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.

Kerrie-Lee Brown | Journalist, Advocate & Author

I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Maybe that’s why I became a journalist. As a writer, you can give a voice to those who don’t have one in ways people never imagined. It’s invigorating to see people’s faces when an interview turns out better than expected—and they heal from the experience; or a published article tugs at the heart strings of readers. It fills my soul. Makes me smile. Gives me hope in humanity. I learned how to tell other people’s stories in journalism school; but as a health and wellness advocate, I learned to bring out messages that needed to be heard. From running my own consumer magazines and contributing to hundreds of international publications; to mentoring aspiring writers and spending time as a television health expert—I’ve always tried to bring what I’ve learned to the table. Read more>>

Julie Gill | Adult Ballet Instructor & Studio Owner

I began my career as a web developer and moved into product management, but my love and passion for ballet lived alongside that career and I always longed to be able to go further into the world of ballet. I always knew the software industry wasn’t the place for me, but it is a very versatile place to begin, and so I learned as much as I could during that time. In the meantime, I took as many opportunities as I could find for adults in ballet to continue furthering my training and fostering my love of ballet, including working with a private teacher named Beth Kurtz in New York City. As a late-starter-turned-pro herself, she always had a soft spot for me and pushed me extra hard. After one of our lessons, she slipped down the staircase and broke her back. She never taught again, but she did spend her last days teaching me how to teach. Read more>>

Francisco Estevez | Dancer/Dance and Portrait Photographer

I have always been interested in photography. I grew up with a family of artists and intellectuals that appreciated the arts and I was exposed to a variety of mediums from a young age. Photography was always a passion of mine alongside ballet. I have danced for the majority of my life and done so professionally for over 12 years now. I am now a principal dancer with the Colorado Ballet. My starting a photography business that focused on dance and movement was a combination of these two lifelong artistic passions. Read more>>

Melanie Adams | Entrepreneur and Oil & Gas Professional

Starting as the Receptionist at a small oil and gas company at age 19, I always tried to “dress up,” emulating the women around me. I started wearing cardigans, blazers, and dresses. I quickly moved from the “Director of First Impressions” to running the mailroom and then into the operations side of the business where I would have my first experience with ill-fitting and uncomfortable flame-resistant clothing (FRC). And while I always felt confident and comfortable being the youngest (and only female) in the room at most meetings, going to the field was different. I was not always as comfortable, partly because the garments are ill-fitting and the fabric is so rough, but also, the clothing was not at all reflective of my personality, nor did it project the influence, expertise, and authority I had. Read more>>

Jessica Dory | Photographer – Family, Newborn & Birth

I think I always wanted to work in a creative field. As I child I was extremely shy, but I loved art and it was a way I found I could express myself. I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from 2oo1 which was right before the digital age really started – so all my work was documented on slide film! I spent a lot of money on film and paper! I ended up spending 20 years off and on working for the Mercury Cafe in Denver which is a cultural institution. I loved being around musicians and poets and artistic people. I loved interacting with the public and getting to be a part of the community. Over this time I worked as a server, bartender, chef, baker, wedding coordinator and social media manager, so I have a really varied skill set that I feel like helps me to be a good photographer! I started my business in 2018 over the course of a year after talking to my neighbor who is a career coach. Read more>>

Madison Cleo | Digital Strategist & Biz Owner

When I first got the idea to start MadCleo I was working in the Tech Startup world on a Marketing Team that was great, and a team I learned a lot from. I was moonlighting on the side doing some social media for smaller companies and influencers here and there to earn some extra money when I witnessed the CEO of the company I was working for at the time fire someone very violently, right in front of me. I turned in my two weeks notice that day and got to work on finding some clients. I filed for an LLC about a month later. I realized I didn’t want to work on a male-dominated team in that sort of bro-culture environment. I wanted to work with businesses who genuinely need help, who were trying to give the world a small piece of themselves. Read more>>

Brynn Lay | Chiropractor and Co-Owner of Wurth Chiropractic

We had a ton of goals for this business. The biggest couple were that we wanted to bring a human element back to health care. Individualism and communication are two things we value as physicians so all of our patients will get a care plan tailored to THEIR complaint. It is not cookie cutter ever. We want our patients to feel empowered in their care, too. So we always give exercises and tools for them to mitigate their pain on their own if it were to flare up again, not saying they cannot come see us, but often if they can fix it on their own or at least stave off some pain before they make an appointment, we consider that a win. Also, we value our patients input so much. They do get a say in their care and we preach teamwork and communication. Read more>>

