Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Laura Brenner | Career Coach & Dentist

I’ve always liked independence. I became a dentist because I was attracted to the idea of working in a small organization and being my own boss. Even as an associate dentist, we often have a lot of autonomy. After just a few years in practice, I became very burnt out and wasn’t enjoying my work. When I realized I had to leave the career and find a new one, I had gotten very used to that independence. I couldn’t imagine going and finding a job where I had to report to a boss. I had always been intrigued by the entrepreneurial spirit, so I chose to go down that path. I don’t really see myself as your typical entrepreneur– the most successful ones seem to have that grit and passion. For years, I struggled to tap into that. When I finally discovered what I wanted to do and how I could help others, starting my own business became effortless. That’s when the grit and passion showed up. At that point, nothing could get in my way. Read more>>

Sandi Calistro | Human Woman

I have helped start 3 tattoo shops now and have finally gone put on my own with this last shop I’ve opened. I’ve focused on creating a space that is more of collective rather than the feeling of having a boss. I don’t think there’s much room for that mentality in the art world. So often it feels like people want to benefit from another person’s talent and hard work. I want to encourage the artists working with me to realize their full potential and thrive in an environment that nurtures their creativity. Read more>>

Adriane and Marco Robinson | Photography Team

Marco received his first DSLR from his father as a birthday present over ten years ago, and quickly took to photography. His first models were mostly his mother, actor friends, and of course the family dogs. When Marco and I met in college, in 2013, I immediately recognized the advanced skill and artful eye Marco had for actor headshots in particular. As most photographers know, headshots are extremely niche, and take many years to master. When we met, Marco was offering to take headshots for our classmates for just $40. I knew that there was potential for so much more, so I took it upon myself to build him a website and create social media accounts. From then on, I was in charge of all client contact, scheduling, and social media management. This allowed Marco the time to work with more clients, improve his skills further, and continue to build a solid reputation for what really became Marco Robinson Photo. Read more>>

Amber Mustain | Floral Designer and Floral Educator

I had previously worked at several retail flower shops and owned by own. I loved creating and connecting with customers, but retail is very demanding when it comes to business hours and being available at all times. My desire was to create beautiful floral designs and be with my family more. So I decided switching my business to a studio florist model and specializing in weddings and special events could achieve both of those desires. Read more>>

Jessica Jacobson | Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Transformational Coach, and Breathwork Facilitator

After fifteen years in Sales, I was completely burnt out. Looking back I feel so grateful for all the opportunities I was given throughout my career. I managed some amazing teams, met so many inspiring people, traveled all over the United States, and developed the skills to succeed in some very competitive industries. The truth is by the end of my career I just wasn’t fulfilled and deep down I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my working years going through the motions and collecting a paycheck. At the end of my life I want to look back and have no regrets. Coaching and empowering other women to thrive has always been my passion. Also, having to the freedom to create my own schedule and work from anywhere in the world was so important to me as well. In August 2019 I took the leap and Nourish was born. Read more>>

Richardo Jones | Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business has everything to do with adding value to our planet. I wanted to create something that everyone could use, recycle, and give back to someone else. Creating Precipitate as a bottled water company encompasses that vision because everyone can drink water, the containers used to hold the water can be recycled, and with my donation program people can give back bottled water to our youth who participates in sports or recreational programs. Read more>>

Rebecca Valles | Real Estate Agent & Hair Stylist

Deciding to start in Real Estate was a thought I had lingering for some time. I began my self-employed journey as a hair stylist in 2016, I’ve built a successful business for myself, but I truly knew I was made for more. This is when I decided to pursue a career in real estate. For a long time, I let myself believe that I can only be one thing, that I could only do one thing. I was great and did well for myself being a hair stylist and that should be enough for me. It was a narrative I told myself when that burning desire of wanting more would arise. I would tuck the idea of pursing another career deep down because I felt that if I pursued a new career, I couldn’t do hair anymore or that it meant I probably wasn’t as passionate about hair anymore. Man, was that so far from the truth. It almost feels silly to reflect that I really felt that way. At the time I didn’t have anyone in my social circle who I could relate my desires with. Therefore, my mind was stuck on “It’s not possible to do it all” This was my narrative for some time until I began what I like to call my self-help journey. Read more>>

Gabby Tandberg | Personal Color Analyst

I never thought I’d start my own business. It was never really in my plans. However, once I had my life transformed once I discovered my power colors, I just felt that other women should know about this kind of service and would benefit from having a lift in their confidence levels while simplifying their closets and remove one piece that causes overwhelm in the lives of busy women, mothers and professions. I wanted other women to experience what I experienced after my color analysis – that was the motivator behind my decision to start Dress Your Colors. I had struggled my entire life with indecision as to what looked best on me and always felt overwhelmed with too many choices of colors at the stores and would often leave stores either empty-handed (afraid of making the wrong decision) or with half the store in bags because I’d but all colors available of the same item because I didn’t know which color I should be buying that would actually look better on me. I lived in black, beige and gray. I thought they were universal colors. Read more>>

Eric Robert Dallimore | Artistic Director & Founder – Leon Gallery. Artist. Arts Educator.

