Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy. So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Chris Bell | Massage Therapist, Personal Fitness Trainer, Travel Agent and Real Estate investor

Like most people, work for myself and not have a boss lol. I wanted the freedom of making my own schedule and being in direct control of how much income I could make. Read more>>

Dr. John H. Morgan | Founder and President of People Prosper International, A Nonprofit Educational Organization

This is John Morgan, Founder and President of People Prosper International. We are a nonprofit with the Mission of Solving Poverty, Empowering People and Changing the World. Our Vision is to Lead 1 Million People Out of Poverty by 2030. My thought process for starting PPI in 2016 was deciding what was the greatest need out there that my best abilities could serve to make a difference? The greatest need of poverty came from my lifetime of traveling around the world and seeing poverty in India, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. The problem of poverty has bothered me since I was a kid and my adult travels and work kept intensifying my sense of wanting to help people escape poverty and flourish. Read more>>

Jeanette Berry | Founder, President and CEO

When I started the business I thought it was suppose to be a group of others working together, but after I began the nonprofit journey I seen where this was something I was to do and be able help others on a scale only God could provide. 10yrs later we are still helping others and making a impact in lives and our communities. Read more>>

Ray Ricky Rivera | Entrepreneur

The idea gradually evolved over time. In the beginning. I was looking to fill a void for live music in the local market. My initial thought was to open a bar & grill establishment that would showcase bands I had been managing, as we as helping to develop presence for other local talent. As I became more involved in the homebrewing community, I realized there were no local breweries or brewpubs in the city of Norwalk. That realization gave way to the idea of moving beyond a bar & grill business model, to being involved in the production and distribution of craft beer. Once I fleshed out the business model, it became a matter of figuring out how to put everything together. Read more>>

Lyndsay Burnett | Photographer and business owner

I have always been an artist and after spending 15 years working in the medical field, I decided to jump off the deep end and try my hand at being my own boss. While working in a hospital was a very rewarding job, I was diagnosed with a rare brain malformation at 30 and I had to leave the medical field due to my health. I wanted to do something that was rewarding for me as well as my client and photography was a natural fit. Photography had been a passion of mine since I was 9 years old, Hiding away from the world in my grandfather’s study, surrounded by years of national geographic magazines. Seeing the moving images of strong women from all over the world gave me the idea that I could be the woman behind the glass, capturing strong women for the next generation to look up to. Now here I am almost 3 decades later, living my dream!. Read more>>

Nancy Vargas | Owner & Foodie by Nature

I’ve had a passion for food since I can remember. Growing up in a family of cooks, just to see the action. I saw a phase, Turn your dreams into wings. So Chicken wings stood out. The creativity starting there. Read more>>

Leah Thrapp | Chief Travel Curator

My thought process behind starting my own carefully curated tour company was to fill a gap in the current available options. I wanted to offer clients travel experiences that were in between the mainstream big bus tours with large crowds of people that just hit all the typical tourist spots, completely custom and cost prohibitive private driver tours, and just doing everything on your own. So, I started Flipflops and Adventures to take my favorite parts of each kind and put my own unique spin on experiencing my favorite destinations. I took the ease of the big bus tours, where if a client wants to just show up each day and just be along for the ride, they will have a stress free and memorable vacation. I took the exclusive and private experiences from a completely private guided tour and include things like private cooking classes or private city walking tours, private falconry experiences and a variety of unique activities for each tour. Read more>>

Cristian Zarate | Coffee Roaster & Financial Associate

Staying true to who I am, my roots, and giving people a remembrance of home. I honestly wasn’t looking for a way out of the “9-5pm”, so to speak. I just wanted to start living more authentically, intentionally, and paying homage to my upbringing of pure love and compassion in the midst of embracing adulthood. Growing up, but not growing up if that makes sense. I like to believe with the intentions of always outpouring my remembrance of welcome-ness and love I received from my grandparents and mother growing up, I can tell a story of what home means to me. Which started with a simple offering of coffee and pan dulce when I was a wee-boy at my grandparents house. Read more>>

