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.

Laniea Dominguez | Founder

The reason I started Comedy for Causes was to combine my passion of performing stand up comedy with my purpose of giving back to others. I had a rough start as a child but came out with a much better life than what I’m from. To express my gratitude, I want to spend the rest of my life giving back. Read more>>

Nadine Artemis | Author & Founder

My fascination with plants started when I was child. I would play for hours in the woods with plants. This joy was further developed in 9th grade when a book sort of fell from the library shelf into my hands as I was preparing for the science fair. The book was full of ancient Egypt style cosmetics and perfume recipes using essential oils. My mom and I drove to the city to the health food store and bought a handful of essential oils. We recreated L’Air Du Temps by Nina Ricci from those oils. It was an exciting project and my first success in the world of botanical science. Later, when I was in university, I was shocked to discover that some of my favorite products, like cucumber face toner, did not contain any cucumber in it at all. It was just a bottle of synthetic chemicals! Read more>>

Kylie Mazon-Chambers | Content Creator, Cooking with Cocktail Rings & Author

I graduated college with a degree in PR and was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. I had been applying to jobs in fashion and the entertainment industry but wasn’t passionate about it, I was just trying to check the boxes. In that time I started posting my recipes and photos and that became my career. I don’t necessarily think there was a lot of thought behind it, it morphed into my career after I found something I was truly passionate about and tried to see where it could go. Read more>>

Lexi Donato | Founder & CEO

LDLA was created to revolutionize the way women see and think about size. We’ve flipped the size scale on it’s head. Our ethos is that each woman was created beautifully and can be empowered no matter her “size,” which is why we chose goddess names to represent fit. Traditionally, goddesses represented beauty, but they stood for much more. They were known for their wisdom, radiance, strength, confidence, charm. At LDLA, you are no longer confined to an anxiety-riddled number or letter to define your size, you are simply … a goddess. Because every woman needs a beautiful reminder, each swimsuit is imprinted with “wonderfully made” so you never forget the truth of your beloved beauty. You are wonderfully made. Read more>>

Nadya Rousseau | Founder & CEO

When I was growing up, I never would have thought that I would end up as an entrepreneur. In fact, I originally came to Los Angeles to be in the entertainment industry, like so many others. For about six years that is what I did: I worked as an actor and model while also juggling a part-time job to pay the bills in between booking gigs. I eventually became tired of the grind and smoke and mirrors that permeates this industry and pivoted instead to my first love of writing. It was when two of my interviewees for a piece I wrote (I think it was for a health magazine) asked for help with their Twitter accounts. Both older, they had no idea how to set up their profiles let alone how to reach their target customers. Not thinking much of it, I did exactly that. A few weeks later both were having success. Read more>>

Howard Lim | Business & Brand Architect

1) Doing the impossible. Just about everyone said it couldn’t be done, except my father – designing a business from the future. 2) Differentiating from what all the other graphic and advertising firms were doing. 3) Following my instinct and vision of what was possible rather than what has been done before. 4) Create more value for my clients that what others were offering. 5) Taking advantage of strong fundamentals and principles combined with technology. Read more>>

Tim Caron | Strength and Conditioning Coach

We felt like there was a gap in the market. I am sure everyone feels that way and also feel as they are a differentiated product, but we as a product felt really strongly about being just that. Working as a college strength and conditioning coach for over 10years you develop a really good sense of what works, your lively hood was dependent on it. Using battle-tested methods that show your value as a coach in sports competing in the highest level of performance gives you a clear vision as to what works. The most important aspect, if you do not find an optimal strategy you lose employment. The gap we saw were males ages 25-45, which in group exercise is an incredibly underserved market. The concept we came up was to leverage timeless training methods that we utilized working with elite level athletes for everyone. Read more>>

Hillary Broadwater | Owner & Creative Director

In 2007 I was a Creative Director for Discovery Education a division of the Discovery Channel. They decided to close our LA office and asked me to relocate to Maryland. At the time I had a 1 year old and a 6 year old. My whole family was here on the West coast. After being given a full 6 month compensation benefits package I decided to open my own design firm. If it didn’t work in 5 months I would go find a new job. Within a week I had my first client and within 2 months Discovery was back as a client this time. 13 years later we are still moving forward and constantly evolving. Read more>>