Leon started in 2011 out of a need in the Denver area to create an art gallery that was more forward-thinking than the traditional commercial galleries which existed. At that point, I had lived in Denver for 6 years and had become close with a number of remarkable artists across the city. I quickly realized that a lot of these creatives were often overlooked because they were just starting out their careers or their ideas were too radical to sell in a commercial setting. It was out of this void that the concept for Leon was born. Leon was created to celebrate the boldest and most profound works that artists were envisioning. I suppose we were trailblazers in that sense, but in reality, it was just common sense to me. Leon is a place that said yes to audacious and intelligent ideas, yes to hard work, yes to undaunted expression, without any limitations about the superfluous factors surrounding artists’ works and their careers. Creativity is an expression that exists without limitations inside the artist’s mind. Read more>>

Amelia Horton | Founder & Digital Marketing Guru

I started down the path of starting my own business because I wanted more freedom with my work and knew I had enough self-motivation to go off on my own. In addition, when I was in the corporate world, I become bored with jobs very quickly and was constantly seeking a change or the opportunity to learn more. I figured if I could find my passion and work in that capacity on a daily basis, I’d be more satisfied and fulfilled with my work rather than constantly seeking something better. After drawing these conclusions, my business was born. Read more>>

Dr. Dan Perry | Chiropractor To The Stars……….You At Your Office

The main thought process of me starting my own business was to work for myself. I was tired of seeing parts of work that were over worked and under valued. I decided to go to chiropractic college in 2008 and started with first finishing my undergrad. I finished school and thought the next steps were going to fall into place. Well long story short they didn’t go as planned. I had to take a huge step back and reevaluate what and why I became a chiropractor. I finally realized that helping employees at their location was where I needed to focus. I found that taking a step back and some times doing the opposite is the key to unlocking the challenge in front of us. Read more>>

Jamie Manning | Family Photographer

I’ve always loved photography. It’s always been something that has brought out a passion and fire in me. And when I had my son, I craved to document every moment possible. But as a single mom, I couldn’t afford much when it came to buying portrait sessions to document his growth. So for the first few years, I saved until I could buy myself my own camera. I YouTubed everything, practiced on him every chance I could get, and eventually started taking photos of family and friends. After a year or two of learning, practicing, and improving I was encouraged by family and friends to start my business after sharing my work. It was intimidating for sure, but photography is something that takes away the mundane of life and sparked a passion and love for documentation that I’m still actively pursuing every day! It provides a way to do something I love to do every day while earning an income for my little family as well. Read more>>

Sean Ziemba | Chiropractic Physician and Strength Coach

Starting my own business has always been an interest of mine but it wasn’t always in the field of Chiropractic. I have a passion for cooking and I originally wanted to open a restaurant. While in my undergraduate studies, I was a competitive cyclist. My coach and one of my greatest mentors owned his own chiropractic practice. I learned so much from him and I saw the influence he had on each of his patients and the local community. He inspired me to become a Chiropractor, to open my own practice, and to make a positive contribution to my community here in Lakewood. Since then, I have a had several other mentors who were not only incredible chiropractors, but also provided education and resources for the patients they served to promote health outside of the office. I knew that once I had the chance, I would open my own clinic as well. Read more>>

Phaedra Culjak | Founder

Having started a few companies previously, some more successful than others, I’m always looking for opportunites to start a new venture. With 2020 being such a difficult year for most of us, I wanted to look at ways to help my local community. I realized that so many jobs in restraurants, as well as other professions, will not be coming back with so many permanent closures of those businesses. I noticed at the end of last summer that many of these folks who were displaced from their jobs were taking an entrepreneural approach and starting new businesses in what I refer to as “local craft food” with meal services, products like salsas and pickles, and baked goods that they wanted to sell to their neighbors, family and friends. I observed many struggling to market online and reach their audience locally. I knew then there was an opportuntity to build a local craft food marketplace where everyone in the community could go discover unique and delicious food and those local chefs, bakers and makers could focus on what they best–making delicous food. Read more>>

