Readers often email us asking us for advice about new businesses they are thinking about starting and we often find that many of them don’t have a framework for thinking about a more fundamental question: why should or shouldn’t you start a business?

Below, you’ll find how successful entrepreneurs from across the city thought about this very question when they were considering whether to start their businesses.

Brendan O’Malley | Landscape Photographer

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? I had started in photography years ago when film was the only option and stopped because I had a few experiences with people whose work I admired but, they turned out to not be the people I imagined and the fear in mind was I had to be like them to succeed. I gave up photography all together for many years and went into a totally unrelated career field which interested me and allowed me be to very successful. I have been working in this non photography field for many years and have gotten to the point of “I’m done” because it no longer provided the satisfaction photography gives me as an individual. Photography feeds my soul and allows me a level of satisfaction that cannot be provided anywhere in the corporate world. Read more>>

Jane Saunders | Chief Exploration Officer

I was attending an event with my granddaughters at a botanic garden. I overheard someone say, “I didn’t even know this place was here!” That comment sparked my desire to be an explorer who helped others find unique events and activities in L.A., Orange and San Diego Counties. Read more>>

Gina Elise | Founder, Pin-Ups For Vets

I founded this Pin-Ups For Vets after graduating from UCLA. I was a theater major in college and was always interested in performance and costuming. I also had a background in dance. After college, I had taken a sales job at a hotel in Los Angeles. At this time, it was around 2006, there were many stories coming out in the news about our troops coming back from Iraq who were needing medical care for traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and amputations. I felt like I wanted to do something to help, but I didn’t know how. I am an “action” person. Read more>>

Jamar Williams | Hairstylist

The thought process of me starting my own business is the financial freedom that I have i get along with others and I work with others very well but it’s something about having a manager and or supervisor hovering over your every move also you get to make your own schedule if I had a regular 9-to-5 job maybe I don’t feel like getting out of bed or going into work to deal with other employees or clients being a hairstylist I have the freedom and the choice to schedule my clients around my every day life and I get to go at my own pace Read more>>

Ren Riley | Magazine Editor & Creative Director

In fall of 2020, perched in a grungy armchair as rain droned against my office window, I started a magazine. I was passionate about giving a platform to women and non-binary people because their artistic voices are too often buried or cast aside, historically by explicit prejudice and today by implicit biases in ourselves and the algorithms that guide what we see online. I named the magazine after the first person in known history to sign their own name to a piece of written art—the Mesopotamian poet, priestess, and princess, Enheduanna. At a time when the pronoun “I” was practically unheard of, Enheduanna boldly used it to claim her hymns, poems, and devotions. Read more>>

Charmaine Utz | LCSW, Living Unapologetically CEO / FOUNDER

After going through my own personal workplace trauma, my healing journey brought me to the realization; I needed to take my experience and put it to use. Living Unapologetically was born because I saw a gap between knowing and doing things to promote equity, diversity, & inclusion. Today I find I am energized by helping leaders in organizations identify and reform harmful workplace practices to create safe and equitable environments for employees, particularly staff of color. Read more>>

Anastasia Wills | Cosmetologist

I always knew one day that I wanted to run my own business. I had envisioned long term that I would be my own boss and run a business that reflected how much I enjoy the hair industry and the impact I wanted to make on people. I thought of all the opportunities I could have, from scheduling freedom to being in full creative control over my brand and how I make people feel. Even though it felt really daunting and I knew it was going to take a lot of work, I knew that the pros to having my own business would outweigh any of the cons. Read more>>

Ernestine Brown | Founder and CEO of The Old Town Soap Company

My thought process behind starting The Old Town Soap Company began in 2012 as a form of Psychological Therapy while I was serving on Active Duty in the Military. At times while serving in the military (and in life period), there can be many challenges both professionally and personally. Therefore, it is my belief that we all need healthy mental outlets that allow us to express ourselves in a positive way. Crafting and specifically Soapmaking happens to be one of the artistic ways in which I express myself. Read more>>

Alexandre Saliba | Real Estate Consultant

Throughout my life I always worked for someone else, either for a company or for someone. I started working with soccer, which was my biggest passion growing up, when I was 18 years of age. I was giving classes and personal training to kids before I transitioned to a bigger and better opportunity at a professional soccer club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I am originally from. I worked with under divisions teams until I joined college in the USA back in 2012. I had everything to grow and develop my work at the soccer club, but I still wanted to become a professional soccer player and at my age at that time it was almost impossible to achieve that dream in Brazil. Read more>>

Trish Hawthorne | Mom & Entrepreneur

I started my business after I had my first daughter. I had always been told that once you have children, your life and dreams are over. For me, having my daughter was the beginning of the best days of my life. I didn’t want to just be a good mom, I wanted to give my daughter the gift of having a mom who is whole. My business was my gift myself, my declaration that I could start over as many times as I needed to have the life I want. When I started Mommy Confetti, my thought process was to begin for me because how could I tel my daughter to reach for the stars if I wasn’t willing to do the same? How can I prove to the world that having children isn’t a death sentence? Starting my business gives other moms the courage to do the same. Read more>>

Alchemy Beauty Academy | Co-Founders Kimm DiCato & Hollie Berry

OUR BEGINNINGS Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary.
This concept so deeply resonated with co-founders Kimm DiCato & Hollie Berry, not only as a representation of what they do as hair and makeup artists, but it also served as the inspiration for their approach to education and to the building of the school in general. We aren’t instagram famous. We are working artists who understand what it takes to make it in this industry and who care about making sure the next generation of artists get the support they need to thrive. With our combined experience of over 25 years, we are thrilled to get to share our expertise and knowledge with our students. Read more>>

Ronda Cook | Registered Nurse and Founder of Everything Daygo!

My thought process behind starting my own business was to become my own boss, securing the bag towards financial freedom, and having the time to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I became tired of waking up, for work, in the morning, or evening, clocking in and out of someone else’s organization, slaving for 8 to 12 hours, a day, and wasting time growing someone else’s business, all while making them rich. Read more>>

Cindy Engels | Jewelry Designer/Maker

Honestly, I never intended to start any business. I was a stay at home mom until my kids were old enough to fend for themselves. I’ve always loved jewelry. It’s the easiest way to dress up and add a little glam to any outfit. I was shopping at one of my favorite boutiques back home in Oregon and bought a leather necklace. I loved it so much but it wasn’t cheap. On the way home, I just kept staring at it and thought to myself, I can make this. So, I went to my local Michael’s store and bought a few supplies. I made a few things and showed to friends and they encouraged me to continue designing and making. I finally got my seller’s permit and was able to buy wholesale from jewelry suppliers. My goal was to get into our local boutique Swirl because she only carried local designers. And, they welcomed my jewelry! That was it! I haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Jeff Stein | Creator of Drone Studios

My left brain was thirsty and I figured the creative freedom of owning my own drone company would satisfy both sides of the brain. Read more>>