Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, we think you’ll enjoy reading about how these seasoned entrepreneurs thought about the question when they were in your shoes.

Anis Bennaceur | Cofounder and CEO at Mixer

I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, since I was a kid. After 3 years of work experience in investment banking and in tech, I felt like I had the skillset to start my own business. It was only when I connected with my cofounders at Mixer – one a product designer and the other one a musician – that we identified together a void in the creative space: a need to use technology and networks to connect creatives better. The existing networks, both social and professional, weren’t designed to showcase portfolios the right way, and the heavy presence of agents, managers, and sorts of middle-men proved that technology could accelerate work connections in these industries. One of the best ways to identify opportunities and double-down on them is to connect founders with different areas of expertise. At that point, not only can you understand better a specific problem, but you also join forces to create the best solutions together. Read more>>

Denise Kimani | Interior Designer

Living out my passion & purpose in life… More freedom & flexibility to choose my working hours, Choosing my own clients & type of projects,
Unlimited salary/earning potential. Read more>>

Mike Melancon | Chief Wine Taster

I hosted several wine tastings at work, Two of them, were at TOMS Shoes, and then I continued them at EnCore Interiors. These were fun, team-building events, for my co-workers. In addition to bringing the wine, I would also prepare food, which was paired with the wines, for that particular theme. By gaining experience, hosting these tastings, I got the idea for setting up a business. My first thought was to host in-person tastings and use the online store to sell to the folks in attendance. Read more>>

Erika Merriweather | Intuitive & Astrologer

I developed my own approach to Astrology called Star Path Astrology. I look at a person’s star path as a combination of their life path in the practical sense of what kind of career they would be best suited for, their relationship interests, communication styles, how they feel in their physical bodies, their creativity, but then combined with the bigger, cosmic portrait of who they are as a soul, what they’ve come to learn and develop in themselves this lifetime, and what they are karmically completing, to the benefit of their fullest self-expression. My readings are designed to give people an understanding of who they are cosmically, so that it informs who they are right here, right now in their day to day life. It’s meant to be inspiring, but also deeply practical, so you can really implement things immediately that make your life better. I love doing Zoom readings, because it’s such a fun personal connection, and as serious as discovering your cosmic self can be, it’s not meant to feel heavy. Read more>>

Lynn Chang | Uniqlay Founder, Designer, and Ceramicist

Though the food we eat is a big part of our identity, culture and heritage, dinnerware options available are falling behind. As a woman of color and immigrant, my curiosity and exploration about food and identity have led to the research of understanding the different choices of dinnerware. How we eat and what we eat are deeply intimate and extremely personal. I took a long, hard look at reputable home goods brands as well as successful independent ceramicists …. there are many stunningly beautiful options, but they all seem so “monocultured.” I knew we could add more diversity to the table. Even though so many brands have made loud statements on diversity, there isn’t a whole lot of action. Celebrating cultures and representing minority female artists underpins everything we do at Uniqlay Ceramics. I am a firm believer that your culture and how you eat should be a source of comfort and pride. Read more>>

Stephanie Sandmeier | Creator of Nom Talk Network

My mind goes 1000 mph where I think of an idea! I think of the popularity it can achieve, what amount of work is required to start it, who are the people in my life that I trust can separate personal relationships from professional relationships, how much work is required to maintain it, and what would happen if it didn’t work out in the long run. I’ve even thought about the amount of money that’s required to start the business. Thankfully I have some committed supporters and experience through Nerdbot Media who have shared their wisdom with me. Knowing all of the risks can be overwhelming but if you find solutions for all of the risks then it’s less of a panic when they do arise. Read more>>

Thomas J. Bellezza | Executive Producer | Consultant

The process behind starting my own business basically evolved naturally through connections referred to me based on my proof of results for myself. I was always about me. I wanted my band to be successful. I want to get to the top to do what I wanted. But once I began guiding people it all changed for me. I never wanted to work so bills could get paid. Earlier on in my life I knew I wanted to be creative. The only way to do that was potentially work within my industry of choice. Early on I realized no career would give me the freedom to add my values back to the world or attempt multiple things outside of one field. All I could focus on was opportunities that could elevate my missions and afford bills. For ten years I played music with a band. Through this process I found a calling that opened my eyes to do more. People would ask me how I got where I did with the band, or even the process of getting a great show. It all led to me becoming a consultant. Read more>>

