Starting a business can be terrifying. Weighing the pros and cons, the risks, and other considerations can be so overwhelming that often promising entrepreneurs stop before they even start. We asked some phenomenal entrepreneurs about their thought process behind starting their own businesses. Our hope is that by making the thought-process less intimidating we can help more folks think through whether they should take an entrepreneurial leap.

Andrea Vahl | Author and Speaker

I had been laid off from my job and wanted to earn some extra income. I tried a few things like network marketing (an in home wine tasting business) and decided I wanted more control. I had been working with one network marketing company that went out of business. I had been using social media to promote my businesses and that was going well. So I decided to create an online course to help others learn how to use social media but I wanted it to be entertaining. I used one of my Improv comedy characters to create the tutorials and Grandma Mary Social Media Edutainer was born. Read more>>

Courtney Mamuscia | Founder and Creator, Juju Be Gifting

I would say that I have always been a serial entrepreneur. My father was my forever inspiration as he started and ran many different small businesses throughout his life that I got to follow and admire. From his passion and drive grew my curiosity and need to invest in myself. Although Juju Be Gifting wasn’t my first start-up endeavor, it has been the one that I am most passionate about and continue to invest in. I love seeing how an idea can grow into a business. The idea for Juju Be Gifting unfurled one evening around the dinner table as friends told tales of unfortunate woe: streaks of bad luck, dramatic breakups, and all sorts of things that drag us down and low at times in life. Read more>>

Nikki Aiello: Recovery & Life Transition Coach

Juliana Trujillo Juan A. Rodriguez | Culinary Artists

The idea of Juli y Juan’s Kitchen has been in an evolutionary process for the past ten years. Since Juli & I started dating we decided to combine our passions for food, health and Philosophy. We used to sit and drink a beer or two and talk about the idea of incorporating love into food. We believed that society became so practical that the old ways of mastering something was disappearing. The old ways of cooking where a thing of our ancestors. So our adventure to bring the spirit of cuisine started. We quickly realize that love into food was not the only ingredient missing, that this road was going to be a long steady and evolutionary process for us. Our combined culinary adventure started in the country of Colombia creating workshops in a little countryside home in the hills outside the city of Medellin. Read more>>

Abby Keefe | Owner // Lead Hair and Makeup Artist // Shear Abby Salon

I have always known I wanted to be a hair and makeup artist. Since I was little, like very little. I would go to work with my aunt in the summer at her salon and would make coffee, sweep hair and clean perm rods. I would tell everyone, “when I grow up I’m going to be a hairdresser.” When I graduated high school it was a no brainer. Go to beauty school. I started working under a stylist in October 2005 and November 2005 I started beauty school. I would go to school all day and then go to work at the salon for a few hours after school. I worked in Texas at first. I got a shampoo tech license and would wash all of my boss’s guests hair. I would mix color for him, hand him foils and extension hair and clean up for him. He instilled in me time is money, sweep with a purpose. Read more>>

Kiley Handy | Boutique Owner & Wearer of All the Hats

Like the stories of artisans I tend to gravitate toward, my journey to opening Period Six was born out of things not going according to plan. I grew up in a small Colorado mountain town and was lucky enough to enjoy all it had to offer. But was especially lucky to have parents that encouraged me to see as much of the world as I could. The “plan” was to do theatre and I did, for a while. I have a BFA in Acting and after college discovered a love for stage management. During this time I also started working for an artist whom I admired and was surrounded by makers of things that made me feel alive. So, the plan morphed, aided by a lot of rejection (a word I now use fondly), a bevy of not getting called back, unpaid internships, and ‘industry’ jobs left me feeling unsatisfied. Read more>>

Hannah Lim | Director of Operations at The Hesed Project

By training, I am a Studio Artist as well as an Art Historian. My passion lies in creating an artistic voice for those who have been marginalized. Through various thoughts happening a few months ago, I started a small business called “The Hesed Project.” My initial thought was that I wanted to create art for a cause. In light of multiple social movements, I wanted to contribute my artistic efforts to show compassion to others. I was making my own paper products when I met with graphic designer Caroline Kyle. Ultimately we came up with the idea to create coloring books and donate the funds to a charity. From there, we chose to sponsor a child with the funds; that way, we can see our donations’ direct, positive impact. We came up with the name “The Hesed Project,” with much prayer and consideration. Read more>>

Heather Mullins | Owner & Artist, Designer, Craftswoman – Après Ski Jewelry & Relevant ReUse

