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.

Leslie Gang | CEO/Cofounder of Hindi’s Libraries and Director of Communications at The Brandeis School in Lawrence

When we built a little free library on the school’s campus where Hindi’s children attended, we had no idea what was about to happen. We asked children in the grade to bring one book to donate to the box so that they’d be able to “give a book and take a book.” Within 2 weeks, we were inundated with requests from neighbors to pick up children’s books from their homes that they were no longer reading. We realized very quickly that there is sort of an untapped market here of families with growing children who will most likely ALWAYS outgrow books. We knew right away that the right thing to do was to collect these books and work as the “middle man” and get those books to children who need them, who cannot afford them otherwise. While we do struggle with funding constantly, we firmly believe that as long as the books keep coming, we will keep going. Read more>>

Rhett Collier | Aphorist (Literary) and Videographer

My thought process during the initiation of the “TRAINS OF THOUGHT Welcome Aboard” (“TOTWA”) project as a business was to create and offer to the public, an art piece in book form that exhibited my original thoughts (aphorisms), punctuated with photographic images (by Sinden Collier), each resonating with the original thought with which it was paired. The purpose of the book was to engage minds, and equally important was that the book possess not only high quality binding and printing (i.e., an art piece in book form), but as well be offered at a price affordable to many, thereby offering accessible artistic expression beyond a gallery and/or a museum. Having had several professional careers prior to this project, (i.e., professional singer/songwriter/musician and thereafter, fashion stylist), each experience provided me with attributes, (i.e., presentation, merchandising, etc.) which would be an integral part of the success of this project. Read more>>

DNaya Eubanks | Licensed aesthetician

The thought process behind my business was to create solution based products . As a esthetician I noticed a lot of insecurities and skin care issues that needed solutions . Read more>>

Mariah Street | Legacy Coach & Attorney

I didn’t fully realize this until later on in life, but I am extremely creative and innovative. So I’ve always been the type of the person to either do something different than everyone was doing, improve something that already exists to make it better, or identify a gap/lack in something (a strategy, industry, relationship, whatever) and find a way fill it. When I was thinking about starting my own law firm, I saw that there weren’t many firms whose mission was to primarily serve the black community in estate and legacy planning. Funny enough, I identified a long time ago that there was in a need in the community for culturally relate-able education and services surrounding legacy planning (due to systemic racism and the after-effects). Read more>>

Kim and Jorge Truong and Islas | Chef/ Owners

Ironically, there wasn’t a big sit-down meeting where we planned out Frank Grizzly’s. It all kind of happened on a fluke. See, Jorge and I have always worked together. We met as co-workers at a corporate recruiting firm back in 2008. We were co-workers turned acquaintances, later friends and now married, but first, we were co-workers. In 2018, when we started Frank Grizzly’s, I was working from home and 7 months pregnant with our second child. Jorge was managing a couple of food trucks and we were frankly, just missing each other. After working together for nearly a decade, suddenly being apart for an entire workday felt awkward. Read more>>

Victor Zheng | Actor & Filmmaker

When I founded “Team Avatar Films”, my main focus was on the idea of being able to create content in a safe and tolerant environment. We did our first film in a time when the film industry was still learning how to manage itself during the midst of a pandemic. It was also at a time when there was not much going on in Los Angeles, Atlanta, or any of the other hubs of filming. I had an itch to create something but needed the correct and safe platform to do it. Team Avatar Films became that answer as it allowed me to connect with other artists and creators whom were determined to participate in meaningful story telling while taking the relevant health and safety precautions. Read more>>

Julie Jacobs | Owner / Operator

After losing our coffee company during the pandemic, I could see that there were a lot of people in the same boat. The I read an article that nearly 60% of small businesses went out of business during the pandemic. I could see that the small coffee businesses were struggling. It was heartbreaking. In our prior business, we had already begun packaging our own single serve pods in order to tap into the 40% market base that most small coffee businesses can’t afford to reach. I couldn’t save my company, but I had an idea to help. No minimum, eco-responsible, fully branded, made-to-order single serve pods. It was a tall order, but we accomplished it. Read more>>

Danielle Casse | Artist

I actually had never expected to start my own business, and even though it’s still in its early stages, I am so happy I went for it. I really love sharing my art with others, and I also really love shoes. I had seen a few artists online paint shoes and I knew immediately I wanted to try it myself. At first I started painting shoes just for fun. I painted a couple pairs for friends, family, and myself. Soon enough people were asking to buy shoes from me. One thing led to another, and I was lucky enough to start making art people could walk around in! That’s my favorite part about painting shoes – it’s art you get to wear. I think that is so cool, and I am so happy I can provide that for others. Read more>>

Mike Manning | Actor & Producer

I wanted to have a vehicle that would be used for creating content that centers around social issues that myself and my producing partner care about. We are both actors, and have been in the industry for years, but we saw the need for stories with more diverse representation, stronger female characters, and stories that pertain to issues like bullying, the environment, civil rights, promoting the LGBT community, and other social issues that are important to us. Read more>>

Evelyn Eccard | Passionate about growing leaders, trainer & coach

In 2016, I saw a company I loved and worked for 26 years implode. The way they were doing business had changed for the worst. They were not considering customers in many decisions and worst, the treatment of their managers was awful They were laying off employees and the managers struggled to do more with less. I saw how stressed they were and though I tried to be positive at the moment, the situation just kept getting worst. I knew this culture no longer served me and I couldn’t serve it. You see, I was a Regional Sales Manager and it became impossible for me and my team to be successful. Our goals increased and our product quality decreased. We couldn’t train and develop the frontlines because of staffing issues. Corporate no longer had management training courses so new managers didn’t know how to lead. Though we help develop the managers, I wanted out. Read more>>

