We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Steven Winterbach | Co-Founder of Next Use Composting & Recycling & Business Student

The idea for Next Use was conceptualized in 2020 when Steven and Ross were tired of reading of how bad things were so we came together and began planning to help the environment in a positive way. We shared a passion for the environment and wanted to do something that could make an impact for the better. We focused on waste diversion as not many programs currently existed to empower people to compost and recycle. Landfills are incredibly harmful to the environment and we are dedicated to diverting as much away from landfills as possible. Next Use aims to make waste management easier for households through their door side services, designed primarily for people who don’t have access to municipal composting and recycling services and anyone else is looking for a hassle-free service. Read more>>

Mikayla Bass | Service Dog Trainer

My parents are both entrepreneurs and instilled in me from a young age the entrepreneurial spirit. I knew I wanted to help people and I wanted to do it through the avenue of dogs, specifically service dogs, so Charmed Dogs was born. Read more>>

Brandon Naughton | Chief Vision Officer | President

In starting Truce Media we envisioned a brand and company that was human-centric, focused on building a Member Owned Movie Studio and creating what we call Fair Trade Filmmaking. Sustainability is key and in the world of entertainment, many creatives simply work from job to job. We are building an environment that encourages both entrepreneurism and creative labor, attracting top talent from around the country, while the mission and vision build strong client relationships that fund the foundation. Read more>>

Cierra Edstrom | Entrepreneur

I wanted to start my business to build a life for myself that I was happy with. I’ve had jobs in the past where I was unhappy with my work because I wasn’t doing what brought me joy. I wanted to build a business where I could spend my days crafting and creating. I needed a way to express myself artistically and create items I felt good about using. Read more>>

Heidi Keyes | President and Founder of Puff, Pass & Paint/Cannabis Tours

It’s not something I’ve thought much about before, but my parents were both entrepreneurs, so I grew up accustomed to the ups and downs, mental challenges, and lack of security that comes with being self-employed. It’s not an easy life, but for me it was always the right decision. Working for someone else has never been something I’ve fully enjoyed, as I’m willing to put my entire heart and all of my time into something I truly care about and that is mine. Read more>>

Kyra Watts Watts | Owner & Master Mixologist

I have grown to live by the idea of divine timing. I started my bartending business after taking a random mixology class and casually bartending for friends and family. A childhood friend of mine opened a popular, fast paced bar in the metro Detroit area and I began to work at the bar in addition to my full time job. I quickly noticed how much I had to learn about operating a business that’s hospitality focused although I am an operations engineer by training. I had never envisioned myself as an entrepreneur before I began working at the bar. Read more>>

Linnell Keeling | Photographer

I wanted to do something that made me happy and fed my soul; photography filled the bill! It allows me to be creative and to meet with so many amazing people. I also get the chance to help clients create memories that can last a lifetime. Read more>>

Patricia Colon | Graphic designer/ Illustrator

Well It’s something I love to do ever since I was young, art has been a coping mechanism for me and it helped me through my life. I chose this career because it brings me joy to make things and then see that people connect with them too. It’s nice to see people smile at your work. Read more>>

Scott Harrison | sculptor, writer

The beginnings of my art come mostly from a need to deal with my involvement as a US Marine in the Vietnam war. Art as therapy I suppose. But it was a long journey and its beginning were not very unique. A year after my job of killing and hurting people, and a month after a long hospital stay from being wounded myself, I was studying at the University of Texas among kids my age who winced at scratches from falls. I dealt with my fresh memories and the daily disconnect I felt with my fellow students not with anger or any sense of superiority through experience, but with a detachment that would make a monk proud. Read more>>

Tim Brown | Worship Pastor

I think that creating music is one of the best ways to engage both the heart and mind. Nothing motivates and infiltrates people like music can. It also has made my life feel like I rarely work! I love what I do. Read more>>

Jessica Natalia Rueda | Artist

I did it for myself because the thought of doing something else made me feel so uneasy. Art is something that has always been present throughout my life, since I was a little girl, I would always be doodling or thinking about what I wanted to draw. Now today, I dream of painting and of creating and the first thing in my head is how would I paint this plant, or observe the morning sky. Read more>>

Shelby Taylor | Musical Comic & Content Creator

Everything I’ve ever been good (or even okay) at has been something artistic. I’m not going to fight against the direction I’ve been pulled in for my entire life, and neither should anybody else. Read more>>

Megan Moxie | Tattoo Artist

Growing up, I couldn’t tell you a time when I didn’t have a pencil in hand. I was constantly getting in trouble for drawing during class, or drawing on myself or others. I was only ever really happy when I was doing something creative. This same urge to create, decorate and express myself became the deciding factor in what I wanted to do with my life. Read more>>

Dartagnon Woodruff | Musician and Artist

I really think it came from existential dread. I know, it’s not the most inspired answer, but when I think about starting to make connections with venues and other artists in the earlier days, I really only remember being scared. I think everyone thinks about being a Rockstar, and so did I when I was like fourteen. But after picking up guitar and writing songs, I realized that one day, What I made while I was alive would be all people would remember me by. Read more>>

Destiny Auckerman | Wedding photographer

I pursued an Artistic career because I get to be creative every single day. Weather it’s trying something new when photographing someone or having an idea for a studio shoot, I’m always getting to try and do something new. As a wedding photographer I get to experience different settings everyday while enjoying the beauty of photography. Read more>>

