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.

Eric Taylor | Founder & CEO

I was the son of two entrepreneurs: my mom a successful oil painter with her studio in our house, and my dad who ran a small real estate business also out of our house. This is how I was taught to earn a living, to find something to do that somebody else wanted. It never occurred to me, even after graduating from college, to look for a job working for someone else. Read more>>

Renee Waniolek | Online Lifestyle Boutique Co-Owner

The thought process behind starting my own business was a fear!!! I was born loving clothes, being creative and artistic – but the main goal in my life was to one day have my own store because that would offer me everything I was good at. I could thrive! I always knew exactly what I needed to do but FEAR was the only thing that held me back. The same thoughts would pass through my mind – how much money would I need to start this, what if I failed, what do I exactly start off selling, do I even have the time for all this and the list goes on… It was not until COVID came and the world came to a halt, that I really put my time into this. I would have conversations with my sister Sheri about starting this up and funny enough she pushed me to really put my ideas into action. We decided to do this together and she brings her skills to the table and so do I. Read more>>

Lindsay Wiggins | Event Planning and Design

I absolutely live design and creating spaces. I grew up with a Dad that is a high end custom home builder in Laguna Beach, and prior to starting Bliss Productions, I worked for him for many years. I then worked for Ford designing their interior dealerships, followed by First American, doing marketing and branding, and event marketing. I love design and creating spaces for my clients. Read more>>

Holly Castillo | Wedding Photographer

Is it weird to say that I didn’t have one? I kind of ended up with my own business without really ever making a definite decision of “I am now going to start this!” I had been doing photography as a hobby and something I loved since I was 12, and it never crossed my mind to use it to make a living. I was studying music in college because I also loved it, but I could never quite figure out a career that I would be pursuing after the degree. I actually dropped out of college and got married at 21,fully intending to go back to college at some point, but people started offering to pay me to take family photos, and then a family friend asked me to photograph her son’s wedding, and it took off from there. It was like all of the sudden I was a professional photographer before I even had the time to think about it. Read more>>

David Bishop | CEO

For a number of years in my 20s, I lived overseas months at a time developing Christmas Ornaments for large retail, ribbon for Godiva Chocolates and even had the privilege to refine branding concepts and the logo for Disneyland’s 50th golden anniversary. However my heart has always been in the garden chasing dreams. I managed to open our own shop developing Home & Garden Couture under our Habitudes® brand and most recently the elevation living walls® vertical garden company. At my heart I want to connect people, plants and the the communities that surround us…vertically. By elevating the design narrative both literally and figuratively. Having our own company has afforded us the opportunity to create meaningful connections with clients along the way. Read more>>

Craig Tracy | Fine Art Bodypainting Artist

As an artist with a background in entrepreneurship, I felt that I had a better chance representing myself via a gallery rather than hoping or expecting others to do so. I also wasn’t excited about giving up half of the retail selling price to a gallery as is the standard within the gallery industry. Read more>>

Tanya Newbould-Del Pozzo | Jewelry Designer, Public Speaker, Life and Intuition Coach

When Covid-19 hit back in March, the entire world shut down. Fear, anxiety, all of these feelings affected me as well as most of the world. What do I do??? I’ve been a jewelry designer “Del Pozzo Jewelry” since 2002, a Public Speaker and my business was thriving. Now, all of my shows were cancelled, my stores closed, I sat…waiting. As I sat in stillness, I realized the amount of my life wasted by unnecessary tasks, phone calls and running around. I began to pivot (which is my favorite word of 2020). I’ve been a Public Speaker of Postpartum Depression as a follow up to the documentary I co-created and produced “When The Bough Breaks-a documentary about Postpartum Depression”. My phone stopped ringing to book engagements, but my commitment to make a difference grew. Read more>>

Bobby Kittleman | Yoga Studio Owner

The idea of starting a business truly arose from the desire to be at the cause of creating meaningful connection with others through yoga. My close friend and co-owner Jenny, and I, shared a vision for a business that would value creativity, authenticity, and unity. We wanted to focus on creating a space where a community of like-minded individuals could practice yoga and thrive. Our thought process wasn’t focused on profit, but rather on ways to recognize each individual exactly as they are, and allow them to feel safe and at home within our studio walls. Read more>>

Eric Munson | Brand Developer & Dream Maker

As I grew deeper and deeper into the merch world I looked deeper into my past self. I grew up as a fan of music and live concerts. I grew up going to concerts. I was the kid at concerts buying band merch, buying t-shirts from my favorite bands at the merch booth. As I developed as a professional in the “merch” world, I realized the money that was at stake and I that the owners of most companies didn’t truly care about the fans, they only cared about their P&L’s. I vowed to myself when starting my company, to keep the younger “me” in mind. The companies that are overcharging their clients, are really only hurting the fans. I wanted to have a say in that. I wanted to be able to give my clients what they want, so they can give their fans what they want. I truly believe that if I do my job right, everybody wins. I provide my client with a product or service that they love, and they get to provide they fan/customer, what they love. If I do that, we all win. Read more>>

