Starting and growing a business is hard, but often deciding to start the business in the first place is even harder. We asked some successful entrepreneurs from around the community to open up to us about how they thought about starting a business.

Liliana Godinez | Skin Care Creator & Owner of Organic + Skincare

Hi everyone my name is Liliana Godinez, creator and maker of Organic + Skincare. In 2018, I wanted to make a change in my lifestyle and focused on becoming more eco-friendly. This is what drove me to make natural skincare products for everyday use! During 2019, once my business was up and running I knew this was something not only for myself, but for my community. I am able to give people a chance to see that making the switch to natural skincare is accessible and affordable. Many people think that these products are out of reach, but they’re not! There’s no need to have to buy products containing harmful chemicals. We all deserve a skin care brand that will help us and help contribute to our Mother Earth. Organic + Skincare products are packaged using only reusable or recyclable containers. When producing batches, I use all natural/organic ingredients and herbs to bring safe healing to our bodies. I love giving back quality skin care for people to enjoy while also reducing waste. Small steps towards greatness, and we can make it! Read more>>

Nancy Sexton | Coworking Space Owner, Writer and a kickass Wife

My thought process was pretty easy about starting another business. I had to put more thought into what kind of business did I want to have. I have had many jobs in my life (farm hand, factory worker, telemarketer, manager, waitress, bartender, singer, songwriter, actress, model, voice over and you get the idea… a shit ton of jobs) and I was mentally at the end of a full time personal training career. I mean I was just over being a personal trainer, though I really enjoyed helping people, I just wanted more. And I needed to find something that would let me make money if I didn’t go into work. Read more>>

Pinky-Dewberry Kennedy | ignitor, fashionista, moneyMagnet inspirational Teacher.

My mission has always been to uplift, inspire and empower women. I started my first entrepreneurial experience at 3 years old l was selling Now and Laters heated and then frozen on a spoons. My mother RIP Bessie Flagg- kennedy taught me to be about my business, she taught me how to be self sufficient and consistent. She would say “Jacquelyn to be successful you must always think outside the box and study what women want. She was a artist as well and her famous words never left me. “Find what a women liked and you’ve got it made. I continued to have several business throughout the years. Read more>>

Loren Guiney | Wife. Mom. Candle and Body Care Creator.

It all started out as a hobby. In the Spring of 2019, I was on YouTube looking for DIY products to pass some time. I had just started my life as a new wife and my husband just so happens to be in the military. When I moved to North Carolina in October 2019, I had to get adjusted to being away from my family, friends and loved ones. I was homesick for almost two years, even with family and my best friend visiting during the pandemic while I was pregnant with my son. In November 2019, I started making candles after no luck of finding a job. Due to doubt, fear and hesitation, it took me a while to create my website. Read more>>

Tracy Cruz | Multi-award winning R&B/Soul recording artist, songwriter, and vocal coach

I wanted to start my own business (Tracy Cruz Vocal Studio) to inspire, guide, and encourage singers, songwriters, and performing artists to pursue their dreams. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by phenomenal music teachers and mentors and I wanted to give that same support to others to help them become successful in their goals and careers in music. Also, I wanted to provide live music entertainment services to help put money into my musician friends pockets and actively contribute to the live music scene, Read more>>

Shanda Renee | Actress, Author

As an independent artist, wearing multiple hats of Actress, Writer, Filmmaker, Photographer; as many I am certain, I have had to hang those hats in order to deal with, survive and cope harsh realities. As many blessings the entertainment industry has sent my way, those of which remain a life line of hope, I have experienced an unprecedented amount of trauma. Of all the hats I’ve worn and wear, the most important is the hat of a Mother. Read more>>

Michelle Snow | Business & Career Coach

Starting a business was critical! I was tired of being fired for what felt like shenanigans. After a particular termination, I called my mentor while screaming and crying. I said, I got fired again! He paused, breathed and responded, you are on the wrong track. This is because you are on the wrong path. Well…I wish I could say that everything was better after that. I actually got fired two more times, hahaha! However, it was the last termination that served as the catalyst toward starting my own business. Read more>>

