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.

Emily Brouillette | Professional Chemist turned R+F Consultant

Honestly, I would have never considered starting up my own business if I hadn’t been unexpectedly laid off from my 15+ year career in the pharmaceutical industry. It definitely made my decision easier knowing I had the cushion of my severance coming in. In today’s world, I think people are much more open to considering a “side hustle” or a “plan b”, and according to Forbes, it’s better to start one now before your job is in jeopardy. Read more>>

Debbie McCall | High Altitude Kombucha Probiotic beverage

The thought process for my kombucha business has really been more out of necessity and enjoying the journey. We did not intentionally set out to “start a business”, but demand just continued to increase. We didn’t even have a business plan in the beginning but rather learned it was apparent we needed to plan for larger production than maybe we initially thought. Read more>>

Racharl Hoch | Hair and Makeup Artist & Drone Pilot

Having grown to truly love the experience of creating looks for people that made them feel confident and happy with themselves, I needed to add the business aspect to my journey in order to feel totally fulfilled by it. I’ve grown up with small business owners and entrepreneurs as my mentors, so it was natural for me to take that path. Joining the passion for hair and makeup and client relations with a business plan was an easy step for me. Read more>>

Veronica Yager | Designer & Self-Publishing Expert

I wanted to not have to worry anymore about asking my boss for time off for my son or daughter’s school plays, or their other events. Or if I should even ask for the time off, when it meant I wouldn’t be able to put in enough hours to pay our bills that month. I spent my daily commutes listening to audiobooks on how to become an entrepreneur, and how to change my mindset to attract opportunities that would put me on the path towards my goals and dreams. Eventually, I found myself freelancing nights and weekends helping authors to self-publish their own book. When I had my third child, I realized that my entire “day-job” salary would be going to childcare. So, I ended up quitting my job, and jumped into my business full-time. It was scary, and we were dependent on my job’s salary, but as they say, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Overtime, my own business grew and I never looked back!. Read more>>

Joie Ha | Community Activist

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training is often sanitized for the workplace. It exists outside of current events or issues currently facing marginalized populations, and is often made more palatable for the corporate setting. Some cients use it to check off a proverbial DEI box without doing the actual work. Seeing this gap, we decided to create our own firm, Community Organizing for Radical Empathy, where we always put our community first. We provide real life examples and challenge our clients to think critically and understand DEI concepts on a deeper level. Additionally our roots are in community organizing, so we re-invest our profits directly into work that benefits minoritized groups. Just a few weeks ago, we led the Colorado state-wide Stop AAPI Rally in collaboration with several Asian American organizations. We also host several healing circles to the community, free of charge. Read more>>

Justin Johnson | CEO & Creative Producer

The initial thought behind starting my own business was to be able to work for myself versus working for someone else. I feel like I was called to do more than what I was doing in the past. I took a jump at DreamisGrind and it’s been rewarding to achieve some success…we are just getting started! I wanted to create a business to fund the lifestyle of my dreams and to create more time and flexibility for my family. Read more>>

Jesi Josten | Owner & Designer

My mom can tell you that I wanted to start my own business since I was in 3rd grade! I remember making little magnets out of the tiny plastic communion cups from church. Then in high school it was tie-dyed t-shirts, and later when I was in college I designed custom wedding maps (before smart phones were a thing!). So it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I do have my own business, but I never would have imagined it would have started with baby bibs! When my daughter was born I noticed two things: baby bibs were really tiny – they didn’t actually cover her clothes, which meant I usually had to change her entire outfit after every meal, AND they were boring! So I tried to remember all the things my Grandma Ginny had taught me and sewed up a few HUGE baby bibs out of cute fabric I had stashed away. My daughter Violet also happened to be in a body cast due to hip dysplasia at the time (that’s where I got my business name), so keeping her clean was extra important!. Read more>>

Erica Carrico | Life Purpose & Business Coach

After spending 12 years in corporate (building someone else’s dream), earning millions of dollars for a company that already had millions of dollars, my life felt like a version of groundhog day and I started to question what the point of my life was. I was suffering from anxiety, depression, starting the day with coffee and ending it with wine. I was living in a constant state of overwhelm and doing everything I could to keep myself from completely falling apart. I was working 10-hour days, having to choose when I wanted to take vacations, and felt like a slave to my life. I knew I was here for so much more, and there was no way I could spend the rest of my working life this way. I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, that I had a purpose to fulfill. I also knew I wanted to create FREEDOM in my life. Financial freedom, and time freedom. I was tired of having my income capped and getting the usual 2% raise every year. I more importantly, I wanted to work when I wanted, where I wanted, doing what I wanted. Read more>>

