in New York City for several years, and I started to gain major traction in commercials. Commercials are notoriously difficult to break into and find consistent work in, given their competitive nature, but I somehow managed to carve out a place for myself in that world. Once the pandemic hit, commercials were one of the only facets of the entertainment industry that remained completely intact. I began casually coaching a few friends on their commercial material over Zoom, and one of them strongly suggested that I start my own commercial coaching business. I realized that while there was a plethora of acting coaches in New York City and elsewhere, no one was singularly focused on coaching acting for commercials, so I decided to claim that spot for myself! I started my own business, Emily Nash Commercial Coaching, a few months ago. It’s been so rewarding to get to flex my creative muscles in a brand new way while also helping other actors around the country!. Read more>>

Ashley Frangie and Leticia Sahagún | Creators of Se Regalan Dudas podcast

It started more like a hobby than a business. I think that gave us the freedom to grow the project without any expectations. But the podcast mainly began because we felt we needed a safe and open space to ask all our questions. Read more>>

Lisa Kastner | Founder and CEO, Running Wild, LLC (includes Running Wild Press and RIZE)

I realized that a lot of great stories and characters were being left by the wayside because they couldn’t be defined by conventional means/genres. That doesn’t mean that people don’t want to read them or wouldn’t be fans of them,. It simply means that conventional publishers didn’t necessarily know how to quantify the sales. So, I decided to start a press that focuses on those voices that need to be heard and have fans, they just need to be given a platform. Read more>>

Simone Tai | Mindful Empowerment Coach and Speaker

Even as a kid I remember daydreaming about being a businesswoman and carrying a briefcase (no idea where that came from!). But then I got a job in TV and that was my career for the next 20 yrs.  I still had many business ideas but didn’t have the courage or headspace to pursue them.  TV was a fun, creative career but very time-consuming. On paper I was very ‘successful’ working on all the big shows, having the fancy roles, and making a good income… but I felt unfulfilled. One thing that sparked my joy again was training to become a meditation teacher. I did this over weekends as I worked long hours on shows during the week. The more I learned about mindfulness and how to heal my own mental suffering – the happier I felt. I began to hear that little voice inside telling me to leave TV and find my purpose.  So I did. Read more>>

Pep Williams | Fine Art Photographer

I have always done my own thing. From being a pro skateboarder as a kid and seeing everyone I was around always had their own business made it easy for me to decide to do my own thing. So many examples of success around me. Read more>>

Taelyr Wilson | Kitchen Creative

My thought process behind starting my own business: just go for it. I used to think I had to have all of these resources before I could start a business, or that it had to be perfect but life is too short. At the end of 2019 I lost my Granny, and that put a lot of things into perspective for me and how I wanted to live my life. I had to stop being afraid of my dreams and just go for them so I did. Read more>>

 Keci Moniquè | Coach and Consultant

Initially starting a business is not where my mindset was. I was a young entrepreneur who had no idea about the process of business. Initially I got into the business of braiding hair because I needed to feed myself. I was 15 years old in the product of a drug addict mother and an ambivalent father who chose to have more children with his wife and care for those children while leaving me behind. I had to find my way and for approximately 30 years braiding hair not only paid my bills but it took care of me substantially. Thus, it was something that had to be done. Read more>>

Charmaine Platon, RN | Sugar Cravings Coach & Certified Keto Health Coach

2 years ago, I was scrolling on Instagram when I saw a post that changed EVERYTHING for me. This post was a picture of someone who had just gotten off work as was holding a “Unicorn Frapp” from Starbucks. In the post caption, this person put the hashtag #selfcare. After I saw that post, it dawned on me… Many people think that eating sugar and carbs is a form of self-care. Because these kind of foods (high in sugar and carbs) give us an unnaturally high dopamine hit, many people mistake the feeling of “pleasure” with “comfort.” They think that “pleasure” is equivalent to self-care. I’m determined to debunk that myth. Read more>>


