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.

JC White | Founder of T3 Body | Online Fitness and Nutrition Coach

I saw that there was a lack of true customization and personalization in online training programs. Online training programs never really went into detail or seemed to care about the success of their clients. It was always just simple questions and framework to create generic nutrition and training programs but never took the step further to figure out what needed to be done to truly help the clients succeed. Being in the fitness industry for over 10 years now, I knew in order to create an amazing experience and a results-based service, I would need to go deeper and that meant getting a full blood analysis and biomechanical movements screening before assigning any exercises or movement prescriptions. I also realized this couldn’t just be a one-time thing and would have to involve a weekly ongoing measurement system that measured mood, energy, appetite, libido and digestion to ensure that the program is following through on what it promises. No one single person’s lifestyle is the same, nor is their body and their program should respect that. Read more>>

Sharmane Fury | COO of Gulf Coast Cosmos | Host & Producer of Militantly Mixed & BLERDcoMIXed Podcasts | Maker at Masks By Mane

I have a few small businesses at the moment, ManeHustle Media Podcast Network, Masks By Mane, and Gulf Coast Cosmos Comicbook Co. Starting with ManeHustle Media, I wanted to create a community space that would focus on and elevate POC-created content in the podcasting arena because in 2018 it felt like there weren’t many options for us in podcasting. I have a very “for us, by us, about us mentality” and while podcasting can be a difficult space to blow up in, it does allow individuals to create a platform and in my case grow different communities out of discussions of race, sexuality, and gender identities. I created the Militantly Mixed podcast because as a Multiracial person I didn’t have a community of other Mixed people that I wasn’t related to to commiserate with, talk about issues related to racial identity, and feel less alone. It took a couple of years but I was truly able to build a community and a found-family that continue to support the show, me and each other which is way beyond my original dream for the show. Read more>>

Estee Cohen | Director of Recruiting at California Job Shop

I had worked for 2 recruiting companies, one that catered to filling C-suite positions for large non-profits and charged $60,000 per recruit and another that focused on larger companies that charged $10,000-$15,000 per recruit. I am from the small business world and realized there was a hole in the market and that no one out there was catering to smaller businesses (10-500 employees). I knew, with the right team and systems in place, we could recruit great people quickly and at a less expensive price. We fill jobs within 30 days and for less than half of what our competitors charge without compromising on our quality or customer service. Read more>>

NADIYA POPADYUK | Fashion Stylist & Social Media Influencer

Never stop dreaming! Believe in Yourself! These are my all time favourite life mottos. Keeping up the faith when we are in the middle of trying times is the main goal. When you believe in yourself, you can overcome all obstacles and have the confidence to take action and start your own business. It’s very important to start before you’re ready and that’ll lead you to success. I started thinking of myself as a personal brand. At the beginning the most valuable question was what do I wish for people to associate me when they hear my name or a name of my PR company. In Ukrainian language the name Nadiya means Hope. When you choose hope, everything becomes possible in life: you create your own reality, life happens for you, obstacles help you to grow. That’s why I never changed my name on social media platforms, I tried to be seen and get noticed as Hope. Read more>>

Robert Bahedry | Coach & Certified Breathwork Facilitator

When quarantine was announced mid-March of 2020, the two west Los Angeles yoga studios where I was teaching my 3 weekly Breathwork classes were forced to close their doors. Fortunately, both studios pivoted online right away. Within literally a few days of the lockdown order, I found myself facilitating TEN Breathwork classes per week! All via livestream on Zoom. As the word slowly got out, more and more people would show up, mostly from the Los Angeles area at first. Then East Coast people started showing up and after a few weeks, I was getting people from all over the US and Europe joining in. At one point, I had people in my class all the way from South Korea to Israel – and all points in between – and all because the work itself was really helping people deal with the challenges – and most often, the anxiety – that lockdown brought with it. Job loss, fear of the unknown, lack of connection and community, and the feeling of being cooped-up inside to name a few reasons. Read more>>