Wendy Hickey | Founder/Executive Director of ArtPop Street Gallery

For 20+ years I worked in the out of home advertising industry (billboards) working with local, regional and national brands and business. I have always had a huge love for local art and supporting the artists who create it. In 2014 I made the decision to put that knowledge into building local artists small business brands! Founded ArtPop Street Gallery and in August of 2015 we became a official nonprofit, 501c3 organization. Read more>>

Amber Quann | Dog Trainer & Small Business Owner

I have always been highly motivated by control – control over my work hours, what I fill those work hours with, how much money I make for my efforts (side note: for many of my early years as a business owner, it wasn’t a lot, but having control over it made it worth it!). Since I was young, I’ve been the queen of the “side hustle” – lemonade stand, making jewelry out of cheap beads, braiding dog toys out of scrap fleece, teaching dog training classes in my parents’ front yard, teaching piano lessons, teaching group fitness classes – all on top of my regular schoolwork and official part-time-job. The ability to work hard to market a product or skill that I have has always been attractive to me, and ultimately I decided to focus my efforts on one full-time business instead of too-many side hustles. Read more>>

Kelly Paris | Founder/Director of Break The Silence

I started my own business in order to help people who are struggling to know that they are not alone. To raise awareness for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health. I believe that it is OKAY not to be OKAY and that together we can make a difference. Read more>>

Heidi Whitehead | Early Childhood Guide

Almost a decade ago, I was immersed in a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, spending a lot of time sitting quietly in meditation. That’s when I recognized that I didn’t want to return to a classroom setting. I wanted to find a way to stay home with my young daughter and be available for my sons, who were in elementary at that time and needed to be driven to and from school and their after school activities. I had been teaching in some incredibly dynamic and innovative schools and wanted to continue working with children in a meaningful, rich way. I was ready to create something that would allow me to live a fulfilling and flexible lifestyle. I dedicated time to dreaming and intentionally designing the early childhood program that I would want for my own child. I knew that there was a demand for the program I imagined, and I trusted that the families who wanted what I could offer would find me. And they did. Read more>>

Orlando Benavidez | Owner/ Operator/ Chef

I just wanted to continue the pursuit of creating something I could call my own, and follow my dream of creating something that was mine to share with others. I had been in the industry for so long helping other people’s dreams come true, it was time for me to do something for myself. Read more>>

Corrine TurnerJacob | Literacy Specialist

I was working in the public schools as a special education teacher and was just getting very frustrated with everything: not seeing growth with my students, having to resort to physical restraints with kids, not being able to talk to parents as a partner in their child’s education, and finally, having the district treat me like a number and that I am easily replaced. So, I was talking with a friend of mine and she got me thinking about starting my own business! The next week, the journey began. Read more>>

Kelley Ruppert | Fly Fishing Guide and Entrepreneur

In 2019, feeling burnt out and no longer progressing in my career in dentistry, I quit my job to purse my dream of working in the fly fishing industry. I landed a job at a lodge guiding and teaching new anglers. Less than a year into this new endeavor, Covid 19 arrived in our lives. I was let go from my dream guide job under the fears and uncertainties that Covid presented. Unwilling to give up on my new path, and with the support of friends, family and other guides, I started my own free-lance guide service. Read more>>

Jillian Pratzner | Jewelry Designer

It was more of an unfolding than a thought process. I had begun to make mala beads for myself and my close friends, and more people began to ask for them! I just wanted to make intentional jewelry that incorporated gemstones and aided in people’s spiritual journeys. Read more>>

Chinthaka “Chin” Weerappuli | Philanthropist – Healthcare Consultant – MBA Student

My parents made so many sacrifices to make it to America from Sri Lanka to fulfil their dream of raising a family with all the opportunity in the world. My Dad was a PhD student at Iowa State University when they had their first child in Ames with very little to their name. Yet they always found ways to help others – providing meals, loaning out their car, even sharing clothing. They would emphasize that so many people helped them to just get to the States and start a life, that they could always find a little something to help others looking for their American Dream. That attitude of gratitude is what led me to starting The Underdog Family, where we strive to cultivate a stronger community by highlighting the gems within it. We truly believe if you provide opportunity for every community member to have a fair shot at success, you will see your community as a whole flourish. Read more>>