Simo Benbachir | TV Reporter

When I started working in the Media back home in Morocco, I didn’t want to be stuck working in a nine to five job, so I decided to be a freelance reporter. I was crazy about travelling and I suddenly I thought about something no other Moroccan journalist had done before – work the red carpet in the United States as the first Moroccan entertainment reporter in the United States. Thanks to the Moroccan American movie director Sanaa Hamri who gave the chance to cover the premiere of her movie Just Wright (2010) starring Queen Latifah & Common who I had chance to interview. One year later I came back to interview Lady Gaga producer Moroccan-Swedish RedOne (Nadir Khayat) on the red carpet of the Grammys. The rest is history!. Read more>>

Stas Chirkov | Founder & CEO of BLUNT SKINCARE

Starting Blunt Skincare in a new industry wasn’t an easy task. I had 10+ years of beauty industry experience working as a chemist, product designer, and engineer. Still, no one taught us about cosmetic ingredients derived from cannabis, so my thought process was simple — stick to what I know the best: chemistry and product development. I set out to research different compounds found in the cannabis plant, and the brand idea was born. I wanted to create a transparent, radically honest beauty brand that will educate consumers on the benefits of cannabinoids for skin health. There is more and more research coming out, we’re very excited to be part of a new movement in skincare. Read more>>

Catherine Ireland | Nurse Practitioner and owner of Root 66 Beauty Supply store

I saw a need in the community. There are no black beauty supply stores in my area or close to my area. I would have to drive 30 to 40 minutes to find products for my hair. I noticed the community growing with more people of color who shared the same issue. I figured I should give it a try and use my own money without loans and if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t owe anyone but myself. This was my thinking during the entire process. Read more>>

Danilo Batson | Spicy Green Book, Founder and Executive Director

The demand and the support created this business. I never set out to start my own nonprofit organization. After the George Floyd murder and seeing everyone wanting to be more intentional about supporting Black-owned businesses, I wanted to create an easy to use website to find a Black-owned eatery in Southern California. As others started to hear about this site our supporters were reaching out to us asking for expansion. Soon we realized we were creating something that many people wanted to get behind and because of the support of the people we will continue to expand. Read more>>

Basil Schneeberger | Film director

At the end of 2020, I founded a production company called Heimat Films. I noticed people in the film industry are always in the search of the right team and collaborators to work with. Whether this was in my home country in Switzerland or in film school at USC in Los Angeles, filmmakers naturally end up building teams of individuals that are on the same frequencies in terms of workflow and creativity. It makes perfect sense, it takes a lot of people to make a film and it’s not an easy process. Yet I told myself, these teams could benefit from a professional apparatus! An entity that allows them to be more credible and promote their work as a group. That thought process motivated me to create a company with a bunch of friends that are keen on defining a brand and a style we are all passionate about. The company would also serve as a networking tool and a hub for filmmakers to get together and share knowledge. And that’s exactly where I want to be, surrounded by endless groups of passionate people. Read more>>

Alex Walker Smith | Composer & Actor

The main draw for me was being able to set my own hours. Another plus is that your return on investment is often much higher when you work for yourself than when you work for someone else. But it is important to remember that what you get out of it depends on what you put in. Read more>>

Gabrielle M. Collins | Screenwriter, Producer & Director

As a prolific writer, it became frustrating waiting to be recognized as a consistent creator of film and television content. I wanted to be able to create across several genres without being put into a box. I love exploring worlds that I’ve always been naturally curious about, whether it’s a romantic comedy, crime drama, thriller, or sci-fi, and bringing them to life with organic storytelling. Read more>>

Mary Kennedy | Program Director for Youth Acting Biz and The Biz Studio

I really like working for myself and finding my own destiny. It is really creative. Being an actor, comic and teacher., I have realized, I learn from so many. But I also know I do my best working for myself. I do have some people who work for me,. The truth is that they know more than I do sometimes and that is totally ok. I like that I don’t know everything. I am still learning. As a boss I like to hire people who are self starters and bring something I don’t have to the table. Read more>>

