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.

Stephan Aarstol | Internet Entrepreneur

I have always wanted to guide what I do on a day to day basis, and more importantly what contribution I can make in the world. I feel my living circumstances are pretty fortunate so I’m in a position to make an impact, not just get by. And I also feel that business, strategy, and marketing are sort of a natural talents I possess, so it would be a waste not to use them. In my mind, the best way to have an impact on the world is thru creating a business that is designed to improve the lives of others. You add value, and you get compensated for adding that value. Then you can reinvest into adding more value, all while doing what you like and earning a pretty good living for yourself and your family. It’s a good life. Read more>>

Eric Racicot | Photographer

Back in 2018, I created my photography business (www.ericracicot.com) as a working side job, thanks to some encouragement from close friends. My old instagram account (racicrazyy) was a platform that I used to showcase some of my incredible landscape photo work, and quickly my account blew up all over Instagram after receiving numerous “re-posts” from some of the largest photography and travel pages, typically those with 1 Million or more “followers”. Read more>>

Sabrina Serrano | Business Organizer & Life Coach

I never really realized my organizing abilities until I started my first real job in my hometown of Chicago. I found myself surrounded by some pretty amazing people who took note of my skills and made sure to let me know that not everyone has the same skill sets as I do. When I utilized it in the workplace, I noticed a shift in those I worked with. There was less stress, more ease, and just a better understanding of the workflow for everyone that came in contact with my department. It was because someone decided to invest in me, by pointing out what my true strengths are, that I was able to really grow my organizing skills in the years to come. Fast forward several years later, I find myself now living in the bright, beautiful city of San Diego, and it was here in this city that I decided to take a chance and turn my skill sets into a business. Read more>>

Kristy Hambrick | Prana Healing Therapist, Reiki Master & Sound Therapy Practitioner

For the last 15 years I have been a stay at home mother to my three kind, beautiful, and brilliant children. They have taught me so much, brought me so many new opportunities, and really helped me see myself in a different way. Seeing first hand that everyone is born different, unique and special grew a desire inside of me to really know who I am . As they began to get older, I had more time for self reflection, self care, and travel. As the passion for understanding myself and others continued to grow, I began traveling to sacred sites all over the world. I was looking for answers to my own life. Who am I, why am I here? Through the time I spent at spiritual retreats, mystery schools, spiritual healer schools, workshops and yoga, I realized that we all have special gifts, talents, passions and abilities that we came here to share not only with ourselves but with the world. So the idea of a place where I could share my uniques gifts and talents was created. And also with that, I have a place to help others to connect in with themselves to find their specific passions and qualities they came here to share. Read more>>

Nik Hawks | Owner

I’ll only talk about the businesses I’ve started. My wife and entrepreneur hero is the one who got me into it, and all of the businesses I’ve run have been with her help. I started my first business (building “green” in high threat, hostile, and post disaster environments) because I was curious and thought I could do something that wasn’t being done. It failed because of my usual staggering ignorance. The second business (mobile notary) was an instance of jumping on an opportunity, and it paid all our bills for a few years. The third business (t-shirts) was a “follow your dream” deal, and while it had high points like getting into Nordstrom and Fred Segal, it was swallowed up in a combination of bad decisions and economic recession. On that one we went bankrupt. Luckily I also had a W2 job at the time. While it wasn’t a pleasant experience to declare bankruptcy, the steady income from the W2 job kept us alive, fed, and sheltered while we navigated the turbulence. The fourth business (ATMs at a Farmer’s Market) was in response to a clear need. Read more>>

Ashley Hernandez | Yoga Instructor & Artist

After spending 12 years working as a consultant engineer in the corporate world I knew I wanted to explore working for myself and creating something sustainable that I had control over, in particular I knew I wanted to create something that would allow me to work from home once we had children. I moved to the US in 2016 and soon after I undertook my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training while pregnant with our son, it was during this training that I knew the new direction of my work life would include yoga. After having our son in 2017 I was confronted with a very different type of stress than I had experienced in the corporate world. I found myself turning to yoga and my love of art as stress relief modalities in search of a calm mind. Seeing how having movement, meditation, mindfulness and creative practices in my life helped my stress levels, it has become my goal to bring the calming qualities of art, yoga, meditation and mindfulness to my community. Read more>>

Buddy Rushing | Marine Veteran, President & CEO

It started just as an idea. My wife and I were both passionate about Real Estate even before we got married, so we decided to make it official with a name. She loved the idea of beautiful, angelic white feathers and I knew that White Feather was the nickname given to the deadliest sniper in Marine Corps history: Carlos Hathcock. He received this nickname for the white feather he carried in his boonie cover to taunt the enemy as he stalked them, I thought that was badass so I agreed to the name! White Feather was really just a tiny operation, just the two of us flipping houses, wholesaling, Trust Deed lending, doing BRRR deals, buying in our IRA and so on. It didn’t really take off until about three years ago when we decided to do a 1031 Exchange into some properties in Memphis, and that’s when we met someone who would help us change the trajectory of White Feather forever. Read more>>

