Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business.  So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Angie Cibis | Graphic Designer & Solopreneur

It was sudden – or at least, it seemed that way. One day I found myself driving to my lucrative but increasingly frustrating in-house design job, shocked that the idea of going solo suddenly felt RIGHT – a stark comparison to fifteen years of refusing to entertain such a risky idea. However, I’d increasingly felt antsy to get home to work on freelance projects, where I had greater autonomy to work with clients on a range of projects directly and a lot more efficiently. By that point, I’d built up an extensive skill set and a good reputation and found myself thinking, “if not now, when. Read more>>

Jc Currais | Comedian, Actor, Writer

Honestly, I’ve always felt like I ran a small business. Trying to become a comedian who actually makes money doing comedy is a full time gig. Cause being funny is just the prerequisite to all it the work. Reaching out to clubs, convincing them to book you, assembling a travel schedule that lines up the clubs. It’s all a you when you’re starting. But, why I actually started my company was simply my manager saying “You won’t pay as much taxes if you become a business.” And boom SMALL BUSINESS OWNER. Read more>>

Sarah Dauterman | Founder & Creative Director

When I first started my sunglasses business Volterre, I was lucky enough to have had the “there’s nothing to lose” attitude. I was in my first job out of college and hated it, and I knew I needed to make a drastic pivot. I had 3 3 months of living expenses saved and decided to quit and turn an already-planned trip to Asia into an “independent study” in manufacturing. By the time I found a manufacturer for my designs, I came back and got another job, but was too excited to bring my ideas to life to not go through with it! It took over a year to fully develop the product so I had that time to plan for launch. Read more>>

Lucas Stone | Owner at Stone Jerky

Growing up, my father would always make beef jerky for us kids and our dogs would go berserk begging for scraps. My mother however, being a Veterinarian, would never allow us to feed any jerky to them. The meat had been seasoned with salt, pepper, and other proprietary spice blends… all things that your pet does not need. She told me I could give the dogs jerky, but only if I made some that was entirely plain. So I did! Their reactions were incredible. We fed them our homemade jerky for dogs for a few years until I finally decided to begin packaging and selling it. Here we are now with loads of happy and loyal customers giving their dogs a healthy, nutritious and delicious treat. Our mission is to make the best possible pet products. With our small batch process allowing quality control and guaranteed freshness, we have big plans for the future. Read more>>

Helena Sardinha | Film Producer

I believe the two main driving forces for me to open my own business were: freedom and autonomy. Being a creative eager to speak about certain topics of the human experience, I thought creating my own projects and partnering with like-minded people would be a better route for my career. Read more>>

Abdellah EL HAITOUT | Painter & Art Teacher

The painter takes with him his childhood and his objects, the painting route is not furnished with roses. And it’s not without magic either, it’s the magic that makes the painting, and the magic is inside, inside us. Yes, what I call the side or the cold part in the painting, its non-intrinsic form, that is to say the technique and process, which we can teach you what process. Then the things that give you a deep breath and a new spirit and a way to feel the universe are personal and subjective things No one can give you that stuff. The miles that we walk is what means we’re healthy and strong, and that’s what I call the flesh of the painting and its inner face, and each of us has it inside. I don’t think about the viewer because you always assume that there is one, when I start painting I don’t know where I ended up or where I can get to. Read more>>

Faissel Farhi | Entrepreneur

Starting my own business has always been my ticket to intellectual and financial freedom. Growing up, I was the rebellious kid who always wanted to do things differently and not to follow the norms. I did get into trouble few times but that was never a deterrent from challenging myself and trying new things. After my graduation from college, I took some entry level positions which helped gain the necessary experience at the time. Most of my peers were extremely excited and happy just to have a job and the potential to grow within these companies, but that was never the case for me. Knowing that nothing was going to give me the total satisfaction other than being my own boss, I started pursuing my current journey. All I had at the time was my determination and persistence which without, nobody can start a business not alone make it successful. Read more>>

