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.

Keilani Francisco | Mindset and Manifestation Coach – Helping conscious women tap into their full potential

Growing up I seemed to think starting your own business was just what everyone did. I assumed everyone built their own homes to live in and everyone started their own business. What a buzzkill when I learned that was NOT the case. I strongly believe no one is meant to just work their life away, pay bills, and die. With that being said I also believe everyone has a purpose here. A purpose to serve and bring value to the Earth and Humanity. We all bring a uniqueness, something special that no one else can do quite like us – but how does one know what they are meant to do unless they have explored every idea. Read more>>

Thomas Padilla | Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach

It was always a dream to own my own gym chain or business. When I was working for the last gym I always thought to myself that I could open up my own business and take things that this current gym did well but make it better. I worked for that gym chain for 4.5 years and when I was 25 years old they offered me an upper management position. Though I didn’t feel like it would’ve been a bad job necessarily, I felt a strong pull and urge to not work for anyone else anymore but myself. Read more>>

Kelsey Swann | Equine and Family Portrait Photographer

It evolved very organically into what it is today. When I first learned to shoot and edit back in college, my goal was to work as a photojournalist. I wanted to travel the world, document what I saw and share it with others. That never transpired, so I shot just for myself for a long time. With the explosion of social media and ease of sharing photos, I began posting images I had taken, and after awhile people began asking me to take pictures for them. Eventually I told myself, “I could probably turn this into a business”. Read more>>

Chiara Cammarata | CEO & Founder

Being a business owner is not an easy endeavor. Everyday is something new you learn, you “should” be doing this or could be doing that…but how? Without the help or knowledge business owners hit a wall. I wanted our business to be the :cue in the superwoman/man music: the ones that save the day. Diving in to find the pain points in the everyday operations, problem solving and then just handling them. Helping business owners run their business. I geek out on business operations. Finding and then solving problems as well as more efficient ways to do things. Read more>>

John & Melissa Steele | Real Estate Agents and Investors

We started our business because we recognized that there were so many people out there who were having negative experiences around real estate and working with poor real estate agents. We saw that gap as an opportunity for us to step into the market and show people what a great agent can and should be, and how partnering with a wonderful agent can truly benefit you in achieving your real estate goals. Our first real estate experience was when we were 21 years old and buying our first home. Read more>>

Jennifer Carruthers: Wine Concierge & Sommelier

Throughout my years as a wine professional, I noted how many people yearned for access to a unique and tasteful selection of wines. Friends, colleagues and strangers loved when I would share my favorite wines and their inspiring stories. They lacked, however, one place to learn about and also purchase all these special gems. This prompted me to launch my dream company, JC Select Wines – a high-end exclusive wine shop and wine concierge service built to serve the modern-day wine enthusiast. Read more>>

Raygrid Calderon | Chief Energy Organizer

When I started on this Spiritually Sparkled journey, I had no real plan other than showing up for our community—the Bronx. I looked around and saw that our people were looking for something that would feed their spirits. As a Bronx-born Latina, mother and entrepreneur, I knew we deserved more and better. We deserved a place where no matter your religion, your practices or beliefs, you could show up as you; a place where all genders, identities, races and ages were welcome. Read more>>

Kayla Bell | Sustainable Swimwear Designer

The biggest thought process behind starting my own brand was the notion that I wanted to created a space that intentionally bridges the gap between sustainability, diversity, and size inclusion. That was the most important part. Read more>>

Wes Horbatuck | Driftline Founder & Burrito Aficionado

Have you ever had an idea that keeps peppering your brain no matter the place or time? As a born entrepreneur, ideas can come and go, but if you’re lucky enough, there’s one idea that keeps coming back to you letting you know – this is it. That’s how we felt when we had the idea for Drifties™, our wetsuit-lined boardshorts. It wasn’t us asking ourselves “how are we going to do this?” but rather telling ourselves “we need to do this”. As watermen in our own respective sports, it all started for us during a Spring surf session at our favorite break in San Diego. Read more>>

Ryan Hiller | Musician and Event Production

I started my love for music at a very early age. After getting my degree in music, I finally realized that I had to figure out some way to monetize it. Otherwise, my passion would become my hobby. My business didn’t start initially as an event business. It evolved over the years into what it has become. I’m constantly tweaking, molding, and shaping. The entertainment industry is constantly changing, so we need to constantly change with it. Read more>>

Sonia Aroso | Fashion Bridal Designer

It started by realizing about my potential, ideas, talent and experience. And that I didn’t want to give my time and ideas to another brand when I could perfectly do it by myself and of course with all the support from the people I love. Read more>>

Teanna Woods Okojie | Professional Photographer, Producer and Arts Educator

Around my second year attending college, at Brooks Institute of photography. I developed a deeper interest in Portraiture, and the niche market of Children’s and Teens Fashion. I’d always been interested in the fashion industry. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to translate my interest into a photography career. Once I gained more comfortability with my photography skills, I knew I wanted to expand upon that interest in my future business. Read more>>