Ariel Haynes | Birth Doula and Photographer

Honestly, when I first started, I didn’t even see it as a business. I had no idea that’s what it would become. I knew I wanted to support pregnant people though. I knew that birth is impactful and I wanted it to have a good imprint on people and I wanted to improve birth for birthing people. Eventually, a business is what that became, but even now it feels too good to be a business. Read more>>

Megan Hannan | Yoga Teacher & Birth Doula

Fresh from college I started working for a foreign policy think tank, it was a traditional business with traditional structures. After spending a number of years there, I realized that while there were definite benefits (very consistent pay, for example), it wasn’t the right fit for me! I had the opportunity 5 and a half years ago to remake things, and I decided to pursue my two passions (yoga and birth), and combine them into my own business. I have full flexibility, and am able to adjust my schedule around my daughter’s schooling. I’m able to say yes to the things that excite me, and say no to things that aren’t right for me. It can be a scary jump to make, but its been so worth it. Read more>>

Peggy Lee | Professional Portrait Photographer

I had actually started my photography journey in 1985. I was married to my first husband at the time and had a 5 year old, and a full-time job in accounting for an oil and gas company. I had always wanted to be a professional photographer, so I decided to enroll at the Colorado Art Institute for night classes. For one grueling year, while continuing my full-time job, I went to night school every single night of the work week and doing homework assignments and studying all weekends. I graduated in 1986 with a large student debt, but a wealth of knowledge that I knew, would someday, be of great use. Just not then. I was out of money and it would have taken a whole lot to actually open a business at that time and that wasn’t in the cards. I shot quite a few weddings between then and 2007, though, and all with film. Digital hadn’t quite come to the forefront yet at that time. I knew that weddings weren’t going to be what I wanted to stick with and the “Zillas” were too much to deal with. Read more>>

Sal Albert | Breathworker, Yogi, Crystal Witch

I wanted to start Improbable Reality, my mala making business and yoga/breathwork facilitation, for a variety of reasons. Creating an “improbable reality” was part of my evolution into exploring my purpose, worth, consciousness, and connection to ALL–mother earth and her people. As I leaned into teaching and learning more about yogic traditions, breathwork and crystals called my name. I wanted to work with energy, and found these practices allowed to me be a bridge for others to do deep inner work. Ultimately, working on my own schedule and continuing my own education in these fields were the main inspirations for me to start this business. To this day, I am still hesitant to say I am a jewelry maker, because making these meditation necklaces is about so much more than that. So, I am evolving in an organic way, growing slowly and striving to make sure my mission stays authentic and organic. Read more>>

Emily Backus | Graphic Designer, Founder of Human Nature Designs

I started Human Nature Designs as a way to both live out my creative dreams and honor the force that continually gives me a place of rest within myself – nature. It is in our DNA to derive peace from singing birds and inspiration from sunsets. We are naturally drawn to love, appreciate, and preserve our planet because our survival depends on it. This is how deep the human-nature connection is, and why the memories you make outdoors are visceral and wildly colorful. The “Human Nature Designs” name and logo attempts to capture this connection, and each design is inspired by my most colorful moments in nature. As a Colorado native, I grew up using the outdoors as a place to ski, run, hike, bike, and be. Yet in the last few years, it has taken on a much larger role in my life. Nature has become the “larger than I” system I can look to when I lose sight of myself in the daily details. Read more>>

Samantha Bozin | Founder & Director of Fentress Films

I studied acting and film at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) conservatory program in New York City. The program at AADA was amazing and I am so grateful I went there, because it really set me up for success to be a working, thriving artist after graduation. During my time at AADA, so many of my teachers said over and over again, “create your own art” because it’s the easiest way to make connections and get your foot in the door in this industry. After I first graduated in 2018, I didn’t really think much of that advice and instead worked my butt off to search for preexisting acting gigs in the city. Overall, I was pretty successful at auditioning and booking gigs, and I am so grateful for every opportunity I was given to act, but I still felt a sense of unfulfilled passion. I wanted to create art for social change and talk about subjects that were important to me personally, like medication affordability, dealing with loss and grief, and the American political system. Read more>>

David Bondarchuck | Caterer, Author, TV Chef, and Artist

Scratch Catering Services (My catering company) honestly happened by accident. When I was a teen I was homeless, and at the shelter they gave me bus token which i used to ride the city bus down to the public library. There I immersed myself in books, and discovered Martha Stewart. I thought that this lady would help me to live the “beautiful life” something that actually seemed attainable, if I worked hard and everyday to better myself. Soon I returned to school, graduated, and started building a better live for myself. One thing I realized early on that while making things “from scratch” was fun and yielded better results- I was often left with so much excess. Knowing what it was like not to have anything, I started giving away my baked goods, and inviting people over for dinner when I tested new recipes. I wanted to make life beautiful. I didn’t want to be seen as a poor former homeless-man, I wanted people to see me the person. Read more>>