H.R. Cole | TV Host & Producer

Starting “inDspotlight Productions LLC” was born from the lack of my being able to get steady gigs as a TV host. With the goal in mind of being a game show host, I decided to make my own opportunities. In doing so, I created a radio show which aired in syndication for 3 years, taught myself and still to this day still teaching myself as much as I possibly could in both production and post-production. Since starting my company in 2011, I have been able to get jobs on both sides of the lens, from PA to Camera Op to Director to Producer and as a host from time to time. As I haven’t found much work in front of the camera through auditions, so I took it upon myself to create my own shows and during the last 9 years it took notice to garner me a TV/Streaming channel on the Universe Network as well producing the first regularly televised series from the famed TCL Chinese Theatres via the HollyShorts Film Festival. It was pointed out to me, by girlfriend, that I might end up reaching my goal on my own producing my own game show before I am hired to host one. Read more>>

Terrell Tilford | Art Curator & Actor

Starting my own business actually was a natural extension from I have been doing most of my life, supporting other artists, working to inspire other artists, developing business strategies for other artists and in this case, also collecting artist’s works. I have been an art collector for the better part of 35 years, so my relationships with emerging, mid-career and established artists only intensified that desire to share my passion with other like-minded collectors. But I also saw how there was a disproportionate amount of people of color who knew nothing about collecting art, how to approach it, the protocols… I wanted to dispel the myths and close the gaps. That is what started my first art gallery, Tilford Art Group, and would continue with my second art gallery, Band of Vices. Read more>>

Cam Kashani | Executive Transformational Coach & Global Speaker

I’ve had a few businesses, but my primary goal and intention has always been to be of service and make an impact. The first company I had was a total failure and part of the reason is because it lacked purpose. The second company was super successful because it was about building community (it was the first Coworking space in LA that ended up creating the LA technology ecosystem). Following that, I went through a lot of life changes including losing my business due to divorce, and so I went on a path of spiritual awakening and personal development. I then became a coach and speaker focused on women’s authentic empowerment and this is what I am most passionate about — it’s my purpose. This business I run now is about being of highest service, and there’s nothing else I rather be doing. Read more>>

Marco Colucci | Lifestyle, Advertising, Travel & Photographer

Scary. I come from a family that are mostly entrepreneurs that have been successful in framing and construction. It’s an achievement I’ve always wanted to accomplish (to work for myself) I’ve seen first hand what hard work and determination can accomplish, it reaps many benefits. Anytime I ever had a 9-5 job I always knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else except myself, and I always dreamed of having my own photo business. I do believe the 9-5 jobs though play a very valuable roll in starting your owns business. They teach you to always be busy, complete your tasks and always, always, always value your work. They also motivate you to work harder so you can achieve your goals. During the time i moved to LA, and started my photo business, I was a studio manager for a fashion photographer, and worked at a coffee shop. Read more>>

Mika Leah | CEO

I had come to a crossroads in my career, one direction was traditional – steady job, steady paycheck, the harder I worked the more money I made for someone else, and I wasn’t always available for my family. The other direction was completely unknown – not sure how to get new clients, didn’t know when the money would come or how to pay myself. The upside was that how hard I worked was directly correlated to how much money I had the potential to make AND I could control my own schedule – I could take off work whenever I wanted to have coffee with a friend, go for a walk with my mom, take an impromptu family vacation or attend a school performance for my kids. Read more>>

Julie Leffler | President & Creative Director

Big Hype Marketing began as somewhat of a necessity. I had been a stay-a- home mom for 9 years and was faced with some life circumstances that were forcing me back out into the workforce. My background was in Public Relations, but between 2006 and 2015, the world of public relations had changed drastically as social media became a new means of promoting products and services, and traditional media outlets began to retire. While most of my career had been focused on PR, I also had experience in marketing, and decided to focus my new venture more on the marketing side than the PR side. I launched Big Hype Marketing & PR in 2015 predominately as a company that provided SEO, Adwords, and Website design. Read more>>

