The first step to starting a business is deciding to start a business. They say the first step is the hardest and in our experience this is especially true when it comes to starting a business. Getting over the mental roadblocks can be tough, often harder to overcome than the challenges you’ll face once you actually start the business. Fellow entrepreneurs share their thoughts below.

Angela Beransky | Newborn and family Photographer

12 year ago I landed to the United States and it was the whole new world! I quickly realized I had to start from scratch! And this was actually a good thing! As soon as I became resident I enrolled in a college and started to take some classes. Photography classes were the most intriguing! With every photography class I took, I got myself into photography deeper and deeper. And this was until I felt that this is what I want to do! After college, for the whole year, I did photoshoots for free just to get myself into this and feel the industry, and get a better idea of what niche of photography speaks to me more. And certainly, it was a newborn and family photography that I fell in love! At that time I also just had my first child, so being flexible with my hours and scheduling sessions at my own availability seems like the best scenario for me. Read more>>

Nikki Hess | Calligrapher, Watercolorist + Designer

To be candid, I think I would lose my mind working for someone else. I like being my own boss and I knew at a very young age that I needed that to be my reality one day. What really pushed me over the edge was working at a few advertising agencies where my mental health was really challenged. It was then that I decided I wanted to have my own business, I just had no idea what it would look like at the time. When I started calligraphy in 2016 I thought to myself “Maybe I can make a business out of this”. I slowly started to post my work on instagram and had friends and family reach out to me for artwork – pretty soon the machine was running and my business was in full swing (well that’s the very short version of it haha). Read more>>

Thomas Bui | Wedding and Event Designer

I was growing restless workin the pharmaceutical industry and needed something more fulfilling. Something where I would be using both right and left brain. When I started business, I had no formal training or interned with any wedding planners. I paid a web designer to put together a basic website for me using some of my images from past events. Read more>>

Rachel Racz | Founder: The Studio, San Diego

I cringe when I hear companies say that they “under promise and over deliver.” I don’t believe in setting average expectations and beating them and I don’t believe that customers should expect a moderate experience.  My business, The Studio, is a boutique fitness studio in Bankers Hill. The world of boutique fitness is super competitive and I want to impress our customers every step of the way so they become raving fans and part of our community. We plan to “blow your hair back” at The Studio and we promise a phenomenal experience the second a customer walks through our doors. I expect that our team will over promise and over deliver! We go above and beyond when necessary and we to do our jobs exceptionally, no exceptions. Read more>>

Sarah Schmidt | Interior Designer

11 years ago, two big things happened that prompted me to start my own interior design business. I was working for a senior designer when the big housing market crash caused her to layoff her staff, putting me out of a job. In addition, I had just had a baby. Starting my own business gave me the flexibility of setting my own schedule and building my own clientele. Read more>>

Erin Page | Artist Advisor/Manager

After years working in a gallery setting, I saw how often artists lacked a certain level of professional guidance that was limiting their growth. I wanted to help the artists whom I believed in and provide counsel to those who needed insight as to how to run their studio practice as a business. Artists are thrown to the wild to try and navigate a very confusing industry. I saw a need and I decided to become the service. Read more>>

Rebecca Noelle | Artist, Creative Entrepreneur

My business is a culmination of all the creative interests I have picked up over the years. I have always been one to have a hand in everything, and it’s amazing to have a business that serves as a platform for anything I choose to create! If I explain where I come from, maybe you will have a better sense of what I mean. I grew up in my mom’s flower shop in San Bernardino, experimenting with the materials around me, and I was lucky enough to attend Clare Cherry School throughout my entire childhood, an elementary school that offered art classes in all mediums. My first career was as a ballroom and tango dancer, and my mom and I spent those years designing and creating costumes and gowns for the stage. During my three pregnancies, I worked as a cake maker, and after retiring as a dancer, I dabbled in event design and then began studying oil painting. Read more>>