Annalisa Vinson | Creative Soul, Craftswoman & Occasional Florist

I’ve always been creative. I’ve always been interested in making things and finding interesting solutions to a problem. I actually ran my own creative small business during my time living in Hong Kong – but that’s another story!
I met my now husband during that time and, after much deliberating, we agreed that we would begin our adventure together here in his hometown, Denver, CO. So I moved this way just over 7 years ago. I knew that eventually I would want to be doing something creative and small-business minded again. I worked various part time jobs and in my spare time I began doing florals for small weddings and events, first on a more casual basis for friends, and then gaining more clients and new customers through word of mouth. I eventually landed a full time job as a receptionist which afforded me a steady schedule and the ability to plan a little further ahead. Read more>>

Justin Charboneau | Chief Cookie Officer & Owner of SugarTats Cookie Company

When I started SugarTats Cookie Company in April 2020, I didn’t really know it would turn into what it is today. I started making cookies because I enjoyed it, and even more I loved seeing the joy on people’s faces when they received custom treats made specifically for them. That feeling is what drove me to start this business because I realized I had an opportunity to bring happiness to people through my cookies. Read more>>

Nate Dunn | Digital Artist , Painter & Resin Caster

In my life Ive tried different career opportunities and seemed to succeed in reaching positions of management or training leaders in most of them. I’ve also been creative so I decided to try and combine the two and make myself money rather than someone else. Read more>>

Jesse Albertini | Owner & Chef of Sfoglina

I have always wanted to start my own business. It is something I have been working towards for my whole career. I took my craft very seriously and wanted to feel as though my culinary well was full of knowledge before venturing out on my own. About three years ago, I knew it was time to start the process. So, I began taking classes to help with my business plan. I had planned to open a small retail shop specializing in house-made pasta and sauces. It would include a chef counter to dine at, off-site catering, and locally sourced goods. When covid became a global pandemic, my daughter was three months old. My husband and I wanted to protect her above anything else. So, we sat down and worked on simplifying my concept. Read more>>

Ashley Mitchell | Entrepreneur & Founder of The Yellow Morning

After years working in fashion retail, I started to feel burnt out and found it hard to create a healthy work-life balance with such an inconsistent schedule. When I couldn’t see myself working anywhere for a long period of time without becoming dissatisfied, I knew something had to change. I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do, so I started writing lists. I wrote down things I loved doing, my values, and the pros and cons of each job I held. I knew I had to do something fulfilling, challenging, and creative—most likely around fashion. I noticed such a drastic change in the way people shop due to fast-fashion models. .I wanted to create a business that aligned with my values and didn’t promote mindless consumption. The fashion industry is a leading factor in climate change, I wanted to create a business that embraced sustainability, all while educating consumers on the detrimental impacts of fast-fashion. Read more>>

Lisa Williams | Professional Hairstylist

In my late 30s, I quit a high-paying government manager job because I was “just not cut out” for what I called cubicle work. I knew the work I did was valuable and helped my community. I realized, however, that the higher the management position I held, the less face-to-face contact I had with people; my employees or the public. After two years of trying new things, it was time to get serious about a career. I had a dilemma: I wanted lucrative, people-centered, creative & fulfilling work but I just could not go back to a job where someone else determined my schedule and would decide when my one week of vacation would occur. I needed a career that would be rewarding and prosperous but that would also allow me to participate in the off-hours activities that I found so rewarding. My career at a professional hairstylist gives my both. My time volunteering and working with kids in the backcountry feeds my soul and makes my work in the salon better and richer for everyone. Read more>>

Myles Rigg | Associate Creative Director / Candlemaker

We worked in branding and advertising for a bit and wanted to try our hand at creating our own brand from scratch. We wanted it to be something we believed in and something we could handmake ourselves without a ton of investment upfront. It started as an experiment and has bloomed ever since. Read more>>

Julie Smith | Owner and Environmental Activist

We started Aspire out of frustration with being deluged by big corp brands of personal care products that are killing our planet. When you go to the grocery store, the shelves are packed with products in single-use plastic, with no way to refill them. We wanted to provide responsible products that are simple and natural, in containers that are recyclable and refillable. Most products in stores are in single-use plastic, and only 8% of it is recycled. Single-use plastic is made from fossil fuels, and adds nearly 2% to our U.S. carbon footprint just in its manufacturing. After use, it is polluting our earth and killing wildlife on land and sea, when they mistake the plastic for food and die when they try to eat it. We have already lost 50% of our wildlife in just the past few decades, and this is one of the causes. Aspire products are all refillable, so you can use the same container for years. We also offer refills, and containers with other materials beside plastic, such as glass, aluminum and metal. Read more>>