Après Ski Jewelry was started by me, a curious artist-builder-skier. In addition to Après Ski I have run my own art, design and furniture business called Relevant ReUse for the past ten years with a mission of keeping materials out of the waste stream while still creating functional objects. I design and build custom furniture, accessories, children’s play features, and environments out of reused and recycled materials. Through this process, I found that small scraps and off-cuts of interesting raw material are actually quite beautiful and can make great jewelry. After a few years, I realized it would be much easier to sell a small wearable object that a larger furniture or site specific piece. The jewelry has a better profit margin and has been fairly easy to market to small mountain shops and people because everyone loves a good story with a product. Read more>>

Kathleen Doyle-Murphy | Jewelry Designer

There was never a time where I did not want to be my own boss. I knew it would be in creative field but it took quite a bit of exploring to find the right fit. The search included studying photography, owning an ice cream truck (for a hot second) and being involved in the lively restaurant world for over 35 years. The current phase of my life started about 15 years ago. A dear friend and I had started making little necklaces for family holiday presents. We had met for happy hour one night and I brought my trinkets to show her. Unknown to me, the woman sitting beside us happen to be a local boutique owner. She watched as we poured over my first attempts of jewelry making…for fun, of course. She then leaned over and said “I’ll take 2 of these, 5 of these, 3 of those, etc.” My light bulb moment…oh my god, is someone going to pay me for this?!? Read more>>

Ann Coatney | Voice Actor

I have done voiceovers for 25 years. A couple of years ago, after setting up my home studio, I decided to take the leap and start my own voiceover business full time. Read more>>

Scott Hensen | Custom Furniture Craftsman

I started Dust & Spark as a creative outlet to explore the design and build process of mixed media furniture. At first, it was just a side hustle from my desk job but I quickly came to the realization that I wanted to build high-quality furniture full time. Hands-on creativity is my passion and when it comes to my furniture, my goal is to make functional art. Read more>>

Nikki Aiello | Recovery & Life Transition Coach

Successfully recovering from the life-shattering effects of substance abuse and mental illness is excruciatingly hard, especially without the help of an experienced guide. Too many choices and an overabundance of information can be paralyzing and unhelpful when healing, yet a plan needs to be designed and actions taken in order to move forward. The importance of enlisting professional help to process emotional trauma is widely understood and supported, but there is more crucial work to be done in order to truly recover and thrive. Developing a new lifestyle, support system, and accountability protocol in the early stages are all crucial in order to ensure lasting change. This is what a Recovery Coach is all about. A Recovery Coach can eliminate a ton of confusion and stress by providing reflection, resources, skills, tools, expertise in lifestyle design, guidance, and an accountability program that can evolve as someone heals and grows. Read more>>

Ruben Gonzalez | Olympian, Author, Keynote Speaker

I don’t recommend my approach. (quitting my job so soon) I always wanted to have my own business but I wasn’t sure how to go about it so it was one of those things that would be nice to do. In 2002, right before I left to compete in the Salt Lake City Olympics, a 5th grade kid from my neighborhood asked me if I would be his “show and tell” project at his school when I came back from the Olympics. I took my sled, the Olympic torch (I was a torchbearer) and my luge helmet to the school. The Principal took me to the cafeteria where 200 kids were sitting on the floor and said, you have 45 minutes. I thought I was going to die. I’d never delivered a speech before and I’m an introvert to boot. But I went ahead and told them how I had made it to the Olympics and gave them some tips on how they could reach their dreams. Afterwards, the Principal said, “You have a gift! Read more>>

Swank Sinatra | Recording Artist

Generational wealth was the thought process behind starting my own business. Observing the landscape of what the future of business & job career choices would be like the entrepreneur route looked favorable. After serving six years in the military I knew that applying the same discipline along with common sense, college education that I could run a successful business that could benefit not only myself. Read more>>

Leah Jordan | Creative Director/ Owner

I began Studio 303 Salon to create an inviting space for guests and to pursue my passion in education in the hair and beauty industry. Working with new artists, helping them to refine their skills and live up to their full potential is one of the most rewarding things for me our salon. Read more>>

Meredith Cameron | Akashic Record Reader and Yoga Retreat Leader

I’m an enormous believer in trusting ourselves and listening to our own messages. It was true for me once that when I would hear my own thoughts or have gut feelings, instead of trusting my own self, I would reach out for external advice to back up my thoughts or even search for proof as to if things were a good idea or not. That way of living really became exhausting as I was always seeking even though the messages were already inside of me. It became clear to me that so many of us haven’t been taught to listen to our messages, let alone trust them. This is when I started offering Akashic Record readings for the public. The Akashic Records are the history of your soul and the insight provided by your Akashic Records is an invitation to growth and connection as to why certain things are happening, why you have certain lessons in your life, or why you have certain traumas and struggles. Read more>>

