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.

Breana Pulizzi | Wedding Photographer

I started my business when I was 22. I have always felt creatively drawn to the art industry. Photography had been a passion of mine and then I had my first daughter which was my jumpstart to wanting to be my own boss. I needed something that had flexibility but also a creative outlet. So I decided that I wanted to capture her moments as much as I could and dove straight into starting a business that would help me do what I love and also keep me home with my daughter. Read more>>

Maria Aparis | Author, Wellness, Beauty & Mindfulness Mentor

Starting my own business felt overwhelming and daunting because I didn’t have any experience, I couldn’t get any financial backing and starting a luxury mobile day spa that focused on bringing the luxuries of a day spa to the film and tv studio’s had never been done on a scale like what I was doing before. It took me a long time to find my courage to do something so innovative but once I became fearless, I jumped in! I initially did all of the things everyone told me to do like get a business plan, get this, get that but in the long run non of that mattered. What mattered was flexibility and totally being open minded to not stick to a plan. Sure it’s good to have goals but that was one thing that I wasted time and money on. I quickly found that the more I flowed with the current of how to best serve my clients, the flow of income found me. To this day I focus on providing impeccable service and going the extra mile to ensure my clients feel valued. Read more>>

Saybin Roberson | Founder & Writer

I was tired of being told “no” and being denied for jobs and things I was sure I was qualified for. There was even basic level positions I’d get rejected from, so I took it as a sign from God to go into business for myself, clearly, He wanted different or more for and from me. So I followed and gave myself the freedom to do exactly what I wanted by creating one x three, my little safe space. Read more>>

Gina Casazza | Founder

I am a reiki practitioner and I am big into holistic healing encompassing the whole body, mind and spirit. I love crystals. I love essential oils. I thought of putting crystals and oils together to create an aromatherapy gift set based off an area in your life that you want to improve. When I thought of the mission for the company and the building model, I didn’t want us to be just another bracelet company. I wanted to be a company that serves people, helps them to heal, stay balanced and make positive lasting changes in their life. Read more>>

Eva Chan & Jane Lee | Co-Founder

We started Launch Pop out of a need! Our friends would reach out to us to pick our brains about what activities to prioritize, how to build brand, how to get your first customers. It was very natural for us to help and get very excited and so our first company Morning Recovery was a hit. We launched within 6 months, driving over 200,000 in sales in the first hour of launching on Indiegogo. As a result, the founder was able to secure two investors very quickly after launching with us. When that happened our inbox was getting flooded with requests from founders who all had a passion to launch a product that was innovative. The only thing they didn’t know was ecommerce marketing and finding product market fit. So it became clear right away that we needed to start Launch Pop. Read more>>

Matthew Smith | Speech-Language Pathologist

Back in 2013, when I first started my private practice (within the natural environment setting), I sent out a large postcard mailer to a number of local pediatric medical practices. It was all about introducing myself, my services and value proposition. Of course, not everyone I mailed postcards to became a referral source, in fact only a couple out of 75+ or so solicitations replied. One of them, a small to medium-sized pediatrics office still continues to refer me patients. In other words, if a referral source likes you, is hearing good things about the work you’ve been doing with their clients/patients, you will likely be that source’s go-to SLP. I would suggest not trying to bite off more than you can chew, as they say, since each of these practice descriptions would suggest a different set of referral sources. Read more>>

Robert Chun | Business Coach

My thought process began as an insight in a course. I always wanted to make the world into a better place where everyone is kind and enlightened. I was very idealistic to say the least. What I saw in that course was that unless basic needs of everyone were met, there was no chance for that ever happening. So the next question became how I can make an impact in transforming the world. In that weekend I saw a Vision of myself making a difference in business, helping each and every person become source of their livelihood. In that moment I decided to make a difference in small business across the world. This simple insight became a true possibility when I met my mentor, Steven Gabriel, He showed me how I could learn and be trained to become a Consultant. It is said that when the student is ready, master would appear. In my case, that proverb proved to be true. Read more>>