Rachel Kimball | Special Event Coordinator & Designer

I never planned to start my business the way that I did or during the time that I did. I spent 3 years at Texas A&M University studying event, hospitality and tourism and worked in the wedding industry throughout that time and loved every second of it. I always knew that full circle I would end up working in the wedding industry again and always knew that I would want to do friends and families weddings on the side. I had a job lined up which involved moving abroad and programming events for the United States military, but due to the circumstances of covid-19 my job offer was pulled. I found myself graduating college in the middle of a pandemic and lost on what direction my life was meant to go. A family friend owned a newer wedding venue and was looking for help coordinating weddings which allowed me to begin working with brides again and eventually I was asked to do a wedding outside of the venue which encouraged me to figure out what my brand is. Read more>>

Shawanna Lee | Swan 7 Productions

Starting my own business was a natural progression. I was surrounded by a family full of creative and fashionable individuals. It started with watching my mother, who did a lot of community/Talent showcases for the city that I grew up in; these showcases gave the community something to look forward to. I would often watch and observe how the events were brought together to understand what happens behind the scenes and ultimately it gave me the exposure that I needed. As I got older, I took that inspiration and got involved in a lot of youth programs that focused on art and fashion which gave me opportunity to use my talents and exposure me to the industry. As an adult, I used my talents to help and plan events for my peers and even got opportunity to plan and coordinate production events at work. Eventually, I realized that I am doing what I love and why not make money doing it. Since I had already established a network and body of work with others from various industries, it made since to create a brand and move forward with my business. Read more>>

Chester Okeke | Mentor & Coach

My thought process for starting Faction Play was an accumulation of experiences over many years. This movement started from being a part of teams ranging from sports to corporate working environments. There was the athletic playing and training side, but the real movement for me was communication and leadership skills I developed during those years. For most of my life, I continuously found myself in leadership roles. From leading defenses to managing banks and their portfolios. I entered the health and wellness industry and over a few years accumulated a vast network full of CEO’s and business owners. Those experiences have cultivated this amazing journey. While working in the corporate gym space I began rewriting all the rules through demonstration and providing excellent customer service. Read more>>

Taylor Stafford | Photographer

Photography has been something I have greatly enjoyed since the first class I took in high school. The timing was right and I finally decided to take a leap of faith to start my own photography business. Read more>>

Jill Rasco | Photographer

It was something that came to me naturally! As a child I loved taking photographs. It evolved as I grew into an adult. Read more>>

Edward “Ed” Perry | Owner & Senior Photographer- Ed’s Media

At first, I was going to do an advertisement about McDonalds, but my mother told me to be more creative. I then thought about a video I had made with the laptop that my mother had gifted me for Christmas. This was when “Ed’s Media Productions” was born. Once I made the advertisement, I was motivated to keep it going. Fast forward to my Senior year in High School, Ed’s Media Production, turned into Ed’s Media Photography. I was able to purchase my own camera and from there, I went from having a staff of one (myself) to now four. We recently rebranded ourselves in 2020 and now we are called Ed’s Media because we offer both Video and Photo services. Because of that one assignment back in 6th grade, We have been in business for 7 years now and we continue to thrive within the DFW Metroplex. Read more>>

Jo Reyes Carol Diaz | Balloon Stylist

We come from a background of entrepreneurs, but starting a balloon business was never our intention. It just kind of happened. We were always the ones in the family to organize parties, last year a family member asked for our help. That’s when we decided to go for it and start with what we love to do most BALLOONS! It has not been easy starting a business at this point in time, but it has been rewarding. We enjoy seeing our customers reaction when we finish out set up’s. Read more>>

Brittany Willis | Franchise Owner: PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans – North Dallas

My “why” was the impetus behind going into business for myself. After a decade of giving all of the best pieces of my professional and personal self to corporations, I slowly began to fall out of love of chasing a dream with ultimately, a dead-end path. Sure, a traditional 9 to 5 career provides you with stability and financial provision but as my “why” became more and more clear to me, that began to erode the rose color glasses with which I once looked at my career. My “why” was rooted in pouring those 40, 50, 60 hours a week in me, something that I owned, could grow and even pass down to future generations. My “why” began to look like investing in myself rather than investment time for a solely a paycheck. Read more>>

Katrina Neville | Small Business Owner, Cookie Artist and Instructor

The whole idea behind starting my own business came from necessity. I am a mother of three awesome kids and I really felt the need to be around more for them. I had already begun decorating cookies a couple of years prior and I felt I had something to bring to the table. I knew it would be a challenge and I wanted to do it right. Read more>>

