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.

Hayley Steiner | Owner & Operator of RiNo Showcase

Starting my own business has been a very natural progression for me. I’ve always had such intense drive and knew that I would be the most fulfilled in my life if I could put all of my hard work and energy into something that I was truly passionate about. I decided to start a creative business as an eager and enthusiastic artists who just wanted to share that passion with others. I wanted give them a platform to showcase their work and help them to overcome any discouragement they might have received on their path. We’re taught at such a young age that “If you want a creative career, you’ll never have any money.” and I refused to allow that message to effect my success or the success others. It is because of this that I decided to start my own business and try to make a small impact in that way of thinking. Read more>>

Becky Mustacchio | Founder & Designer

When my husband died in 2014 my whole world felt like it came crashing down on me. We had three young daughters that were also grieving and I was trying to help them as well as myself the best I could. We were doing counseling, traveling, hanging out with family and friends. One day I was wandering aimlessly around the clothing section of the store and I came across a shirt that simply read “Lost My Heart” and that was so fitting for how I felt. I bought it and then I searched everywhere for more clothes that would help me convey how I was feeling without having to actually talk to people about it. I came up empty handed. After having luck my daughter’s and I decided we would create our own clothing and accessories that would not just help us but also help others that were grieving and that is how Grief Wear was born. This process helped my kids and I in our own grief and taught them how to start a business as well. Read more>>

Stacy Cason | CEO, Founder, and Science-Enthusiast

The hemp industry was growing and booming in 2018 when I started this company, and people were starting to learn of the healing benefits from the plant. I like to view from a 30,000-ft-view as a whole system, and saw the major bottleneck was in the extraction / processing. Also, the conventional processing methods were concerning to me as a medical professional, So we set out to create a healthier and more natural alternative, which led down a very long path of research and development to create this water extraction and bring a new technology to fruition. Later on, as we sought to formulate our line of end-consumer products from this natural water-extracted CBDa, we found another hurdle in other kitchen and processors with a lack of quality standards, which led us to bring it all in-house. Now our entire process and kitchen is certified USDA-organic, from the plant to final labeled product. Staying in touch with the current needs and challenges have led to pivots to continually improve our company and keep us at the forefront of an evolving industry. Read more>>

Robert Fehlen | Personal CFO & Entrepreneur

Once I got clear on who I wanted to serve (visionary business owners and real estate investors), the thought process began with, “How could I create a life of conversations and relationships with these people that are up to big things?” Which ultimately causes you to ask, “How can I drive more value to their business and life?.” That then translated into a personal mission to talk to over 100+ business owners and real estate investors in 6 months through 1:1 conversations. The purpose of those conversations was to truly understand their challenges, opportunities, setbacks, goals, where they sought advice, and so on. Read more>>

Breann Colpitts, Ed.S, CLYL | Social Coach & Certified Laughter Yoga Leader

My thought process for starting my own business was a combination of experiencing burnout working in public schools and seeing a need for supporting neurodivergent minds with social emotional learning. I started the business with a friend and co-founder and that made me feel braver to leave a sure thing for the unknown because we were making the leap together. We knew the market would pay for our services, but creating an actual business was a steep learning curve! It definitely helped having a partner to co-create with and to have the freedom to do things on our own terms. Read more>>

Cindy K Cruz | Celebrity Makeup Artist, Stylist and Writer

I have to say that working for myself pretty much developed organically. After graduating with a degree in Marketing from CU Leeds School of Business, I went to work for a large corporation and I learned fairly quickly that the confines of that structure were not for me. Falling back on my makeup experience working for large cosmetic companies in College and for a small herbal health and beauty aids store, I went to New York and studied makeup at Stagelight. Shortly there after I started getting freelance work doing model headshots for a photographer in Denver. My first feature was here in Boulder working as a PA in pre-production where I got a crash course in Film production. From then on it was word of mouth referrals that kept me going. Read more>>

Kat Davidson | Children’s Book Author, Co-Owner of Mobile Observatory Project & Observer Ranch

