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.

Tim and Brownie Richardson | Founders/Directors of Hope Advanced

The thought process was what could I do to help people who had “life wrecks” and lost their way, gone off the rails and now wanted to get back on track. What could I do to help stop the failure most have when they try to come back on their own. Many people are under the impression if they just “suck it up” and bravely go forward that they can succeed on their own. The opposite is true. People need people to come along side of them and help them, encourage them, show them the way forward. Most people will succeed in moving forward toward their best life with others helping them. Read more>>

Julie Rhodes | CEO-Consultant-Public Speaker-Author

My business, Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions, is all about teaching small to medium-sized craft beverage brands how to increase their business knowledge, even if they are limited in time and resources. I specialize in teaching craft beverage professionals how to improve their sales, optimize their digital marketing tactics, and create more profitable relationships with their distributor partners. You just need to learn how to work smarter, and not harder, to get a leg up in our highly competitive market. The idea for my company stems from the fact that most professional brewers come from a background of homebrewing, which is a pretty intense hobby, but once you apply for a business license and you have customers, you have a full-fledged business, not a hobby. One lesson that I love passing along is never to take any conversation for granted. Read more>>

Margaux Kent | Thing Maker + Story Gatherer

There wasn’t too much of a thought process! I’d had a business (and others before) when I met Walter. We just joined forces and strengthened each other through the process. I believe anything is possible, and I am also okay with changing course if something isn’t going well. Read more>>

Morgana LeBold | HBIC and Owner of Red Door Social

I started my own business because I wanted to help business owners. I’ve always had a servant’s heart, and thought I had found my purpose when I was an Account Executive working with health, commercial, home, and auto insurance. It was so fulfilling to be able to educate people on the ins and outs of insurance, and I enjoyed helping to protect individuals, their families, and their livelihood. As I was working in the insurance industry, I volunteered to spearhead my company’s social media marketing, and found that the agency they had hired was charging an arm and a leg for weekly conference calls, but they weren’t implementing anything on our behalf. As I talked with other business owners at networking events, I found that most, if not all, had been duped by a marketing agency in the past. I knew there was an opportunity to serve this community of business owners in a more meaningful way; protecting them as fervently as I protected my insurance clients. Read more>>

Tiffany Wall DC | Chiropractor

I wanted to flexibility and freedom of setting my hours/changing my hours. Being an involved mom has always been important to me so I wanted that freedom. Read more>>

Dale Novak | Illustrator

Starting a new business or career takes time and patience. The more planning that is involved, the more you can pinpoint the direction that you would like to take your business. Be willing to take critiques and adjust to the environments around you. Throughout the last twelve years, my art career has shaped and evolved through inspiration from my peers and the experiences that I’ve had along the way. Being willing to learn from your mistakes is also key. I’ve had to start many of my illustrations over, due to a lack of planning or a critique that I got along the way. Networking and having a support system is great because it helps move your career forward. I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for friends that supported my artwork when I was just starting out. Read more>>

Lindsie Blair | Artist

Truthfully, I never intended to start a business. It was just a hobby at first, I thought I would create things and then maybe sell a few things. Slowly, overtime and lots of creating I realized it wasn’t a hobby anymore and I started treating it like the business that it had become. There were ample mistakes along the way and so, so much learning but I realized I enjoyed the business side of things as well as the creating. In the beginning, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to say I wanted to start a business. I have no business degree, actually I have no college degree. But I’m 8 years into this business, still learning and growing. I love encouraging other women find the courage to step out of their comfort zones and get started in a small business doing something they love even if they don’t have a business degree or knowledge. Read more>>

Julia DeSarro | Intuitive Healer, Reiki Master, Spiritual Savage

Basically, I just thought that it was time to muster up the courage to follow through with my dreams! I listened to my intuition and it led me down a path that has brought me nothing but joy and fulfillment on such a soul level! Over the course of the last few years I have discovered my entrepeneurial spirit and I cleared limiting beliefs around the idea that I wasn’t the “type of person” who starts their own business. Once I started to envision myself as my own boss, everything started to kind of fall into place. I had been working on my certification program in Reiki for just under a year and wasn’t even looking for a space in Fort Collins when one just kind of fell in my lap. Even before I felt confident in my practice, I started booking appointments. I’ve always had a “throw me to the wolves,” mentality with whatever kind of work I do, and this was no different. Read more>>

Emily Carter | Photographer & Digital Artist

I’ve always romanticized the idea of being able to work on whatever schedule I want. I’m the kind of person who loves to stay up late (it’s my most creative time), and sleep in till 9:00 am. There are not many typical jobs out there that allow for that kind of schedule, unless you work afternoon or night shifts somewhere. I wanted to love what I did and love when I got to do it: be able to have a completely flexible schedule. Some people love having a routine…I don’t. I get bored and stuck when I have a routine to follow day in and day out for weeks. I end up feeling like a robot person, my body on autopilot just doing what it knows we need to do. When I imagine what I want out of life, it’s adventure and excitement and passion for what I do. Starting my own business would let me have that. Read more>>

