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.

James Dong | Small business owner rethinking consumerism

I never want to “reinvent the wheel” so I started my journey by looking into existing gear shops and companies with rental platforms to see if that’s something that I could join. The more I learned though, the more I realized that the depth with which I wanted to pursue a social and environmental mission just wasn’t really out there. Last Minute Gear’s mission is to reduce waste & increase access to the outdoors. We do that by creating alternatives to buying. That sounds easy on the surface, but the truth is the way I think about innovation across the board is consistently fixated on this mission. That’s why unlike any other shop that offers similar programs… Read more>>

Nate Evans | Director of Nonprofit

Despite all the challenges, I’ve always enjoyed being an entrepreneur. I get bored doing the same thing everyday and starting something requires constant adaptation. Being forced to learn something new, come up with creative solutions and think dynamically keeps me engaged in ways that other jobs do not. The opportunity to create something that did not exist was exciting to me. I did not see my idea reflected in the world and I felt strongly that it was something the world needed. If what I wanted to do already existed then I would not have had the same passion to create my nonprofit. Read more>>

YOLANDA MARANT | Creative. Vocalist. Entrepreneur.

The most important factor behind my success is God. I am a God girl. I have been a Christian “church girl” since I was a kid. I come from a long line of believers – preachers and singers. While I do know and understand hard work is required to achieve success, for me it doesn’t work without God in it and around it. He gave me an incredible gift to create to see words beyond a screen. He is the #1 factor. Read more>>

Cera Parker | Animal Caretaker

The thought process behind starting my own business didn’t actually begin until 2019. I was your average young adult who had no idea what they wanted to do with their life besides hang out with their dog all day. I ended up stumbling upon a job posting for a doggy daycare and while I didn’t have any professional experience, I had been around animals all my life so I decided to take a chance… and boy am I glad I did! At the time I didn’t know it but hospitality for animals is a huge industry! I’m a die hard dog person and I guess a lot of other people are too! They want to leave their pet with someone who would treat them like their own and I felt like I could easily connect with them because I personally have a special needs Border Collie mix named Lily Bug. She has seizures from brain damage from her previous owners and I’ve never felt comfortable enough to leave her with someone I didn’t personally know! Read more>>

Keturah Fleming-Hall | Owner of La Fillette Bakery

My dad is an entrepreneur and has owned his own business for most of my life. I think watching him instilled that same spirit in me. I have a bachelor in business and tried to go the traditional route. When I moved to Denver, 8 years ago, I wanted a change of pace and to have something of my own. I loved the idea of working hard for myself and that work paying off. Read more>>

Emily Burrowes | Artist

My art line of buildings and map drawings started from me either needing art work to hang for my place or as a hobby during quarantine during my free time. My work gained attention from my friends and soon through social media. Beyond sharing my work for others to see in a picture, I thought it would be great for people to have my work in their own homes, so I turned my original pieces into prints to sell. Since starting my business, I have created an Etsy website, increased my social media presence (Instagram: @bigassmaps), formed partnerships with many local organizations and business, helped put on events, and sold in-person at outdoor art markets. I also have started a new branch of my business making custom pieces for customers. Read more>>

Craig Decker | Founder Joga Offroad

I’ve been an avid off-roader (@fergie.the.jku) for the past few years and have always been a soccer fanatic. ‘Joga Bonito’ is a Portuguese phrase that means “Play Beautiful’ and it’s resonated so much that two of my children and I have a Joga tattoo. After thinking about what we do when we go out in our groups and wheel we are essentially just Playing so the idea of a cool looking brand that the wheelers would wear was born in January of 2021 as Joga Offroad. A few months later Alyssa Walker (@adventurealyssa) joined the cause and we have been getting our inventory and releasing new designs ever since. Read more>>

Dan “DUNN” Ericson | Artist – The Signtologist

To treat my craft more professionally as less of a hobby and more of a business. I wanted to protect myself and my work in hopes of ensuring longevity while I explored this medium. Read more>>

Ryan Metzger | Ridwell CEO and Co-founder

First, was seeing how many people were motivated to create a future without waste. Before Ridwell, my son Owen and I had a neighborhood project called Owen’s List where we would find local reuse and recycling partners for our stuff. With some room to spare in our car, we offered to pickup from neighbors along the way. 4,000 people joined the cause and motivated us to see how we might do this on an even larger scale. As more people have made the connection between waste and issues facing our climate, interest has only increased and made us even more passionate about our mission to divert as much as we can from landfills so that it can instead be recycled or reused. Read more>>

J. Goods | Musician/portraitist

I think I was convinced to start working for myself after working for other people for so long because I wanted flexibility to enjoy doing what I really want to be doing. I wanted the freedom to be mobile and to be able to support myself while having adventures on the road. Music is just one of my hustles. I also do pet portraits and odd jobs since gigs aren’t always steady. It can be a very unpredictable and spontaneous job, playing music. It is also extremely rewarding and fun. Ultimately though, working for myself allows me the ability to say yes and no whenever I want to. I have more freedom and can follow my gut instincts. It’s been a great decision. Read more>>

