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.

Anita Polite-Wilson | Executive Coach & Team Dynamics Strategist

When I started my business it was out of necessity because my entire work group of internal consultants had been laid off. But, my work as a faculty member for a local university facilitating professional development courses in the evenings gave me access to several companies all suffering from the same corporate toxicity that was running rampant in the company I had just left. Instead of going back into that same environment with a different company, I decided to invest my severance in myself and leverage all my education, experience, and expertise into work that allowed me to choose clients that held the same human affirming values that I did. Now, I help leaders and teams navigate complexity and change associated with pursuing Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging. People are complex and navigating personal change in the public space of a working environment is challenging. Read more>>

Paige Casey | Expert Social Media Strategist, Coach and Influencer

I am an expert social media strategist empowering entrepreneurs to create a real impact on social media. 
 My journey started when I found myself craving freedom to choose my clients and escape the fast-paced mentality of working in an agency setting. As a former publicist, I knew I was equipped with all of the tools I needed to go out on my own and start my own business.  
 The biggest obstacle to overcome was choosing to let go of my limiting belief that I couldn’t make it on my own because I was too young, not established enough or that it would be much safer to climb the corporate ladder. It took a few years of working side hustles to make enough to be a full-time business owner. Now I’m a content creator coach, photographer and influencer with much more control over work-life balance. Read more>>

Tessa Port | Lifestyle Blogger

I’ve always been a creative! I studied acting in college and love connecting with people. I knew that starting my own blog would be incredibly fulfilling endeavor and that I could make it whatever I wanted it to be. When you have your own business, you are accountable for everything. The work that goes in, shows. Just like a lack of work shows. I love holding myself to high standards raising the bar of success each time I meet a mark. After starting my business 3 years ago, I’m so happy to say that I am full-time with it. Read more>>

Sarah Russler | Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist & Personal Trainer

I spent most of my life as an athlete. From soccer to basketball, volleyball to track, I never stopped. As with many women, after having children my body changed, my goals changed, and my priorities changed. In 2012 I gave birth to two very healthy, very good-sized twin babies. After the birth of my twins my body seemed to fall back into shape again, but I began to suffer severe lower back pain and struggled getting back into fitness. I found very few resources to help, and soon found that many other women around me struggled with the same issues that I was having. After some time and research, I was soon certified as a personal trainer and a prenatal and postpartum fitness specialist. I was positively overwhelmed with so much new information and I couldn’t help but shout it all from the rooftops. My friends, my family, and even my acquaintances were all deeply informed about pelvic and core health in fitness. It became an ever-growing passion. Read more>>

Kirsten Bloom Allen | Actress, Ballerina, Producer, Entrepreneur

Having been a professional ballerina for many years, I wanted to do something unique with the art form. I wanted to make ballet more accessible and relatable to mainstream audiences so in 2017, I founded ARC Entertainment Company which is my creative concept for merging ballet with rock music, art, and cinema. ARC started off with a bang by adding ballet to rock concerts by iconic bands The Wallflowers and Jefferson Starship and. On March 19, 2020 due to the pandemic, my two dance partners moved into my home with my family so we could continue dancing and creating. We transformed my backyard into a stage and began live-streaming free dance performances from both Instagram and Facebook. Here we are almost a year later and we have given over 190 free dance performances to the public as well as donating virtual performances to children’s hospitals and senior living facilities. Read more>>

Kristopher Kirkpatrick | Furniture Artist

Suits are uncomfortable and cubicles make me crazy. I simply wanted a job that allowed me to live life on my own terms and hang with my best friend Butters (Boxer dog). Read more>>

Jacki Lake | Hand Lettering Artist & Home Stager

I have always done hand lettering on the side – making posters during high school for student government, Associated Students clubs and greek life in college and later on wedding invitations and event signage when my kids were younger. As they grew up, I was lettering menu boards for stand alone restaurants and hotel venues as well as continuing custom signage for parties and events. It’s when my kids were off to college that I started making my art a ‘real’ business because I had more time to dedicate to it. I also started doing digital hand lettering and that’s really where my passion lies. I never advertised but would get a lot of word of mouth referrals. I decided that I could make myself a side-hustle and that’s how I Lake House Designs was born. Read more>>

Alexandria Tomayko | Founder of Little Black Book Series

I have had multiple business’s and not all of them successful. My newest venture actually started from my own need, I was looking to solve my own problem that is current in the Hospitality (Planning Primarily) industry. After it started to evolve and I would talk to others I confirmed it was a good idea and then invested more time in developing it fully. Now we are one month away from launch I couldn’t have been happier but also couldn’t have ever imagined I would be launching a Tech App for the industry. Read more>>