Angela Wells | Vegan Entrepreneur

In the beginning, I had just gotten a promotion at work that required me to relocate from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Atlanta, Georgia. I was also working on the side as a wellness advocate for Doterra essential oils. After my now husband took a job in Colorado, I was suddenly a single mom, in a brand new city, with a new high pressure insurance marketing job, and trying to pursue my own aspiration of establishing a clothing line for babies. That clothing line unfortunately never saw the light of day because the graphic designer, clothing manufacturer, AND marketing firm I hired all took my money and ran. I actually ended up having to go to Tennessee just to sue one of them, and I won, but I was still so defeated. And on top of all of that, my hair was falling out! Read more>>

Brad Kuhn | Nursery Owner and Marketing Expert

The thought processes we had was trying to highlight the declining numbers being see of local pollinators, being the bees and butterflies, just in the local area. With almost 150 species of bees in Denver we feel most are threatened with the expansion of the city. It is something we are trying to highlight with starting our plant nursery. The idea that you could fill your yard with these pollinator attaching plants! This would remove some of the grasses, shrubs and others that don’t help out as much. With people staying at home more now we have seen the demand for plants and home gardening increasing so we think it’s a perfect time to create more awareness for our community. Read more>>

Andrew Cope | Artist & Creative | Photography and Videography

In the corporate world, I was happy with the money I was making, but I was not happy with the way that job affected my personal relationships with my partner and community at the time, I was often up late dealing with work situations and then up early anticipating more of the same. I realized that a very large void in my life was present that concerned creativity, and I used my imagination exactly never in the corporate world. After long conversations and self reflection I decided to step away, and that’s where and when my passion and now my business started. Read more>>

Dr. Chris Robl | Physical Therapist and Owner of Physio Room

I wanted to challenge the status quo in healthcare. I went from treating 30 patients a day to treating 30/week. I went from treating people as another number in the system to understanding who they were as people and understanding how I fit into their journey. I wanted to provide a higher quality experience with better outcomes, and I couldn’t do that in the traditional model of healthcare. Opening Physio Room was absolutely the founded on a dream that we could change peoples lives if we just stopped long enough to listen. Healthcare has become more about how many people can you see in a day and not about providing the care that our clients deserve. Everyday we make decisions, we ask ourselves, “How will this get better outcomes and improve the patient experience.” Read more>>

Jennifer Medina | Neuropsychologist

After many years in the mainstream healthcare system, I decided to branch out and create a suite of health and wellness services and programs that educate and help people understand more about how they can take control of their brain health. Our health care system primarily operates with a reactive approach – we tend to treat problems after they’ve occurred. The wellness mindset empowers us to take control of preventing problems before they occur. How often do doctors ask their patients, “How is your brain health doing?” or “What are you doing to take care of your brain?” My business, Brain Space, empowers people to focus on their brain health to support the brain, protect from the aging process, and optimize cognitive or thinking skills in their work and personal lives. Read more>>

Bridget Richardson | Illustrator & Designer

My thoughts we’re simply, ‘there’s got to be more to life than this!’ Read more>>

Daniel Reagan | US Air Force Veteran and Apple Whisperer

We would always dream about success and what the ‘American Dream’ is. We’d determined that our idea of the American Dream is about taking on challenge, and overcoming it to make something truly great and uniquely our own. Owning our own business is the ultimate challenge. It is the ultimate risk for the biggest reward in our mind. You can’t rely on anyone else; you cannot coast. In some sense it is a huge challenge with the ‘people’ barrier/ the ladder climbing barrier removed. The risk of failure is really just on our shoulders. Read more>>

Audrey Boxwell | Psychotherapist, Walker, Hiker, Chaplain and Author

I practice psychotherapy with patients and clients while walking, as well as group therapy and workshops on my PsycheHikes®. I came up with this concept when realizing that we think more clearly, more deeply, and with more heart when our bodies are in motion; (“when we move our bodies we move our minds”) as I discovered in graduate school when the only way I could meditate was by moving one foot in front of the other! I realized that if it worked for me, it would work for others and that moving with individuals side by side rather than face to face was a more relaxed, easier, and more joyful way to discover the reasons for our pain and/or confusion. Read more>>

Michael Moore | Make up Artist, Wellness Coach

I wanted a place for women to learn how to put makeup on; where makeup was designed for them and only them. I built the company, Moore For Life with one women in mind; my mother. My mother never wore makeup but always wanted a place where she could go and learn how, With us living on a dairy farm, she never felt she added up to other women in society. So I created a business to teach women how to wear makeup, so they could build confidence in themselves. I designed Moore For Life to teach women a three minute, five minute and seven minute makeup application based on their style, desires, goals and their career paths. Read more>>