Nick Drivas | Certified Online Personal Trainer

The thought process I had behind starting my own business for a couple of reasons. If you do not know, I run an online coaching service for student athletes to accomplish all of their fitness goals. As a student athlete myself, I know how it feels to look all over the place for the answers for the “best diet” or “how to build more muscle fast”. I wanted to provide a service for athletes to have it all in one place no matter what equipment or accessibility they had. When covid-19 hit, I decided to go all in on this idea because many gyms closed around the world. I’ve always wanted to help people in any way I could and felt this was the best way to do it based off the experiences I have had. Read more>>

Kasi Garcia | Skincare Formulator, Dermatology Nurse & Mother

The thought process behind starting my own business was very direct- I want to build a brand I can proudly stand behind and pass down generations. Skincare. This is where it all begins. I have worked on the medical side of skin as a Dermatology Nurse for seven and a half years. Six years into my dermatology nursing career I put myself through a Natural Skincare Formulating Program. Clean ingredients are everything. We should take as much care with what we put on to our bodies as we do into our bodies. I want to keep my skin healthy and vibrant for all the years I have to come, but most high end skincare businesses put such high prices on their products, it can make the average working American cringe at the purchase. Read more>>

Alexander Ortiz | The Pickle King of Denver

When I started Three Dogs Pickles, it wasn’t out of necessity but rather the urge to start working for myself! After years and years of working tireless hours for restaurants that didn’t seem to appreciate me, I decided it was time to take a hold of my own future. When I started this company I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I work hard on a daily basis to get this dream to become a reality and support the people who need me the most (my two dogs)! Read more>>

Chris Vitali | Founder / Editor in Chief –

Early on during Covid, I found myself with a lot of downtime. So partially out of boredom and partially out of a necessity to keep the creative juices flowing, I decided to start BallNine. I’ve always been a huge baseball fan and and avid reader of sportswriting – whether it was books, newspapers, magazines, websites, you name it – so I wanted to create a place where old-school sportswriting meets technology. My business partner and I had attended a dinner at the Angels Stadium Diamond Club a couple months before I started this company, and aside from us the room was filled with ex-MLB players. After hearing the stories they told, a light went off over my head. Why not bring baseball stories to fans that are straight from the players’ perspective? It’s a type of insight on the game that I thought was being neglected, so BallNine was born. Read more>>

Madison Neal | Fiber Artist & Plant Mom

I have worked in retail and coffee shops for most of my life. While I loved connecting with customers and creating fun moments for people, I struggled with a sense of purposelessness. This creeping feeling that I wasn’t doing what I was made to do. When I decided to start my own business, I knew it was going to be difficult and I knew that the success I dreamed of probably wouldn’t come quickly. But I knew that the risk of that journey was worth it because, to me, it was either struggle in that purposelessness or struggle chasing something I genuinely loved heart and soul. Everything in life is hard, but I believe we get to choose what we build for ourselves. The choice was pretty simple from there! Read more>>

Allison Keasal | Photographer & Wedding Planner

For my wedding planning business, I was stuck in a job where I was so unhappy. I wasn’t able to enjoy the location I lived, my hobbies, or in general life because I was working all the time year-round in the event industry for a ski resort. I had to take a really hard look at my life & decide what my next step was. Sometimes things just don’t seem to fit in life & for me, working for someone else was one of those times. I could never figure out why I was so disappointed in my employment until I finally started working for myself & it all clicked. I was meant to be running a business, making decisions, building a team & having a much larger stake in the work I was doing. Read more>>

Cam Smith And Kyle Nymberg | Business Owners: Ironpulse

Both Cam and Kyle grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit, knowing that neither would thrive well in a clock in clock out corporate environment. Kyle looked to start his own clothing business in college, while Cam went on and created his own media entertainment company, Nebulos Entertainment. After college, they had begun discussing ideas for a new venture that involved fashion, fitness, and helping others find their entrepreneurial drive. That said, they decided to enter the apparel industry, just as Covid-19 had begun spreading around the world in March of 2020. While businesses began shutting down, they were opening theirs up. Read more>>

Liberty Boston | Photographer

As I was booking my own senior photos, I audibly gasped when I saw the price tag. I knew quality senior photos were an investment, but I never imagined they would be THAT expensive. My parents spent roughly $1,500. That’s absurd! Over $1,000 dollars for a 2 hour session, a handful of unframed prints, and a few social media images. I’ve even heard of cases where families pay 5 to 10k for their senior’s pictures. Thankfully my family is well off, so I had the opportunity to have my photos done professionally, but after seeing the steep price, I realized many families are not as lucky. This is the fundamental reason I created Liberty Boston Photography: to provide high-quality photographs for affordable prices–because everyone deserves awesome photos! Read more>>

J’Niya Hernandez | Cosmetic Company and Entreperneur

When I started Bougie Brats Cosmetics I wanted to create products that had simple ingredients but I also wanted to create a brand for young girls like myself to help build confidence. When creating my brand I wanted to ensure that my products would be diverse and simple to produce. Bougie Brats Cosmetics was a dream of mines that I turned into a reality by being persistent. Building my own confidence along the way had to encouraged a lot of girls my age to start a business or simply follow there heart in life. Im so thankful to still be in business and meet so many cool people and have great opportunities along the way. Read more>>