Leslie Bobo | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

When I first stepped foot into the wellness space I noticed it was easy to get lost in trends. I realized that more often than not there was sort of a “one size fits all” approach to wellness, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I set out on a mission to bring accessible wellness to all, no matter what kind of lifestyle you lead. Not only that, but I wanted to offer a sustainable approach for clients. The name All About Well stems from the fact that wellness is more than just the food we eat. Read more>>

Tim Ozbun | Photographer

There is a lot to think about when starting your own business. You need to think about what type of business you want to do, how to attract and find clients that are interested in you, building a website, portfolio, using social media, etc….. You also need to think about how much you want to invest in your business in terms of advertising to attract clients and equipment you need to upgrade your business. You also have to realize that sometimes business is slow and you may not have as much income coming in. Read more>>

Arlene A Mora | Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness & Inspiration

Every single person on this planet has been given a unique set of gifts and talents to use. We do have the choice to rise up and embrace those gifts – or we can shrink back and settle right where we are. But we need to understand, if we do not play the role we are supposed to, at the time we are meant to … the world ultimately ends up paying the price. None of us have been made to be average. We have been created with a purpose. When we step fully into our purpose, this has the power to ripple out massive change to the entire world. Read more>>

Madeline Schmidt | Leadership/Employee/Organizational Development Coach & Consultant

Starting my own business was an ongoing conversation I had with myself for many years. I was comfortable in the corporate world, producing great results, advanced my career, and had the security of a steady paycheck. People continued to ask me, after almost 20 years of doing what you do, have you considered consulting for companies? It was a worthy question. There were too many unknowns and fears about the idea of starting my own business. Read more>>

Stephanie Lloyd | Real Estate Broker/Owner, Lloyd Realty Group

Before I started my own real estate business, I worked at a local credit union in business development. After my second child was born, I was still working late nights, weekends, long hours away from my kids, and wasn’t given the job growth opportunity I had been working towards and counting on. I knew how hard I worked, and my job history had always been in sales – making something out of nothing – so I figured it was worth a try to quit and work for myself. Read more>>

Andrea Contreras | Insurance Agent & President/CEO

I started my own business for one purpose….My Children I wanted the freedom to be with my children, and enjoy life with them because I know how quickly it goes by. I have always wanted my own business and would often come up with different concepts, most of which were more on the creative genre side, Party planning, organizing (which I laugh at now), event host, things like that. But I knew business ownership was the ultimate goal. Read more>>

Heather Cleaves | Hair Stylist & Motivational Conversationalist

My thought process behind starting my own business came from years of working within the atmosphere of other people’s visions. I began to feel that in order for me to invite people into a space and ask them to trust me, I would need to create that space from my own vision. It was an opportunity to create from my own knowing and when your movement begins there, success is a natural byproduct. Read more>>

Juliana Lewis | Owner & Designer of J Lewis Bridal

My though process behind starting my own business was creativity freedom. It’s as simple as that. When I started my business, I wanted to reach down inside of me to find that creative soul before I became a wife and a mother. I started my own business because I needed to have something of my own that I can get lost in, something that I am passionate about other than being a housewife and a mother. I love my husband and my kids, but I wanted to be an example to my children, that anything is possible with hard work, love, support, and prioritization. Read more>>

Michelle Wu Fok | Designer, Mentor, + Entrepreneur

At the time I was working full time as a teacher. I needed a creative outlet that I could call my own and that would be separate from my 9-5 gig. Don’t get my wrong I loved my job, had the best boss in the world, and had amazing co-workers……but I was craving more. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been super creative and into making things. I 110% much rather be roaming the isles of Michaels, than on any sporting field (still to this day). Read more>>

Tracie Arlington | Founder/Lead Instructor

After earning my black-belt in 2001, several women’s groups were asking me to teach them and/ or their children self-defense. They wanted to learn self-protection, but they weren’t interested in a martial arts program. So “Play It Safe Defense” was born. I then became a community partner with the Girl Scouts and expanded my program by adding a “verbal karate” curriculum. Verbal strategies that teach people how to deal with bullies, mean people, frenemies and conflict resolution. I believe that everyone needs to know how to protect themselves physically and verbally; it’s a life skill. Read more>>

Vanessa Valencia | Cookier and Admin

I sort of got pushed into the cookie life. I did a favor for a friend and it slowly morphed into a business. Did I think I’d get to where I am today? No. Honestly when I didn’t hear back about my licensing application, I almost gave up on the idea. I had self-doubt at the beginning. Even if I could get a business license I didn’t think anyone would be interested in buying from me, other than friends and family. Good thing I was wrong. Never underestimate the power of social media. Read more>>

Carina Davis | Powerlifter and powerlifting coach

I wanted to coach athletes in powerlifting because I love powerlifting. I love helping people get strong and seeing their smiles when they get stronger and hit numbers they never thought they would ever achieve. I just knew I could use my knowledge and people skills to really help people in the powerlifting community. Read more>>