After graduating from The Ohio State University with a business degree, I worked in banking/lending for a few years -this allowed me the opportunity to help local business owners, learn their stories of how they came to be, and help simplify and manage their finances. Most business owners did not typically have a single stream of revenue- not only did they have several, but they were involved in different types of businesses. There was always something to learn, a new spark of passion or vision, and a forward thinking and resilient mindset- a lot of the people I worked with inspired me. When we started our business, it was only subscription based website to provide analysis and forecasting for space weather and terrestrial events. What happened if it was no longer a viable source? From there, ideas came branching out to add merchandise, books, running annual events, developing an app, and more. Read more>>

John Reynolds | Captain America

The MBC Group was created simply to give anyone access to the same digital marketing tools that big businesses take advantage of on a daily basis. Matthew Montez and John Reynolds felt that startups, new businesses, smaller shops and every day businesses owners could not access the same tools that corporations could use to drive new business. From there The MBC Group grew. Since we are problem solvers a lot of our clients come to us first with their needs to see if we have the right solution to their problems. As a small business ourselves, we understand and are willing to do the daily work to solve problems. Having a team at your disposal to outsource work, saves you time, saves you money, and helps to get the tasks done. This is the MBC Group core motivation, help you to work harder. Read more>>

Iris Diaz | Herbalist , Mom, Wife

I grew up in a home where we ate a traditional western diet of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all of which contained some animal products and little to no vegetables. When I was in kindergarten, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and during my teenage years, I was said to have an overactive thyroid. However, I continued this diet for all of my youth and my early twenties. About seven years ago, I decided to stop eating pork, primarily Wendy’s sliders with bacon, and ended up eliminating fast food. That is where my journey began. I learned herbal remedies and learned different concepts such as the Doctrine of Signatures and the Four Humors. I took classes at the Herbal Academy, where I was certified three times in herbalism and switched from pursuing a business degree to a therapeutic herbalism degree. Read more>>

Gabrielle/Gabe Rodriguez (she/her) | Founder and Co-Creator of La Conextion

I feel the seed was planted a long time ago, it was just a matter of when. I have had tons of dreams/ideas over the years.The vision that has always remained is the desire to help in the healing of my communities. I started a program at a non-profit last year called La Conextion that co-created sober spaces for the individual and collective healing of Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The community that was cultivated really showed me much more can be done for the healing of these communities. I decided to re-launch La Conextion as an LLC this year to have a bit more autonomy in the work that I do. As La Conextion 2.0 I am offering 1:1 support to sober and sober curious QTIBIPoC as well as speaking engagements and offering consulting to various organizations. The exciting part about being an entrepreneur is that I get to mesh all the pieces that i’ve enjoyed from all the jobs that I’ve had. Read more>>

Alison Gorrell | Mental Performance Coach, MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology

I have played basketball my whole life and professionally for 5 years. Based on my personal experience, the mental battle in sports was always significantly more difficult than the physical side. The more athletes I spoke with, the more I understood that every athlete has their own story and mental battles. We have unbelievable resources for the physical side of sports, yet the resources are severely lacking for the psychological side. After completing my schooling for sport psychology, my goal has been to help as many athletes as possible, whether it is focusing on their mental health or enhancing their performance, I aim to cater to the individual’s needs. Mental health has always had a stigma attached to it in sports, yet it is one of the most crucial components to competing, so helping break the stigma is also an important goal for my business. I’m extremely passionate about helping athletes reach peak performance and achieve their dreams, while also enjoying the process and maintaining mental health. Read more>>

Kate Martin | Professional Photographer

It all has started with one movie about Linda Eastman McCartney, one of the best music photographers that have ever lived. As a young teenager, I fell in love with the rush of being cool and simultaneously finding an outlet for my bursting creativity. My mother Alena is a painter, my father Jiri was a musician. My guess is that I have become a perfect blend of those two, which lead me to all this, to capture what Linda had, one’s soul, one’s light. In the world of photography art, it is never (financially) easy, especially when technology is always at least one step ahead. The need to keep up with it can cost a lot, so it was a no-brainer to start an official business.
There is no secret, there is no drive to become the best photographer out there (the competition is real!), it is only to feed my passion and still be happy doing what I love. I have always thought that if a person has a true talent for something then s/he might as well get paid, now, am I wrong?. Read more>>