Miranda Allen | San Diego & Destination Wedding Photographer

Photography has been my passion since I was a kid, but I didn’t decide to start my business until after my own wedding and experience as a bride working with vendors. When I reflected back on the planning process and our big day, I found myself hoping for more from some of our vendors. It was at that moment I realized I could be the one to provide a great experience rather than just a service. I began second shooting for other photographers at weddings to gain experience and immediately fell in love with working with couples, weddings, and anything involving two people in love! I saw so many couples feeling just as lost and confused as we felt, and so many photographers who didn’t or couldn’t step in to help. I want to build relationships with couples in a way that relieves the stress and results in them truly enjoying their wedding day and even the planning process! I want to help couples focus on the things that really matter to them and to create a fun experience that leaves them feeling like they were on Cloud 9: happy, laughing, and connected. Read more>>

Cameron Neuendorff | Artist, CEO, and DJ

It’s always been an idea in the back of my mind to run a legitimate fully licensed business after starting a collective and event company. Due to the pandemic, I found myself with lots of time on my hands and really wanted to get the ball rolling. Eventually all the different pieces came together and we launched Backroom Records! This company is one step further from the DJ collective and event company. We want to be able to provide an outlet for local artists to release music and take it that extra step further to get them booked for a show. We believe that pushing local talent is really important for San Diego + Southern California and thats what we are setting out to do. Read more>>

Lauren Chante | Health Strategist

For me, it was less of a thought process and more of a personal need! I’m a military spouse and we move around a lot, which made career continuity really challenging. After having my second child, we were living in a short term apartment outside of Washington DC while my husband was undergoing an intense training program. I couldn’t easily get a job for just six months, so I channeled my energy into starting a business. I knew I needed something that was portable, since we moved a lot. Honestly, part of me was just bored and lonely! I needed something to keep me busy while my husband was away and we were in a phase of transition. Now, I’ve helped dozens of women stop jumping diet to diet and find what works for their unique bodies and lives. Read more>>

Leah Schaperow | Milk Oolong Pottery Studio

I decided it was time to have my own studio space. I had previous experience as a ceramic technician and as a teacher so it was natural for me to hold classes. As an artist is it important to me to have a clean and organized space to create. I loved the Liberty Station area and it seemed like a wonderful bike commute from my apartment 5 miles away. I’ve always loved how welcoming the clay community how been and I wanted others to have the opportunity to be a part of small and welcoming pottery studio. It has been almost exactly one year since I opened Milk Oolong Studio and I still am so happy that it exists now. Read more>>

Ashley de Luna | Naturopathic Doctor & Yoga Instructor

I had always envisioned becoming a member of an already established business so I could learn some essential skills before choosing my next step. I had spent the last 10 years diving deep into studying the human body, but not business! However, the universe had different plans for me, and I quickly realized that I was meant to open up my own medical practice right after graduation. I had basic foundational knowledge from a business course or two in school, but it was absolutely a continuous learning process. I was so exhausted from the relay race that is medical school that I wanted everything to be as easy and straight forward as possible. I started dipping my toe in how to structure a business, began renting a room, building my own website, leaning into my connections within the community, and before I knew it, had a thriving business. Read more>>

Jill Malena | Graphic Designer + Art Director + Business Owner

After being laid off in the spring of 2020 (thank you COVID), I took a month off to regroup. I used it as an opportunity to pivot! I sought council from family and close friends, and heavily weighed my “next direction”, of which I saw three: 1) Find a new salaried position as an Art Director; 2) Totally change things up and use my joie de vivre and communication skills to go into sales, or 3) Start my own graphic design business. And although I did freelance design on and off for 30 years while either being stay at home mom or an employee for a company, the idea of being solely independent was exciting yet scary! Was my layoff the proverbial fire starter, a blessing in disguise? While I love the work itself and interacting with clients, the business aspect of owning a company was a bit daunting: Did I really want to chase down clients? Was I willing live on the edge month to month as I got the business going? What about health insurance? But then I asked myself some important question. Read more>>

Mariah Chastaine | Owner of RYS Life

As a little girl I always wanted to run my own business that gave back to the community. When hurricane Katrina hit, I set up a lemonade stand in my neighborhood and all the money I made I donated to the Red Cross. I volunteered all through high school. In college I would bartend events that the proceeds went to various charities. When I finished college and ended up moving to San Diego, I was working for a little local accessory company that essentially let me learn a lot of aspects of a small business. After about a year I felt confident enough to go out on my own. That is when I started doing some research. I knew that I wanted to start something that was sustainable, good for the environment and something that I could be passionate about. What better then a lifestyle brand of a lifestyle that I love. That is when I decided I wanted to build a San Diego Lifestyle Brand. Read more>>