Jessica Walker | Greeting Card Shop Owner

I never had plans to become an entrepreneur. 52 days after our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I spent months working in a local stationery shop to help cover medical bills (my career had to be put on hold to create space to care for him), and I developed a love for greeting cards. We were sent dozens of beautiful support cards from friends and family, but they all felt quite heavy and serious. My husband and I always use laughter as “medicine” during tough times, and the idea of a lighter, even funny, cancer support card was appealing. I couldn’t find any on the market and knew I had something I could offer the cancer community through this niche. I bounced ideas off my husband, went to the University of Google to learn how to start an online shop, and taught myself to design and produce cards. It was a steep learning curve, but ultimately provided a creative outlet, but also a revenue stream that supports my family. Read more>>

Nakeysha Roberts Washington | Multidisciplinary Artist, Publisher, and Educational Consultant/ Facilitator

I remember feeling spent by giving everything I had energy, money to other people. At this time, too, I began considering what I was leaving behind. Was it that I only wanted to spend myself for others or could I begin to build something tangible that would make me happy. And, there I began to conceive of my company Genre: Urban Arts. I realized that many of my happiest moments were where I was able to write and create multidisciplinary works, so I made a space where I could create and Genre was to be the community I built around creativity. It began with a website, a vision for a publication, pop up exhibition performance platform, and then grew into a educational consulting agency utilizing the network of artist I found my tribe with. Read more>>

Diana Might | Co-Founder & CEO, Mustard

I’m a natural leader who is extremely responsible and hardworking.  I became a senior TV and Film producer at 25 back in London, and then became a CEO at 30. I achieved a lot of success fast by working for someone else, but always felt a bit suffocated by environments where I couldn’t fully expand my creativity and independence. My execs wanted me for my talent and strength, but then would stifle my growth as a leader. Before I moved to the U.S. and started my own company, I was in a truly lucrative and spoiled position; my name was well known as a producer, I didn’t need to find new projects or advertise myself, and my resume hadn’t been updated in years. It felt like I hit the ceiling… but in the saddest way ever. Read more>>

Winn Clark | Coach & Creator of the All-In With Winn Group Coaching Program

The original seed for starting my own coaching business was planted 15 years before I took the plunge. I was having my first ever coaching session with a life coach as I finished business school, and I remember sitting across from her and thinking, I want to do her job someday. It was a strong gut feeling I couldn’t ignore. Over the years, I experienced coaching with a number of great coaches, worked hard in my corporate jobs, and continued on my own personal development journey. I just didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. But the idea of becoming a coach just wouldn’t go away, and it started to feel more and more urgent. I was feeling burned out and disillusioned with my corporate job, which gave me the courage to take the leap and get some serious training to become a coach. Read more>>

Reykai | Multidisciplinary Designer

For me it was a form a expression. A platform to try all the crazy ideas I didn’t get to try in my freelance graphic design work Read more>>

Jasmine Brooks, M.Ed. | Educator, Consultant, Entrepreneur

I created JMB Advising after working at my school as the Dean of College Success and College Success Coordinator. I saw a need for more students and families to have conversations about post-secondary planning in efforts to create a vision they could all see and understand. Working with my students one on one at work fueled a passion to provide those services to others in my community that I knew would benefit from it and be able to grow because of the information. Creating JMB Advising has allowed me to develop content and curriculum for after school programs, organizations, social media, and continue to spread information across our nation. Read more>>

Saundeurs Shiloff | CEO of PYRE and PYRE Records LLC and Producer HECC

I wanted to be in control of my life and career in a way that no employer could ever do for me. Theres a certain satisfaction to owning the business instead of working for it. Its motivation to work that much harder because you are in full control of everything! The business in particular PYRE started with an idea to free people from the crushing and debilitating algorithm that kills my friends and other artists careers, we here at PYRE stand for progression and freedom of the music in a way thats completely new and fresh! Read more>>

Sergii Chebotarenko | Filmmaker

I have education of telecommunication engineer and have work a lot in this industry, but never feel like I’m at my place. When I was 25 I brought photo camera and start making portraits, everybody like it and try to give me money, but I never think that is can be everyday work and never take this money, it was just fun with friends. Later I shot my first video, it was terrible but narrative racing scene with two cars and when I upload it to YouTube I have and unreal feedback, it was 2009 I think, I still have this video and when I look at it right now, it’s more than terrible more funny. Read more>>

Mark Frieser | CEO, Sync Summit

I will assess a market and then build a business to serve it. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent. I started my first business when I was 12, then my first real business (an event organisation company) in college, so creating something out of nothing is second nature to me. I like to create and build as well as to be of service. And though I’ve worked as an executive at public companies, my nature has always been entrepreneurial. So when I looked at starting my businesses, I started by looking at sectors of a marketplace and from there assessing where the growth areas of the market may be in the future. This has been the case with my previous company, a mobile content business, and my current company, a music licensing business and educational company. Read more>>

Curtis Schalchlin | Winemaker, Father and Husband

It was honestly quite naive. I did not grow up in a household that drank wine. My curiosity and knowledge regarding wine began when I was 19 at a part time job in Whittier California with Trader Joe’s. By the age of 27 I had moved from East Los Angeles up to San Luis Obispo and began helping some friends make wine for their fledgling label on my days off. Over the course of a couple years I would lend a hand when time allowed until one day one of my friends was gracious enough to offer me the opportunity to make my own wine in their cellar. It really never dawned on me that was something available to me or something that I even wanted to do. Read more>>