Mark Anderson | Farmers’ Market Operator

Having spent a few years as a small farmer and selling crops at many local Los Angeles farmers’ markets, I gained invaluable firsthand insights that led me to start my own business as a farmers’ market operator. Specifically, I developed an awe-inspired appreciation for the challenges of being a professional farmer and the clearly superior quality of fresh, locally grown food (versus the conventional food distribution system). Why settle for a tomato picked pre-ripe three weeks ago, shipped thousands of miles and stored in refrigeration units when you could enjoy one picked the day before, perfectly ripe, from a local farm within a couple hour drive. Read more>>

Ana Ruiz | Family Travel Coach & Online Business Owner

I always felt a deep calling towards having something of my own. Even when I was little, I remember being stuck in my mind wondering why everyone walked the same path towards working for someone else. But it wasn’t until I became a mom, more than 20 years later, that I found the true motor behind it. I loved traveling so much, and now I loved spending time with my daughter, so being an employee, and having someone decide when I got to do these things I loved, wasn’t how I pictured my life anymore. Read more>>

Michael Greco | Owner and Operator of Fia Santa Monica and Greco Entertainment

It was just time. I wanted to control the narrative. I wanted to provide the ultimate guest experience, and not have to explain myself to anyone. It was time to embrace that after 30 some odd years in this industry at both the highest and lowest levels, that I do know better. That, plus I genuinely couldn’t accept one more paycheck, no matter how big it was, if I didn’t believe in what I was doing. Read more>>

Nancy Rivera | President of Family Secret Helpers and Founder of their projects. Coach, Motivator, Author, Editor of Digital Magazine, and Host & Producer of two podcast and a TV show

I never thought of building the business that I have today. Coming from a family with humble roots, a very conventional home, with the day-to-day situations of any Puerto Rican family; where luxuries could be scarce, but never values, the warmth of home and of course, sharing bread with the family. They were the perfect setting for my interest in serving our community. I worked for more than 11 years as a teacher and although I loved what I did and how it could impact the lives of children and young people, I felt that I could do more. So I combined the experience of life and the professional, the desire that moved me to help others, and the restlessness of wanting to do more; I impel myself in the adventure of founding Family Secret Helpers and all its projects. Focused on coaching, education, family, community, and much more. With a lot of effort and faced with the great challenge of managing this entity of social responsibility, we have achieved in this corporation, impact lives. Read more>>

Dan Hendrix | Los Angeles Realtor with the Ben Belack Group at The Agency.

I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I went to Menlo College which is an amazing private business school. They put an immense focus on business and entrepreneurship. It was located in the heart of Silicon Valley and while I was studying business management and real estate, became extra fascinated by the culture there and wanted to start my own real estate business. I knew what the going salaries were for students fresh out of college and put a bet on myself that I could beat it. I did, and never looked back! Read more>>

Janora McDuffie | Actor, Emcee, Wedding Officiant & Boat Captain

I decided to start my own business in order to take my power back. As an actor and voice over artist in the entertainment industry, I got tired of letting my mood and my worth be dictated by whether or not I was working. It was time to get off that roller coaster and create a powerful space where I get to be my own boss. Read more>>

Terri Apanasewicz | Makeup artist, Hairstylist, Entrepreneur & Inventor

Being an entrepreneur is in my bones. I set up sidewalk lemonade stands as a kid that also offered Kool-Aid and cookies. As a teen in my first job, I didn’t just want to work at McDonald’s; I wanted to own my own franchise. After becoming a celebrity makeup artist, I created an education company, P3 Beauty, to empower women to look and feel their best in a simple and achievable way. While that startup fizzled, I knew the concept was a good one. Read more>>

Dana Melanie | Actor & Founder

Like many others, the pandemic left me with a lot of time on my hands. I’ve always been an advocate for the environment, but knew I wanted to do something more than just use my voice to make an impact. Around that time, I learned that Los Angeles has an X amount of space available for new trees to be planted, but only 20% is actually being utilized. There also seemed to be a collective shift in society during quarantine where people were really learning to value the importance of human to human connection. So I thought, why not create something that marries those two things? Something that benefits the environment while bringing the community together. And that was how TROOT was born. Read more>>