Chris Motley | Founder & CEO, Mentor Spaces

I’ve always enjoyed serving others. I was a barber in high school, and really enjoyed not only helping my friends look good, but also the conversations that took place as I was cutting their hair. My view is that every individual is a small business, and if we can help others achieve their goals then our “business” grows. Since then, my thought process was to leverage my strengths to build the skill set and network to serve others in scalable ways. My professional experiences at Goldman Sachs, and then at a global manufacturer, 1888 Mills, revealed that much of my success was serendipitous. I realized that there was a massive opportunity to leverage technology to create career serendipity for people who look like me; to serve others in a scalable way. Mentor Spaces, a virtual mentorship platform, was born. Read more>>

Ted Church | Principal, Founder & Branding Specialist | Anthem Branding

I co-founded Anthem Branding in 2006 – inspired by the idea of creating a best-in-class, Tactile Design and Sourcing Agency. Our goal for the business is to rid the world of bland and boring promotional products and apparel. We believe design is meant to be felt, not just seen. We bring strategic thinking, high-quality design, and flawless execution. We design with equal parts beauty and strategy. And we touch hearts, minds, and hands through curated apparel and branded products that connect with consumers in lasting, emotional ways. Read more>>

Ben Fox | Virtual Event Producer, President & Owner of Matrix Events

I have always wanted to start my own business. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My parents ran a management consulting firm when I was growing up and my sister has her own consultancy too. It was never a question of if but when I would jump into the crazy world of entrepreneurship. I have had the opportunity to work directly for 4 business owners over the last 10 years and I learned what it takes to run a successful company. When I was laid off in late 2018 and got a nice severance package – it was time to make my move. My wife and I were very nervous, but we always bet on ourselves and together we started Matrix Events. Read more>>

Michelle Martinez | Entrepreneur

I was in a very bad car accident that left me with a broken knee, a severe concussion and injuries to my neck. I had to have surgery on my knee, infusions in my neck and I still go to the neurologist every 3 months to get injections in my head, face, neck and shoulders. I’m severely allergic to opioids. So after having surgery the Dr. gave me pain meds for my pain and they made me so sick i ended up with severe atrophy in my knee because I couldn’t walk or move.. I literally suffered without pain meds until I was introduced to CBD for pain management. It helped me recover and I started researching more about CBD. Because of my background, (I’m a hairdresser/make up artist) I have the knowledge of how to make and create holistic, organic products. I started researching more, then started creating my own line. I gave products to my industry friends and to pro athletes who I work with and the feedback was so great I just kept going with new products and here I am, 3 years later loving what I’m creating. Read more>>

Lauren Dow | Author

After becoming unemployed during COVID-19, I knew there was a significant shift I needed to make in my life. For almost a decade, I had been working in a field that didn’t fulfill me. My mental health was at a significant decline, and I decided there was no better time than now to take charge of my future (and my present) by focusing on writing and publishing my first book. From there, the rest continued to spiral in the best way possible. I now have officially released my first novel, In Body I Trust, for preorder and am currently working on building the website for my next endeavor along with being an author, but to also create an independent publishing house, New Luna Press. NLP’s mission is to help aspiring writer’s become published authors. There are so many individuals that have stories to tell. They just don’t have the tools or knowledge to be able to do so. I want to help other people tell their stories because I discovered how healing and powerful it was to tell my own. So now, I can proudly say that I’m a published author, with my own independent publishing house in the works. Read more>>

Nikki Collier | Entrepreneur

It started with the desire to satisfy my dream of being an entrepreneur. It blossomed into a reality when I found a problem that needed to be solved, and a void that needed to be filled in the pet food market. Entrepreneurship is not very natural for most, but growing up it was a way of life. My father, grandpa, and uncle were all business owners, so I was exposed to the risks and rewards that often accompany this career path. I have always been drawn to the independence, learning opportunities, creative freedom, and lifestyle of working for yourself. For me, these potential rewards of business ownership far outweigh the potential risks. I desperately wanted to forge my own path and was constantly open to new ideas. After a decade of working for multinational corporations, my passions of both dogs and craft beer came together as a viable idea to launch a business around. I spent a good couple of years considering how to make this happen, so when the right opportunity arose, I had zero hesitation. Read more>>

Colorado End-of-Life Collaborative | A 501c6 Nonprofit Membership Organization For End-of-Life Doulas and Affiliates Who Are Vetted, Trusted and Compassionate Service Providers in End-of-Life and Senior Care.