Jessica Rose | Commercial Interior Designer

I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to work for myself some day, I didn’t expect to go out on my own so early but I’m glad I did. It took a few years to build things up to where I needed them to be to survive, and that’s a lot easier to do when you’re young and don’t have too many other commitments – financial or otherwise. Like most people, I’d worked for others since I was a teenager. I was lucky to have some talented mentors in the industry, but I also had some experiences that really pushed me towards wanting to be my own boss. I’m a pretty balanced person in terms of being right and left brained, I know how to create a process that works well and how to fulfill it in a time frame. When working with a team, there were a lot of times I felt micromanaged by superiors and cut off from clients in a way that didn’t allow projects to reach their fullest potential. It’s a pretty complex industry, with a lot of moving parts and people. Read more>>

Mark Zisek | Owner

I went to NYU to get my MBA, and as a poor college student I had to commute in and out of NYC via train. As luck would have it, my professor of my entrepreneurial class was making the same commute and became a mentor of mine. During those rides, he instilled in me that if you find something you personally need, a large percentage of the 300 million+ Americans will have a similar need. That then is the basis of your business. Fast forward 5 years and I was at an industry trade show and through happen-stance, ended up talking to the person who had one of the more unique promotions: Open a “faux” door with your hotel room key card and win a giant prize. She mentioned how hard it was to put the promotion together and I thought “how hard could that be”? A few years later, a friend and I were talking about businesses and I remembered the Faux’ door and how it filled a need for advertising on key cards while attending meetings and visiting trade shows. Read more>>

Esla Andrew

I come from a long line of business owners. My grandfather, father, uncles, brother, and various other family members all own (or have owned) their own businesses. As they say, it’s in my blood. So when I find something that interests me, turning it into a business tends to follow closely behind. Years ago, before having children, I was a Pilates instructor and owned my own Pilates studio in Escondido. If you want to take it back even further, I tried making and selling jewelry in high school as well. In 2016, I was in need of a new creative outlet and began revitalizing my beading hobby while incorporating my new found love for natural gemstones. I was proud of my designs and was enjoying the positive feedback, so naturally the business bug again came over me. Read more>>

Sarah Hernholm | Founder & President

It was the end of the school year and I had been laid off again. Teacher lay-offs had been a common occurrence over the last 4 years so this wasn’t new, but my response this time was new. I was done with the disfunction of the public school system and the way I was treated as a teacher. So instead of waiting till fall to see if I would get my job back, I decided to embark on something new. The organization I run today is not what it was 10 years ago. In the beginning, the idea was to create a TV show (I had worked in TV in my 20s) about young people making a difference in their communities. After I pitched this idea to ABC they said to go get footage of young people making a difference. Capturing footage led to the launch of WitKids, which later became WIT – Whatever It Takes. Read more>>

Lita Davis | President

When I get bit or stung by an insect, I get allergic reactions and then have to be on Benadryl 24 hours/day. I was unsuccessful in finding an insect repellent (with or without DEET) and was introduced to try essential oils. After a lot of trial and error (on me), I developed 2 insect repellents that are effective and made with essential oils. I shared it with friends and other travelers and they urged me to make this available on the market. My business was born! Read more>>

Josh Robusto | Surf Photographer & Nurse

I initially used surf photography as a way to stay active in the water after an injury kept me from surfing for over a year. When I did finally rehabilitate my injury I found that I wanted to keep shooting and to get better shots. I decided to start my own business as a way to justify buying an expensive camera with a water housing with a goal of paying off my camera equipment to keep shooting and selling photos to surfers in the water. Read more>>

CJacks Arts | An Online Global Community of Artists

CJacks Arts (CJacksarts.com) is a free membership global directory and a networking platform for emerging and professional artists from every art form. The name CJacks is derived from the term “cracker jacks,” which means people of noticeable excellence. We are a global community of artists. The idea of CJacks Arts (CJacksarts.com) was conceived after talking to hundreds of artists from the United States and around the globe about their needs and challenges. Even though the arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing, and employs 4.9 million workers across the country, the income and living standards of most of the individual artists remain poor. We concluded that artists and arts service providers are seeking an all-inclusive platform to serve their needs. CJacks Arts takes the “one platform one voice” approach, where artists can raise consciousness for arts on a global level by coming together in conversation. Read more>>

Lucas Doney | Hair Stylist & Educator

I think my thought process about starting my own business was similar to a lot of other entrepreneurs. I had reached a point in my career where the environment I was working in began to feel like it wasn’t the right fit anymore. I had grown as a person and it was time for me to spread my wings. I was always told that the salon I started in would not be the salon I stayed in. Read more>>