Michael Pepe | Record Producer

This is an interesting question and I don’t think it’s asked enough when talking to and about entrepreneurs. I’m a firm believer in going with your gut. I know that’s a loaded statement because learning to trust your gut is a journey all on it’s own. However I think once you can start down that path and be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to yourself is when a lot of the real work as an entrepreneur starts. So going with that theme when I decided over a decade ago that I was going to go into business all on my own my thought process mainly revolved around trusting myself and that instinct I had that was telling me to do this on my own and to make and produce records for a living all on my own. Read more>>

Christine Allen | M.A., BCBA

Working with children is very rewarding work. Watching them develop a new skill or language is incredibly fulfilling. However, once I became a parent I gained a new appreciation of the challenges that parents face. My goal is to take the knowledge that I have gained through my education and experience easily accessible to every parent. My hope is to empower parents and caregivers to create behavior change with their children and experience a happier and calmer home!. Read more>>

Derek Herbert | Graphic Designer & Content Creator

The thought process behind starting my media and graphics business “DSH Media” was subsequent to many creative ventures. In fact, before I created an identity of my brand DSH Media, there were several steps to discovering a profitable and fulfilling business. My thought process began a few years back when I sat down and asked myself “Okay, I have this idea. Now what do I want to do with it?” Now you would think because I mostly produce and promote my graphic designs that I’m referring to that. Well actually, no. My dream has always been to be a TV, talk show, or radio personality. I’ve had many conversations with myself and other likeminded individuals about how to manifest this into my life. Growing up, going to school, getting an education, and finding a career path was the standard. Coming from a working class family, it was all that I knew. Read more>>

VeeAlwaysHere | Recording Artist, Producer

I’ve always wanted to make music ever since I could remember. Music was my personal escape. A great song could get me through anything: help me feel more confident when I needed it most; realize that I’m not alone or simply sing along to something that’s been on my mind, but I never said out loud. I’ve always known that I want to make music that helped people in the way music has always helped me. Just honest, raw and sometimes ignorant too. Read more>>

Kendall Watson | Influencer Marketing Specialist

I wanted to explore different avenues of work, and how I could use my business background to work creatively in a few different areas. I began my freelance business within retail consulting after nearly 5 years in corporate retail. As time went on, my business evolved more into the digital space as I began working within influencer marketing, talent management and experiential marketing. I’ve always needed projects in different areas; I have never been the type to be able to do the same thing every day. Having my own business allowed me to have both the freedom of choosing what type of work I take on and the freedom of schedule to be able to piece it all together on my own time. Read more>>

Polo Yazaki | Guitarist/Music Producer

When I was younger I struggled to find my own identity but eventually found success on the track and field. Unfortunately I had suffered an injury that changed my future quite drastically. Now unable to run I fell into a depression but while at a friends house I saw a guitar, picked it up and started to fiddle with it. That was the first moment I felt my interest in the field of music begin. Read more>>

Shawna Lazymills | Director, Story Artist, TV Series Developer & Writer

I remember feeling like I wanted to feel bigger than the corporations I’ve worked for allowed me to feel. Coming to the conclusion that even if the big boss gave me the title or wage I deserved, I would still feel empty of the satisfaction I feel when I build my own ideas up. I’ve always wanted to disconnect from the industry grid, so I knew that the first step was to officially claim my own business entity. It was tough switching my brain to the business side, but as they say, “a girls gotta do what a girl has gotta do.” As soon as I started my business, I felt a constant stream of progress permeate in. I knew from then on, that having my own platform with my own creations would keep me fulfilled and purposeful. Read more>>

Roxie and Lucas Francis | Founders of I Heart My Voice | Vocal Coaching, Artist Development & Music Business Mentoring

I Heart My Voice was started to help people find their voice and make an impact with it. We wanted to build a business that would actually help singers live their dream; not just by receiving world-class vocal coaching and mastering the industry’s best vocal techniques, but also by teaching success, mindset and a bulletproof career strategy. We wanted them to be able to explore the uniqueness in their message, in their brand and in the impact they’re meant to make as a singer, as an artist and as an influencer for the unique tribe of people that they’re meant to inspire. We’re dedicated to making an impact, one voice and one song at a time. The heart of our company beats on love and the passion for what’s possible when we live our dreams every day. And that’s why our tagline is find your voice, make your impact and amplify your career. Read more>>