Erica Daniels | Entrepreneur and Advocate

My professional aspirations were influenced directly by my personal experiences. My son, Leo suffered for years from symptoms of autism. There was no therapy, no medication and no relief. Apart from Leo’s struggles, I was struggling as a parent and a human being. When I tried medical cannabis—Leo’s life changed and so did my family’s. I knew I wasn’t alone in my journey and the benefits of medical cannabis were too miraculous not to share. I started a non-profit, Hope Grows For Autism—to raise money and awareness for access to medical cannabis and guidance on how to properly use it. I also partnered with Zelira to design a medicine specifically for autism, called HOPE™. It is a tincture available in several states but we are working tirelessly to make it available to individuals who need it. Where you live shouldn’t determine the kind of healthcare you receive. Read more>>

Chantal & Elsa | Creative Directors & Photographers

We were and still are committed to playing our role in saving our planet. It all started as a hobby, 7 years ago, by collecting broken, unwanted records and turning them into unique art pieces. Knowing that vinyl records are made from PVC, which comes from refined oil and can take up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill. Each of our art piece is handmade using graffiti and mixed media technique, bringing to the world upcycled works of art. After many successes and failures, trials and errors, our hobby has grown into a business and as we speak, our art pieces are rocking the walls of many houses and offices around the globe. We launched our concept Trash Vinyl Art in 2014 as a gateway to spread awareness, and also to make the world a better place by using upcycled vinyl records. Read more>>

Katherine Golden | RN/CEO/ED

My first thought of starting my own business was to do what nurses do best, create something to care for the public in need. I took on the giant task of tackling healthcare inequality. As a nurse in a alternative medicine private practice, I saw first hand the incredible challenge to afford not only the out of pocket doctors visit, but also the struggle to afford the very expensive medicine. I was nervous to venture into creating a small business since they don’t teach you entrepreneurship in nursing school, but I had the support needed from family, friends and colleagues to give it a go. I knew I needed a small business development partner and I recruited the perfect Co-Founder. She gave me the autonomy to build the business exactly the way I had envisioned it. From that support, I changed the business idea from a for-profit to a non-profit model, which immediately provided a solution to the problem I was passionate about solving. . Read more>>

Gary V. Lett | Gary V. Lett, Visual Artist/Teacher

The business that I engage in, I’ve been doing so from childhood, although, through the years I’ve acquired additional skills. As a kid, drawing and painting were my passion, and through years I developed skills in ceramics, mold making, and computer graphics just to list the profitable ones! Sign painting was the first art related type of work that I was paid to do. Although, the first signage I remember painting was the words “Rat,” on what seemed to be a discarded half of an oil drum that I used as a garage for my non-motorized Go-Cart made of two-by-four planks. Read more>>

Patrick Goss | Electronic Music Producer

My thought process was simply that I didn’t want to hate what I did for a living. I really wanted to be able to work in a field that I enjoy and am passionate about and be able to enjoy my Mondays and Wednesdays as much as my Fridays and Saturdays. I am also one of the only people in my family to take this route of building something from scratch and that feeling of exploring and navigating something that is unknown is exciting to me. Read more>>

Chelsea Blackburn | Esthetician

I have worked for other corporate companies for almost a decade and was very involved in building their businesses, managing their budgets and making them money. It got to a point where the lifestyle was not sustainable and I wasn’t as fulfilled with the work I was doing anymore, even before the pandemic. I knew that I needed a change and leaving NYC for a bit in May 20202 helped to clear my head and make me realize that I was fully capable of managing my own business since I could do it for these other companies all these years. Read more>>

Michelle Pullman | Wedding Photographer

It didn’t cross my mind to do it any other way. I was lucky in that I didn’t have a big picture in mind. I just knew I wanted to photograph more weddings once I learned that lots of people wanted non-traditional wedding photography. Prior to photographing weddings, both my business partner, Jamie Street, and I, took photos in our daily life. We both shot film from an early age and loved taking candid photos of our friends and whatever caught our attention. For me, it was a way of interacting with the world around me in a deeper way, or at least in a way that would last longer than a blink of an eye. Read more>>