Katie Bywater | Founder & Breathwork Facilitator

I’ve always had a passion for business and entrepreneurship. Ten years ago, while working at a startup accelerator here in Boulder, I remember stating the words “I love startups, but I’m not the idea person. I’m the support for the idea person.” With that in mind, I set out to support startups in their growth to profitability. I’ve spent the last five years of my career at a startup fighting climate change. I’ve helped grow this company from 13 employees to 50, expanding across the entire United States and through multiple rounds of venture capital funding. But, with all of the success I’ve seen at this startup, there’s another side to my story – my path to healing. I experienced quite a bit of childhood trauma and grief that led to trauma induced emotional and addictive tendencies. Read more>>

Kara Armstrong | Founder & Curator

The Conscious Merchant was founded because I felt there was gap in the non-toxic and sustainable living space. There was a need to meet mainstream America where it was at in the journey of exploring safer products and a more sustainable lifestyle. I designed our stores and brand to be a space where individuals could come with a progress not perfection vibe to explore what could fit into their lives in steps. A place where they could easily find vetted products and research without spending endless hours doing the work themselves. We also wanted to give people the ability to touch, see, and experience products to then make a conscious decision on what changes were do able at any time point in their journey. Read more>>

Mary Beth LaRue | Yoga + Meditation Teacher and creator of Embodied by MB

I was 24 when I started considering leaving my full time job and teaching yoga and writing full time. I had studied journalism in college and went on to work at a magazine in Washington DC. I quickly discovered that spending my days in an office and tethered to a desk wasn’t good for my mental health. I was definitely scared but I also knew that the freedom to spend my days the way I wanted to outweighed the fear. I have now been teaching teaching yoga for 13 years and have created various offerings and businesses to support myself along the way – Rock Your Bliss which was cofounded with my best friend Jacki Carr here in CO and now Embodied which are my own embodiment-based offerings. I still love to write and look forward to pursuing that more in the next couple of years. Read more>>

Kristina Thayer | Creative, Boutique Owner & Chandler

I think, even as a child, I always anticipated being my own boss. I certainly didn’t know what I would be doing, but I knew that I wanted to work for myself. I actually think that most of us know that about ourselves early on; always wanting more out of a job or career…wanting out of yourself. Though it took me some time to recognize what I was good at AND, simultaneously, what I enjoyed doing, Candelaria really is a continued evolution of previous business ideas and interests. The day I left the last job I had, I thought “I don’t want to work towards someone else’s vision”. And that was that. Read more>>

Meçlâ Soyer-Kaplan | Owner and Designer

To be completely honest, I’ve always hoped I would run my own business and design my own clothing line one day. I learned how to be an entrepreneur from my Father who owned a successful manufacturing business after immigrating to the United States from Turkey. I spent several years waiting for the right opportunity as I worked in the fashion industry for several businesses to gain the experience I needed to start my company. I knew that my combined experience of working in NYC, LA, and Denver would benefit me when the time was right. When it comes to my thought process of starting my business, I knew I wanted to start small to create a seasonless, modern collection that was also ethically made. Read more>>

Jared Scherger | Owner/Mushroom Farmer at Hazel Dell Mushrooms

I’ve got to be honest, if you had asked me even two years ago if I wanted my own business the answer would probably have been no! My wife and I had aspirations to sell hammocks on the beach ten years ago, but priorities change and here we are now. Mushroom farming is niche enterprise that takes specific expertise, the right equipment, crew and know-how. It’s not exactly the type of field with a lot of job openings, so the logical step was to have our own farm. I was lucky to gain most of skills needed to succeed from my mentor, Jim Hammond. Through his encouragement and patience I was able to learn the basics and eventually grow on my own. I look forward to being able to grow the business in a sustainable way and continue to learn from the mycelium! Read more>>

Dr. Angela Tran | Dr. Angela Tran, D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Double Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine)

I spent 11+ years of medical training system only to be thrown into a “failed medical system”. I was writing prescription after prescription and merely putting band-aids on patients when I knew they deserved more. I started Med-Fit Medical Weight Loss to redefine health care and to teach my patients how to have the proper nutrition and exercise to get off their medications, and learn the right tools and behaviors to help them prevent disease and live the healthy lifestyle that allows us the opportunity to live life to the fullest. As a medical weight loss doctor, I have the advantage of helping my patients identify the root cause of weight and hormone issues, unlock the medical barriers keeping them from losing weight, and finally help them be done with dieting for good. Read more>>

