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.

Miriam Montes Lievano | Insurance Agent

My thought process in starting my own business was simply to become independent. It started after attending a Young Living National Conference in Chicago. It was a huge room full of woman from all over the world eager to become independent and have more flexibility in their lives not just for themselves but for their families. I was sold from the moment I heard the first 3 keynote speakers. Financial Freedom, Generational Wealth, and a Legacy if you just allow fear to go out the window. I knew then I wanted to find my way to becoming an Entrepreneur and becoming the CEO of my life. Not only do I want to be in control of my time, but I also have a passion for helping people. Through my love of Young Living and their products I began helping other moms connect and find healthier alternatives to a less toxic lifestyle. Every time I found myself talking to my clients at the insurance office, I found myself being able to attract sales and make a difference. Read more>>

Cody Kuehl | Artist

I quit my job to do art for the first time back in early 2009 with really NO good reason to do so. I didn’t have any real established sales of art, no galleries, and no real network to help with the process. If you remember how the economy was in 2009, you might think that that was an incredibly bad time to try to sell art. And you would be right. I think I did it initially to just try something new out of college before kicking off into my “real adult” life. Those early days were really formative for me and my biz, because I really just always made the art that I enjoyed making and hoped that it would find an audience. It was a really long road, but I never really thought of it as starting a business. I have always approached my art as something that I do for myself and if it’s also marketable then great. Since the initial leap into doing art full time I had to go back and get different jobs to help survive the lean times. Read more>>

Joan Cabarrus | Artist/Author and A Nurse

Before I explain my thought process behind starting my own business, here is a brief background explaining how the thought process has started. Ever since I was young, I always had a feeling that I am suppose to be doing something great for the humanity. I did not know what is was and I did not know how. I have taken the path of working in the medical field as a registered nurse for 12 years. On my free time, I was always creating and making artworks with my hands, I gravitate towards creativity and being innovative. Anything that involves creating out of recycled materials or repurposing items comes natural and fulfilling to me. One day, I was encouraged to explore new materials, new art mediums, and new resources by a loved one. It was all for fun. Then I realized that the results of my work from these were touching more and more people’s lives. Whether they feel inspired by them, or they needed them for emotional healing purposes. Read more>>

Lisa Steinkamp | Founder, Spark + Honey Granola

I’ve always loved the idea of creating something on my own, and I spent a lot of years working for brands in the food and beverage world. After a while, I realized that I wanted to combine my experience with my own personal interests, one of which has always been finding cleaner, healthier food options. My husband is a granola connoisseur, to put it lightly. He eats it EVERY day of his life. I spent a lot of time looking for more nutritious brands but realized so many of the “healthy” granolas really weren’t all that healthy anymore. They were void of real nutrients and packed with sugars. Not what granola was originally intended to be. So I started making my own and I experimented with with less sugar and more whole ingredients. I added more nuts and seeds for better nutrition, then got creative with fresh and exciting spices and flavors, like lemon zest and cloves. Read more>>

Nick Lucey | Owner, Rhyolite Gallery

As a landscape photographer based in Castle Rock, I always wanted to have a small gallery to sell my works. I had been a vendor at The Emporium for a couple years, but always wanted the flexibility and freedom of my own space. The opportunity came when this space was for rent in Spring of 2020. Of course, COVID was just starting to hit, so obviously it didn’t seem like the best time to start a business, but I figured I had nowhere to go but up. I originally had planned to just have a gallery for my artwork, but then I thought, why not open it up to other local artists and craftspeople? Why not make it a hub for art in Castle Rock? And that’s how Castle Rock’s only art gallery was born. Read more>>

Kerin Gaydou | Founding Creative Director, Brand & Web Designer

Kerin Gaydou Creative was built out of a desire to be able to work with clients that aligned with my values and to take on projects that I was passionate about! KGC started off when I was still working a 9-5. I slowly started to get a couple of clients and making it my side hustle before making the leap to pursue my business full time. I have fell in and out of love with design a couple of times now. Coming from a creative agency in Boston, to an in-house design position for a climbing company, I was looking for the happy medium of overwhelming agency and small business which lead me to pursuing KGC as the best of both worlds. I was able to work with different clients all the time which kept things interesting and only take on branding, packaging, and website projects that I was excited about. I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to build something that would allow me to work from wherever, serve only my ideal clients, and create something bigger than myself. Read more>>

Vigilante Stylez | Music Producer & Audio Engineer

My business really started from me having a good quality product that people were willing to pay for. It started as a hobby but friends and friends of my friends thought I could make money doing music because my quality was on par with professional industry records. From there, it made sense to go into business for myself. Read more>>

