Starting a business can be terrifying. Weighing the pros and cons, the risks, and other considerations can be so overwhelming that often promising entrepreneurs stop before they even start. We asked some phenomenal entrepreneurs about their thought process behind starting their own businesses. Our hope is that by making the thought-process less intimidating we can help more folks think through whether they should take an entrepreneurial leap.

Rochelle Kramer | Realtor

Doug and I married January 1, 2000. Looking back it seems appropriate that we would start something new together, new for the millenium, something beyond our marriage but at the time we both had corporate jobs. He was in corporate travel sales and I was in the tech industry. We were in nesting mode. Making small improvements to the home that he purchased in 1996. It was an interesting home with an open beam tongue and groove wood ceilings, walls of glass and a great indoor/outdoor connection with a pool in the front yard. We were on a journey to discover the style of the home and and lo and behold we found out that our home was designed by Cliff May. Our neighborhood was commonly referred to as The Ranchos, but virtually no one in Long Beach knew of Cliff May. The local real estate community did not have an appreciation for mid century modern architecture, let alone Cliff May. Read more>>

Jenn Kenning | CEO & Co-Founder

We believe that the world should work for 7.8 billion people and not at the expense of the planet. The way we accomplish that is through transforming how we invest and give away our capital. I believe there are three pillars that will allow families, individuals, foundations and institutions to be successful in this endeavor and ultimately change the world. The first pillar is you must have a strategy. A strategy is really important. It’s very much like the architect is needed to build a home before you can start with construction of the foundation. You would never build your home without those two things intact. The strategy is really your WHY. What gets you up in the morning? What drives you? What do you care about in the world? If you could move the needle on one thing in the world, what would it be and why? The second pillar is we “meet you where you are at.” Read more>>

Kenzie Olds | Fashion Stylist

I worked in the photo and film industry for years before finally deciding to start my own business and become a freelance stylist full time, like a lot of creatives I found that the entrepreneurial life suited me a lot better than a more structured 9-5 job. Don’t get me wrong, it was terrifying at the beginning and even still has its moments (queue being self employed during a worldwide pandemic) but it has been leaps and bounds the most rewarding and growth filled move I could have ever made. I initially decided to start my own business for a few key reasons: since a majority of our lives are spent doing whatever it is we invest in career wise I wanted mine to be something I was really immersed and in love with, so I figured I should hone in on what that is, which ended up being one of the biggest factors for starting my own business because I realized that there was a huge a gap in the market for stylists who were being ethical with their wardrobe sourcing while still creating high end looks. Read more>>

the lazy potters (jennifer cheh + francesca basilico)

About 5 years ago we took a pottery class at a local studio. We had always worked with our hands but pottery has its challenges. Eventually we found our way and each discovered what we were better suited for. We had always made pottery for ourselves and family, it was never our intention to sell our work because it meant being in a position of vulnerability. But after a few years it was clear that our passion for pottery was growing and so was our collection plates and bowls, so eventually decided to hold a Friends & Family Holiday Market. The reaction was better than we expected and with the support of our fellow makers we were invited to join in a variety of pop up shops throughout the city, including a month long temporary shop in Venice. The initial dialogue for web store occurred a few years back, but with the arrival of Covid 19, we quickly realized that it might be some time before we could get back to our beloved pop ups. Read more>>

Simona Vega | Airbrush Tanning Artist

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2012, I was looking for a job. But, I didn’t just want any old job I was seeking my passion. After owning a restaurant in Germany and working in the Hotel business for many years I wasn’t going to go back to that life, I wanted to be creative! My husband works in the Movie industry I thought “How can we work together in the future?” well, I always wanted to work in the beauty industry so I applied and was accepted into the Master Class at the Cinema makeup school. Shortly after graduation however, I became pregnant and realized that doing makeup on film and television sets wasn’t going to work out. Having the dream of becoming a mother fulfilled immediately consumed all of my focus. There was time for painting faces later, right? Fast forward about 2 years and I am scrolling along on Instagram and I saw some pictures of girls getting spray tanned. They looked so good, so happy. Read more>>