Murray Hidary | Composer & Pianist

Growing up in Brooklyn in entrepreneurial home and in a community where most people started their own businesses, it seemed natural and even expected that I would do the same. As early as 16 years old, I was going to flea markets on weekends to sell various items. It was so empowering to be the master of my own financial fate. I was hooked. Figuring out all the details was also very satisfying. Like a puzzle. So, when it came to my music, I took the same approach. Instead of signing a record deal in a world that was quickly evolving away from that, I kept full control of my music and built a company that produced my own live touring events and direct distribution. I now have the flexibility to manage my own schedule on my terms and balance it with any other life priorities. Read more>>

Bailey Guilloud | Holistic Coach & Sleep Expert

Ever since I could remember, there were always several sleepless nights throughout the month. It was either my mind, or my body that got in the way – a combination of things. It got really bad, to the point where I was legit sleeping 2-3 hours a night for a month…. I was irritable, unfocused, gaining weight, and I ended up turning an injury into chronic pain and fibromyalgia that lasted years because my body wasn’t able to heal. I became desperate to learn anything that would help my fibromyalgia and insomnia. In 2009, I started studying low inflammation diets and lifestyle, understanding how to influence your biology, and eventually how to tie everything in with an intuitive and unbreakable mindset. My coaching background actually started in a funny place… I was coaching entrepreneurs on how to pitch to investors. Read more>>

Sam Shearn | Dark Artist

I’ve always enjoyed creating visuals that nobody tends to see every day, surreal images, fantastical creatures and all manner of nightmarish concepts. My interest in this seldom seen side of life is my main drive in my ‘day job’ as an artist – pushing the realism of an often ‘pinch of salt’ view on fantasty-mythology and science fiction. I’ve always been drawn to the idea that something has more value, (in every sense of the word), if there’s an aspect of tangible realism however surreal or impossible the subject of the art… Since my teens I’ve often looked at published cover artwork, on either music album sleeves or book covers and thought to myself that I could do better – That those clients deserved better artwork, better direction, better delivery and execution to represent their product, whether it be music or literature. Read more>>

Brittany Diego | Celebrity Fashion Stylist & Founder

When I started out as a wardrobe stylist I had a lot of aspiring stylists reaching out to me with questions about how I got my start and how they could get their foot in the door of the industry so I decided to create my website, Fashion Mentor to blog about all of the things I wish I learned in fashion school but instead learned through my work and internship experiences. In addition, I realized that the traditional fashion school curriculum taught me how to do the job but not how to get the job. Many of my peers as well as myself graduated with no job lined up due to poor “real-world”preparation by at our University. Even though we had a career center, the fashion industry is so unique in itself that typical job interview tips or general career advice did not apply. There was nothing just for us, so I decided to create it. Now that I’ve established in the fashion industry I want to help the next generation of fashion students enter the industry with the with the tools, resources, and knowledge to lead successful careers in fashion. Read more>>

Tarik Khribech | CEO

It’s very scary when starting your own business. There are so many risks and doubts that come with it. You question yourself. People, you know the question you. But, in the end, it’s all about taking a risk and believing in yourself that you can do it. It’s a leap of faith. Of course, it helps to do your research and have experience in the industry, too. Read more>>

Kristin Lee | Entertainment Business Manager

I worked at several prestigious firms before starting my own. I learned the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was kind of like bootcamp, and I took the best parts and funneled those into my own processes. This allowed me to be more efficient and serve evolving clients better than my counterparts. As my roster grew, I knew I wanted to move up the ranks. Unfortunately, at a lot of the bigger firms, upward mobility is scarce. Being a young female, I quickly realised I wasn’t going to get a seat at that table, so I had to build my own. Read more>>

Edward Singletary Jr. | Actor & Producer

I’ve always had an adventurous spirit. I’m claustrophobic by nature, and the idea of being boxed in or reliant on others doesn’t sit well with me. Read more>>

Jonathan Myers | Found of Class Cast Live & Deloitte M&A Human Capital Consultant