Arna Miller | Illustrator and screen printer

It’s the only thing that made sense. I knew my soul would wither and die if I worked for someone else, so I knew I had to work for myself, no other choice. And I enjoyed making things and learning and getting better at new skills and crafts. So these factors combined with people showing an interest in my art, and having a pretty high opinion of my own creations made it easy to decide. I made a decision, that even if I lived in squalor (which I never had to do) then I would, if it meant being able to work for myself and doing what I want to do every day. The one word that sums up why I pursued an artistic career is freedom. Read more>>

Scotty Hughes | Owner/Manager/Player/Coach

It’s always been a dream of mine to open an old school arcade. After numerous years living Salida and having worked with the youth in our community at the Boys & Girls Club I was able to see the need for more family friendly activities in our town. I knew if I could provide a safe and fun environment for all ages it would be a hit. Read more>>

Benji Kilw | Professional basketball player and skills/performance coach

Basketball and fitness has been my entire life. I’ve gone through so many ups and downs as an Asian American athlete that when I was able to have the credentials to train others I knew I could relate more to the current players and clients in my community. So I knew when I started my business I wanted to give the young athletes an opportunity to go farther than me and give them the right guidance. Read more>>

Priscilla Fields | CEO/Founder Focus Virtual Business Solutions

Honestly, it was kind of a happy accident. I started freelancing my admin services after my husband and I had 3 kids in a little over 3 years….phew! It didn’t make sense for me to go back to a 9-5 with the rate of daycare costs and the amount of time I’d have to spend away from them; but I needed something to do for me and getting paid to do it would be a win-win. I went to the internet and started exploring the taboo idea (at the time to me) of working from home and discovered the gig world. Even after making my business a legal entity, getting a website and all the things, I still get new leads and opportunities from the freelancing platform. Read more>>

Nate Wilson | Personal Trainer/Youth Mentor/Author

I started off by attending school to become a personal trainer simply because I liked working out. After I graduated, I had to decide what my niche would be and how my service would help the world. I knew because of my past with addiction/crime as an adolescent and young adult that I could best serve a purpose in the world by helping others who are struggling. I knew the strong role that fitness had played in my life and I wanted the opportunity to share it with others. Read more>>

Michael Scherr | CEO & Founder of Higher Celebrations and Arbor

Without realizing it, my creative career began in the 3rd grade when I started taking piano lessons. I suppose I wasn’t the only kid who was forced to take up a hobby like this, but I was one of the few who kept at it. I never got the memo that I couldn’t be a rockstar….so I played music throughout high school and into college. Once I graduated from school, I moved out to Colorado, and within a week, I was in a band. Read more>>

Justin Sturgill | & Jacob Masias

We wanted to start our own business so we would be able to control our own time freedom, give back to and service the community who helped raise us and have a better impact on more people’s life. Read more>>

Sam Friedman | Entrepreneur | Consultant | Board Member

To me, entrepreneurship is freedom of expression. Some people express themselves through traditional art forms such as painting, drawing, writing music, designing clothes, teaching yoga, choreographing dances… developing a business from ideation to international is my art. The global economy, and everything it encompasses, is my canvas. Innovation is my paintbrush. R & D of new products, services, technologies and solutions are my colors. Read more>>

Imber & Gabriel Bathory & Vela | Licensed Cosmetologists & Co-Owners of A Little Alchemy

Initially we decided to start making our own soaps an colognes because we were bored of the same old scents that were circulating in every bath and body store ( lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, etc). We wanted more nuanced scents that we liked and would be happy to wear. Scents that evoke a memory like how it smells after it rains, or the smell of the air on a crisp fall night. After making and testing some recipes we got the idea to turn it into a business for other folks that may want an escape from the ordinary. Read more>>

Sina Azari | Financial Strategist & Philanthropist

Freedom, I wanted the freedom of dictating my own income, my schedule, my playbook, my brand, having unlimited vacations and greater tax benefits, how could I not start my own business? I figure who would ever pay me more than I’d pay myself? Read more>>

Jon Rubio | Music Artist and Martial Artist

Ownership was the only thing coming to mind when I fully started building myself as a brand. It’s important to have ownership as a business owner especially in the music industry. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from famous artists getting taken advantage of from these major corporations and battling in court over ownership of content. It’s smarter to own what you make now as an upcoming artist and do the research on contracts and music business fundamentals then have to worry about it all from scratch when a big opportunity arises. Read more>>

Desiree Celeste  | Death Companion, Educator, & Advocate

When I first thought about becoming a Death Companion, my primary push was to support others going through loss in ways that I needed support when dealing with deaths in my life. Once I began my education in death work, I realized how much deeper my desire ran. I needed to support marginalized people in the most sensitive times of our lives. As a trans person, I see exactly how our care is lacking in preplanning, end of life, and grief. Read more>>

J Mac | Author

I started the Wealthful Adventures series to give kids a head start in business & investing. The fact I went tens of thousands of dollars in debt to obtain a bachelor’s degree and was never taught the basics of financial literacy in school didn’t sit well with me. I decided to give kids exposure to these types of lessons early. I believe this will increase their chance of future success in business & investing. Read more>>