Jonathan Moore | Actor & Photographer

My first few thoughts about the process of starting my own business came when my agency kept telling me to get new headshots to add to my casting sites. Anyone who is pursuing a career in acting especially in L.A. knows that you need headshots, and a few of them. They need to be dynamic, striking and most importantly tell a story. Well, headshots in LA can run up to $1600 and sometimes more if you add in a hair and make up team and pay for extra edits. You need a headshot that feels like your personality, a headshot that looks like it belongs in a drama, then a headshots that looks like you can sell insurance and the list goes on. It all really depends on your type and look. So when I heard that I needed all these headshots with different hairstyles, looks and essences. That would not only be submitted and pitched to different casting offices on the regular but be my calling card on a multitude of actor casting sites. Read more>>

Shelby McKee | Founder and CEO: Keysocks

I was getting ready to go to a Cincinnati Bengals football game on a brisk fall Sunday. Wanting to wear ballet flats and with the temperature falling, I realized I needed the comfort of a sock but with the look of a no-show. Traditional footies always fell off my feet, scrunched up in my shoes and never provided warmth; so armed with scissors, I cut a hole in a pair of knee-high dress socks. I slipped my flats on and was so comfortable! I got to the game and realized…WOW, I think I have something here! My last name is McKee and my friend looked at me and said, “That is not a MacGyver sock, that is a McKeever sock!” We took McKeever and opted for Keysocks…every Key has a hole! After researching knee high no-show socks and seeing that the idea had never been created, I was committed to seeing my dream become a reality for other women who have suffered long enough for fashion footwear and the Keysock was born! I created the only knee high no-show socks that stay in place and out of sight. I recruited my two sisters, Christy and Stefanie, and the journey of a family business began. Read more>>

Paulinda Babbini | President/Founder The Ovarian Cancer Circle/Inspired By Robin Babbini

Ten years ago I founded The Ovarian Cancer Circle/Inspired by Robin Babbini to honor my daughter, Robin. When she was only 17 she fell ill with a myriad of symptoms. Our family didn’t know anything about ovarian cancer. And doctors didn’t consider testing for this insidious disease because of Robin’s youth. But then, swiftly, the diagnosis came– Stage 3 ovarian cancer. After enduring a grueling series of surgeries and chemo therapy over 2 and half years, Robin died when she was only 20 years old. She had just begun her freshman year at UC Santa Barbara. In order to create some purpose out of this colossal loss, I had to do far more than cherish memories of my ever dynamic, ambitious daughter. I had to shine a light on Robin’s legacy and so I have committed myself to networking, community outreach, educating and fundraising to do battle against ovarian cancer. Read more>>

Wendy Shugar | Blue Haired Nature Connection Hiking Guide – Life Coach, Hiking Guide, Backpacking Guide!

Happy Hikers Fitness – Fitness for your Mind, Body and Soul was not taken lightly. I was in a geat place in my life, family, three great kids, success around every corner (so I thought) and I was doing everything I wanted, traveling etc. But when I realized that I was not happy, i mean truely happy I knew I needed to make a change. You see I realized one could have everything they wanted monetarily and still not be happy. I finally decided that I wanted to be ME that that me that everyone else including society told me to be.. ie – grow up go to schoold get a degreee, get married, make a lot of money, retire travel and die. I had the Aha moment that I did not need to do thing in “that” order and in fact it was ok to live outside the box and still be happy, still be successfull, still me a mentor and be living my life happily, while working on my legacy every single day! So then it began, I decided to live my childhood dream. Read more>>

Brigitte Zeitlin Zeitlin | celebrated registered dietitian, women’s health coach, and media personality.