Diego Abba | CEO, italist.com

Many don’t realize about the luxury industry that geography still plays a significant role in both the selection of styles available and the pricing of luxury goods. We came up with the idea of italist while observing the queues of tourists outside some of the main luxury boutiques in Italy. The reason was the combination of products hard to find outside Italy, and lower prices at full retail vs. other countries—what we refer as the “Italian
retail price” in our storytelling. Italian retail prices for luxury clothing, bags, shoes and accessories are up to 40% lower than the rest of the world. This is due to a mix of factors including the structure of the import and distribution of luxury goods, sales and consumption taxes, import duties, and regional price positioning set by each brand. Read more>>

Dj Mr. Lee | Official Dj for Dru Hill /Music Producer

My thought process to starting my own business was simple… I’m sick of being subjected to the whims of other… A good friend told me once, if you have that strong of an opinion about the teacher, maybe it’s time to not be a student anymore. Read more>>

Josh Markarian | Founder & Creative

It’s almost as if the business aspect came after we had been creating under the name of Discover Vinyl. We had been around for about a year, operating as a music blog before the shift to turn our passion of record collecting into something more sustainable than a hobby. During the first year, I was working a full-time job running the blog on my off hours. As much as I loved writing, it became clear that if I really wanted Discover to grow it needed to be treated like a business. Transitioning into a business gave us the excuse to spend more time doing what we loved, which was working with artists and vinyl. Read more>>

Vlad Vizireanu | Orchestral Conductor & INMF Executive Director

My thought process behind starting Impulse New Music Festival was essentially to twofold. First, I wanted to give young composers of new music a chance to collaborate with instrumentalists of their age and create connections with one another that they could count one throughout their careers. Secondly, and more importantly, I feel that young musicians are not adequately prepared in a practical sense for the realities of the music world. Things like writing a compelling cover letter, organized CV, professional headshots, website development, and general professionalism skills are not generally addressed in music programs. Young graduates simply learn them along the way (and usually from making mistakes). I wanted INMF to be a resource for young musicians to develop – or at least be introduced to – these skills early on in their careers. Read more>>

Lisa Darcy | Dog Trainer

I had been working with dogs for about 5 years prior to starting Live Love Dog Training. In fact, as the Director of Adoptions for Live Love Animal Rescue, I was working with a wide variety of dogs and learning a lot about best practices with regard to training and behavior simply from being around them. I began to attend training workshops, participate in training shadow programs, and put those skills to use with the rescue dogs even as I was working full time in education. When the pandemic shut down schools in March 2020, I was struggling with the shift to teaching and learning virtually. I had long dreamed of working with dogs full time, but never really saw it as a possibility until my world (along with everyone else’s) was turned upside down. Read more>>

Daniel Hirsch | Miniaturist and Production Designer

I start creating custom miniatures as a way to study scenery for my day job as a production designer. People started ordering custom commissions from me and the business just took off! Now I have a six-month waiting list and more tiny chairs than I can sit on in a day. Read more>>

Lupe Corona | Maker

Before I had my daughters I worked towards working in the NGO sectors – I was in the Peace Corp in 2002 and while I worked on my assignment- I also dreamed of being a designer and maker. Influenced by the work around me in the streets of Morocco. In 2004 -When I found myself caring for my daughter I realized that my previous work did not suit a life of a mother so I decided to reinvent myself and began to Plan a return to the arts. Leather was my primary medium at first. Since it keeps evolving. Read more>>

Sweta Rai | Entrepreneur, Film Producer

As an Indian-American, I always felt the need for representation in Hollywood movies. At the time when I started producing films in Hollywood, there were only a few Indian names in the Industry, like Mira Nair, Mindy Kaling. There was still a void for a Director/Producer/Writer trio of female filmmakers who could write underrepresented stories, direct and produce them at the same time. I thought I should provide a platform for these stories and talent so they could connect directly with Hollywood. That’s when I started my company, INDO HOLLY FILMS. Since its inception, we’ve been shortlisted for the OSCARS, and our projects have been making waves worldwide. Read more>>

Angelina Shlecter | Baker

Prior to starting Cubcakes, I was working full time in finance while also trying to raise two little boys. With little to no free time, I often relied on store-bought snacks but found myself spending so much time pouring over nutrition labels to decipher all the foreign sounding ingredients. Even the baked goods at local bakeries had too much added sugar. The lack of prepared truly kid-friendly options was frustrating. I decided it was time to take the reins myself and created Cubcakes, a family focused baked goods business for every life’s moments. To me, that means not only delicious but also nutritious. Filled with organic fruits and vegetables. No preservatives. Little to no refined sugar. Easy to read and understand ingredients. And perfect for play dates, preschool lunch boxes, birthdays, even today’s breakfast. Read more>>

