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.

Gabrielle Palmatier Marshall | Ballet Artistic Director

Having my own ballet studio has been pretty much a lifelong dream. I have worked full-time at large studios in the Los Angeles and Dallas areas, and while I was able to develop some wonderful dancers, I wasn’t always able to do things the way that I would have preferred. Upon moving to Evergreen, my husband’s childhood home, and having three young children myself (now 10, 8, and 3) it seemed even less possible to operate my own studio. Luckily, my father moved here and agreed to operate the business which would allow me to concentrate on being the Artistic Director. Besides doing lots of babysitting, my father is an experienced fine arts executive and we collaborate really well. My goal was to have a ballet studio that would be warm and welcoming, more like an extended family than a business. I want to have a place where people of all ages can seriously study ballet but not be in an overly competitive or stressful environment. Read more>>

Jenny Usaj | Owner and Employing Broker at Usaj Realty

I felt that starting a business provided a unique opportunity to build a community-based brand; build strong community partnerships, offer an expert level of customer service, and curate a collaborative culture. These are the guiding principles and foundation that Usaj Realty was built on. Read more>>

Jasmine Morse | Graphic Designer & Photographer

Starting my own business was actually not something I ever really planned on, but was more of something I stumbled into. Growing up, I was always a bit on the entrepreneurial side, trying to find ways to earn money because I was still too young to begin applying for traditional “jobs.” Like most 13 year olds, this started with babysitting on weekends and during summers, and then during the school year I began teaching piano to neighborhood kids after school. I eventually did get a traditional job when I was old enough, but kept my side hustles going through high school to earn some extra cash. Once I started college, my then-boyfriend (now husband!) was starting his own film company and needed a logo. Him and his brother couldn’t come up with anything that was quite right, and so I decided to try my hand at designing something just for kicks, even though I had never used Adobe Illustrator or done anything like it before. Read more>>

Melissa Estudillo | CEO of SUS Street, Dancer & Photographer/Videographer

I’ve always known that I wanted to start my own business and be my own boss. I have also always known that I wanted to make a positive impact in this world. Putting those two values together, I wanted to create a business that makes a positive impact in one way or another. During my time in college, I became aware of how polluting the apparel industry is and I knew I had to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I love dressing up, but every time I looked online at sustainable clothing brands, all the clothes looked very bland and minimal. Therefore, I created SUS Street, which is short for sustainable streetwear. My goal is to create sustainably made clothing from thrifted/vintage clothing that is still colorful, fun, and fashionable so that those who love to dress in bold outfits don’t have to sacrifice their sense of style to dress in an eco-friendly way. Read more>>

Audrey Kelly | Owner/Pizzaiola

Before opening the Pizza Garage, I had a much bigger concept in mind. We ended up changing it to fit the space that we found. In the end it worked out really well and I am happy the we changed the initial idea. Our main goal was to make the best pizza we possibly could and really forge a connection with our customers. We are constantly trying to make improvements and evolve as a business while still producing the best product we can. Read more>>

Nicole B-Z | Creative Leadership Coach, Small Business Success Strategist

I started my first business when I was 23. I was an audio engineer kicking around with some very creative, very proactive PUNKS and we built our own studio! This was a creative space in a warehouse, and it wasn’t perfect, but it let us play after our day job at a massive, top-of-the-line studio in Sydney Australia. Film scores by day, death metal by night. It was a brilliant, sleepless time. All of my 30+ business have been started to fill a hole. After starting a second, much more swish studio, I realized, to grow our reputation, the records we worked on needed more attention. So, I started a record label. In order to sell records, the bands needed to tour, so I started a touring company. In order for our shows to sell out, the bands needed better management. Yup, you know what happened next. I started my coaching business because I believe in art, small business, and visionary trailblazers. None of us can sleep if we’re not following our passion. I wish recording and production was my super power, but supporting creatives and monetizing passion is my calling. Now I have a few businesses that I focus on, alongside volunteering with SCORE, and embracing my gypsy lifestyle. Read more>>

Alexis Comardo | Creator of Wild Hearts Yoga & Teacher

I started Wild Hearts Yoga because I noticed an opportunity. As yogis, we work on cultivating mindfulness, awareness, and intentionality on our mats through our asana & meditation practices. I noticed that my personal application of this awareness was self-centered -not in a bad way, that’s where all of my self-awareness & growth happened – and I was ready to move beyond only application to self. I saw how cultivating consciousness and taking action as a collective could positively influence pockets of our community in Westminster and Broomfield. We are indeed stronger together. Additionally, I’m an outdoor enthusiast and love to spend time outside walking my dogs, hiking, camping and nordic skiing. I noticed the absence of mindfulness in these public open spaces quite regularly- trash on the trails, noise pollution from people hiking with speakers blasting, dog waste bags left around, amongst other things. It dawned on me that so many of us (myself included at the time) have been consumers of the beautiful places in this state and not contributors to it. Read more>>