The Colorado End-of-Life Collaborative is a 501c6 nonprofit membership organization, led by a volunteer board of directors. The collaborative, which launched in March 2020, was created to bring together end-of-life doulas and other end-of-life and senior/aging service providers who want to help change the way we “do death” in our communities. Co-founded and led by a group of five trained, professional end-of-life doulas (a.k.a. death doulas, death midwives), the collaborative provides ongoing support and community for its doula members. It also nurtures relationships with other vetted and trusted end-of-life service providers as a way of giving clients reliable referrals for affiliate needs. Through its Speaker’s Bureau, the Collaborative works to increase awareness of what end-of-life doulas offer the dying and their families, as well as educate the community on end-of-life topics and trusted resources. Read more>>

Georgia Heslop | Owner and Founder of Jo’s Body Shop

My thought process behind starting Jo’s Body Shop was to create a brand that was eco-friendly, effective, natural, and accessible in terms of pricing and availability. Read more>>

Cathy Kowalski | Executive Director, Service Dog Trainer, Therapy Dog Trainer

I was working for a service dog organization that trained rescue dogs and then paired them with Veterans and civilians with a disability, however they had a 2 to 5 year wait list. I realized that many individuals with a disability already had a great dog that could possibly be trained to become their service dog, but they were on a wait list for another dog. With 22 Veterans committing suicide per day, they didn’t have years to wait for something that might change their life. I knew how to train the dogs, I knew how to interview prospective clients, so it seemed like a good way to make a difference. In addition, by training in the client’s home or environment, the clients would be comfortable. Another plus – the dog is already bonded to the client. Clients needing a dog are assisted by us to find a dog. The dog is able to live with the client immediately in a home and not a kennel environment like most of the service dog organizations – it seemed like a win win. Read more>>

Cora Wheeler | Artist

About 10 years ago, I was working as a pediatric dental hygienist. As a hobby/on the side, I was working as a freelance floral designer and painting custom art. As my family began to grow with more children, it was getting harder and harder to balance work and family. I realized I needed to pivot. By starting my own business as an artist, I was able to work out of my home and able to help with the the day to day activities with the kids. Plus, I was now doing something I absolutely loved. Read more>>

Natalie & Hannah diSanto | Co-Owners/Operators and Sisters

We have always been passionate about natural healing, with Natalie, our founder having a deep love for herbalism. Natalie discovered fermented tea (kombucha) through her explorations with holistic health. We saw the benefits that kombucha brought to our own bodies and began to share with friends and family. After our inner circle began to drink us dry we decided to get licensed and bring our ‘buch to the Farmer’s Markets. From there, we have continued to expand our circle of sharing to all of Northern Colorado and opened our tasting room in March 2018. Read more>>

Shannon Cox Baker | Affordable Housing/Community Developer

I’ve always loved the creative process behind real estate development – the “sausage-making” is complex and interesting and full of surprises. The fact that I could also have a tangible impact on peoples lives and solve pressing social equity problems through the development of affordable housing communities – specifically those enriched with supportive services – made me even more determined to start a company focused exclusively on empowering the disempowered. And, also… I saw other people doing a terrible job at running affordable housing development companies and I thought, what am I waiting for? I can do it better. Read more>>

Kimberly Gonzales | CEO and Inventor

Being a mother of three, pet lover and I currently own an eco friendly cleaning company and I would have so many products for different uses. I was feeling overwhelmed and the amount of money I was spending and time to clean was frustrating. So after years of experimenting I came up with the perfect all natural, non toxic cleaning product that could simplify your life and bring back that joy in your home making cleaning fun again. Read more>>

Amber Martinez | Wedding Planning & Design

I am a planner by nature and finding an excuse to bring people together in celebration has always brought me so much joy. After a few years in college of planning events for my sorority, I decided that I loved it enough to go to graduate school for Student Affairs in Higher Education at the University of Arkansas (woo pig!). Since then, I’ve spent my time as a professional working in the education industry for a number of different institutions planning events from 8 people to 4,000 people. Then, in 2019 my husband proposed and I had the opportunity to plan my own wedding. Set aside the stress of planning around a pandemic – I had the absolute time of my life putting it all together! The ability to be creative and find sneaky little ways to tie the “story of us” into our wedding day was incredibly important but also really exciting to brainstorm. Read more>>