My approach to nutrition has always been an all-foods-fit mindset. And I wasn’t seeing that in the private nutrition practices out there. I was seeing nutritionists/dietitians teaching women how to diet….I wanted to teach women how to live. I wanted to build a nutrition practice that reminded women food is meant to be enjoyed, not weighed-not calorie-counted- not restricted. That was the initial seed from where BZ Nutrition grew. Read more>>

RAW | Fluid Artist, Author & Entrepreneur

As an artist, it’s more than fair to say I’m a dreamer. Add that to my water sun and moon sign and you have a person whose head is often in the clouds. It wasn’t until I enrolled in business classes at the University before my mind frame altered a bit. Mind you, I was the most marginalized human in most all of these classes. This perplexed me a bit. I struggled to understand the imbalance of BIPOC and business. It enticed me. I was surrounded by eager, privileged, Anglo males- learning the fundamentals of business administration, accounting, and marketing. Although still very much artsy, I compartmentalized that aspect. I focused more on the science of it all. Because, If I were to be honest with myself, I wanted to profit from my art. But more than that, I wanted ownership of my art. Ownership. This is why I wanted to start my own business- to retain ownership and still exist as an artist. The very best kind. Read more>>

Jian Huang | Communications Director & Co-Founder of pH Collective

When starting the marketing agency with my business partner Holly, my thought process was pretty simple: why not us? I had been working in communications for a decade, and even worked for several established institutions — government, museums, nonprofits, boutique agencies — but always working for a boss. That’s not to say my bosses were bad to work for. On the contrary, I had some terrific mentors in the past. But as I matured, I felt like I had more to offer — ideas for how to direct a project, for how to manage clients, how to run the business — a bigger vision that I just didn’t have the opportunity for when working for someone else. So in 2017, Holly and I took a chance on ourselves. We invested a lot of sweat equity and pooled all the spare cash we had at the time (about $400), built a website, printed business cards, and called everyone we knew. Just like that: we were in business. Read more>>

Eugena Delman | Fashion tech entrepreneur

I started Revvie in the early days of the pandemic. At the time, I had my own fashion brand called Ava James NYC that focused on size-inclusive women’s clothing. We were direct-to-consumer but, like many small emerging brands, we were heavily reliant on in-person events like pop-ups and trunk shows for our revenue. When COVID happened, all of that stopped. My digital business was basically non-existent but I was now forced to focus on online. Moreover, as a woman shopper, I realized that buying clothes online is really difficult. Unlike other products, fashion is unique in that a product that works for one woman doesn’t necessarily work on me. There’s a lot of mental gymnastics that goes into figuring out whether something will look good on my body type. I realized that having photo reviews was critical in my own purchase decisions and that was the lightbulb moment: why not create a photo review platform specifically for smaller fashion brands that’s all about establishing brand trust and making it easier for women to shop from small, local brands. Read more>>

Mikal Burrell | DJ Tip Toe

Honestly my major thought process and goal was to create and opportunity to help other people giving back to those who helped us get to where we are today. And i did not have a solid idea as to how to do it but when there is a will and drive there is a way by any means. Read more>>

Allie Landry | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Health and fitness have always been a priorities in my life. From a young age I enjoyed learning how to fuel my body and become the best version of myself through nutrition and exercise. This led me to the field of dietetics. In college, my love of health quickly turned into an obsession with food and my body. I developed disordered eating habits which unfortunately are normalized in today’s culture. I felt guilty every time I ate food considered to be “unhealthy”, was unhappy in my skin, and struggled to find any balance. Learning about intuitive eating and food freedom changed my life. I was able to apply what I learned in school and no longer worry about every calorie consumed. I had less stress, more energy, was no longer controlled by my body insecurities. My personal transformation from struggling with food and body image to a life of freedom is what motivated me to start my business empowering women do the same. Read more>>

Melinda Markulis | Women’s Lifestyle Coach

Starting my own business was a jump into dark water. Ill be frank with all of you…I was full of fear and low self esteem. After I completed school for coaching and nutrition I jumped immediately into a Entertainment Career. Dancing modeling and acting my life away in Los Angeles! Ive never done anything that was MY responsibility. Something that I would create, handle, market, manage, and grow. But just like I teach my clients “on the other side of fear is one of your greatest successes” and that is what it felt launching Lindy Glow.Some back story of Lindy Glow… It is a educational platform for woman and girls to find resources about female holistic health. Ive developed a 3-6 month program called “Find Your Glow” that helps woman identify their Infradian Rhythm and sync it to their lifestyle. Giving them the optimal opportunity to start their health journey and truly start understanding their bodies and minds. Find Your Glow is about finding your happiness. Read more>>