Class Cast Live was born out of two of my passions – building community and self development. During COVID while attempting to stay fit I was watching workout videos on YouTube and they were just terrible. A friend of mine at USC began leading zoom workout classes with just a few friends and it made such a world of difference! I wanted to build a community of like minded individuals that could come together and take a variety of different workout and wellness classes in one place. During COVID I saw a number of workout platforms arise online, but only in their own line of classes – ie you were stuck paying $60 for unlimited yoga classes, but what if I wanted boxing, hiit and yoga? I wanted to bring everything together under one roof for a low monthly fee where you could interact with your instructor and fellow classmates to really get the community feel. The entire concept is built around zoom embedded into our site so every class feels like you are taking it with others all in real time! Read more>>

Briana McHugh | Yoga Instructor & Holistic Health Mentor

The decision to start my own business was born from a desire to serve the population I was already working with in a more holistic manner. For the past decade I have provided services for people of all ages who are on the Autism Spectrum, as well as people who have Down syndrome and other varying exceptionalities. The majority of my career has been spent in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. While working as a Behavioral Therapist, I started to practice Yoga and meditation in my personal time. I was astounded by how much these new found tools helped me in all facets of my life. I decided to pursue my Yoga Teacher Training Certification during my time as a Behavioral Therapist and Social Skills Coach. My jobs required me to stay extremely calm and centered in order for me to best serve my students and their families. Yoga became an integral part of how I showed up for the people I cared for. Read more>>

Thomas Gidlow | Founder, Lead Director & Writer

When I got interested in filmmaking, I wanted to start things from a solid foundation. Many filmmakers when they just start out go straight to the film process and skip over the important tasks of forming a company first. It may not be the most fun aspect of things, but it’s vital if you want to give your projects the best chance of success. I studied and researched a lot of different ways to form a company. You learn as you go, but you should always start with a firm foundation. Over the years, I’ve refined my company’s mission. But the main goal has remained the same: spotlight the amazing talent on both sides of the camera that may not otherwise get that opportunity. I always envisioned what has become Skyphire Entertainment as being what the AHL is to the NHL, or what Triple-A baseball is to MLB. To become a ‘feeder system’ to the major leagues, and help get people where they want to be. Read more>>

Matthew Ehrmann | Graphic Designer & Artist

The reason I wanted to start my own business was that I wanted to run things on my terms. I had worked in the marketing/graphics departments of various companies, and while I enjoyed the work immensely, I did not necessarily like the politics of a large organization. I figured what mattered was producing creative work, which I was comfortable with. I knew that there was much more to running a business than sitting at my Mac producing beautiful things in Illustrator and Photoshop, but I was eager to learn them. 14 years later, I am not only a graphic artist, but a salesman, a customer relations specialist, and a bookkeeper. While daunting at first, the confidence I now have in being able to successfully run my own show is life-changing. While I can’t predict what the future holds, at this point, I could not imagine ever working for another person or company again. Read more>>

Jeffrey Markowitz | CEO

Like most businesses, the most profitable are the ones that help with customer needs. Right now, with all of the content needed on a daily basis, photography and video work the best. We decided to start our company with quality as our primary focus. As CEO, this made me the most excited to come to work every day. That excitement drives a company for the long run and through the economy’s ups and downs. When you focus on producing the highest quality work and not trying to cut corners on video and still photography shoots, it makes everyone happy and leads to referrals. Read more>>

Briam Sicurella | Street photographer

I wanted to start my business to help homeless people in los Angeles. Read more>>

Machiko Hill | Piano Teacher

My journey towards establishing my own business started with teaching piano to my friends’ children when I was in college. After that experience, my desire to have children enjoy learning the piano became more resolute. I thoroughly enjoy seeing their eyes light up when they realize they are doing well, and they always make me smile. I was desperate to gain knowledge for piano teaching and improve my teaching skill, so I read many teaching method books and blogs. Within a month of graduation with a B.A. in arts with a piano performance emphasis, I was hired as a piano teacher by a local music store in San Francisco. They gave me at least 30 students as soon as I started teaching there. While striving to be a better employee, I started thinking about my future vision. Read more>>