Sara Zolfaghari | Founder & CEO

Starting my own business was my plan from the beginning. I grew up in a entrepreneurial family. My father was a pharmaceutical scientist who built many businesses from scratch. My mother also started her own health & wellness spa when her children were 2 and 9 years old and she decided she needed to work but be on her own schedule. I followed their path as far as education and gaining work experience. I was a fourth year PhD student of pharmaceutical economics and outcome research, when I decided that I’m being held up in the program longer than my life plans allowed. So I left the PhD program with a second master’s degree and went off to the “real world”. After working in the pharmaceutical industry as a scientist/consultant for 5 years, I finally received my calling… An idea inspired by my 2 year old daughter that led me to start my company, Nature Soothie. Read more>>

Christine Blackburn | Producer, Podcaster, Comic & Host

You know, as a comedian and performer, I have found the best way to get stage time is to book yourself. In other words, produce your own content, then you’ll always have stage time. This is not necessarily an easy thing to do. When you create your own shows, you need a lot of talent to keep it going. Therefore, you need to have friends in the same industry who want the same things you do. Making friends, especially in LA, is not the easiest thing to do. I threw my entire life into succeeding in Hollywood and I had to do a lot of sacrificing and delaying gratification. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had a 1 bedroom apartment without a washer/dryer, dishwasher, garage and other luxuries I was used to. But I decided it was more important to me to live here in Los Angeles, where there are like-minded people, than to have basic “luxuries.” Once I was comfortable with this decision, I set out to get stage time and make friends. Read more>>

DJ Xoda | Event Organizer & DJ

I grew up in the punk rock scene of Olympia, WA which is fueled the Evergreen State College and all of the incredible artists of Olympia., I wanted to take what I learned in my hometown and spread it throughout the West Coast. Music, Art, & Community. Read more>>

Nicole “NeeKKo” Lindsey | Entertainer

My though process behind starting my own business was being familiar with adversity and deciding that I want to be my own boss and change mine and my family’s circumstance. I did not know how or have any of the answers as to how to go about starting a business, but nonetheless, I knew I needed to start. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but did not know exactly what I wanted to do initially. Once I began my journey I did not look back and I’ve welcomed the ideas and realities that unraveled and fell into place for me along the way as an entertainer with a purpose. Read more>>

Tam Luc | Book Message and Business Strategist

My parents were successful entrepreneurs and that is all I wanted to be. My mother was my biggest inspiration in that she raised three children as a single mom by starting a hair salon. At the time I thought she was a super hero and wanted to be just like her. She later remarried and encouraged my dad to start a business which became a very successful family business in the 80’s. All I wanted for my life was the freedom I saw they had…. So the struggle to figure out what it would take started many years ago… until I finally figured it out. Read more>>

Danielle Matthew | Therapist, Bullying Expert & Founder

I always knew I wanted to help people. I had been bullied as a young child and felt its effects as I went through my early years in school. At an early age, I knew I wanted to make a difference with people in a meaningful way. About four years ago, I had the opportunity to leave the safety of my full-time job and start The Empowerment Space business. I developed a program to help victims of bullying, which led to my presenting on this topic to schools, conferences, parent groups, and psychology students. Read more>>

Brian Masjedian | Fabric Enthusiast & Director

This may be a bit cliche but I was avid sewist and at the time, was in a desperate search for an online fabric store that I could rely on to have sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics. Of course, this fueled me to start APC Fabrics about 6 years ago. The beginning was tough but I am delighted at the way APC has progressed and has finally found its place in being a reliable supplier for sustainable and eco friendly fabrics. Read more>>

Kelsey Searles | Co-Founder

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? My thought process on starting MiliMili centered around a couple key things: 1. As a child of two parents who both owned their own businesses, I have always wanted to (and assumed I’d) be an entrepreneur at some point in my life. I was just waiting for the right business concept to come along. 2. After having my 1st child (Remy) I was desperate for a passion project – something that could use my creative side and my background in Interior Design, but also fuse that with my entrepreneurship degree and Type A personality (i.e. love for order and process.) MiliMili has definitely been that saving grace – that passion project that keeps me happy and challenged. And it all started with a gift. My friend Rose is this amazingly thoughtful gift giver. And for my daughter’s 1st birthday she wanted to get a gift that was both useful and beautiful. Read more>>