Debbie Siebers | Fitness and Wellness Expert

Approaching 54 years old at the time, I had developed so many body limitations and had kept throwing my back out. When I began doing mobility, strength and endurance drills on a consistent basis, it began to alleviate this problem and soon I was able to avoid this from happening again. Through my own process of gaining strength and overcoming not only my low back, but other chronic issues I had been dealing with over the years, I realized that everyone could use some of these exercises and drills to address their own limitations. Not to mention, over the years, I have had thousands of requests to create a true beginning program for people who were older, had joint issues or just wanted a softer way to ease into fitness. My Slimin6 program, even though it included a beginning workout, was still too challenging for so many people. Because I couldn’t exercise the way I use to, and I knew so many people were in the same boat, I became passionate about creating a thorough program to address all of these concerns. Read more>>

Aubin Tankersley | Founder of Jane Designs

I started making jewelry as a hobby. I had fun creating my own designs and loved that I was learning more and more each day. Eventually, I started giving this jewelry to my friends, who all gave me very positive feedback. Without a job to fund my new hobby, I realized the only way I could continue making jewelry was to start selling it. This way, I could pursue my newfound passion while making a profit. Read more>>

Anna Kershenbaum | Licensed Professional Esthetician & Laser Technician

There wasn’t any crazy process behind starting my business. I’ve been practicing esthetics and laser for several years and have always enjoyed helping people look and feel their best. I was working at a medical spa in downtown Denver, I also began to manage the spa while still providing all treatments. I was keeping long hours and felt somewhat unappreciated for my work ethic, then Covid happened. The week before the stay at home order was put in place, The owner of the spa seemed to be in denial about the global pandemic which caused a lot of tension and because of this I just couldn’t see myself returning there after the industry was allowed to reopen. During this stay at home period, many of my clients were continually reaching out to me and really wanted to come see me for their treatments. It was at this time I decided to look into starting my own business. Read more>>

Jenny Kenyon | Jeweler

I am an entrepreneur at heart. I always have been.  When the pandemic hit in March, I had been working my property management and cleaning company about 60 hours a week. Suddenly, just like everyone else, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I had not made any pieces for well over a year. I had many many ideas and created a few pieces here and there, but nothing serious. I didn’t really even have my jewellery studio set up to work properly.  So when I found myself in quarantine, I began dreaming of having my studio set up and being able to work during that time. I had been reading one of my favourite books – “Women Who Run With the Wolves”, and a specific chapter focused on letting our creative wells dry up and how that has such a huge impact on our lives. The author talked about how letting our river creative rivers dry up wreaks havoc on our lives. I wanted to rewild my creative river because it had completely dried up – and that is what inspired my new name River Wilding. Read more>>

Beatriz (Zee) Perea | Photographer & Podcast Host

I fell in love with photography in high school and knew that I wanted to take portraits of people so they could see what I see, which is how beautiful and unique each and every human being is. This drove me to start shooting with anyone who would have me and then eventually I had referrals from family, friends, and then soon clients. Everything started to snowball from there! My budding podcast also started as just a passion project that has blossomed and is still growing. I think in both cases I was just needing an excuse to get those creative juices flowing and to share my passions with others. Luckily some people out there have liked some of my work. Read more>>

D. Mathew Blackburn | Tax Attorney

I’ve never liked the idea of working for someone else. I have worked a lot of jobs. The bar exam application requires that the applicant list all jobs held in the previous ten years. I believe my list came in at 23 positions. It’s clear that I’ve always enjoyed working. I started my first business at 12. I’ve continued to operate businesses and work some W-2 jobs as well. I always felt way more passionate and committed to my businesses than to someone else’s. When you add in the economic landscape of 2011 it made the choice very simple. I watched my classmates send out so many applications for positions that were going to much senior attorneys. Law is great as it’s very easy to just open a shop and start taking on clients; that’s exactly what I did. I started small and spent about four or five hours reading the law for every one I billed. As I became more knowledgeable and experienced I took on larger matters and continued to push myself. Read more>>