Readers often email us asking us for advice about new businesses they are thinking about starting and we often find that many of them don’t have a framework for thinking about a more fundamental question: why should or shouldn’t you start a business?

Below, you’ll find how successful entrepreneurs from across the city thought about this very question when they were considering whether to start their businesses.

Sadie Peterson | Photographer

I honestly never thought I would start my own business, better yet, a photography business! The more I learned about photography and found how much I loved capturing those raw emotions, the more invested I became in putting myself out there to capture couples and families just being themselves. Word started spreading, my work was being shared, and photography quickly pivoted from a hobby I loved to a business that I loved. By taking the step to become an official business, I was able to better serve my clients because I was truly invested in all aspects of the business; clients, continuing my photography education, and investing in the business itself. I honestly didn’t pick up a camera for the first time with the end goal being to have a business, it just kind of happened, and it’s been one of the best leaps of faith I’ve ever taken! Read more>>

Kari Clifton | Creative Cellist and aspiring Baker

My thought process behind starting my own business was simple: I wanted to have more control over where I spent my time and I wanted that time to be spent doing the things I was passionate about. I went at it without much training, but followed my gut in pursuing my passion of music and creativity. Read more>>

Bobbi Stark | Shop Owner and Tattoo Artist

I started Keepsake, because I wanted a studio that helped artists live better lives, which in turn, would give clients a better experience. A healthy work and personal life balance in a tattoo studio is fairly uncommon, most shop owners expect forty five to fifty hour work weeks with little wiggle room for schedule changes, no freedom to choose what projects they are expected to tackle and no benefits on top of a weekly booth rental fee. With those kinds of expectations, it’s easy for artists to get burned out and as a result, the energy of the studio and end product can suffer dramatically. I wanted to create a space that honors the ups and downs of creative individuals, giving all the artists the freedom and flexibility to cultivate a balanced life and a career. Read more>>

Garryn Skurulsky, L.Ac. | Licensed Acupuncturist

It wasn’t that I wanted to start my own business per se. My desire was to become an acupuncturist and help as many people as I could with Chinese medicine. To do this, usually you have to create your own clinic. The business aspect happened as a byproduct. Read more>>

Felicia Marti | Owner of Felicia Marti Photography

Initially, I never thought I would start my own business because I wasn’t sure I wanted the stress of the business responsibilities. I honestly didn’t know if I was capable of figuring out the legal and financial details of opening up a business because I had never seen anyone else do it. However, life kind of pushed me toward it before I even thought I was ready. This came at a time when the job I had been in was no longer a good fit, and I knew I had this piece inside of me that envisioned my own approach with the artistry and how I wanted to work with customers. So I thought, I’ll just go through the steps of starting an LLC, and see what happens in that first year. My only real goal year one was to pay myself back for all my initial start up costs which included a new camera and lens, as well as a small batch of marketing materials. Read more>>

Keith Roberts | Author, Speaker, Coach and Entrepreneur

Starting my own business was something I had wanted to do since 7th grade. I remember one of my teachers explaining the definition of an entrepreneur and knew it was for me. Ironically, the description wasn’t glamorous, it was more about persistence and learning from/pushing past failure. The timeline that I set when I was a kid was before my 30th birthday. My current company was founded when I was 27 after a couple of ideas failed. Read more>>

Pia Beck | Business Coach + Consultant

Growing up, I never said “I want to be an entrepreneur!” But thinking back, I’ve been an entrepreneur from day one. But I took a more traditional path at first — and I quickly climbed the ladder in the tech and startup world. I found myself at the pinnacle of my great-on-paper career. I’d checked all the boxes — sensible degrees, good job, promotion, good job, promotion. I’d reached the “destination” I’d been taught for my entire life to strive for…at the age of 23 — and then my world was rocked by “What now? Is this what I do for the next 40 years?” That was a full body ‘no’ for me. I just had this knowing that sitting in a windowless office, working for someone else’s dream 12 hours a day for the rest of my career would kill me. While I was “successful” by most definitions — I was miserable. I was overworked and underpaid. I felt like my job was draining me of everything that made me, me. Read more>>

Erika Aldeborgh | Co-founder

Driving from Denver to Vail one weekend to go camping, we were talking about how packing in a top-loading backpacking pack was always frustrating. The inside of our packs would become chaotic pretty quickly into a trip, as soon as you had to reach in and find something that wasn’t at the top of the bag. Knowing nothing about starting a business, we decided anyway that we should create a packing solution for campers who had the same problem. That same weekend we stopped at Home Depot for whiteboard paint and Joanne Fabrics for a hot glue gun, and the cheapest zipper and fabric we could find to make our first prototype. All that to say, we wanted to solve a problem that we thought people like us were also experiencing in an industry that we’re passionate about. Almost three years later, we’re still learning! Read more>>