Loren Daniels | Entrepreneur & Wellness Advocate

My thought process behind starting my own business was heavily influenced by my desire to gain a bigger reward for my hard work and to advocate for wellness. I used to manage stores for other companies and I always had a great work ethic – I’d go the extra mile to help build a business for someone else. However, when I truly assessed my situation, I didn’t have freedom of time , I wasn’t following my passion, and I was not reaching my highest earning potential. I realized I could put in the same amount of work for my own business and be able to achieve my true goals. Also, I’ve always had a passion for health and wellness. I love helping people to open their minds and to take control of their health in a natural way. It was extremely frustrating to trade my time for money when I couldn’t do what I truly love. My thought process behind my business Generational Health was to execute a business model which has shown success for other young entrepreneurs while advocating for wellness. Read more>>

Ashley Bonnington | Stay at Home Mom & Maker

I was active duty military for almost 10 years and when I separated in 2015 I had a lot of free time that I hadn’t been accustomed to before then. I left for boot camp right after high school graduation so after I separated I decided to get my degree in biology and start a new career working with animals in some capacity. To help with the anxiety of a completely new life (a civilian life), I took a few jewelry classes as well as sewing classes to learn basics and then started playing around with my own designs. The thought of me turning these new hobbies into a small business had never even crossed my mind until a friend saw a pair of earrings I made and asked me how much I’d sell them for. I guess I have her to thank for planting the seed, and after two years I had finally built up the courage to open an Etsy shop. Read more>>

Stephanie Schipper | Vintage Curator + Small Business Owner

I had been working for a company a few years back where I experienced I guess what some would call a spiritual awakening. Suddenly I had a completely different perspective on myself, the world and others. I took a hard look at my life and realized that what I was doing for work was not fulfilling me in the slightest. I also realized that nobody in the working word really knows what they’re doing, we’re all just trying to figure it out. So why not try to figure ‘it’ out for myself? I’ve been reselling clothes for the past 12 years, couple that with my previous jobs in the beauty/fashion industry which included retail operations, wholesale and e-commerce I felt I had gained the necessary experience and skills to start my own business. I’ve always had a love for styling, merchandising and fashion so having my own online shop is a great way to bring sustainability and fashion together. I absolutely love finding amazing vintage pieces and bringing them to my audience. Read more>>

Michael Oden | Behavior and Communication Strategist

Due to past personal experiences, I researched and learned about human behavior for years. What I learned I decided to apply to my work as a probation officer. I decided to use my new found techniques on my clients who happened to be chronic alcohol and drug offenders. The years passed and I began applying these newly learned behavioral methods to over 6500+ clients. After about 7 years there was this serendipitous discovery that came from the interviews. I continued to uncover a bottom line with my clients which had to do with what specific needs were not met during childhood and how those unmet needs impacted their future behavior. In 2009 I met my business partner Alina Ugas who shared my same common interest in human behavior. At this time, I was getting ready to get my masters in psychology and now learning even more tools to help my clients. Read more>>

Danica Wong | Hand Letterer

When I was in college, I worked a part-time job for an Etsy shop owner (Janet at The Seashell Collection) who hand-crafted home, wedding and events decor. I applied for the job because I needed to make extra money and enjoyed arts and crafting. She was a very experienced Etsy store owner and talented craftswoman, and taught me a ton about the ins and outs of running a small business. Simultaneously, I was learning the very basic techniques of hand lettering. That, coupled with my fondness for drawing, brought me requests from various people to either draw or write something for them. With Janet’s encouragement and guidance, I decided to launch Danica Nicole Designs as an Etsy shop, decorating notebooks, prints and greeting cards to order. Since then, I have shut down my Etsy shop and only market hand lettering and graphic design services on Instagram, but my business has been a creative outlet for me to make work that I enjoy. Read more>>