Cameron Connolly | Clothing Designer

I’ve always wanted to start my own clothing company since high school. My friend and I started a small t shirt business in high school. I wrote a business plan in college about a t shirt company. It’s always been a goal of mine. Then later as I got older I wasn’t the best at holding down jobs or working for other people. I decided to give this my all. I started Sliv Life in 2017 with t shirts again. Late 2018 decided to really give it my all and see why happens. And it’s taken off since then. My father who played a big role in my life is a entrepreneur and started his own business who I currently work for doing concrete work. So I saw what you could have working for yourself and always had an entrepreneur instinct in me. Read more>>

Brittany Iseli | Owner, JOY FILL

I was in-between jobs and did some soul searching at the time. I wanted a career in something that I was passionate about, and protecting the environment was just that. My husband and I had been taking steps to reduce the waste in our household, but found it difficult to do given the limited resources in our city. This gave me the vision for JOY FILL, and I decided to open a refill shop in my neighborhood. My hope was that it would be a place for people to learn more about the benefits of refills, and be a resource for anything zero-waste related. Read more>>

Julia Herz | CEO HerzMuses Enterprises and Creator of

I started my own business due to a COVID caused layoff from the Brewers Association after 13 1/2 years. So in July of 2020, HerzMuses Enterprises was born to bring energy, momentum and awareness to causes, companies, and brands that move me. This allows me to use my learnings from cause marketing and growing craft beer demand in the U.S. to now consult, be a professional speaker. and also work on other business enterprises. One example is the just-launched Gray for Good – For All Womanhood, which is a global 2021 campaign devoted to celebrating women-identified individuals who allow their hair to go naturally gray, and encourage women to take the savings from what they would have spent on coloring their hair, and donating it to any of the 50K+ women and girls causes in the U.S. These causes are severely underfunded. According to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, they only received. 1.6% of all giving in 2017. You can learn more at Read more>>

Steph Durbin | Executive Director

Professions in the military carry a ton of inherent risk, and one thing the military specializes in though is mitigating that risk well. Unfortunately sometimes that risk outweighs the specific mitigation practices that are tried and true to military operations safe successes. My husband is in the fast jet business (fighter pilot) and we have had the most amazing life living in multiple countries meeting and keeping the best of friends. My husband has been on active duty since 2012 and unfortunately has personally known 2 brothers that passed far before their time. We saw both instances have crowdfunding efforts to help support the friends and families left behind via GoFundme, both of which garnered over $50,000. These funds raised were from individuals, small donations, without massive corporate sponsorship or anything like that. My husband Kenny (Goes by TUCKY) always talked about the fighter community is very spread out, but can rally for great cause at the drop of a hat. Read more>>

Brady Stewart | Owner, J. Brady Seasonings LLC

I have worked in the food industry in some form or fashion my entire (almost 15 year) career. I have a degree in Biosystems Engineering (Food Engineering). Short of head chef I worked almost every job in the restaurant and bar industry (i.e. short order cook, bartender, barista, bar back, etc.). I have worked for large, major food companies as an engineer my whole career. I come from a family of people who love to cook and love to eat (in fact, my mother’s actual name is Martha Stewart). In short, food is an absolute passion of mine. Aside from that I always wanted to start a business or passion project of my own. I knew I wanted to to be creative and I wanted it to be food/beverage related. One day my wife noticed me mixing my own seasoning blends in the kitchen and said, “you should do THAT”. After that day I decided to run with it and here I am over 4 years later and in ~130 retailers including a large grocery chain. Read more>>

Diana Anderson | Marketing Strategist

I started DES Marketing | Design. Events. Solutions. with the goal of guiding small to mid-size businesses throughout Colorado to position their company for manageable growth and success. Through branding, a strategic marketing and communications plan as well as, activating digital marketing platforms, we will position companies for success and measure their ROI along the way. Read more>>

Jacob Wallace | President and Co-Founder

In 2019, I had an ida for a self service fulfillment center. I love coming up with new ideas and then bring them to life, but I didn’t have time to start a new project. In 2020 I had some downtime because of COVID, so I thought it seemed like a good time to give Shipist a try. So glad I did, it’s been amazing!. Read more>>

Specific Ocean | Band

Specific Ocean was formed in 2014 when we decided to pursue writing music outside of our jazz school environment. We were all undergraduate students at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music pursuing degrees in jazz studies & commercial music. We were seeking to combine the skills we were learning in the university setting with our other musical influences. Specific Ocean draws influence from genres including indie rock, blues, and funk, and combined with our jazz experience creates a unique sound and always leaves room for spontaneity and improvisation. Read more>>