Angela Garcia | Mom Mentor

I was a mom who was always exhausted, I did not know not myself, I did not practice self- care, because I had no idea how to. It was never really modeled to me, I had just quit my teaching job that I absolutely loved and had become a stay at home mom, something that I never thought it would happen, it was never in my plans, and I had just welcome baby boy #3 into our home, Abelangel. I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed and my life felt crazy and with no purpose, because I identified with being a teacher and that had been taken away from me. During this first year of me being a stay at home mom I got invited to be a part of a program my sorority sister was launching, I did not ask any questions, I simply said yes, I saw it as I was a mom helping another mom, but what I did not know was that this is exactly what I needed. Read more>>

Sarah Jackson | Executive Director

I thought, “Hmm, there are folks being released from the ICE detention center who have no place to go and are far from home. And there’s nobody in town working to ease the transition from detention to their final destination… what can I do about that?” My goal wasn’t to start a business/nonprofit, it was a response to a need that our community had and I started off small and slow, but knew it would make an impact in someone’s life. Read more>>

Kristen Arnold | Sports Dietitian & Cycling Coach & Professional Cyclist

To support my lifestyle as a professional athlete. After Graduate School at The Ohio State University I pursued professional cycling. With this pursuit I needed to be able to make my own hours, work from anywhere, and make enough income to sustain a humble lifestyle with minimal expenses. I started small with a 3 clients per month and grew from there. Read more>>

Lara Smedley | Event Producer & Entrepreneur

I had been living in South Texas and wanted to be able to have the flexibility to move back to Colorado to be closer to my family. I had a great job, that I truly loved, but knew that there was something missing. I wasn’t getting excited about the other job opportunities out there and knew that the relationships I had built over my career were strong enough to, at the very least, test the waters of entrepreneurship. So I took a gigantic leap and started with just a framework of a business. Over the last two and a half years that has grown into a thriving company that is helping clients across the country with their event production, experiential marketing and fundraising needs. Read more>>

Linda Hsieh | Psychotherapist and Coach

My thought process behind starting my own business has evolved over time. Growing up, my intention was to make sure that the time I spent away from my kids would be well worth it, so I dreamed of a well-paying private practice. As I grew into a young adult, I felt like an infiltrator in psychology classes as teachers would talk about those with mental illnesses as though all of us present in the class were not familiar with those struggles of “the others.” The further along in my education and training I became, the more radical my politics and the less likely I was to compromise and let anyone or any agency tell me how I was going to practice. I started my psychotherapy practice immediately after finishing graduate school. That was over a decade ago. Read more>>

Steven Sasehn | Co-founder and CEO of & All-American Masters sprinter

To say there was a “thought process” is a bit of an overstatement. I’ve never had a job. Never had a resumé. Never interviewed for a job. I’ve only created situations where I could do something I found interesting that would allow me to earn a living. With regard to Xero Shoes, I had been making “minimalist sandals” based on ancient designs as a hobby. Then someone said, “I’m writing a book about barefoot running and if you treated this hobby like a business and had a website, I’d put you in the book.” I rushed home and pitched this opportunity to my wife, who told me it was a HORRIBLE idea and that I shouldn’t do it. I agreed with her. And then, after she went to bed, I built a website. Read more>>

Georgia Grey | Certified Holistic Health Coach

I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and other autoimmune conditions. Upon my diagnosis, I felt helpless with what to eat and how to heal. After years of self-care, nutrition changes, and earning my degree as a certified holistic health coach, I was able to put my symptoms into remission. I realized the need for someone in the autoimmune nutrition space. They are incredibly common conditions without many resources. Read more>>

Yana Capusta | Photographer and Visual Creator

Originally I just enjoyed taking portraits and landscapes, some time after I recognized how valuable photography is to people. How much it means to them to preserve their precious memories, or to showcase their business, brand or talent. So I set out to provide this service. I educated myself courses and master classes to be able to give people highest quality and creativity. Read more>>

Cameron Crawford | Assisted Living and Memory Care Placement Agent & Founder of The Aging Parent Tribe: a local info and support group

My mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis threw my family into a tailspin. Dementia care was unchartered territory and I felt overwhelmed. I spent the first 4 years grieving what Alzheimer’s was doing to my mom. Thrown into the “Sandwich Generation”, I delicately balanced caring for my school-aged kids while caring long-distance for a declining parent. There were a lot of tears involved. Then I realized, since I couldn’t change things, I could put on my big girl pants and help others. While researching Assisted Livings and Memory Cares for my mother, I kept thinking, “This should be a job.” I wanted more information than a google search could provide. I felt it was valuable to not just receive a list of communities in my area, I wanted someone to walk me through the process and give me the pros and cons of each option. Read more>>

Bri Maxwell | Women’s Personal Stylist & Wardrobe Consultant

My story began when my arms decided to grow at an alarming rate before my body had time to decide that it should catch up. Once it did, I found myself at 5’11” at the age of 11. As an extremely tall child, image and self-confidence issues became deeply seeded even before puberty made life even more difficult. Once that happened I found myself in tears so many times because I didn’t fit into any of the trendy, cute and fun clothes all my friends could wear. I also found myself the recipient of a lot of less than flattering, and really not very inventive, nicknames – ET arms, sasquatch, Little Miss Awkward, etc. Throughout this time, I had to learn to be creative with how I dressed mainly so I could actually wear clothes that fit my long limbs. There were a lot of trips to thrift stores, the men’s department, tailor shops and my mom even had to make most of my special occasion outfits. Read more>>

Jeri Walsh | Esthetician, Mother and Owner

I struggled with troublesome skin and had horrible eczema as a child, which is why I have a passion for skin and helping people. I’ve tried all lotions and treatments the doctors recommended, at one point I was prescribed to go tanning 2xs per week in a tanning booth by a doctor. Yep, it actually helped my eczema, no more bloody sheets and clothes. My parents purchased me a personal tanning bed for our home. My high school years I grew up tanning EVERYDAY…. which created a ton of skin damage- I DO NOT RECOMMEND, EVER! After graduating High School I immediately jumped into Esthetics school, and I loved it! I was not interested in fluffy facials or waxing but the results and transformations I could provide to people in need. I am a Licensed Esthetician with 12+ years experience! Through my career I’ve worked within small businesses, private doctors, corporations, and for myself, more than once. Read more>>

Wild Social Micro Weddings | Wedding Planners

Wild Social was born in January, pre-covid! We’re both full time teachers and met in the copy room of our school! We bonded over teacher burnout and entrepreneurship goals! After tons of brainstorming we saw a need for something different in the Denver wedding market. Cassie, who was already in the wedding industry, saw couples struggling to keep their wedding budgets under $30K. Mallory was feeling frustrated with the debt accumulated from planning her traditional wedding a few years prior, which was now holding her and her husband back from buying their first home. We started doing our research on micro weddings and after a million bad biz ideas this one finally felt right! So here we are creating debt free, stress free, cute AF, intimate, all- inclusive wedding packages for under $15,000 and we’re never looking back! Read more>>

Michael Harmon | Physical Therapist

I can’t honestly remember when it began, but I knew I always wanted to help people. Being young and active, I grew up playing every sport under the sun. By some stroke of luck, I never got seriously injured. But by participating in so many different sports, I was always intrigued by the human body and how it works. Over the years this curiosity led me to become a physical therapist. When I first became a PT, the field was going through a change. In a word, volume became paramount. As the patient load continued to increase, the quality of care naturally suffered. It became increasingly difficult to give patients the quality of care I felt they deserved and stay true to my core values. Over many months of soul searching, it became clear the only way to stay true to helping people in the way that aligns with how I feel patients should be treated was to open my own business. Three years ago I took the plunge, and it has made all the difference. Read more>>

Ashley Hudson | Perinatal Mental Health Specialist

On the heels of my own experience with severe postpartum depression, I knew that I could not meaningfully pursue a career unless it used my experience of suffering to somehow bring life to others. My business really blossomed from a natural desire I have to serve my community, but also the drive I have to see people live their gift of life to the fullest. I knew that by starting my own private practice, I could still orient my schedule around my children’s needs, while also playing a meaningful role in the lives of other people. Read more>>

Germany Gabrielle | Model, Entrepreneur

I wanted to create something I haven’t seen done in recent years and make it 100% healthy as well as presenting it being black owned and collaborating with my mother. Read more>>

Chris (WYSE) Ellis | Recording Artist, Record Label Owner, & Entrepreneur

It started when i was living in a hotel with pretty much no where to go. The initial thought was to own something. As kids to adults its the same system we all see, Go To school , do your work, graduate , get a job, and work for the next 50 years of your life for a 401k plan (if everything goes right). For me quite frankly i didn’t want to follow that same route. Everyone has something that they are passionate about why not use it to monetize. Now i did go to school but it wasn’t for the safe bet of a job that i would hate. I’d rather put that energy into something i know i can benefit from. The second reason was to build an empire and financial stability for myself and future kids one day. Having something you built being carried on way past you has an effect you wouldn’t believe, also not having to ask anyone or corporation permission for my future kids to take ownership is something that is priceless. Read more>>