Veronica Cardenas | Small business owner

I didn’t really set out with the intention of starting a small business. I had just started a job with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), which is a regional repertory theatre in Ashland, Oregon, when the pandemic hit. Like many theatres in the nation, the effects of the pandemic were felt causing closures and mass layoffs. I returned home to Palmdale, California, shortly after I was laid off. Initially, I thought my world was ending, but having some forced time away gave me room to explore all the other passions of mine. I took a chance during lockdown and started a small, online clay-jewelry business. Though I’d like to say the process was easy and something that came natural, it did not. I recognized how crazy the idea of starting a small business during an economic collapse sounded, and I knew nothing about business. Read more>>

aaron farley | Artist/Photographer

At the time I didn’t think about it as starting my own business. I was shooting a lot of musicians and I started getting jobs that I had to take time off work to shoot and it got to the point where I was shooting enough that I wasn’t able to do both. So I quit my job and just put my head down and started shooting full time. This was around 2005 and there have been a lot of ups and downs since then. I’ve had to learn the business parts along the way. For me personally the business, organization, promotion etc. is the biggest challenge, its the grown up part, having to put your next idea on hold to keep your house in order. Read more>>

Heather Andrews | Owner and Stylist at Salon Rise in Ojai, CA

I never really saw myself owning a business. My parents own Jewish Deli’s in Las Vegas, and witnessing their sacrifice and hard work was cause for hesitation. However, when I was 25, I had been living in LA for 6 years and had gotten into 3 car accidents in one year. None of them were my fault, I just kept getting hit by cars! It felt like the city was kicking me out. I had been visiting Ojai since I was 10 and always really loved it. It actually reminds me of the island my dad is from, Cyprus. I can still remember the very first time we drove on the 33 to get to Ojai. It’s a special place, and only special people really understand and appreciate it. Being afraid of getting hit by yet another vehicle, I started investigating local salons to work at, and while there were many sweet options, there was nothing that was offering the type of service and experience I had gotten used to providing. I saw an opportunity to bring an accessible, yet luxury salon to town. Read more>>

Chryssanthemum Rosabella | Multi-Media Artist & Musician

Growing up as a Queer mixed Hispanic kid in a predominantly Conservative, Cis, White, Hetero community, I didn’t always have a plethora of places I could exactly call a safe space so from a very young age I learned that my creativity was one of my biggest assets in life. As I got older and realized what solace I was able to receive from creation whether it be physical art, music, or choreographing a small dance number, I realized I wanted to share that with others. More than that, I not only wanted to help people feel peace, I wanted to show people that they’re allowed to heal. So many of us carry around our trauma and never resolve things, so I began to wonder what it would be like to create art that spoke to mental illness, and helped people process their pain. Read more>>

Desiree Keoshian | Los Angeles Wedding, Lifestyle & Branding Photographer

When I became a mom in May of 2018, I knew I wanted to pick up a “hobby”. Little did I know, that hobby quickly turned into a full blown job (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)! My little business began as photographing families and couples and then it quickly grew into weddings and branding. I have always been the type of person who couldn’t sit still for too long & was always dreaming and envisioning my life being busy -since I truly thrive in busy seasons! My love for photography has always been there but I think my love for people is what truly keeps me going in this business. My clients tell me all the time that when they went to hire a photographer, they were looking for so much more than just pretty photos but photos that captured authenticity — which really stems from the person behind the lens giving prompts, working hard to get those little kiddos to smile or giggle, and not giving off vibes of stress or rushing. One thing I always say is less is more & simple can be truly significant!. Read more>>

Megan & Kyle Murai | Bookstore owners

Whenever we travel to different cities and countries we seek out independent bookstores almost as ardently as we seek out good food and drink. It’s been a long time dream of ours to open an independent bookstore that felt like somewhat of a pipe dream. But we were getting coffee one day and looked in the window of the vacant retail space next door and thought it’d be a perfect location and space for a bookstore. So we started doing the research to determine what it would take to open a bookshop and things just started to fall in place. We took a lot of time to weigh the risks and run the numbers, but at the end of the day it came down to deciding if this was something we believed in and if we thought it would enrich and bring joy to our community. We believed it would and so we went for it! A big part of that decision was rooted in our love of books and our belief in their importance when it comes to learning and understanding the world. Read more>>