Megan & Skylar Klembith | Food Bloggers

Megan and Skylar Klembith run Klembetch Foodies. Sisters who are five years apart, their love of cooking is palpable. Both thrive on pushing the envelope and changing things up to create yummy and healthy twists on even the most basic of dishes. Ahead of their time, the sisters were preparing raw food desserts, learning to substitute almond flour and different sweeteners, like coconut sugar, way before those trends hit the mainstream. The sisters grew up cooking healthy and innovative recipes, especially centered around holidays. They began posting their creations on social media and got flooded with recipe requests. People always wanted to know how to make the dishes they created. One day, Megan had a lightbulb moment at work and decided they should start a joint cooking Instagram. Since they already had several family recipes and photos compiled, they were able to start posting immediately after setting up the food blog. Read more>>

Ashley Nell Tipton | Fashion Designer and Season 14 Winner of Project Runway

There was a major gap in the Plus Size Offerings and as a Plus Size Designer and having the capacity to manufacturer I knew I had the ability to make a difference. Read more>>

Raj Vable | Founder

When I started Young Mountain Tea in 2013, it was with a promise: if a remote Himalayan non-profit would organize farmers to grow tea, I’d setup a company in the US to sell it. Our goal was to solve the interrelated issues of urban migration, land degradation, and climate change that threaten mountain communities very existence. As urban migration rips apart agricultural Himalayan communities, once-rich farmland is deteriorating into lifeless dirt. Much of this dirt is exposed to the air, releasing nutrients, sequestered carbon, and moisture to the mountain winds. As the soils are weakened, they are increasingly vulnerable to deadly landslides, which commonly destroy entire communities in seconds. By converting fallow hillsides into thriving organic tea gardens, we’re helping farmers plant thousands of new tea tree saplings. The tea plant is a tree whose roots grow into the mountains, and by using organic and regenerative practices like no-till farming, planting perennials, and multi cropping, the lands will be revitalized. The stronger soils will prevent the erosion that triggers the landslides. Read more>>

Dusty Nabor | Winemaker

I was an avid drinker of wine for many years before I learned how to make it. At first I just wanted to understand the process. Once I started to learn and do it for myself, I was hooked. I always intended to sell the wine that I made. I just had no idea it would be as successful as it is today. Read more>>

Steve Cardigan | Artist Development

Starting my own business stemmed from just doing things that were interesting to me and then finding demand for those things. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and the people around me and I always believed we could do anything. There are so many possibilities today if you just go for it. I started shooting videos because I like creating and then I saw a demand for music artists who needed content. Then that grew into me getting into artist development where I provide content and rollout strategy for artists. Just trying new things and then using everything I’ve learned to provide more value for people. Read more>>

Jordan Duvall | Creative Director & Consultant

I’ve always had my own business whether it was photography, design, or making jewelry. I reached a point where I wanted a “real business” with proper systems, structures, marketing, packaging, etc vs having a creative side hustle and so I invested in myself and hired a business coach. I never learned the proper business skills on my own and I knew I needed an expert to guide me. My biggest motivator was being able to combine all my talents across marketing, advertising, art direction, and design in one place so that I could be in flow, enjoy the work I was doing and feel like I was truly making a difference in my client’s lives and businesses. The name Ignite Your Soul Brand came from a flash of inspiration at Tony Robbin’s “Unleash the Power Within” event. But let me back up a minute… Throughout my years in advertising, I found that we never had a proper strategy to follow. We were always shooting in the dark hoping to land on a campaign the client would sign off on. That resulted in a lot of frustration and being so drained creatively. Read more>>

Jaketa Humphrey | Fashion Designer/Stylist & Actress

The thought process behind starting my own business was to simply honor my brother, Marquis who passed away in 2009. However, once I started it became clear to me that the purpose was to inspire myself and others to LEAVE YOUR MARQ in this lifetime. Often times we don’t start because we want things to be perfect, but I have come to the realization that it doesn’t have to be perfect, just start and trust the process. I know that God & my brother have guided me to this point where divine timing meets manifestation & manifestation meets actualization…because a dream means nothing if you don’t act on it. I hope that I can encourage others to follow whatever keeps tugging at you…share your gifts with the world because you cannot take them with you. LEAVE YOUR MARQ in this lifetime!. Read more>>