Stephanie Polite | Entrepreneur

Starting a business has always been a passion of mine since I was a child. I decided to pursue my passion on February 14, 2020 and open a women’s fashion boutique which caters to women of all shapes and sizes. I wanted to have all size apparel because I am a tall plus size women who always hated shopping because I could never find anything trendy in my size. I wanted to bring awareness to full figure women showing that we too are confident and love to shop in style. Read more>>

Andres Fragoso Jr | Publisher

My thought process was always helping people. I found a niche in writing and became a publisher. I like helping others with publishing their books, memoirs, and everything else they have to say. Read more>>

Navah and Matt Asner | Founders

Matt and I were definitely inspired to create the center by our 3 autistic sons. We were forever shlepping them from Enrichment to therapies and always dreamt of a place where special needs families could have a one stop shop: enrichments -Vocational and expressive arts camps as well as mental health support for the entire special needs family. Read more>>

LaToya Shambo | CEO & Founder of Black Girl Digital

In 2011, five days after giving birth to my 10lb daughter, I was hit by a car with her in my arms. By the grace of God, she walked away without a scratch! I on the other hand had broken my left tibia, fibula, navicular, and right shoulder blade. I had to spend 15 painful days in the hospital, in rehab, away from my newborn to learn how to exist in this world with the injuries I had sustained. Fast forward seven long weeks later, I was out of the cast and in out-patient rehab, where I had a conversation with an older gentleman who asked me what happened after I told him his response made me realize that there was something so much bigger inside of me. I was working at Complex Media at the time and while visiting the office during my leave, on crutches, the CEO asked, “how could you possibly be smiling after what happened to you?” My response was simply, “God got me”. But I was smiling because being back in the building, a feeling came over me that confirmed this is what I wanted, this is the legacy I want to leave behind for my daughter. Read more>>

Jason Mercado | Sweet Mission~Owner/Operator

My thought process behind starting my business was the fact that, at the time I was homeless and needed to come up with a solution to end my homelessness. I knew how to bake cookies,so thus the creation of Sweet Mission. Read more>>

Chris Rodway | Producer, Actor, Rock & Roll Singer

When I started out nobody was willing to give me a job due to having no experience. So I created my own project and hired myself. That’s how I realized I love producing and running the whole operation. So I started my company, and here we are years later making huge projects!. Read more>>

Emily Osborn | Wedding and Event Coordinator

Brittany Olsen, founder of Studio B Consulting, started her own business based on the support from her friends, family, and previous employers. She had been traveling the world planning events, and came back to Nashville where she was given the opportunity to help create a new event concept. This opportunity made her realize that she could start her own successful business, so she denied the opportunity and started Studio B Consulting. Emily Osborn came onto Studio B Consulting in a similar way. Emily had been planning events for years in Nashville, and clients were beginning to ask her to plan more than just the standard wedding. This made her realize that she could plan and facilitate weddings on her own. Emily knew Brittany had started her own event planning business focusing on corporate and international events, so Emily and Brittany collaborated to bring own the wedding portion of Studio B Consulting!. Read more>>

Dwayne Mariner | RN, BSN Owner

My wife and I had long been trying to figure out an escape from ER nursing. We had traveled around the country nursing in every level of Emergency. We nursed in Level 1 trauma centers, Level 1 pediatric trauma centers, rural Emergency rooms, stand alone ERs, ICU, psychiatric facilities, stroke centers, advanced stroke centers and cardiac centers. We were no longer fulfilled by the revolving door of ER medicine. That being said, we started trying to decide what we could do to continue nursing, but in a preventive capacity. We, as trained ER nurses, had no idea how to start or run a business. We had an idea with very little knowledge of where to start. We only wanted to help people stay out of the hospitals and IV vitamin therapy seemed to be the way. Read more>>