Tim Sanders | Swimming Pool Designer & Builder

I worked for a company for 4 weeks. Before they fired me. I told them I was going to be big competition for them one day. Kinda funny because I’m sure that company knows my company. And 12 years later, hello! Now when they fired me, they let me keep my black binder that the company gave us for troubleshooting. Anyways this black binder I took home that day. And I started reading it page by page. I took that black binder and wanted to start my own business cleaning pools. I was 20 years old, I had no money to my name, I didn’t even have a vehicle or pool cleaning equipment. I got a loan from a friends dad for 500$. I bought a few pool cleaning needs, and pool chemicals. Needless to say that $500 didn’t get me anywhere really. But it was a start. My friend at the time had a truck and we went into business together. He couldn’t hang in there when the times got ruff so he gave up about six months in. I bought his truck and kept moving, never looking back. Plus I’m more a solo kinda guy anyways. Read more>>

Dustin Claridy | Creative Entrepreneur

Honestly, I never had an actual thought process. One day (I think it was around 2010), I literally sat down at my computer and taught myself how to use Photoshop and the rest is history. I’ve never taken any official classes or anything. Just watched tutorials on Youtube. And, I’ve been designing ever since. It’s been a journey. A journey that I never ever imagined. Growing up, my dream was to live in Los Angeles (it shall come to pass) and being a Pastor and Mortician. I remember as a child, I used to have church in my bedroom every single day. I was the praise team, the musician, and the preacher. I would make my younger brothers sit there as if they were my congregation. I never planned on or even thought about being a graphic designer. However, since I’ve started it has been an amazing journey. And the journey has brought me in front of major church and secular individuals. Some of my highest honors have been designing for my denomination, the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. Read more>>

Kiera M. Hill | Owner of Manes By Monae

When I had the initial idea to start my business in 2017, it was months after receiving my master’s degree. After being overworked and underpaid, I realized almost 6 months in that I eventually wanted to work for myself. I had several thoughts when starting my business. The first was creating a plan to build generational wealth and second choosing an industry that I was passionate about. I wanted to start something that I had a connection to, to make work not feel like work. I have a passion for beauty, hair, and all things related. I started my business after being diagnosed with alopecia. I was inspired to fill the void in the hair extension industry with a knowledgeable and customer orientated business. Entering the ever growing Billion-dollar hair industry was a no brainer. Read more>>

Derrick Williams | Serial Entrepreneur and Therapist

Instantly you can see that the name would draw the attention of many. I knew the responses I would get, no offense to anyone but I knew that some black people would scold me and a lot of white people would find it funny. There was already a lot of extra going on when I started my business and I did it to allow for conversations and to show just how contact with people eliminates the negative thoughts. It’s perfectly fine for someone white to “think” about having some good chicken and a nice and sweet watermelon but if they say it out loud and more importantly say it together they could be in a world of trouble. Does that really make much sense?. Read more>>

Quran Batiste, M.A. | CEO at Batiste by Quran

I’ve always wanted to create a legacy for my family. I didn’t know what it was going to be at first. I just knew I had it had to be done. Read more>>

Dan Guindon | Video Production Company Co-Founder

I have always had a strong passion and desire for storytelling and my own feelings of what looks good and what doesn’t. I’ve always worked under the umbrella of someone else so I would feel boxed in from time to time. It wasn’t a profound thought, but I had it anyway; why not create my own company where I can feed all of my creative energy into it and and see how that goes with those who work with me and those I am creating projects for. Read more>>

Shundra Richardson | Creator/Owner of Stoned In Secret

Initially, the thought process behind starting my own business was to create natural body butters as a fun side hobby that would allow me to perfect my craft overtime. I began doing some basic research and before I knew it, two years had passed me by and I had really only completed notebooks full of my findings, thoughts, ideas. I decided in late July of 2020 that I would start utilizing all the research I had and put my skills to the test. After only a short time of actually making these body butters did I realize that I could share them with others and allow more people to experience what I had created. I was really craving feedback. Read more>>