Vicente aka Vinnie Enriquez | Team Lead of The Enriquez Group ( Your San Diego Real Estate Team )

There were two things that were driving forces in my jump into real estate. My first reason was I felt that I was underappreciated inside my old company. I wanted to start a business that allowed me to make sure my future team members and future clients would not feel what I felt. Second was my love for San Diego, I have been lucky enough to travel and work all over the world, yet San Diego always pulled me back. By starting a business in San Diego allowed me to put roots in the place that I was born. Read more>>

Ariana LaRae Designs | Interior Designer

I had a lot of people coming to me in need of assistance with projects when I was working in retail. I slowly started helping people design their rooms as kind of a side job. I eventually started to ask myself why isn’t this what I’m doing full time if it makes me happy? I was really unhappy working in retail and working for someone else. I knew that I was made to lead and not follow. I really wanted to make the rules. Working with people and helping them change their spaces really brought me joy. Eventually I went on my own and took on my first independent project as a designer. Read more>>

Dan Romeo | Owner of TRVLR Coffee Roaster & One Season Brewing Co

I started TRVLR Coffee Roaster toward the end of 2017, but it took until Jan 2019 to land a roasting location and get all permits sorted out with the City. It took 2019 to doing the BD to set the company up for success. However, when Covid hit the majority of my business was taken away. I had to pivot and went from strictly a wholesale coffee roasting company to having a small retail space in Mission Gorge. From there I decided to start my next venture: One Season Brewing Co. This is officially San Diego’s newest craft brewery. We are days away from our official green light to brew from San Diego ABC. It’s been a 6 month journey and I really couldn’t be happier. Having a brewery allows me to have a nightly business – a tasting room, and also a morning business of coffee sales via TRVLR. Both TRVLR and One Season are the definition of craft. Small batch roasting and small batch brewing. Read more>>

Erin Painter | Esthetician

I have been an esthetician since 2007. It has always been on my mind to start my own business. Ownership can be scary and expensive, so it was always difficult for me to take that leap. I worked in a spa for a long time that abruptly shut down; So I ended up at another place that I just didn’t feel was the right fit. After nearly a year of working at this place, I realized that I was essentially giving the business owners half my income to work on clients that were only there because of me in the first place. Read more>>

Charles L Ellis | Author/Speaker/Trainer/Certified Life Coach

I’ve always wanted to serve and motivate, inspire, and help individuals transform their lives into something conducive to living their best lives. Many of us have been conditioned to think a certain way, and for most that way causes multiple problems and keeps one stuck in situations that seem to have no way out. Since I am a Certified Life Coach who uses NLP training techniques, I wanted to put what I’ve learned into practice, since I’ve had wonderful results helping students and clients. I also wanted the name of my company to match what I believed in my heart, which is that everyone has something within themselves that can guide them and help them do extraordinary things. It’s been called The Power, The Spirit, and a number of other things, but I choose to call it The Fire Within. Read more>>

Amanda Hill | Parent Educator

Having taught in the college setting for the past ten years, primarily working with current and future educators and caregivers, I wanted to bring my knowledge and expertise to parents. As I walked through the toddler years, I began to realize how important it is to bring practical, hands-on information to those who also have little ones. My goal with The Prof Mom is to help parents navigate the ever-changing landscape of raising kids in an informed and tangible way. Read more>>

Trenell Foster | Director, Screenplay Writer, Actor, Producer, Recording Artist and Comic Book Creator.

My thought process has always been to be in control of what I want to create. I wanted to be able to create my own lane and follow my own vision. Read more>>

Hector Diaz-Ceballos | Owner of Hair Drezzers on Fire, Raven and Sage, Co-owner Leo by Liv3 and Co-Owner Theorie Consulting

Nine years ago I was in the final stages of my professional golfing career. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit coming from seeing my grandfather and father run different businesses. I’ve always loved business and providing solutions to the market. At that time I had the opportunity of buying Hair Drezzers on Fire and I decided to go for it. I felt that my background with working in businesses growing up, learning from my family and my degree in advertising (minor in business) were a good combination of things that could help me run a successful business. I didn’t have any experience in the beauty industry but fell in love with the artistic side of it and how complimenting it with solid business fundamentals could create something really special! I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 stylists, have owned 5 salons (currently 3) and in 2020 in the middle of a shutdown me and my partner Jina Javier decided to start Theorie Consulting. Read more>>