Makensey Gates | Owner, Buyer, Fun Creator at Mountain Mercantile

Prior to the pandemic, I was a freelance Retail Consultant. I was typically wrapped up in projects for large corporate companies and that all came to a screeching stop when everything shut down with no end in sight. I knew I needed to pivot quickly, and I knew that I wasn’t willing to compromise my desire to have work + life balance, my need to control my schedule and the desire to engage with people despite being told we shouldn’t. People thought I was crazy for starting a retail store in a moment when people claimed “Retail is dying”, but the equestrian industry was the perfect place to do so. Read more>>

eS. Renee | Visual Artist & Juice Crafter

When I first started juicing, Intl Players Juice the business wasn’t even a thing. At the time, I didn’t need it to become a business. I was still doing pretty well with what I saved up from my previous job. Once I saw how my friends reacted to the juice flavors, the wheels began to turn. A friend of mine suggested that I commit to making it a business and that made sense because this was in the middle of a pandemic. I needed something that is sustainable, profitable and allows me to educate/give back. I was also very afraid. I was scared of what the possibilities of failing looked like. Would I end up having to go look for another physical job? What am I willing to sacrifice; because the sacrifice must be worth it. Am I willing to learn more about this industry and do the work to make sure it becomes a success? That is everything that went through my head and still does. Read more>>

Nadia Marina | La Jefa

Honestly it all started with the realization that I was not yet building anything that I could leave to my two children. Morbid I know. I just think that things shift when you become a parent and you start to think what you want to model for your children, how do you want to support them, and how can you continue to support them after you’re gone. The fact that we only have a short time here on earth really puts things into perspective. So I started thinking of how I could be my own boss, do something I love, be of service to my community, and still be home for dinner every night. I love connecting with people over a delicious drinks. I love introducing people to new flavors. I love providing opportunities for my community to rise up. Most of all, I love that I can create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone to meet and grow in. Read more>>

Beatrice Valenzuela | Mexican Fashion Stylist / CEO of Chingona Lifestyle

When I go shopping, I go straight into the men’s section. Streetwear was introduced into the male market in the 1980s, but women always played a role behind the scenes and continue to do so. While the majority of Streetwear brands are owned by men, women statistically spend the most $$ on clothing. A lot has changed since Women’s Suffrage, but a lot in society remains in its traditional ways. Our own retail departments tell us what a girl represents, and how a guy should look. Read more>>

Drew Stepek | Owner – Godless

I’ve owned the URL godless.com since 2000. And, for the most part, I never did anything with it. It’s a great domain to own. In 2019, someone offered to buy it from me for $100,000. I turned down the offer. If it was worth that much to someone else, it was definitely worth much more to me. I am connected to the url because my first published book was called Godless and it was released on June 6th, 2006 (666). Even though it was originally just a promotional destination for that book, I always wanted to turn it into something bigger and better. There had to be something there. Read more>>

Anhoni Patel | Founder, Mrs. Patel’s

New motherhood can be incredibly isolating and challenging to navigate. I wanted to help other mothers who may have been struggling with their milk supply and postpartum healing. And offer the kind of support I received from my own mother and grandmother. I was driven to share the nurturing and nourishing foods that were lovingly made for me with this new community to which I now belonged. Read more>>

Trina MacDonald Aeen | Creative Candle Maker

To have creative freedom, set and meet my own goals and finance independence. Read more>>

Emilie Hoyt | Founder & CEO LATHER

When I was a child, I suffered from chronic severe migraine headaches. Missing school, holidays, parties became a depressing common occurrence. Luckily, when I was a pre-teen I saw a neurologist who helped my identify a main trigger to my migraines: perfume. Empowered by this information, I eliminated all perfume from my home. What I discovered was that it wasn’t just the straight traditional perfume that needed to go-it was any product that contained the the words “parfum” or “fragrance.” in the ingredient list. Read more>>

Clayzo | Lifestyle & Music Photographer

At around 16 i got my first job at a place called “Boys and Girls Club” and though it was short hours & relatively easy income especially at that age i just couldn’t see myself clocking in & out at a certain time EVERYDAY. That traditional “you have to graduate highschool and go to college to get a good job” was very off putting to me already at 16, so i was already on the path to avoid that life & find a passion that i could do full time if possible. Read more>>