Elizabeth Lawrence | Artist, Creator, Graphic Designer and Thrifter

I started my business She’s Oh So Thrifty my freshman year of college. I always thrifted with my Dad as child and I loved every bit of it. I never liked dressing like everyone so in college a lot of people would ask where I got my clothes from and I said I thrifted and they didn’t believe me. People started offering me money to thrift for them so I decided to make a business out of it. I printed off flyers in the Art Department and hung and gave them out around campus to promote my Pop Up Shops on campus. Then I started my first website with Storevnvy and continued to have and participate in Pop Up Shops in Chattanooga, TN. Read more>>

Karen Van Vuuren | Co-founder of Colorado’s First Holistic Funeral Home

I thought, I would never want to enter the funeral business! I had been involved in elder care, hospice, and ran a non-profit educating about holistic and natural approaches to end of life. I’d always been on the periphery of death care as an advocate for environmental choices and consumers rights. I helped hundreds of families direct their own funerals and supported natural death care in families’ homes. But then one day, over tea, a friend and I were chatting about green burial. “We need green cemeteries, but we also need a green funeral home,” I said. My friend, an atmospheric scientist with no direct end-of-life experience said, “Let’s do it!”. It was a destiny moment that nearly had me falling off my chair and choking on my tea. But it was ultimately something to which I said, “Yes!” In 2019, more than three years after this invitation to begin a holistic funeral business, The Natural Funeral opened its doors. Read more>>

Ian Dedrickson | Chef and Co-Owner of Ephemera

After extensive years in various kitchens ranging from dive bars to fine dining, Chefs Ian and Adam both left the kitchen to learn front of house service and bartending. They quickly realized that they wanted to continue creating in the culinary realm, and began a series of pop-up dinners with the goal of serving creative and concept based experiences. While it was initially a passion project, Ian and Adam began to dream up the goal of making Ephemera Dinners into a brick-and-mortar concept that could provide their unique vision to a quickly growing Colorado Springs dining scene. The time seemed ripe, with Downtown beginning to see a renaissance of culture and activity, and a fast-growing population that would seek quality dining at approachable prices without pretense or snobbery. Read more>>

Natalie Jones | Beer Boss and Race Director

I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and too many minors to count – hopping into a corporate job seemed like the ‘responsible’ thing to do. As I hopped from job to job and industry and industry I found that I really loved the onboarding process of a new role but once I was ramped up I wanted more. More diversity in duties, more growth opportunities, more adventure. I knew that going off on my own was the right thing to do – but wasn’t sure how I’d know when it was the right time. In a very serendipitous week at the end of 2019, I hit a ceiling in my existing role and was presented with a cool opportunity to purchase a company I interned with while in college. 3 checklists, one week, and a few beers later I became the owner of Rocky Mountain Brew Runs, a local Denver 5k running series. My goal for 2020 was to create bigger, bolder themes, increase the frequency of our events, and fill runs to capacity throughout the year – then the pandemic struck. Read more>>

Ryan Skeels | Co-Founder, Manager, Brewer & Mop Head Specialist

Back in 2010 I had first thought of starting up a homebrew shop here in Denver as it seemed to still be on the rise and seemed like a great way to become my own boss. I was homebrewing a decent amount at the time and thought Denver could use a more centrally located shop. A year or so later I met my now business partner who was also homebrewing quite a bit and as the old reliable tale goes a few beers into a night the idea of starting a brewery together was discussed. We enjoyed similar styles, our friends said our beers were good (as per usual, particularly when they’re free…), and there were very few breweries in the Denver area at the time. A couple years later in July of 2014 we opened the doors of Baere, the same weekend as another couple breweries also opened, and the same year that a whole lot of breweries opened across the front range. We were apparently not the only ones with the idea. Read more>>

Savannah Halboth | Marketing & Media Manager

Ever since I was a small child I always wanted to be a business owner. When I was just 5 years old I setup my own office in our house and made myself business cards, while other kids played house I was pretending to take business calls and typing on my cardboard computer! I went to college for business to help sharpen my skills so when the right idea came along I was ready! That time came when I was selling advertising for the Westword newspaper when a client of mine asked if I could do Facebook for her business. This was in 2014 so the idea of promoting a business on social media was pretty new but I said yes and dove right in, figuring it out along the way! She was a dive bar that wanted to become Denver’s official Detroit Lions bar, we promoted to people 21+ within 15 miles of the bar that liked the Lions and it worked really well!! Naturally she told her friends about the new social media guru she found who was blowing up her business for just a few hundred dollars a month and new client referrals rolled in. Today I have 14 clients and they have all been referrals, I have been successfully self-employed since 2015. Read more>>