Jon Massey | Business Owner

Prior to being in the environmental field I was working for general contractors and dealing with property management. During this time I took notice that there were many unlicensed individuals offering misguided interpretations and not advising their clients correctly. I knew there was a void to fill in this part of the industry. Once I acquired my general contractor’s license I began doing work residentially and exploring different aspects of what the construction field was lacking and that was identifying possible hazardous materials prior to construction. Starting with asbestos and lead identification in residential and commercial properties eventually expanded into the need for mold assessments. The growth did not stop there as clients continued with their needs for further environmental testing needs where we had to eventually grow our team from 1 to twelve and counting. Read more>>

Electra Barakos | Singing Teacher and Owner

We have been music educators for over 20 years total and have worked for several other schools before. Witnessing the way they ran their businesses and the quality of music lessons provided to their clients, we both agreed that if we ever opened up our own school that there would be things we would do differently. We had ideas that we thought would make for a better music school and a better overall music experience. We had a dream of opening our own school and talked about it quite a bit. We had a hard time trying to figure out how to actually start the whole thing though. This was very daunting, especially in regards to getting start up capital. After some time of talking and dreaming, we started to feel defeated. It was really seeming like for us to do this, is going to take quite some time just to get to a position to start. Well, fate had it out for us it seems, and in a good way. Read more>>

Will Overby | Professional Beauty & Fashion Photographer

My thought process in starting my Photography business was to be able to turn my passion into profit. Also to have something that I can build a legacy with and pass on to my future children. What influenced this drive for me was being at my old job for 10 years working on moving up the corporate ladder. In my time working toward these goals and becoming close with a few people higher up and came to find out that they were unhappy in their profession. I was unhappy as well doing the same routine day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong I’ve also talked to others who absolutely loved what they were doing and when I talked numbers to them things did not add up for the opportunities that I was striving for. It was when I had a year of 2 life-threatening experiences. The first experience was having a perforated ulcer and a few months later I was involved in a motorcycle accident. Read more>>

Keith Good News | CEO, The Good News Radio Network, On-Air Host

Originally I was creating a platform for myself to pursue my own dream. When I realized I could help others do the same thats when the business model was created. Read more>>

Karis Green | Entrepreneur & CEO

I started Vision Bottle during the 2020 COVID-19 quarantine. Living in SoCal, we had pretty strict orders to stay home. Working from home was tough for me. I was so used to traveling for work and being idle in one place started to give me anxiety. I would consider myself a creative person, but during the work from home transition I started to not feel like myself and struggled to stay motivated to do certain tasks. One weekend in May, I was organizing my home office space and found a vision board I had done in early 2019. As I reviewed the images on my vision board, I realized that I had taken the time to cut out pictures from magazines and organize them visually on a board – only to look at it a handful of times. That is when this thought ran through my head, “a vision board doesn’t work if you ignore it.” I then thought, how can I take the encouraging things on this board with me? Shortly after that, I found myself drawing out visual sketches for Vision Bottle and what I imagined it would look like to take a vision board, ON-THE-GO. Read more>>

Crystal Heinemann | Meditation Guide, Intuitive, Psychic & Metaphysical Development Instructor

I was in corporate aviation for 2 decades prior to me starting my own business. It was a lifestyle in addition to a career. As I was approaching my 40’s, I became quite reflective and realized that I hadn’t had the opportunity to ‘show up’ for anyone in my life. I had missed almost every holiday, every birthday, every wedding and milestone event within my immediate circle. I had been living out of a suitcase and in constant motion for 2o years and I didn’t know how to stop the wheel and actually show up for others but most importantly, myself. For me, my thought process behind starting my own business was creating a new lifestyle for myself. I looked at the outline of what I wanted my ‘new’ life to be. Once I discovered what that looked like along with what I was naturally ‘good’ at, my business model then took on a life and energy of its own. Read more>>

Soraya Sutherlin | Executive Director, Emergency Management Safety Partners & Regional Emergency Communications Manager, Alert SouthBay