Rosemary Tuthill | Artist/Muralist

My business, Vasquez Art, was started due to a downsizing. Let me explain, I was a aerospace R&D Lab engineering technician for over 20 years. The company I was working for was being acquired, so they paid people to leave early. As a result, I had a decision to make. Either I looked for the same type of work for another company, or change my career. As I grew up both helping my father, Emigdio Vasquez – an internationally known artist – and painting as well, I opted to start painting and open my own business. I focus on oil-based painting; and while I paint landscapes, still life, and historical, I like painting portraits the best. Read more>>

Hernán Luis y Prado | Founder & CEO, Workshops for Warriors and VetPowered LLC

I saw so many veterans, and even friends, who struggled with finding purpose as they transitioned to civilian life. When I looked at them, I saw intelligent, motivated, and resourceful people who were desperate to contribute and continue serving their country in a meaningful way, but didn’t know how. While still in the Navy, in 2008 my wife and I sold everything we had to start Workshops for Warriors and provide opportunities for these talented men and women, while also solving the advanced manufacturing crisis that is hurting American competitiveness. We are at a critical moment for manufacturing and our nation’s safety. The immediate expansion of Workshops for Warriors’ proven, nationally scalable training infrastructure is critical to fortify the American economy, one veteran at a time. Read more>>

Kali Stewart | Personal Trainer and Owner of SCEND FITNESS

There are two main reasons that inspired me to start my own business: creating a positive, supportive environment and giving clients the best experience possible. I have been a personal trainer since 2008. In that time I have worked at and managed a large corporate gym and smaller private studios. I found that between the two environments, I often connected best with my clients in a more intimate studio setting. Fitness studios offer the ability to curate the experience for each individual. If I was working with a client that wanted to lose weight and preferred the privacy of a smaller space with less intimidation, I could create that. If a client came in and needed to really crank out some aggression, I could turn up the music and get some boxing gloves out. I realized that having more autonomy and control would enable me to create the best experience possible for my people. Read more>>

Amy Gray | Photographer & Entrepreneur

By the time I got into photography, I was already running Sitterwise (, which was started by my mother-in-law in 1981 and which I took over in 2005 so that I could stay home with my children. I knew the benefits of working from home, and I loved entrepreneurship and the concept of working harder and smarter for a better result for my family. I loved the “sowing and reaping” and the independence that came from running my own company, and the prospect of starting a photography business that was built on something I really loved—creativity, art, preserving important family memories—was very exciting to me. I also enjoyed having the freedom to take risks and try different strategies on a whim. Read more>>

Bruce Antonoff | Pet Care Specialist

I got laid off from work… a friend suggested that I go to the car auction and I purchase a few cars to flip to make some money until I got hired. I purchased three vehicles. My sister in Los Angeles asked me to sell one of her extra cars, then another sister of mine in Carlsbad asked me to sell one of her extra cars… I found myself with five vehicles and no income. I thought, how can I make money off the five cars that I have? The idea of transportation came to mind and San Diego Pet Driver was born. Read more>>

JR deSouza | Outex founder, Olympic swimmer, Non-Conformist

I was fortunate that the Outex business started as a passion and a hobby. As photo enthusiasts who grew up around water, camping, surfing, hiking, etc. we wanted a better solution for taking our cameras with us for outdoor photography. I was an Olympic swimmer, and surfed and water-skied in the off seasons. My cousin Roberto was an avid hiker and camper. We both enjoyed taking pictures. The solutions in the market with either too heavy, bulky, and pricy on one end of the spectrum, or cheap with unacceptable results. We set out to combine the best of both worlds. Outex combines professional performance results (optical glass, complete camera & lens functional control, etc), universal design that fits multiple brands, makes, and models with the same housing, and adds no weight or bulk to your gear, making it super travel friendly. Read more>>

Celeste Barbier | Professional Vocal Performer & Recording Artist

I love singing so much and I studied music in college so it was always my ambition to be a full time performer, but I had never learned how to break into the business. I finally started busking on weekends and performing for special events until it finally turned into a full time career and I was able to quit my day job in 2014! One of the best decisions I ever made! Read more>>