Emily Holland | Writer, Podcast Host & Producer, Brand Ambassador

I started my new podcast, Nature Untold, because I wanted to have a concentrated place in which stories were being told about sobriety, addiction and recovery as they intersect with the outdoor industry and community at large. I had just stopped drinking and couldn’t find a solid place to find these stories coming out, so I wanted to start one. The goal of this project and community is to normalize the conversation about these topics and create more understanding within our circles for those who are struggling. I have never felt so much connection and meaning in my life. This community is full of very strong, powerful and joyous people and I want to share these stories with our groups. Read more>>

Laurel Cohen | Wedding Videographer & Artist

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak and was drawn to the freedom that running my own business would afford me. From the ages of 16-23, I had various jobs and gigs, all of which required a ‘more than average’ amount of self-accountability. Whether it was SAT tutoring, directing music videos, or writing columns for my local paper, all these experiences helped direct my occupational goals towards a sense of self-reliance and day-t0-day flexibility. Read more>>

Randi Keiser | Holistic Healer/Massage Therapist

It’s more complicated than just wanting to work for yourself. It was never about money for me. One of my instructors said to me, “keep heart set in the intention and the money will come.” He said he could see me passion. My intention has always been how can I help heal others from trauma and injury. Someone once said out minds are out biggest critics. And scientifically our subconscious is far more in control because we have been conditioned our whole life’s. As adults we get to reprogram and recondition ourselves. This is the greatest lesson. When I was pregnant I decided to go back to school to become a holistic healer. I had to choose between a holistic healer/midwife or a traditional medical doctor. I ended up learning a lot about the pressures of hospitals. I went with a midwife and delivered my own baby at home without any drugs. It was beautiful. Read more>>

Briana Hanson | Wedding Planner and Floral Designer

I have always dreamed of starting my own business! I love leading people, creating and implementing ideas, going at my own pace (which is fast) and honestly hate other people tell me what to do. Read more>>

Eric Bernal | DJ/MC

I have always had an entrepreneur spirit from a young age. Wanting to make money and wanting to learn new skills. After high school I moved to California and met my mentor who had a mobile DJ business. Working with him and seeing his success, and lifestyle, I decided to try and copy his recipe. Read more>>

Russell Klimas | Light Painter

I honestly wanted to see if it was possible to make a business with light painting photography. It’s definitely not easy and I haven’t been very successful, but I’m definitely going to keep trying. Just gotta make it work. Read more>>

Kourtney Thomas | Self-Discovery Facilitator & Coach for Women

For me, it was twofold: First, I had been working in a facility as a relative newbie to my industry, and over the course of two years of learning and gaining confidence, I also got a clearer picture of what my own philosophy was, who I really wanted to work with, how I wanted to help people, and the kind of difference I wanted to make in the world. That was not in line with the ownership of this facility, and I knew it was time for me to move on. Second, I realized that I was making about a third of the session fees being charged to my clients, and I could actually make the entire fee on my own. Read more>>

Cara, Hailey McQueeney, Sardi | Co-Owner

Our thought process behind Local Honey was creating a place that the women of Colorado Springs would have a place to come together so that we can encourage them and empower them to be completely their own. We noticed a need within Colorado Springs for a store like ours and so we set out to meet that need. We’ve been met with so much excitement in the past year, we’re so incredibly grateful that what we saw was incredibly needed. Read more>>

Alycia Campbell | Virtual Assistant

After the birth of my fourth child, I knew I wanted something different. I did not want to be chained to my desk from 8-5. I did not want to continue to get my hopes up for a promotion I may not receive. But most importantly, I did not want someone else to spend more time with my baby than I did. So I did it! I decided to go full steam ahead and start my virtual assistant business. I could use the skills I acquired working in healthcare for 13 years. Not only could I utilize my strengths, but I could create my own schedule. It was not an easy task, but here I am almost 2 years later! There are days I wish I had group health insurance and a 401k plan where my employer matched up to 6%, but you can’t put a dollar amount on the memories I’ve created. Read more>>

TW “Chief” & Angela Winston | Owners of High Side! Bar & Grill – Salida, CO

We had been wanting to open our own restaurant/bar for a while, and had been scoping out locations in Salida, and even made a couple offers. Opportunities kept presenting themselves, but then kept falling through, and just as we started to lose hope, the best location on the Arkansas River happened to become available, and we jumped on the opportunity. We know it’s the middle of a pandemic, but there was still a huge need in Salida for more restaurants, so we decided to go for it. Having the best patio in town and the largest outdoor space of any restaurant, we knew we had a shot, even during a pandemic. We only had 30 days to get everything done before opening our doors, and only 6 physical days to move into the space. It was going to be a very tight schedule, but we knew we could do it. It was this personal challenge we placed on ourselves, and we pulled it off by utilizing every resource possible. Read more>>

Mick Lewis | Hair Salon

I honestly never really wanted to open my Own salon… I enjoy creating behind the chair so much that I thought owning a salon would take away from that. I decided to open a salon when I found that there wasn’t a salon that fit me in the Denver area. I take my craft very seriously and abs always trying to raise the bar. I wanted to work with a group of people who felt the same way. I learned that the only way I was going to get that… was if I built it. Read more>>

Fiona Arnold | President and Owner, MAINSPRING Co.