I have always wanted to change the world, and while it may sound cliche, I believe I can make an impact. Working for both the private and public sectors afforded me so many fantastic opportunities to learn, grow, and find my focus on emergency management. After having children, my focus shifted slightly, as my time had to be better managed and more efficient. As a working mother, I saw for the first time in my career how hard women work to be invited to the table to have a conversation. As a working mom, I’ve never worked harder or more efficiently in my life. I now had the same job, with less time to do it. Late nights weren’t an option anymore as others depended on me. After the birth of my third child, I needed more flexibility to continue my career and meet the needs of my children. My current situation didn’t allow for that, so I had to make a hard choice; take a HUGE chance on something unknown. Read more>>

Dawn Bowery | Photographer and Owner of Dawn Bowery Photography

After decades of always working for someone else and having a rare “staff” position in a creative field I wanted to be have more freedom in my life – both in terms of my schedule and work – life – balance but also to be fully responsible for the creative vision of the project from start to finish. I also wanted a challenge and to push myself out of my comfort zone. Read more>>

DeAnna and David Park | Hypnotherapists

We were both teachers, each of us with close to 20 years of experience. As we moved into mid-life, we felt that there was something else calling to us, however, we didn’t know what that was. Around this time a friend told us about an incredible hypnosis experience he had called, Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique, or QHHT. (This is past life regression hypnosis.) We were intrigued and wanted the experience as well. That was the beginning of us being catapulted onto a new career path. It was unplanned and we were both surprised at the pull we felt to do this type of work. After a summer of training in the QHHT technique and over 100 hrs. of intern work with clients, we had some chops but felt there was more to learn so we searched out HMI, College of Hypnotherapy. After an additional full year of training, and 500 credit hours we were Certified Hypnotherapists. Our love for this new craft didn’t stop there. Read more>>

Ian Robertson-Salt | Painter, Muralist, Tattooist, illustrator, Mural Conservator

From a fairly young age, I knew I wouldn’t be happy working a regular 9-5 job. As a kid I was really into skateboarding and bmx and actually wanted to have my own clothing brand someday. Later, I realized that dream came from my enjoyment of creating designs for graphic t-shirts. As I grew older, I struggled to find a path in community college and basically took every art and design class available with the hopes that if I built enough skills in different areas I would be able to have a job or career in a creative field. After taking classes in sociology, humanities, and anthropology I decided that I wanted to be a muralist and create public art that inspires others. While attending University I worked as a mural conservator for different non-profit organizations and the City of Long Beach, which was sort of an arts education in and of itself. After graduating college I worked multiple art jobs doing all kinds of things. Read more>>

Samantha Blank | Marriage and Family Therapist & Social Skills Coach

I had been working in the schools as a Marriage and Family Therapist, after doing an extensive internship working with survivors of sexual trauma, and realized that what so many children and teens were missing was true social skill development, or what is now often termed as social emotional learning. I was very fortunate to have made some wonderful friendships during graduate school and one of my friends having a similar experience, although working in a different district and with a different population. After months having many conversations, and many glasses of wine, we decided that focusing on the social skill development of children, teens and families would be our journey. We opened Social Coaching Club in 2009 and over the years have expanded our services to include therapeutic services, parenting coaching and a variety of trainings. Read more>>

Megan Nager | SAG Actor. Writer. Digital Content Creator

My business started pretty organically. I had always been passionate about creating my own content, and applied that to my filmmaking endeavors. The first piece of content I ever made was a pilot that I wrote, produced, directed and acted in (way too much for one person in retrospect). That forced me to learn all about filmmaking and got me thinking about eventually creating my own production company. As I began to create even more content for myself, I moved into making more short-form digital content for social media platforms in addition to my films. My friends eventually began to ask me for help and then would refer me to other artists who were looking to create their own content – whether that be full films or short, 1 minute Instagram sketches. By 2018, I had begun creating content full time and officially launched my own company, Wake and Make Media. Read more>>