DeQwan Young | Director/Producer/Host

When I first started my company, I had just been laid off from a great salaried position, and I knew I didn’t want to go back into the corporate world. I looked at all the things I could do and I wanted to use my degree, but I wanted to do it my own way. I knew it would be hard for me to break into any industry with little to no help, so I looked to the internet. I found YouTube, and I started a media company based around sports, and all things funny. I knew the freedom I could have would create a tremendous amount of completion in me, if I could just find a way to work for myself, using my degree, in a field that I love. Read more>>

Erika Icon | Publicist/Owner

There was a definite need. Almost 13 years ago, there were very few PR companies in the adult industry. Now, there are more, but only a few of us do it well. Read more>>

David Gomez | Small Business Owner

I noticed I just couldn’t hold down a job. I didn’t like people telling me what to do as for some reason I felt stressed. I also saw the way places were managed and I hated it so I would leave. I just had my 2nd child and I knew I needed to find something I loved. So I thought to myself why not open my own business work for myself and push myself hard to succeed because I knew 2 little boys were depending on me. Read more>>

Cachia Lewis | Lifestyle Blogger/Speaker

The thought process behind my brand came to me one night as I lay in silence listening to my inner voice and Transparency Lifestyle is what was created. I was already speaking and writing about my life experiences and how they impacted my life with God as my center on my social media pages so the transition was not difficult. The purpose behind my brand is to not only be transparent so that I can learn about myself and become a better me but also to show others how to become transparent in their life for the main goal of becoming free by healing the trauma that is created by circumstances. As I began to look into the best way to be transparent about my life I researched blogging and was drawn to capturing my experience in one place. This gives me the ability to be able to reach a broader dynamic of people and to express myself in a way that allows me to become free in areas of my life and eventually fulfill why I was created!. Read more>>

Jenny Araiza | Iza Makeup & Iza Apparel – Permanent Makeup & Fashion

Since I can remember I had an entrepreneur mentally. At a young age I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and be able to have make my own schedule, like my mom. I always found always to monetize what I was doing and I always had a side hustle that lead to starting different Businesses that I was passionate about. Which lead to creating Iza Apparel & Iza Makeup where I combined my passion for fashion and beauty. I first started in the beauty industry as a makeup artist for many years which that lead into the fashion Industry and now focusing on permanent makeup. Read more>>

Buck Angel | Activist, Entrepreneur, and Influencer

As a person who did not graduate high school or have any academic background, I have always felt a little inferior to others. Education is something that is revered in the world. I was always told I would amount to nothing. I struggled most of my early life with my gender dysphoria. Because of this, I become a person who had a hard time functioning in the world. Born female and feeling male. Being born 58 years ago and dealing with all my dysphoria in a time no one could even diagnose me as a transsexual man. I checked out of life. It wasn’t until I became sober and started to transition to live male 26 years ago did my confidence level and desire to create increase. That was when I started to see so many business opportunities for me and my trans community.
I jumped in headfirst. I became an entrepreneur. Seeing everything as a possibility and not as an obstacle. Read more>>

Brendan Cave (aka B.Cave) | Music Producer / CEO of Booming Bay MGMT Group

The name Booming Bay was something I had in mind for a long time, and after receiving a Business degree from the University of Tampa, I wanted to figure out a way to get the business side of my music career set up early. I had struggled to find a direction for a while, but once I got more into music management and realized I had some artists in my circle that could use the help, it made perfect sense to form Booming Bay into an entertainment management company. From there, I formed a small team of managers and signed myself and an artist named T-Cap to my company. T-Cap and I have been friends since childhood, and is someone that has been working on perfecting his craft for a long time. He is a very well versed lyricist, producer, and overall talented individual. I was often helping him with the business side of his career until the point came when he asked me to be his manager, and that’s when the Booming Bay idea clicked. Read more>>

Dandrell Scott | Founder of Bad Clothes Company

I wanted freedom! When you have your own business, you have freedom to make decisions and choices. I can choose my own shift, my own designs, and most importantly, my own salary for my labor. It’s the best feeling ever!. Read more>>

Michèle Tambika | Founder of TAMBIKA & Health Advisor

I want people to realize how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and become more aware of what you put in your body. The goal is to help people change some eating and lifestyle habits. It is so important because it can affect your health enormously. A lot of people don’t have the time or motivation to cook a healthy, organic meal. That’s why my recipes are simple and shouldn’t take that much time. My book is meant to be the start to a healthier lifestyle. It includes recipes, nutrition, beauty, lifestyle and some thoughts & tips. TAMBIKA is all about you. And we want you to feel good. What’s wrong with feeling good?. Read more>>

Alan Squats | Comedian, Teacher

“Well, there is probably no other way. Let’s do it.” – Voices in my head finally coming to an agreement. Read more>>