Melanie Lockert | Podcast Host of The Mental Health and Wealth Show & Writer

I started my podcast The Mental Health and Wealth Show and the site MentalHealthandWealth.com in early 2020 as I know the connection between money and mental health ran deep. After running my blog Dear Debt and getting tons of emails from people suicidal about debt, I knew there was something bigger. I had no idea by mid-2020 how relevant these topics would be. It’s my mission to break the taboos around money and mental health and have the hard conversations that can help with healing and building wealth. Read more>>

Brandon Wolford | Cinematographer

It was the only thing that made sense, I had worked as a grip on film sets but I couldn’t find any more work and I loved creating with my camera. Best option was to just slap my own name on the product and start creating for people. I knew that there were hundreds if not thousands of others doing the same thing, I just hoped my personality and style could set me aside from the rest. Read more>>

Jacqueline Carrington | Founder

In early 2019, I was inspired by my daughter Monroe (who was 3 at the time). When her and my son would spend the night at my mom’s, Monroe would always come home with her nails painted. Her new interest in nail polish rekindled mine, and forced me to think back to my childhood. I didn’t wear nail polish growing up because I played basketball, and I realized I never saw nail polish shown on brown hands. I thought to myself, “what if someone made a nail polish brand that picked out colors to complement the various shades of brown skin from all over the world, and celebrated People of Color?” So I did! I wanted to create a nail polish brand that was not only inclusive, but whose main focus was celebrating and representing People of Color through the nail polish colors we chose and showing them on all shades of brown skin tones. Read more>>

Justin Mayfield | Celebrity Make-up Artist, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur

After founding the nonprofit “I Wore Lipstick” I knew I wanted to find the support of a cosmetics line to help fund and promote our mission. Given many cosmetics lines are owned by larger umbrella corporations, it proved difficult to find one who’s values and contributions were aligned with our mission of equality & creating opportunities for the marginalized. Finally I decided I needed to create this entity myself. I had always noticed the lack of representation of beauty campaigns. Race, gender, body type; it was all ignored and human dolls were all that you ever saw in an add or on a billboard. Creating ADVEKET’s “Gender Fluid Beauty” and “Beyond Binary Skincare” has allowed me to showcase the beauty found in every human on the planet. Not only does ADVEKET support I Wore Lipstick in its message, we also pledge to donate money from every sale, as well as donate products to donation drives and sponsor community events. Read more>>

Yuval Ron | Musician & Entrepreneur

MusoMind was born as a result of a pressing need for a platform that lets music fans support their favorite musicians in a way that fits the reality of music in 2021 and onwards. The music industry is fundamentally broken. The old models which were based on selling music, both physical and digital, are largely gone. Music streaming, which is the main way for consuming music today, is clearly not taking the artists into account – artists are getting paid ridiculously low royalty amounts like $0,0038 per play. It is clear that music streaming was designed as a legal alternative to music piracy in order to save the major labels, not the artists. Add to that Covid-19 and how in a matter of months the lockdowns destroyed the live music industry, it all amounts to an impossible situation for many musicians and especially for the independent ones. Read more>>

Rebecca Torres Carter | Jewelry Designer & Small Business Owner

I didn’t initially intend on starting a jewelry business. Making jewelry has been a creative outlet from a young age that I continued into my adulthood as a way of getting my creative energy out. After years of making jewelry for friends and family and selling pieces I was wearing to random people on the street who asked me about it, I realized that I could make an impact with my jewelry and that it made women feel beautiful. That’s when I knew I wanted to get serious and create a career doing it. Read more>>

Kevin Thornton | Captain & Sailing Instructor

Sailing to me is all about connecting with nature, exploring the surrounding waters and flirting with the endless freedom that ocean sailing has to offer. And although going for a sail can be incredibly immersive, relaxing and energizing, boat ownership comes with a lot of financial and time commitments. Renting a boat is a nice alternative to ownership, but you are solely responsible for everything and everyone on board once leaving the dock and it can be quite expensive for each outing (hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the boat size). These factors alone keep many people who may be interested in sailing on the beach longingly watching the sailboats tack back and forth along the coast. It is with these constraints in mind that we started L.A. Sailing to provide regular, affordable access to sailing in a fun and engaging community. Our sailing club fills a gap in the market place allowing folks to enjoy all the benefits of sailing in Southern California without the financial and time commitments required for ownership. Read more>>