Sarah English  | Hairstylist & Salon Suite Owner

The thought process that comes from starting your own business for me, came from my gut instinct and heart. There was something in me that said you have to have your own way of doing things. I didn’t enjoy working for someone else, and following rules that potentially could hold you back from being creative or successful. It was an instinctive feeling that led me into that direction, and I took that as a sign. That’s where I needed to be. So I went for it. Read more>>

Kazia/Robyn Cumbler/Murgio | Parent Support Group

As new mothers, my partner and I had experienced isolation, and insecurity about how we were doing as new parents. As we became seasoned parents, we wanted to creat a comforting, safe, non judgmental place for new mothers to be together, socialize, learn from each other, while learning things that could enrich their lives and their babies. This was the central goal, ideas evolved from that focus. Read more>>

Mariya Pyter | Director / Writer / Magic Hour Productions, INC.

It was a series of things that compelled me to start my production company. I founded Magic Hour Productions, INC. with my business partner to produce character-driven films in all genres and furthering the art and craft of film. As a writer and director, I knew I want to further produce my content, and our small team of now 5 people are successfully doing that since 2013. Since then we also collaborated with many other production houses, partners, and charities, which is also quite inspirational for our team, because all of these projects became life-changing experiences for us and changed the lives of other people for the better. For example, our documentary “22” available on Amazon and other platforms, sheds the light on the Braga family from Utah, who created a unique facility named “Bear-O Care” for children with multiple special needs who have aged out of the system and are no longer eligible to participate in this publicly funded special education programs. I do believe that film has transformative power, and to us, it’s nothing more inspirational than finding like-minded people and building the connection with the communities. Read more>>

Roya Adjory | California Natulique Distributor

My family and I have owned and operated a hair salon close to 35 years at the same location in Encino . Meanwhile our collective health were declining and we were experiencing variety of illnesses . At some point in year 2004 I began a journey towards finding out why this was happening which has led me to this point and to the business I own and operate now . I founded the very first certified Green hair salon in 2005 and became certified by the city of Los Angeles in 2006 and went on receiving a climate leader award from CoolCalifornia for my efforts in creating a green , clean and sustainable space using only non toxic and biodegradable and earth friendly products for our services . Our salon became a sought after place to come to for those Angelinos looking for healthier option . My quest for a healthier practice and services have led me believe and it is confirmed by the state of California that some of these chemicals in personal care products specially ones used at hair salons have been found to be carcinogenic. Read more>>

Neghar Fonooni | Artist

I’ve been a single mom for 13 years and that was really the driving force behind choosing to work for myself. I knew I wanted to be able to make my own schedule so that I could spend time with my son and be flexible with my work hours. When he was little, I’d often find myself writing late at night after putting him to bed. These days he’s more and more curious about my work, and I find joy in being able to role model a different path for him than what the over culture has taught. There was always a desire to create and to do so with ease and without urgency. Being able to work from home these past 8 years has been absolutely nourishing for us as a small family, and crucial for me as an independent artist. The landscape of my business as well as my offerings has changed drastically in these 8 years, which has been a reflection of my own growth and evolution. Read more>>

Magnolia Lafleur | Narrative Fine Artist & CEO to Art On The Run

Starting my own art business, came about from my desire to make a positive difference in the world to as many people as I possibly can. I have been a Professional Track Athlete most my adult life as well as a Published Writer & Fine Artist. I have found many mental tools, whilst running Pro, that have been useful to me getting through problems and aiding in my creative process that I wanted to share with others. I came up with the idea of teaching art with the slant of using it as a means for people to learn more about their own mental processes in creating things and overall themselves. My dad used to say, “Wherever you go, there you are.” With the ability to read and interpret meanings in peoples paintings,(in the same vanity of graphology but with paintings) I have found that this saying is very true. Something that seems as trivial as painting, is not trivial at all, but a mere reflection of your thoughts, feelings and experiences current, past and future put to paint. Read more>>