We asked rising stars from the community one of our favorite questions: other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?

Angela Aprahamian | Entrepreneur

I made a decision several years ago to start taking most people’s opinions and advice about my companies or how they should be ran with a grain of salt. As a young entrepreneur just starting out in my early 20’s, I would often listen to people simply because they were older or more experienced, so I assumed they must know what was best. I’d seek out advice of consultants or people more senior in the industries I was in, and looking back that often led me down a path that wasn’t the most direct route to where I wanted to go. Sometimes the advice was even flat out wrong. I’ve come to learn that age and even experience don’t always equal knowing what’s best for other people and their own journeys. Making this decision and trusting myself more instead of looking to other people for answers has done wonders for my decision making skills and ultimately for the success of my companies. Read more>>

Drew Baker | Technical Director and Partner

Our first hire at Funkhaus was a sales person. I think most people would have grown design or development capabilities, because we had more work than we could do at the time, but my thinking was that we were leaving money on the table for the jobs we were doing, and we needed someone that could fight for our contracts. And ideally that sales person would also free up time for design and development work. So we hired Nicholas Dies as our “sales guy”. We paid him way below what he was worth, and gave him some long term stock vesting plan. He crushed it and within 6 months we gave him all the stock and made him the 3rd partner at Funkhaus. He was that good. 10 years later it’s impossible to calculate the impact of that decision on our success. Read more>>

Jerika Hayes | Pianist & Songwriter

Deciding to be kinder to myself. It may sound funny, but being self-employed and being a recording/performing musician is tough stuff, and often ‘success’ can seem like a mountain you can’t see the top of with no hope to climb. With my first album, I felt I wasn’t happy during a lot of the process of recording and promoting, and ultimately how it was received. I got caught up in the financial stress and the lack of what I deemed ‘success’. I am definitely my own worst critic and have wasted a lot of energy putting myself down for not living up to my own wild parameters of what ‘success’ is measured by. What I can see now is, babe you made A RECORD! I still have people discovering my music and being excited about it. Every comment, every message fills me with joy. So now, I try to celebrate the little victories as often and whole heartedly as I can, and I’m going into this next recording project with a very different heart. Read more>>

Donna Ford | Founder, Newborn Nutury LLC and CAPPA Postpartum Doula & Sleep Coach

My desire and passion to make a difference in the lives of every new parent. I am a mother of two beautiful teenagers and I remember hard extremely intimidating it was to bring my newborn babies home—from breastfeeding to questions about sleep and baby’s cues… I would have been so much more joyful had I enlisted the support of a Postpartum Doula to guide me. It’s an invaluable resource and gift and I am honored that I am able to be successful engaging in a profession that I am so passionate about. Read more>>

Michael Spatola | Boudoir Photographer

I would think that the single most important contributing factor to the success of my brand is the decision to specialize in what I do, rather than trying to be all things to all people. Early in my career I photographed model portfolios and actor’s headshots. Then over time branched in to boudoir, weddings, families, babies and children. I also did some product photography. I was all over the place. And, although I was busy and making what I thought was good money, when I started doing the math, I quickly realized that weddings were killing me for so much less money per hour invested. This made me look much more closely at the bottom line for each of my product lines. So, the decision to specialize in the thing that I do the best, without compromise has allowed me to devote the one mindset I need to please that segment entirely. Read more>>

Jay Bartley | Structural Integrator and Body-Centered Practitioner

A decision that contributed to part of my success was doing a lot of internal work which allowed me to let go of old habits. It put me in a more focused place professionally and personally. there was a shift to be kinder to myself, release destructive behaviors and trust my creative and authentic voice. That being said – it’s an ongoing process that takes focus, passion and dedication. That’s what I love about the work I do – it’s all a process. There are no quick “fixes”. Read more>>