Bre Podgorski | Entrepreneur: Co-Founder of ShoCast

When the pandemic hit, thousands of entertainers lost their jobs, including myself. We were forced to look for a way to translate our acts online in order to somehow keep making money during this world wide crisis. Live stream solutions were available for musicians, but interactive entertainers such as comedians, improv troupes, magicians and more, were left with having to produce shows on Zoom, which provides better interaction than live streaming but is not built for entertainment. When my business partner and I tried to produce our own shows on Zoom, we knew there had to be a better solution for translating interactive live shows online. When we couldn’t find any, we decided to create our own. Read more>>

 

Chanaé (Chaé) Jones | Henna Healer, Artist, and Educator

I’ve always had a creative entrepreneurial spirit. When I first started my henna adornment business, it was a creative service addition to my strassed (or “bling”) accessories business which I started at age 18. It’s also where the business name originated from. “Le Strassed Chaé” literally translates to “the sparkling Chaé”, and while it’s named after me (Chaé) it more distinctly means: The brightest, most shining version of oneself. Originally an accessory and lifestyle brand that featured handmade jewelry and tech-accessories covered in jewels and rhinestones, Le Strassed Chaé aimed to empower and enhance the divine feminine within. By the time I added henna artistry to the shopping experience, I had already been playing in henna for nearly a decade, so offering it as a service just made sense. Eventually my love for henna overpowered the joy I found in accessory-making because I was able to personally connect with my clients, and I subsequently decided to rebrand. Read more>>

Jalyssa Gray | Wedding & Event Planner

The thought process behind starting my own business I knew I wanted to be my own Boss and having a flexible schedule. Looking at other entrepreneurs and being inspired, I used to think, “wow I wish I can do that”! Growing up I always loved the wedding and event planning industry. I was the go to girl within my group of friends that would always plan and host small events at my house and even during the holidays I couldn’t wait to decorate and set the table for my family. Something about bringing people together for a celebration always makes me happy. What inspired me to start a wedding planning company is because I planned my own wedding in 2018 and I absolutely fell in love with it. Initially I didn’t have too much experience in the industry so I decided to test it out to see if I could really see myself doing this as a career. Read more>>

Heidi Johnson | Nonprofit founder Storyteller Believer in Good

The process of starting a nonprofit or a business that serves humanity’s problems is not the typical series of events that occur in starting a for-profit business. In 2002, when we started a nonprofit to provide chaplains of all faiths to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we were presented with a problem and set out to create a solution, which we did. The process always begins with a dream, a vision, and a goal. The next step is creating a plan and building a team and community. That process made me wonder who were these modern-day heroes who set out to solve humanity’s problems and start nonprofits? From that question, the Charity Matters platform was created to share the stories of innovators, entrepreneurs, and inspiring modern-day heroes who set out to solve the problems of humanity with their incredible journeys of service. Read more>>

Patricia High | Entrepreneur

I first made the decision to start my own business after visiting the Black Creativity Career Showcase at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago on Feb 28th, 2020. One station that caught my attention was the, “Building Bridges DIY Body Scrub Station”. After being inspired by Building Bridges, I started performing more research on the different oils and fragrances to use. Shortly after, I thought of my business name, ordered all the necessary items and launched my business March 2020 right before the COVID-19 lockdown. Read more>>

Lisa Chastain | #1 Best Selling Author and Money Coach

When I left my first career in Higher Education in 2011 I made a conscious decision – I was never going to work for anyone again. Despite my struggles and defeats in the process of digging myself out of mounds of debt and personal strife in my 30’s, my decision to be a business owner never wavered, and I don’t regret anything that I’ve gone through in order to create the brand, business and life that I have today. Read more>>

Dana Tate | CEO/Brand Ambassador

I struggled with adult acne. I lacked confidence because of it. My thought process behind starting my business was to promote wellness and confidence dealing with the issue of adult acne. I wanted to start a brand that represented who I am and I wanted to inspire others. I wanted to share my journey through my business. Read more>>

Josh Shadid | Co-Founder @ SOLO CInebot & Co-Founder / Executive Producer @ Lord Danger

Aaron and I already both owned our own businesses prior to starting Solo Cinebot. Aaron, ran a boutique camera rental house, and worked as a Cinematographer. I owned a commercial production company in LA. During the first week of the pandemic, all work ceased, and Aaron and I saw a need in the marketplace for a new type of camera system. With our combined knowledge of the industry and camera systems, a warehouse full of camera tech – and new found time off – we put all our workaholic energies into building Solo. Read more>>