Brandon Hernández | Founder & Executive Editor, San Diego Beer News®

We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Hernández, the founder and Executive Editor of San Diego Beer News, an online resource providing all the news that’s fit to drink and information on San Diego County’s hundreds of brewery-owned venues. We’ve shared our conversation (over a few local beers, of course) below. Read more>>

Cassandra Bair  | Dance Studio Owner

I was inspired to combine my love for God, children, and dance into a calling, while at a leadership conference I attended in Italy in 2005. After returning home, I started teaching dance at my home church, Summit Church. I started once a week to just a few children, while also working toward my Bachelor degree. In May 2008 I graduated from the University of San Diego with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration, and in October of that same year, I partnered with Summit Church to open Blessed Feet Studios as a ministry to serve our community. We started with 20 students and a handful of classes, with a focus on offering affordable and high quality dance classes to those looking for a positive and wholesome dance studio environment. Read more>>

Sonya Sparks | Owner, Sparks Gallery

After college, I began a career in international business and then moved to online marketing. Although online strategies were creative enough at the time, I eventually wanted something different. I sat down with my mother for lunch one day and I was complaining that I didn’t feel like I was going in the right direction. She asked me, “If you could do one thing, what would it be?” and I said offhandedly, “I don’t know, maybe start an art gallery”. She replied with, “ok, then do it.” I’d studied art and would always visit galleries and museums, and it just clicked for me at that moment. I began to research to see what it would take. After 2 years of searching, we found a building just at the right time in the market. Read more>>

Terry Ribera | Tattoo Artist

At the time I had been tattooing for 10 years. I had on average a 6-10 month waitlist. I had been featured in multiple tattoo magazines, I had guest spotted at various tattoo shops around the country and more than anything I was having a hard time justifying that I was working 60 hours a week without complete flexibility of my life and success. It made sense to me, honestly it was time. Read more>>

Angelica Padilla | Artist

I saw a lot of talented artists on social media working and putting their products out there that it inspired me to do the same. I figured that I had nothing to lose if I just created something that people might like enough to own. So I did. Read more>>

Tai Young | Celebrity Makeup Artist & Owner of TaiYoungBeauty

I created my 5 Steps to Flawless Vegan Brush line to cater to the inner makeup artist in everyone. Women would always ask me about doing a natural look, how to fill in brows properly or blend foundation flawlessly. I developed the makeup brushes with step-by-step instructions to answer those questions. I thought a lot about what I have time for in my own day to day, being a working mom and wife. I like to look put together, but I need to be able to do it quickly. I didn’t have time to “bake”, or highlight and contour, but I wanted to look just as glam. The makeup technique taught with my brushes is that perfect look between no makeup and a full face of makeup. The finished look is a fresh polished face that can be worn anywhere! Read more>>

Julie Pitois | CEO, Owner

The health, fitness and chronic pain industry is a place that is more curative than preventative. Meaning, we wait for someone to break first, then try to fix them, instead focusing on the thing that will keep them from breaking in the first place. The reason I started my business is, I found myself in that exact same place. As an athlete, I had a career ending injury that was 100 percent preventable, because the fundamentals of proper body mechanics and understanding how to make my body more efficient were never addressed. Chronic pain is a Trillion dollar business in this country and the majority of it comes from improper posture and lack of education of what the body actually needs. Read more>>

Lori Mahoney | Cake Designer

After a couple years of making random cakes here and there it became an obsession, I was looking for reasons to make them. It slowly became a small side business doing cakes for friends and then friends of friends. It was all I thought about really and before I could blink it became a full time job that was taking over. I would come home from my day job and start working on cakes it was all I really wanted to do. I thought maybe I can just do cakes – wouldn’t that just be crazy? I discussed it with my partner in life Matt and with his encouragement and support I decided to go all in. I quit my day job and was determined to make it as a cake designer and I almost still can’t believe it but… here I am. Read more>>