Paul Miller | Photographer & Director

I learned pretty early on that I was going to need to start and run my own business. Not being able to implement changes or ideas at other starter jobs, I was frequently frustrated about the need to follow the rules when they didn’t make sense, or when there were better ways to go about doing things. This caused me to look into doing my own thing and make my own rules. It’s quite freeing to be able to create and work in a way that suits me vs. just doing things “the way they’ve always been done.” The flexibility with being able to take free time when you want and need is something that has been a driving force for me. On the same hand though, you are the only one that is going to hold yourself responsible for getting certain things done, like marketing and networking, that are necessary for running a successful business. But I would rather work hard for myself and see the benefits over working hard for a larger company that takes it’s employees for granted. Read more>>

Alex Carneiro | Fitness Studio Owner, Personal Trainer, Author & TV Host

Honestly from a young age I never really wanted to work for anyone else. I’ve only had two bosses in my life. One in college at the Recreational center where I got my first job and then a second boss right after college. One was an amazing leader while the other just liked to tell us what was wrong and never provided solutions to the problems. So I decided to go in business and start my own personal training company at the age of 22 when I knew what I wanted to provide to solve people’s fitness needs and secondly how to deliver it. It’s not that I have an authority problem with someone telling me what to do, it’s that I saw solution to people’s needs faster and wanted to do it my own way and cut the middle man. It definitely takes more work but it’s also 10x more satisfying to work for oneself. Read more>>

Jenny Ruhland | Home Staging and Interior Design

I’ve always had the “Dance to your own beat” and “Walk faster than the rest” mindset. Looking back, the pipe dream was lots of days off and stacks of cash, right? The reality is hard work, sleepless nights, wearing many hats, and changing them often. Learning and navigating all the avenues of a business can be challenging, however, if you’re willing to put in the work, it will give back to you. There are many days I think to myself “It would be easier to work for someone.” then I slap myself and realize what we’ve created, built, and nurtured. As a solopreneur, it isn’t always easy figuring out what it takes to run a business, but you get to feel the joy extra hard when it comes! Read more>>

Mike Davis | Media Generalist & Creative Consultant

Well, I think my desire to have my own business(es) is rooted in my nature as a self-started and entrepreneur. I always love pursuing new ideas and seeing how far I can take them on my own or with the help of collaborators. It’s very fulfilling to have a vision and to bring that vision to fruition by adapting my environment to achieve that end. These adaptations can range from changing my workflow on my computer or in my physical workspace, all the way up to learning entirely new skills. Read more>>

Alejandro Rodriguez | Taco extraordinaire

We wanted to build something of our own. We were tired of being employed by people who under appreciated us, under values and under used. Read more>>

Brooke Orist | Bakery Owner

When starting my business, I knew I needed to keep my full-time job to continue to meet my financial obligations and I had limited savings. I didn’t want to start the business with significant financial debt, so renting a facility that met our needs was our best option rather than renting a space and purchasing all the needed equipment. Working full-time during the day gave me limited hours to operate the business, but it was a good beginning point. I could test my concept without taking too big of a bite about this project. I decided to call other local bakeries to see if renting space from them would be an option and decided weekend evenings would be a good start for our local cookie delivery company. I considered operating a home based business, but knew the menu we wanted to offer I wanted to give this business a try without taking on what I considered too much risk. Read more>>

Lauren Burgess (she/her) | Social Entrepreneur and Career Coach

While I was in undergrad at Rutgers University, I had the opportunity to intern at a middle school for students with autism. This was my first experience working in the field and while it was the most difficult job I had ever had at that point, it was also the most fulfilling. After undergrad and during graduate school, I worked, volunteered and interned for as many organizations I could to find my niche. It was during that work that I really discovered just how systematically oppressed people with disabilities are in our world and that’s when I dreamt up the idea of Garden – a place where people with disabilities could engage with, learn and interact with their community rather than an isolated classroom or program at the back of a gym. Read more>>