Molly McCauley | Luxury Wedding Photographer & Visual Brand Curator

I always envisioned myself working in fashion. My undergraduate degree was in design, retail merchandising, and photography — and I studied and worked in London. After landing in Los Angeles in 2007, I worked in the industry briefly before realizing I truly wanted to pursue photography. In 2009 I started my MFA program at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, and because I had a part time job in the wedding industry, wedding photography kind of chose me. I love the wedding industry. I love the fashion aspect of designer bridal, and ultimately I realized it takes a certain type of person to thrive in the wedding world, and I feel lucky to be one of those people. So while there was no thought process regarding wedding photography in particular, it was more of a gut feeling to follow what I thought would make me most happy, and I’ve been taking chances and building my business for the past 11 years. Read more>>

Moushumi Ghose | Sex Therapist, Author, Film Creator & Musician

I decided to work for myself when I got laid off for the first time from a tech company back in the early dot com boom of the early 2000’s. Getting laid off made me feel completely helpless – someone can take away your livelihood just like that! Also, the job was in a field where I didn’t have a marketable or employable “skill.” I was a Producer which felt like a glorified admin job. It wasn’t particularly fulfilling to begin with, sitting at a desk all day in front of a screen. When I got laid off I was also playing in a band that was gigging around Los Angeles pretty regularly. This was a whole other life I fell in love with and knew I needed to maintain, and a 9 to 5 job just would not work with being a musician. Getting laid off was a blessing in disguise, and about a year later after cleaning out all my unemployment fund, it was then that I decided to go back to school, and get my MA in Psychology so that I could work for myself as a therapist. Read more>>

Lisa Bittan | Textile Impressario

I had spent the first half of my work life, (as a lawyer )doing things I thought I was supposed to do–because it was practical, and made my family proud. I decided I wanted to try to have a business working with something I have loved since I was a young child: fabric. Read more>

Marc Cartwright | Director & Photographer

I first created my own company because I like having control over my life, schedule, and daily experience. When you work for someone else, you are on their time and many times you are doing most of the heavy lifting while not earning an equal share of the profit. On one of my past experiences as an employee, we would get breakdowns of our daily sales achievements. One particular day I earned $18,000 for the company and received $200 in pay. That’s when I knew I needed to work for myself. I also really enjoy collaborating with people and creating something that has a positive impact on their business goals. Read more>>

Elvira Zamora | Designer & Stylist

I wanted to create a brand of clothes that allow you to express yourself without having to say anything. The shirts can also be conversation starters. The other designs I create are unique upcycled clothes created for fashion shows and photo shoots. I love to express myself in fashion and creating my business has given me the tools and opportunity to always challenge myself. Read more>>

Shari Puorto | Singer-Songwriter & Performer

Initially starting my “business” wasn’t the way I was thinking when I wanted to have my own band and write songs. I just knew that performing and songwriting was a big part of my focus and 15 years ago it was a force that was simply taking over! I decided to ride the wave and see where it took me. After a few years I realized that my band, my music and performing was now a business that needed to be handled as such. From hiring the right band mates who have the same goals, to songwriting, to marketing to social media, interviews, radio, etc… all these elements needed to be thought about and put in to place, if I was to take my passion and desires to the next level. And to continue in building my brand for the long haul. Read more>>

Lance Conrad | Author & Storyteller

Before I begin this story, I have to say, I don’t necessarily recommend this particular method to anyone else. A job had just ended and I was offered a new job. This new job had everything: good pay, good benefits, company car, flexible hours, the works! And I said no. I said that I was going to be an author. Even by my own twisted judgement, this was reckless. Like the Moors invading Spain, I was burning my ships. I would succeed or I would starve. But I knew myself. I knew that if I didn’t have that kind of backed-into-a-corner manic energy, I would quit when it seemed hopeless. And believe me, there were times when it seemed hopeless. When I started, nobody knew my name and nobody cared. Lacking street cred with libraries or bookstores, I started out selling books door-to-door! Read more>>

Debbie Burns | Soul Seer & Magic Awakener

After experiencing two armed robberies and the resulting fallout of PTSD, acute anxiety, depression, and high suicidality, I actually thought I’d never be able to work again. I’d resigned myself to hiding in my home and writing when I could. But after stumbling into personal development and intuitive healing, I discovered there WAS a path forward for me! One that didn’t lead back to traditional, corporate America (where I’d always been unhappy), but that lead toward freedom, fulfillment, and a life lived on my own terms. For me, starting my own business was part of that. I saw it as an opportunity to have the impact I craved working with people I loved doing work that fed my soul. It could also provide the flexibility I needed around my PTSD so when tiggers overwhelmed me and I needed to pull back into safety and quiet, I could. Read more>>