Sarah Tew | Small Business Owner | Monogram & Embroidery

I started Tewlip Designs in the middle of the Corona Virus pandemic because I was longing for creativity. The year prior I had picked the word “create” to inspire my year so it’s funny that in the next year of isolation I would not only find myself stepping into a creative space, but one that I was crafting on my own. I gave birth to my daughter, Hazel, back in April 202o right after everything was starting to lock down and someone had gifted me two of the cutest baby items with my daughter’s monogram. I instantly thought, “I could do this!” My Nanna, has been crafting beautiful embroidery designs for my entire life so what better excuse to get some one on one time with her. I had her sit down with me one weekend to basically give me an Embroidery 101 class and I just started dreaming from there. I knew I wanted to start small by just showing off a few items on my Instagram page to see what the feedback would be from family and friends. Read more>>

Earnestine Jackson | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

I became a Registered Dietitian to make a change & create impact within my community. After working several jobs in the field, I came to the realization that majority companies (especially in healthcare) primary concern is money & patient count. I wanted to be able to make money of course, however, I wanted to know that my job was done & that I made an impact in everyone’s life that I encountered. I would literally hop from job to job because something was always “wrong” or “missing”. That’s when I noticed it was the fulfillment aspect. In addition to fulfillment, I enjoy my free time & I believe in a positive work-life balance. I knew that the only way to achieve all 3 of these elements, I had to start my own business. Read more>>

Alesia Cooper | Owner of Siamoss, full time mommy with a full time job

I did an alkaline diet for almost two years back in 2017/2018. At that time I started taking seamoss and bladderwrack. It literally changed my life. I was trying to figure out a way to get my babies to take it as well because it isn’t the best as far as taste wise. So I ordered a gummy bear mold off of Amazon and it literally just worked. I posted it on Facebook not even trying to make money off of it originally and the support and love was so overwhelming I had gotten over 30 orders my first day. That’s when I decided maybe this is a sign from God and to just keep going and it’s been up since then. Read more>>

Nick Mann | Owner & Designer

The thought process behind starting my business, TyypoPrints, originated when I was in college. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so the process of designing art prints came naturally. However, what didn’t come naturally was the typography side of design. Typography is the art of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. This is the biggest core strength of TyypoPrints. Unfortunately, it took a lot of practice to get what was once my weakest skill to my strongest. I felt deeply into quotes not only as a personal passion but now as a way of life. So it made sense to have that featured in the base of every art print of TyypoPrints. Other motivational art prints weren’t doing justice to have around the house or office. They need to be powerful yet beautiful without the cliches. It is now making dreamers into doers to inspire others. Read more>>

Jada Ledet | Creative Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting Ignorant Art Branding LLC has been an evolutionary endeavor. Growing up, I was an ambitious kid with high hopes and big dreams. I knew early on that I wanted to be a creative entrepreneur. So by the time I got to high school, I started curating my brand and developing my craft. Over time my brand has matured into a company inspired by the culture but rooted deeply in my journey. The name “Ignorant Art” is from Jean-Michel Basquiat. I had always told myself, “I will know the name of my brand when I hear it.” Thus during my junior year of high school, I discovered his biopic film, Basquiat. There was a scene where he asks Andy Warhol to buy some “Ignorant Art.” That scene was my “aha moment,” not even a week later, I had drafted my first logo and got it printed on a shirt via Read more>>

Deborah Williams | Entrepreneur & Motivator

To become a voice to help women who have low self esteem and that have become victims of domestic abuse. Teaching them to become self aware, self confident, strong and empowered of who they are. Read more>>

Darien Newsome | Recording Studio Owner & Hip-Hop/R&B Artist

I went to college for a couple of years thinking I would figure out what I would want to do, as everyone says you would figure growing up, but it never really came to me. In hindsight I have always known what I have wanted to do with my life, it just wasn’t something that was looked at with reverence. When it comes to music, specifically Hip-Hop/R&B, everybody and their cousin says they want to make music. Everyone raps, everyone sings, everyone has “a studio.” However I wanted to truly make a living at what I knew I had a gift in. School and a regular job for me was just going through the motions, and it felt more difficult than it should have been. I like to be in control of how I spend my work day. It has taken many years, but I finally got to the point where the money really started coming in with my studio business. This field is oversaturated with those who claim to want to do what I do, but I had to push through the herd, and after all the sacrifice made it happen. Read more>>