Liz Martin | Liz Martin | Marketing & Design Studio Founder

After studying visual communications and fine arts, my first job out of school was as a marketing manager for an Industrial Automation Distributor. While I was appreciative of my job, I really struggled with wanting a more creative outlet for my skills. Friends and contacts I had networked with began asking me to do design freelance projects for them on the side. I realized I loved working with a variety of projects versus being stuck in one industry, and one brand. I knew then that I needed to take a closer look at creating my own design business. If I followed projects and people that inspired me, I’d find success somehow or another. Read more>>

Brooke Stremler | Recording Artists

I’ve been singing and writing music as an outlet ever since I could talk. I always dreamed about pursuing music as a professional career, but I had so many people doubting me that I gave up that dream. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I met a whole group of people in the music business by chance and they told me I have what it takes. That was all the encouragement I needed to start taking music seriously. I knew it was going to be hard, but it’s my passion so I’m prepared for the work, and I’m committed to doing it the right way. Read more>>

Kisha Johnson | Owner, Your Numbers Nerd LLC

Statistics show that 80% of small businesses are going to fail within the first 3 years of opening. That is a tremendous amount of people not able to share their gifts in the world, simply because they lack knowledge on managing their finances, and setting foundational priorities in place. NO longer do we need to wait 3 years to pay ourselves first! That first sale should be celebrated, not just reinvested. My heart is to see these women flourish. Not just in their finances, but in providing advisory coaching, mentoring, and guiding them to set themselves up to safely take risks in their business. My firm mentor our clients on the hiring process, on setting achievable goals, on boundaries in work / life balance, and paying themselves a salary before anyone else in the business gets paid. They are, after all the number ONE employee of the business. Without them, there IS no business. Read more>>

Brianna Norris | Salon owner and stylist

When starting Wild & Whimsy, it was in the heart of the pandemic, and I had a brand new baby at home! The easy choice would have been to wait and open when things “settle down”. But after many discussions with my mentors, spouse and many prayers, I came to the conclusion that opportunities like that don’t come around every day and I had to jump on the chance while I could! Especially because it was my dream salon location. I had to just go for it!. Read more>>

Nehemiah Jones | Caterer and Baker

After graduating high school, working a constant 8am-6pm hour shift for 3 years and working in a military setting for only half a year, oh yeah don’t let me forget taking directions from others just wasn’t my style. I had then realized that I wanted to be my own boss. I know… such a cliche as many would say…. I get that from my mama. I had sat on my patio every morning for a week straight with my caramel drizzled coffee really thinking and wondering what would take off as well as me enjoying the work needed to be put in. I mean that’s the point of starting your own business right? I love children so I really thought I wanted to be a nanny, that’s until I really thought “whats one thing that I already know a lot about and still have the ability to grow?” FOOD! Everyone loves food!. Read more>>

Christine June | Boutique Portrait Photographer

I earned my BFA in photography way back in 2003 and was delighted to be capturing landscapes and still-life, but it was after having my first baby that I realized that is where I became a complete person and found my purpose. My tiny perfect baby was growing and changing every day. Also, life was a blur and I knew I wouldn’t remember every adorable smile, expression, and giggle. Capturing these moments for myself was so important and 12 years later I’m so glad I did. I now have two children who are elementary school age and looking back at those big milestones brings me so much joy.
I love being able to do this for my client families as well. I love knowing every one of them has beautiful images of their little ones to hang on the walls, to look back on, and one day they’ll probably be in a wedding slideshow. Read more>>

Irina Gorbun | Founder of “Kookiz and Kakez

I have always enjoyed baking ever since I was 12 years old. All of my friends kept telling me to start my own business and sell cakes and pastries so others can appreciate the flavors and the fact that every single cake I bake is made from scratch. Some recipes are of a third generation that my grandma used, which makes me proud to be able to share that with others. The idea of starting my own business “Kookiz and Kakez” came to realization within the last year, after I completed my award-winning Community Action Project (CAP) through Dress for Success. Thanks to that project I developed many skills that were outside of my comfort zone and proved to myself that I CAN be successful as long as I am passionate about what I do! Also, during the COVID pandemic I redirected the focus onto my own personal growth and development. It was the perfect timing to reevaluate what my passion was. As of May 11, 2021 I decided to sign up for a baking competition in hopes that my cakes and votes make me a winner. You can also find my baking portfolio here: https://greatestbaker.com/2021/irina-gorbun
I am very excited to introduce “Kookiz and Kakez” to you and am looking forward to this new adventure!. Read more>>