Courtney Poulos | Broker & Founder

I started ACME Real Estate in 2011 to allow myself and a select group of innovative agents to challenge the conventional real estate brokerage model – I created a company that was able to truly put clients first. Most brokerages train their agents to be dependent, as if they cannot exist without the marketing and branding prescribed by the brokerage firm. In our model, I liberated myself and our ACME agents to think outside the box, to put their branded renovation artists’ logos on the yard signs, to create a wholistic and lifestyle approach to the homeownership process which appeals to buyers with a higher design aesthetic. We coach our sellers on how to create exactly the type of home that buyers WANT – no more crappy flips! We intentionally elevated the presentation, and we have spent a decade curating our marketing both online and traditional to hit the exact buying demographic for the types of homes our sellers are selling. Read more>>

Belinda Lau | Founder & CEO

My story in entrepreneurship started at a very young age. Before I was born, my parents moved here from Southeast Asia with $14 in their pockets, and they started a family and life here on sheer hustle. They opened up a small gift shop in the city to support our family, and that is where I grew up. Have you ever been to a restaurant or a convenience store and there was a kid behind the counter doing their homework? Well, that was me. And that was my early taste of running a small business. When I was a teenager, my dad started a luggage manufacturing business, eventually employing over 400 people. He was a true entrepreneur and was lucky to learn from him how to do things in business at an early age, because soon after I graduated from college, my dad passed away from cancer. Read more>>

Krista Rauschenberg | Advanced Akashic Reader & Akashic Breathwork Practitioner

I was working as a Postpartum Doula, which was the first time in my life I felt I had a skill set that could truly help people and that feeling was life-changing. As a Doula the bulk of my business was working twelve-hour night shifts and that took its toll on my body. All the signs were there that it was time to retire…but to do what and where? I didn’t want to go back to the world of Project Management and Production from where I came, but ended up having to in order to earn a paycheck. I found a good job with good people but I was miserable and my body started to reflect that. I was exhibiting random aches and pains on a daily basis. My vitality was at an all time low. That’s when a friend suggested I have my Akashic Records read. Read more>>

Kelly Sarri | Filmmaker

To reach for new perspectives that envision new artistic horizons with an open mind and room for experimentation so as to elicit a positive impact. Collaborate with filmmakers who are great listeners, patient observers, and understanding human beings overall. With the courage and the will to do the necessary research to depict stories and give them the respect and devotion they need. Overall, to help disenfranchised communities and individuals that really need to be under the spotlight. Read more>>

Catherine Parry | Founder

I was running a financial services communications firm at the time, Templars. I was at Davos, surrounded by CEO’s and chairman of financial institutions all sharing the desire to use social media and electric communications more effectively, but being warned of the security and compliance risk of these channels. Corporates had started using social media to promote their brands but little else was being used. So, when I returned to London I decided we needed to bring banks, regulators together to discuss the best way forward. I led an event in the House of Lords / House of Parliament in the UK with the UK regulator, the FCA and the C-Suite of the largest global financial institutions. Out of this came a Social Media Charter, recognised by the FCA. From this we realised there were two major concerns that current technology software solutions were not meeting. Read more>>

Erin Smith | Author & Founder

Label Me Loved was created through experience. And not just that of my own but of women who have had their own journey of pain and heartbreak and didn’t let it stop them but caused them to prevail, conquer dreams, and share their stories. I wanted to create a safe space for women to come together and talk about their journeys for the purpose of healing themselves and inspiring others. I started this business because there was a need for it. Our events focus on strengthening relationships, creating authentic friendships, networking, and entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Valerie Toliver | Barber Owner

My first thought process I honestly was really scary I feared starting my business and I know a lot of people go through this fear of failure when you have a lot of people around you to say negative things like if I didn’t make it you’re not gonna make it why are you doing this you can’t do that so those seeds planted in me in my heart I wanted to start a business but I have so much negativity in me. So what I started doing is that I had to start being around positive people people that own businesses people that were successful which started shifting and transforming my mind once my mind started transforming I began to take the steps to pursue my business. Even though it was scary which is OK but people have to realize you have to move through the scariness. Read more>>

Doriyeh Ghassemlouei | Photo Lab Partner & Manager

Actually, our family business is continuation dad’s photo studio back in late 40s and early 50s as one of the prominent photo studios in Tehran, Iran called “Mahshid”, in Persian “Moonlight”. The studio that my three older brother and younger sister ended up taking over after he passed away in 1974. Despite being in our early 20s and teens, we managed to continue his legacy as one of the bests in his domain and continue with our higher education while running the studio. In spring of 1977 we changed the photo studio in to photo lab providing service to photographers nationwide in Iran, and continued to become the most advanced photo lab in Middle East few years later. Finally in 1986 due to problems running an independent and successful business in Iran, we gradually started to move to the United States and finally in October 1989 opening up Moonlight Color Laboratory in Reseda, California. Read more>>

Misty Winters | Web Designer & Photographer

Honestly, most of my traditional work experience had me constantly asking myself “what would I do in this situation?” With my operations and human resources experience, I had a constant feeling that I needed to start something from scratch and give myself the opportunity to build something I believed to be great. After many years of working in administration, I found myself feeling incomplete and searching for something that fueled my creative side. I have always done photography and to this day, still feel inspired by the process and the feeling I get when I look at old photos. Back in my college days, I started creating websites for every project I possibly could. To me, it was a fun, creative way of expressing something that may have not been necessarily interesting. I’ve received so many compliments on my photography and ability to create websites and I never thought anything of it until I was feeling unfulfilled as an adult. Read more>>