Rubi & Mike Powl | Owners of Tiny Dog Leather Studio

In February 2018, we did our first Cupid’s Undies Run in downtown Denver where we finished second in fundraising. We were so impressed with the Cupid’s Charity, which raises money for Neurofibromatosis research, that we wanted to do more. During a week-long Christmas vacation in Estes Park we decided to combine our hobbies – Mike’s love of leather work and Rubi’s love of fashion and graphic design background – to form Tiny Dog Leather Studio. Tiny Dog Leather Studio, which handmakes all of their products, donates 10% of all net proceeds to our Cupid’s Team page Back in 2016, Rubi’s son and Mike’s grandson, Jake Dylan, was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis. Read more>>

Laura Bartnick | Managing Partner & Author

“How hard could it be?” That was my first mistake. Whenever I ask myself that question, it is followed by an experiment and then a test and another experiment and so on until by sheer tenacity and curiosity, I have myself a new label. And, that is how Capture Books began. A writers group had been meeting in my home for years and years. We were dedicated writers and editors for each other, and we were each other’s publishing champions. “Why don’t you submit to this or that magazine?” “Have you thought about getting yourself an agent yet?” “Your writing always reminds me of such and such author.” Read more>>

Chandler Marvin | Tarot Card Reader

I have been reading tarot cards for about 8 years as a fun hobby for family and friends. Once my day job was affected by COVID19, I took the opportunity to turn my passion for reading cards into a business. Many people are looking for answers and healing during the uncertainty this year, and I love bringing them hope and guidance through virtual readings. Read more>>

Jessica Thomas | Jewelry Designer & Owner of Crow Jane Jewelry

I started my business out of a passion and love for designing and making jewelry. My time in art school fueled this passion, and let’s face it, as an artist you have to learn what I call the “art of the hustle”. Basically, finding what it is that you can do creatively to make a living and for me that’s jewelry. Read more>>

Ariel Wishkovsky | Beverage Dude, Proprietor

Opening a health focused and environmentally sustainable beverage company. By utilizing recycled glass, we have found a way to cut costs and achieve notoriety for it. By buying from local farms, we have been able to find a path to tell ethical pricing models and keepings our dollars insulated in the community. Read more>>

Michelle Martello | Licensed Nail Artist & CEO

Starting my own business was a choice that took me a while to make. I had to make the decision between being able to create an environment I feel is positive environment for me and my clients and an environment I can control. I have always been a very creative person who loves to bring happiness and joy to others. Being in the beauty industry that is purpose to bring fulfillment and joy to clients and have them leave feeling beautiful. Nothing brings me more happiness to finish a set on a client and watch them glowing with happiness and admiring my work. It makes all of the other frustrations of being an entrepreneur. Read more>>

Heidi Marquardt | Commercial Interior Designer

It all started in 2008 during the recession right after I was laid off from my job as a residential interior designer in Minneapolis, MN. Within a week of losing my job, my aunt and uncle in Denver, CO contacted me to see if I had time to come to Denver to help them design and manage the construction of their wine bar. I decided it sounded like a great opportunity so I packed up my things and moved to Denver to help them. Designing that wine bar from start to finish was the first time I had been an independent contractor, and it gave me the inspiration and confidence I needed to continue the journey of having my own business and being my own boss. Read more>>

Judd Belstock | Owner – Dos Luces Brewery

I’ve been in the beer industry for 20 years, and have always been an independent-minded entrepreneurial sort. So, when I left my last job, it really just felt like the natural next step in my career. For years, my co-founder and I had been talking about this idea that American beer should include beer styles that precede the European conquest, and so we drew on our personal histories and the 3,000 plus years of brewing history in North and South America for the inspiration that led to Dos Luces Brewery. Read more>>

Erin Chmelik | Website Designer & Developer

For almost my entire career in corporate there was a nagging feeling that it just wasn’t for me. I had gone to college so I figured the next logical step was getting a job at a company where I had benefits and a stable salary. I actually didn’t even had a clue that there were other options. But after years of going from job to job and not really seeing any clear path for me, I decided I needed to make a change, a BIG change. I was working remotely for a company based in Australia and traveling around the world being introduced to people who were also doing the digital nomad thing but working for themselves and that was the first time it really hit me – I loved the lifestyle and freedom but I didn’t want to be tethered to a company that could take that away at any moment. While I was working remotely I started doing web design on the side, first with my own travel blog and then some friend’s businesses and so far and so on until I had my first paying client. Read more>>