Melissa Strong | Restaurant Owner, Climber, Writer, Enjoys Photography

I had a severe accident six months before I opened my restaurant. I lost portions of my hands and had to undergo nine surgeries. I was still in the healing process and having surgeries when we opened. Are used to be able to kick ass in a restaurant environment and when we opened I was lucky if I was able to pick up an empty wine glass. Read more>>

Cameron Crawford | Assisted Living and Memory Care Placement Agent & Founder of The Aging Parent Tribe: a local info and support group

My mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis threw my family into a tailspin. Dementia care was unchartered territory and I felt overwhelmed. I spent the first 4 years grieving what Alzheimer’s was doing to my mom. Thrown into the “Sandwich Generation”, I delicately balanced caring for my school-aged kids while caring long-distance for a declining parent. There were a lot of tears involved. Then I realized, since I couldn’t change things, I could put on my big girl pants and help others. While researching Assisted Livings and Memory Cares for my mother, I kept thinking, “This should be a job.” I wanted more information than a google search could provide. I felt it was valuable to not just receive a list of communities in my area, I wanted someone to walk me through the process and give me the pros and cons of each option. Read more>>

Maris Johansson | Shop Owner

I was thinking a lot about the experience of becoming new parents and navigating the sea of gear, clothing and parenting advice. While I relished the access and knowledge facilitated by my smartphone, I often felt isolated and longed for more in-person connection. This was when I began building the foundation for what would one day become Broomtail. I imagined a different shopping experience for parents, one grounded in community that could help make the experience of modern parenthood more fun and connected. There are so many digital resources for parents, but I saw a big gap locally for spaces and businesses built to support new parents. I spent years taking notes on my phone in spare moments until I felt like I had enough to take the first real steps. Read more>>

Dave Blauvelt | Owner, Creative Director

Treating people right and doing great work are two things that have helped Urban Canvas to be successful. I believe in nurturing relationships. I’ve seen too many people with mentalities like “you work for me“ or “you should be grateful for this job”. I think all working relationships should be treated as a mutual partnership that has a collaborative goal of doing something great where each party benefits from one another. I also believe that when you let go of your ego, great ideas can form in a group. Our team does a great job of letting the best ideas speak for themselves regardless of titles. Read more>>

Steven Mignano | Owner & Operator

I’ve always had the dream of owning my own business one day and knew I loved working with people, so it was just a matter of deciding what kind of business I wanted to operate. I grew up in Williston, Vermont; a small town back east and one of my favorite jobs growing up was working for a party rental company mainly supervising inflatable bounce castles. A lot of the parties were for kids birthdays, school events, graduations, weddings, and more, but there was always kids! Outside of the party rental work I’ve worked with kids as a camp counselor as well and have just always loved children, they make this world a brighter place. With my past working with children and the party rental business it just clicked one day a couple years ago that the perfect business for me to operate would be Mile High Party Time! Read more>>

Amy Anderson | Pilates Rehabilitation and Dance Medicine Specialist

Having been the main driver of new programs in other peoples businesses and watching them grow and help someone else’s business, I started to realize that I could do the same thing for myself and the I would be able to follow through the way I wanted to. Often times the business owners would take my ideas in a direction that I did not want and I would feel resentful as if they were ruining my program. I finally realized that if I wanted my work to continue the way I had envisioned, I needed to have my own business to do it. Read more>>

Suzanne Frazier | Contemplative Artist

My goal of establishing my own business as an artist in 1990 was to create an environment where I could express myself as a Contemplative Artist, teaching oil pastel and water-mixable oil painting classes in my own studio and at retreat centers. My intention was and continues to be to integrate my studio time with my philosophical experience to create a philosophical/meditative approach to art making. After working in Denver Colorado at KHOW Radio in the 1970’s and Frontier Airlines in the 1980’s, I decided to leave the corporate world and establish a new life doing what I have always wanted to be: an artist. In 1986, I attended Denver University and then transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder to earn a BA Degree in Studio Arts in 1989. I already had earned a BA Degree in Philosophy with Honors in 1965 at Lake Erie College in Painesville Ohio and had done graduate work at the University of Virginia Graduate School towards a Masters in Philosophy. Read more>>