Brandon Runk – Owner | Sarah and Andrew Mueller – Partners and owner

The three of us, Brandon Runk, Sarah Runk and Andrew Mueller have all worked in coffee in various ways over the years! All of us have traveled domestically and internationally trying other roasters and our passion and interest grew. Andrew and Sarah are cousins and Brandon and Sarah are partners. When we started talking and combining our dreams, the idea of a business to support other businesses with coffee, having a tasting room to feature and serve our coffee and building relationships/supporting farms internationally became the focus of starting our own business. Read more>>

Tina Huang | Designer & Ceramicist

After working in the corporate fashion industry for 10 years, I created Ren•Vois because I wanted to design a product that wasn’t mass produced or timeless. I wanted to create an object that was wholly hand made and one of a kind. Read more>>

Ricardo Mendoza | Founder, Cynosure Creative Agency

I wish I could say I had a clear thought process and plan to help me make the decision, but I didn’t. I wish I could say that I knew at this point in time I was perfectly suited to build and lead my own team to success, but I had no idea. What I did know is that I love digital marketing, and I knew that I could build a company that represented values I believed in. I was motivated by my past success, but also by my past failures. I had started a company 10 years earlier that quickly failed because I had no idea what I was doing. I knew the craft, but I didn’t know how to run a business. This time around I was significantly more experienced and luckily had some support around me from friends and family, I had some talented people willing to work with me that shared my values, and I had the belief that if we had an opportunity to show what we could do, we would find success. We did. Read more>>

Fiorella and Galia Sotomayor | Latina Business Owners

Our business actually started during the pandemic, which was a scary and uncertain time for everyone. Before the Covid-19 lockdown, we took a family trip to Sayulita, Mexico which is a hidden beach town filled with unique shops, beautiful beaches, and delicious food. We left that trip feeling motivated to create something of our own and began brainstorming ideas for our small business. It was also a creative outlet for our well-being during quarantine and we fell in love with all things macrame. Read more>>

Itzel Lovato | Content Creator and Curve Model

At first, I didn’t think much of it. It was an opportunity that fell into my lap but when I got the opportunity to become an influencer and content creator, I definitely ran with it. This is something I never knew I wanted but felt so grateful for the opportunity to come knocking on my door. I had to hustle and it was going to be a lot of work but I’m so glad that I took the opportunity and continued my journey. Read more>>

wilson sandoval | music Artist performer writer composer

my vision first started with branding to the making investing putting my logo on shirts , hats anything i can get my hands on and its nothing easy hard work goes into being indie music artist my passion has always been to give back with my gifts and talents that i been able to call success in my own way because i believe i am already success full in everything i been able to do in my journey as a creator of music and my entrepreneur skills to brand my self in ways i never imagen but im finding my self in this hard business working for my self has always motivated me to do it the best way i can & know how to do it my way Read more>>

Morgan Tigue | Bartender

The thought process behind my business was to have something that adults could enjoy all year round. Most adults like to drink from time to time and with the weather being hot in Los Angeles 90% of the time i just thought it would make sense to start up my own mobile alcohol drink business. I’ve been a bartender for 2 and half years and have a great clientele who enjoy the drink ideas i make up for them at the bar so i wanted to open that experience up to everyone especially during the pandemic. Read more>>

Kenyelle Ash | Owner, Millions In Progress LLC

I’m a natural creator so starting my own business was innate. In a sense, I feel like business ownership chose me. I created opportunities for myself when other’s wouldn’t give me a chance or short changed me. I’m a natural go-getter and hustler, I was the kid at 8 years old selling candy and incense in front of Pic-N-Save which is now of course the store Big Lots for those that don’t know. In my career or when I worked a job, I was the intraprenuer. I always found ways to be innovative, improve systems and the quality of life of those around me. Business ownership was a burning desire of mine. There are ideas that I had inside that I needed to bring to life and there were also ideas that others had that I could help bring to life. Read more>>

John and Nic Manako | John Manako CEO of TruOnes Nic Manako CFO of TruOnes

Thought process behind the company was stradegy , how to move, how to brand, how to attack and execute and find quality. We take everything we have ,blood sweat and tears into our buisness we will never give up and we are going to continue to push until TruOnes is a worldwide name. Read more>>