Jay Semel, DPT | Co-Owner

When I went to PT (physical therapy) school I knew I wanted to start a clinic on my own. I had a good friend there that shared similar thoughts. We often spoke about becoming partners and starting a physical therapy clinic. We would frequently talk about how we would run things and how great it would be. Unfortunately, we each moved to different states and our ideas never came to fruition but it did plant the seeds for me. After moving to LA from New York, I quickly found a job working at a great clinic. I was given great liberty to treat my patients as I saw fit and I stayed with them for eight years! The corporate structure after that time changed and I did not like the new rules that were implemented. I knew I needed to make a change. That seed that was planted in PT school had been growing and I decided it was time to take the jump! Read more>>

Rhett Monson | Interior Designer

Before moving to Los Angeles, I lived in Orlando, Florida and West Palm Beach, Florida. In both cities, I worked for Interior Design firms that provided me with a steady stream of work. I expected to find large residential firms in California like those in Florida but the business model here is different. I never expected to start my own business but needed to so I could do the work that I love. I spent time meeting realtors and builders establishing relationships to open doors for myself. Nothing was handed to me and I am proud of what I have accomplished. Read more>>

Cydney Kaplan | Recreation Therapist & CEO

The thought process behind starting my business was easy, I saw a need that wasn’t being met. I was working at an assisted living and I saw people who needed companionship but not necessarily a caregiver. Seniors wanted someone they could talk to and relate to. That was the original idea behind starting my business. However, it has turned into much more than that now. Read more>>

Andrea Palma | Designer & Maker

Ever since I could remember, I always loved art and creating things with my hands. I use to always go to the fabric and flower district in DTLA with my Mom asking questions, and feeling inspired to want to do everything and anything that had to do with creativity. I always knew I wanted to be some type of artist, maker or designer. It was always around me growing up and luckily it was never discouraged in our family. I really started feeling that spark to make it into my work when, my brother who is a Chef in Los Angeles, needed some aprons for the kitchen. After a friend saw what I did for my him, he asked me to make some aprons for restaurant. That’s when it really became a vision,that’s when I knew I wanted to hold onto this. Read more>>

Pierre Chapat | Chef & Owner

I was working at a local restaurant for 12 years running the catering department and decided to take a leap of faith and do it on my own. Opened the doors on early 2000 and it became apparent to me right away I had made the correct move. The road hasn’t been an easy one but it definitely has been a fulfilling one. Read more>>

Michelle Vezilj | Psychic, Intuitive Channeler & Musical Healer

Simply put, I wanted to do something to make people’s lives better. I am a psychic, an intuitive channeler, and a musical healer using my gifts to deliver uplifting messages from the other side. Through my business, Hold My Broomstick, I have been able to work with people all over the world. Back in 2017, I had a close friend pass away. I had never felt such agonizing pain before. I searched for ways to speak with him and I was led to my first deck of tarot cards. I used the art of tarot to connect and receive his guidance. Eventually my friends began asking for their own readings and it took off from there. I love that my dear friend is still a part of everything that I do. Read more>>

Sir. Henry Thompson Jr. | Freelance Photographer

There wasn’t none. With over twenty-five years working on computers, networking systems and resolving clients issue, I had the privileged of getting laid off SCE. I was getting bored with being a technician and I knew that no where would hire me at or even close to the salary coming in a newbie. So with no business or marketing background let along knowledge but I did have a vision and wanted to continue to use my customer service skills and my hobby as a photographer to bring happiness to others. That was the foundation behind the starting of Still Moments Photography. Read more>>

Wendy & Deborah of Living Lēl

Having a long history guiding women and couples through infertility and navigating each of our fertility struggles, we felt a strong pull to form our business to empower women throughout their reproductive lifespan. Reproductive challenges, pregnancy, and postpartum can all encompass scenarios that may feel isolating to those going through it. The mind-body practices we teach are ancient techniques applied to our modern world. These tools positively shift the human experience towards a space of learning to “control what you can and let go of everything else” and a greater sense of ease, peace, and equanimity. With various practices in yoga, breathwork, acupressure, psychology, meditation & mindfulness, and Ayurveda/Functional Nutrition, we felt inspired to offer a comprehensive methodology to health & well-being. Read more>>