I had spent my career in corporate roles and was at the point where I just fundamentally did not agree with the underlying business philosophies. I wanted to approach building and running a company from a very different perspective that did not start and stop with the bottom line, but rather approached every question from the angle of what is best for the community, the individual, the employee, the piece of land etc and dream about what it could be then figure out how to make it pencil. I truly believe that if we want to accomplish the changes we desire in our communities we need “for profit” companies to be an integral part otherwise we’ll never get there. Read more>>

Dr. Krystyna Holland | Physical Therapist, Specializing in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

When I moved to Denver I found that I had a challenging time finding a job as a physical therapist that I felt was going to allow me to treat people the way they deserve to be treated. I wanted enough time with folks one on one to really figure out what was contributing to their symptoms and help them get back to the things they loved to do. I knew what it was like to be a patient in a setting where the provider didn’t have time for you, and what it was like to feel misunderstood or ignored in your own medical decisions. Rather than make compromises on the type of care my patients received, I opened a practice that would let me treat the way I thought was ethical and useful. Read more>>

Alex Vaughan | Trainer | Fitness, Gender Identity and Sexuality

My business is Alex The Human and our vision is to bring visibility to the grand prism of human identity within and beyond the binary. Transgender, non-binary, gender fluid and gender non-conforming people have always existed; it’s just that we are raising our voices, lifting each other up and sharing stories. There weren’t always seats at the table for us. Businesses and places of work need to understand how to be inclusive for all people. This work is a personal passion of mine. As a nonbinary, trans-masculine human, I want to be a part of changing the world to make it a safer, more inclusive place for all people. Read more>>

Yuliya Rabinovich | Whole Body Centered Dentist

Like the great Sinatra said in a song “I did it my way.” That was the reason for starting my own business. I’ve worked as an associate dentist in many offices over the years. From some, you learn how to do things right. From others, you learn what not to do. Then you figure out how you want to put that knowledge to work and make it patient centered. Not business centered, not insurance centered, not fashion centered, but specifically patient needs and desires centered. Read more>>

Mike Wird | Regenerative Life Design Strategist

I am psychologically unemployable. Read more>>

Corinne Ambrose | Founder & Esthetician

I’d describe it as a slow simmering of ideas over a 3-4 year period of time that was ignited by having kids and wanting to create something that 1) might give me more flexibility with my schedule 2) could give me a paycheck without having to work for someone else, and 3) could be sold at some point making it worth any time, effort, and money I invested. I thought of starting a bi-lingual day care (too much liability), a K-8 bi-lingual charter school (too much red-tape), buying a kids hair-cut franchise (too limiting), starting a fitness studio (wasn’t passionate enough). During this time I had an appointment with a Medi-spa that was such a great experience I though that was the niche for me, so I found an Eshtetics school and go a license and was putting some effort into how I’d approach beginning this kind of business. Read more>>

Zach Johnston | CEO & Thyme Traveler

For me, I was always going to be an entrepreneur. I was raised by a pair of “do it yourself” parents and step-parents. The freedom to make my own decisions paired with the sink or swim nature of owning a business was something that chose me. I am far too neurotic to work for anyone but myself. I get obsessed with chasing perfection, and being able to make decisions to strive towards that goal without permission from a boss suits me well. Read more>>

Gayle Fowler | Entrepreneur, Reiki Master Teacher, Urban Shaman, and Spiritual Counselor

Starting your own business may be as simple as register your trade name, creating your business cards and start working to get clients. However, there are so many other factors to consider depending on what type of business venture you are pursuing. One must consider the requirements at the city, county, state and sometimes federal levels. Lucky for me, I have my Master of Business Administrations and have been working at a managerial/director level for over 25 years while working in corporate America. Although I have been an on again, off again entrepreneur, starting my own business to replace the salary that I made working for the State of Colorado was not easy. In fact, I am still not generating the income to replace a salary, but I definitely love what I am doing and have a better work life balance. I was informed that a new Healing Art Center would be opening soon at a Lutheran Church and that I would be a good fit. I wasn’t quite ready to take the leap of becoming my own boss, so I waited. Read more>>