Barry Ennis | Fitness Business Coach and Consultant

I didn’t initially intend to start a business. I launched a podcast for fitness instructors and entrepreneurs while I was living in China, working for a corporate fitness brand, training new instructors to teach cycle and yoga. The podcast started out as more of a hobby, a way to connect with my peers while living so far away, But I quickly realized that I had acquired SO much information from my decade+ of experience working in the fitness industry that was not readily available to the average fitness professional and that I practically took for granted! I wanted to pay it forward, so to speak, and educate the next generation of fit pros on a global scale. During this time I also came to realize that I just didn’t fit into a corporate infrastructure and was feeling called to build something of my own. It wasn’t until my then best friend, now business partner and wife, started collaborating with me. She had a consulting business based in LA and was a regular guest on my show. She told me, “you have built this incredible platform that is generating international leads, but there’s no business behind it. Read more>>

René, Pat, Eduardo | Managing Partners

When we decided to start our own business together it seemed organic since we all had a mutual respect for each other and each other’s work ethic. We have a combined experience of 20 years in apparel and wanted to take this chance and see where it could go! We were just a couple of creative fashion entrepreneurs hanging out around ten years ago in our little studio garage we like to now call the “Garagement” and were chatting about how overly branded all clothing was, specifically hoodies. Read more>>

Zaid Dahhaj | Writer, Freelancer, & Competitive Soccer Player

I am unemployable. It’s not because I am incapable of being responsible, but because I don’t see the point in spending my precious time and energy making money for somebody other than myself in the long run.Some personalities are meant to pursue their own path in context to work, and I am one of them. I am still finding my way through this business maze, but things are slowly coming together. To fail in this regard and work a traditional job for the rest of my life is not an option. My intention isn’t to disparage hard-working people putting food on the table, they have my respect. I just want something more meaningful and starting The 2AM Podcast along with doing freelance work helps immensely with that pursuit. Read more>>

Lanier McKinney | Dancer, Choreographer, Model, Dance Instructor & Artist Development Coach

How can I make and be the difference in the industry. How can I challenge the creativity of artist I want to work with and develop. How do I teach what’s been taught to me and pass it down for the next generation. In 5 years where do I see my business going. How will this help the individuals around me. Some of the many questions I would ask myself over the years before I even took the initiative to start my business. Read more>>

David Myers Jr | Musician

My thought process comes from a mixture of people who came before me and their success in the industry. Read more>>

POWOW.tv Show | A Comedy Talk Show

As a creative, one keeps on finding outlets and community as well as collaboration in order to grow. As an artist you have fairly little control over the external circumstances and what happens to your career, besides the opportunities you create yourself. A little talk show is something that allows our team to keep our muscles flexed and to remain in a state of creative flux. Read more>>

Marcus Gladney | Community Inspirer

Initally I wanted to be my own boss, make my own schedule set my own prices and gain my own financial wealth and I quickly learned None of this mattered because this is NOT why you start your business, you Start a business to Create JOBS for other people. Read more>>

Connor Clayton | Editorial, Fashion, & Headshot Photographer

I wanted to make a career out of something I truly love doing. I figure if I could do that, then I would never have to “work” again. Read more>>

Laura Rubin | Journaling Expert, Creative  Coach, Founder of AllSwell Creative

Well stretching way back to when I launched my first business (communications consultancy Left Left Right) 18 years ago it was a pretty organic process. I knew I just couldn’t do the corporate grind any more. And the ironic part is, I was actually pretty good at it. I’d excelled fairly early. But I looked around and said to myself, “I might be at the top of the heap, but it’s the wrong heap.” People heard I was at loose ends – taking a break – and asked me to do some consulting work. It turned out I really enjoyed it. One thing led to another…. But when I started AllSwell it was with a more focused intent. I was running a successful small business but I felt that the conversation around mental health was not inclusive enough, the connection between creativity and well-being wasn’t present enough in the zeitgeist. AllSwell represents my attempt to bring those topics into the mainstream. Read more>>