Caris L. Reed | The Destiny Chic

My thought process behind starting my own business was as follows: I have a gifts, talents and unique experiences as well as abilities that someone needs to see and hear. There’s someone waiting for me to show up because I have the answers and solutions to their problems. I must be bold and fearless believing in my brand and that my business can and will help change someone’s life. Read more>>

Natile Vinson | Analyst & Owner of Designs by NatVin

Over the years I always thought about starting a business of my own, but I would quickly dismiss the thought because I would get stuck trying to figure out what type of business could I possibly have. Having my own business just seemed like a far fetch idea. While still desiring a business of my own, I happily and genuinely supported the business of those around me. I admired (and still do) the passion and hard work I witnessed them pour into something of their own. During the summer of 2020, I had a conversation with a friend that changed my uncertainty about starting a business. I realized that for most of my adult life, I was always willing and ready to help other individuals with various aspects of their business. One day thought to myself, what would happen if went hard for something that is my own, like I do for others?. Read more>>

Adeola Ogundipe | Owner of Addy Daddy Seasonings And Sauces

The thought process was to offer fresh and flavorful seasoning and sauces, that did not have the additives and fillers that are on the shelves. Read more>>

True | True

Honestly I have always been interested in ownership once I left home for college and got a taste of life on my own. My father is also motivation as he has always had himself in boss situations like in real estate and other endeavors. Later in life a good friend of mine introduced me to the whole Nipsey Hussle movement back in 2010/2011. I didn’t know exactly how i would do it but I never shy away from opportunity and I wound up eventually figuring out how I wanted to proceed! It’s been an amazing journey and excited to continue!!!. Read more>>

Clay Montgomery | Blacksmith

I have always been fascinated with the way things were done by our ancestors and starting a Blacksmith business allowed me to explore that. It also allowed me to help keep a dying trade alive. I had been carrying around an old piece of railroad track for 20 or 25 years with the thought that someday I would use it as a starter anvil. In 2015 I retired from a management position and the blacksmithing journey began. Read more>>

Sharmeke Shaw | Visual Artist

I have always had an entrepreneur spirit and mentality, in fact my first business was selling candy at school and from my house. Once I became popular I would be sold out by first period. Upon going to college I formed a t shirt business that didn’t take off how I wanted to but I kept tapping in to ideas. Upon graduation I started my own skateboard line which then lead to what I do now, art. I would say my thought process has always been finding the best way to work for myself. I never simply wanted to just have a job. I wanted to be able to plant a seed and watch it grow and I believe that is what I’m doing now. Read more>>

Samaria Bronte | Luxury Hair and Skin Care, Art Coordinator & Spoken Word Artist

To be completely transparent I was in a space of figuring out real healing when Azar Ezer was given to me. It was in 2019 right before the pandemic was an actual reality; I had just been fired from my corporate job that January, and being the owner of The Black Enigma intimate art showcases we had to cancel all shows due to COVID-19. So you can imagine the thought process at the time was, “Well there goes both my streams of income”, but then I knew I had to focus on staying calm and having faith in what YAHUAH, The Most High was doing in my life, and remembering who I was, because if I didn’t the crying and confusion would have never stopped. However, during this time I found comfort in figuring out my hair routine, researching phytomedicine and etymology weirdly enough. I learned that the roots of words hold power and origins are crucial to gaining understanding; much like our hair, and being able to understand what our roots need inevitably leads to healthy growth. I would literally experiment on my own hair and research the best herbs and plants to heal my scalp, what plants had which vitamins to increase blood flow for growth, and the list goes on. Read more>>

PATRICK BROUSSARD | Cuisine Connoisseur

Early in our marriage, we’ve always hosted events at our home. Always cooking at our home for our friends and family members. They would alway give us money and have us to cook the food for them and they’ve always enjoyed it for years. My brother-in-law came up with the idea that we should sell what we cook. He would always say “Man, y’all would be so successful selling this” But still at that point we weren’t convinced. It wasn’t until we started going out to eat at different restaurants and realizing that, “Hey, our food is really delicious compared to some of these places that we going to” So we decided then, that it was time to start giving people the type of food that we felt like they’re missing out on. Read more>>

Shelby Huff-Gipson | Esthetician/ Massage Therapist

I always wanted Blissful Zenn to be beneficial to not just myself or family but everyone who experienced Blissful Zenn. Everything about Blissful Zenn is peaceful & love, everyone deserves to experience both. Read more>>