Barrett Prendergast | Entrepreneur

I’ve always been a creative person and have been making and selling things as far back as I can remember. From handpainted t-shirts to crystal necklaces and butterfly bobbypins, I was always designing and selling things when I was younger as a way to make money. I was raised by a single mom who worked so hard to provide for her family and constantly struggled to make enough for us to get by. If I wanted something that was not essential, I had to make my own money to be able to get it. I learned about hard work at a young age and always wanted to be able to grow up and create something of my own. By my late twenties, the time had come for me to take the leap to really start a business. At that time, my husband and I launched a handbag line called Sud de Sur. And, while it garnered a lot of great press over its two year lifespan, we just weren’t able to make enough money doing it. Read more>>

Stephan Durand | Private Chef & Culinary Consultant

The most important is that I wanted and needed to be independent, but most of all I felt that working for a paycheck did not give me the ability and the freedom to do certain things. Read more>>

Andrea Geresdi

It was actually a dream, real dream. I woke up at 1;30 am and I shook my Husband up to tell him we have to build a Salt Cave. I was standing in the dream in a middle of a room full of salt, the room what is the actual Salt Cave today. Exact layout 6 months earlier than it was built, even the baches for the kids are in the same place as it was in the dream. Did not really had a so called business plan, never done anything like this, but this Cave was the first Salt Cave in the whole Country as well. We really dreamed it to reality with my Husband, and now its been 11 years and helping people to learn more about alternative therapies. Read more>>

Bailey Onstad | Home Organizer

Originally, starting a business and turning ‘Organizing’ into a full-time career wasn’t on my mind at all! This is without a doubt my passion and seeing friends & families positive reactions after I would just help them with minimal things around the house is what sold me on starting the business. I have severe OCD, so my parents growing up were always pleasantly surprised to come home to almost everything you could imagine labeled and organized to perfection. After so many blatant signs, I noticed the shoe fit, and it was time to wear it. Read more>>

Sal Mendoza | Photographer & Videographer

It seemed a little scary, being a one person operation. But it has certainly been very rewarding. I definitely had lots of help from instructors and friends in the biz. Read more>>

Luis Antonio Pichardo | Poet, Artist, Founder & Executive Director

To explain the reasons why I started my nonprofit organization, DSTL Arts, it’s important to understand the mission of DSTL Arts. DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that inspires, teaches and hires emerging artists from underserved communities. As an artist from a historically-marginalized and underserved community myself, I essentially started DSTL Arts because I had no mentorship in the arts that provided me with the same kinds of opportunities I now strive to offer others. In fact, I had no mentor guide me in life, much less as an artist, and I spent a major part of my early life struggling to understand my voice, my power, and my role in our community. DSTL Arts was founded in response to an arts environment that elevates certain voices over others. Read more>>

Shar Schmidt | Jewelry Designer

My thought process behind starting my business was HEALING. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer (triple negative) and a genetic mutation. After doing chemotherapy, surgeries, and radiation therapy, my body wasn’t the same. I was looking for a way to heal emotionally and physically that didn’t involve more medication than I was already taking. I became interested in crystals, and wanted to wear them close to me as well. So I started making my own jewelry. I loved it so much, I wanted to share that with other people. Read more>>

Alex Foxman | Board Certified Physician practicing Internal Medicine and Preventive Care

As far as I can remember, I was interested in science and always wanted to help others. Through a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I have been privileged to combine these into a career as a board certified physician practicing Internal Medicine and Preventive Care. Early in my career, I realized that our healthcare system had serious flaws where the more services a physician provided to a patient the more the they got paid regardless of the positive or negative patient health outcome. This is wrong, as this type of reimbursement does not incentivize positive patient outcomes. This is why I practice “value based” healthcare, where my reimbursement and that of my medical team revolves around “quality” and not “quantity” of services. When I keep patient’s healthy, happy and away from unnecessary urgent care, ER or hospital visits, we do better as well. Read more>>

Jessica Hinkle | Photographer & Designer

I had always wanted to get into fashion but as a fat person with a family not so supportive of the arts, I never went for it. Then a little over 10 years ago, I came across the fat positive community and the folks doing really important work to de-stigmatize being fat. Through that community, I did some self-exploration and a lot of learning and unlearning. Once I learned to love and accept myself, I decided that I should stop waiting around to do the things I had always dreamed of. Without an education in fashion, I decided to do what I did best, start with vintage. Plus size vintage was so hard to find and not many people were offering it. I started with a size inclusive vintage shop and eventually, once I had some experience with small business under my belt, I pivoted to cater to plus size consumers, adding contemporary pieces and eventually learning to produce our own line. Read more>>