Marie Oster | Queen Batch

I have been a frustrated entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I have a notebook of business ideas and products. But I just never really go there. I started a career when I was young, but put I it on hold ( kind of, I’ve always brought in some income) when I had my third child. Now that they are older ( all four of them), I entered the business world again, since college is very close on the horizon ( my need for making money). Deep down, I guess the structure of a full time career just blows my mind. You are held to the confines of a corporate world for many hours of your day and quite frankly it makes me feel like a prisoner. To be honest, I am a doer, a go getter, but there are many things I want to do and get, so dedicating all of my time to one thing, suffocates me. I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. Pandemic Life was an interesting time, almost a pause in time. Read more>>

Will LeMaire | Location Intelligence Expert

As with any good business idea, it comes down to being able to efficiently and cost-effectively solving problems for other people. Since Capsule is an application that can be used for an astounding number of use cases, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint a specific problem our application solves for our users. But in essence, Capsule is the perfect solution to sending messages with important content (called Capsules) that can be revealed at a specific time(s) in the future and/or a specified location on a map. There is a lot more to it and that it can do, but that is the basic premise behind Capsule. The inception of Capsule came from my brother-in-law, Ben, who wanted a way to share great memories with loved ones based on a specified location. Read more>>

Keele Burgin | Author of Wholly Unraveled and Founder of (B)Tribes

Several years ago I climbed the Grand Canyon. It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done. Eleven women I had never met and one woman I’d been wanting to get to know better for a decade. We were in the middle of a government shutdown which meant there would be no water stations, likely no bathrooms and no rangers in the Canyon. We would be on our own. Just because that wasn’t enough to deter us, we found out the main water line was out at Phantom Ranch, the place we were staying at the bottom, so we would be void of any running water after the descent. My determination to stay on the journey was unrelenting. I signed up for this crazy adventure because I knew I had to do something drastic to shock myself back to the land of the living after a decimating divorce. I was going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to leave my marriage behind and climb out to my new life. The only problem was I needed a plan – I had no idea what my new life was going to be or if I was capable of creating it. Read more>>

Rachel Farson | Serial Entrepreneur

I was looking for the flexibility of managing my own time and after working for several businesses that I was laid off from due to the company filing bankruptcy. I wanted to take the control and some of the security into my own hands. Read more>>

Elizabeth Stover | Paddleboard Company Owner & Yoga Instructor

I started paddleboarding a few years ago and realized how much this activity had to offer for families in the Grand Valley. Over the years I have participated in standup paddle (SUP) clinics, trainings, workshops and instructor certifications. The SUP community (Stand Up Paddle Colorado, American Canoe Association, World Paddle Association, RVR2RVR, Hala Gear, Bic Sports, Academy of Yoga, Half Moon Yoga and Paddle Into Fitness has been amazing by providing the insight and knowledge that has led to starting up Grand Junction Stand Up Paddle! In the Grand Valley, there were not a lot of these types of outdoor rental and education businesses when I started the GJ SUP. I wanted to bring education and availability to the river and water in general with the standup paddleboards. Read more>>

Tommy Acierno | IntrApersonal Relationship Coach, Thought Leader, Trainer, Author

My thought process behind starting my own business was nearly empty of any thought. Now *that’s* a scary thought! You see, when I sat down to my first training day to become a life and leadership coach, my plan was to simply grow as a people manager. I heard that great managers were great coaches, too, so coaching seemed like a natural skill to develop. In virtually no time at all, I realized just how transformative the world of coaching really was and how powerful coaching skills are to bring out the very best in others. I saw true genius in the co-workers and colleagues that I coached. Eventually, I turned that insight on to myself and invited my own genius to shine through. When I did that, I heard a very subtle, clear, and powerful message… “Bring coaching to the world.” Read more>>

Gunter Jones | Founder & Creative Director @ Goat Eye Design

My thought process behind starting my own company stemmed from wanting to be able to utilize my personal design stye for a variety of brands, as well as become more of a hybrid specialist rather than a generalist. Working in roles such as Graphic Designer / Art Director / Creative Director, I was at the mercy of whatever company or brand I worked for at the time, their brand standards, and what they needed creatively. This lends itself to falling into a particular workflow and style of design work catered to the business. Coupled with the fact that you need to make a huge variety of work — logos, flyers, merch, banner ads, marketing materials, etc etc — this led to me being unsatisfied with creating for others vs. creating for myself, especially as my design work led more and more to marketing. Naturally, having clients now means that I still create for others, but it’s on my terms and my expertise of the style and type of work I want to do — i.e. brand identity systems, illustrations, and lettering — and nothing I don’t want to make (i.e. banner ads, email campaigns, and marketing materials). Read more>>