Sayon Chandrakanthan | Founder of Advanced Autoponics, LLC

My mother has been growing and caring for plants since I can remember. I used to think it was a lot of work, but later grew to like the amount of plants inside our house. This was especially true during the winter months in Wisconsin. Every Summer we would take the plants outside and every winter we would bring them inside. She would take cuttings of her plants to create more plants. I was pretty extraordinary especially since she learned to do this from family back in Jaffna. Once Winter we brought her plants inside and she placed them around the house. Unfortunately some of them had to go in the basement, by a little window. A lot of these plants didn’t receive enough light. I went online and bought some grow lights to replace the basements lights with. Then my mind went into engineering mode and I bought a light switch to automatically set the when the lights turned off and on. Read more>>

Tara Picklo | Yoga Teacher RYT 500 & Yoga Therapist in Training

Lov Yoga grew out entrepreneurial spirit as well as adversity and loss. My late husband, Nate, was a creative entrepreneur and we founded and ran coffee shops in Vail and Eagle, Colorado named Yeti’s Grind. Together we built community around coffee and bikes for a decade. Along the way he also began a custom bike business, Lov Bikes. Unfortunately, during this busy phase of life he was diagnosed for the second time with cancer (stage 3 melanoma in 2009 which resurfaced as stage 4 in 2015). Thankfully we had some really amazing years in between serving coffee and smiles to the Vail Valley community, riding and racing bikes while also living life to the fullest. After he passed away in 2016 I felt lost because we had been together for 16 years and everything reminded me of him, leaving me with a gaping hole within my heart. Read more>>

Dawn Marsh | Owner / Co-Founder of Brush Crazy

It was an inspiration more than a thought.. I had been in the apparel business, screen printing and embroidery for most of my career. From Colorado to Arizona to Montana to Texas. I had been praying to move to another industry when we found ourselves driving from TX to MT for one of the kids graduation from college, I had been working in the paint and sip industry for 6 weeks and was very happy with the creative change. About 1/2 an hour out of Austin, our former employees called and said they were not going to make it in the apparel business and we found ourselves back in MT re-selling the business. Right then I heard/felt the Lord say “start your own paint and sip business” which I was not thrilled about at first, as business is very difficult for me, but soon after when we started coming up with names and making lists, I was all in. I created 5 paintings each weekend in between finishing out apparel and sign orders and selling the T-shirt equipment and we opened Brush Crazy in Great Falls Montana on July 14, 2014 with 20 paintings. Read more>>

Ryan & Lindsay Longenecker | Owners

We chose to start our own business while we were pregnant with our daughter Lucy. Ryan was working at a job that paid well, but he was miserable. After a year of working there and searching for another job, Ryan decided to leave and start the business full time in May of 2018. We decided happiness was far more important than income. Ryan opened Collective Mind Technologies in November 2017, working on the business in his free time and offering free tech support at coworking spaces. After Lucy was born, Lindsay decided to leave her job in February 2019 and join Ryan in running the business. Once Lindsay joined, we were able to expand our video production side of the business. Ultimately, we really wanted to have more time with our daughter and not be tied to a job, working 40+ hours a week away from our family. Also, we both have always been entrepreneurial minded and working for ourselves felt like the right fit. Read more>>

Kay and Sam McKenzie and Daniels | Hatmakers

For years now, I have had entrepreneurial pursuits. As a metalworker and artist of other sorts, I have had my own company Spiral Moon Designs for about three years now, selling mostly at markets and art fairs. Once we got going with the hatmaking, it was an obvious step for us that we had to create a company and get our stuff out there. Read more>>

Ralph GIORDANO | Film/Video Producer & Director

I started ArchAngel Productions over 20 years ago. At the time there weren’t many independent video production facilities in Colorado Springs, so I was one of very few. Plus at that time we all knew each other and had great business relationships even though we were in competition for certain types of production business. Read more>>

Junmo Lee | Professional Photographer

I had been in the corporate world for over 21 years. I was climbing the ladder working my way up to more and more responsibilities and in turn bigger titles and more pay. But at the end of the day I wasn’t really satisfied on how my professional life was going. And on top of that I was feeling burned out not to mention the stress that came along with the job. During this time, I had gotten back into photography, something I have always loved since I could remember. I even developed my own film and created my own prints back in high school, but I didn’t pursue photography into college because it was an expensive “hobby” on a college student’s budget. But I kept on shooting. I would be the designated photographer for the student organizations I joined. Shooting on slides instead of creating my own prints helped with the cost back in those days. Read more>>

Michelle Johnson | Owner

If you’re anything like me, when Sunday rolls around you are looking to unwind before the start of the new week. Part of unwinding for me includes reading magazines with a glass of wine on the patio, taking a bubble bath with new products, or simply just lighting a candle and watching my favorite Bravo show. I have always had a passion for candles and loved how they could set a certain mood or even bring you back to a certain memory. Growing up, my mom always had candles going. The two that I will never forget are Home Sweet Home + Apple Orchard by Yankee. Anyone else? In 2018, I was determined to teach myself all of the tricks of candle making, but what I didn’t realize was that there were so many toxic products in big box candles. Most of the candles are filled with paraffin, a petroleum waste that releases carcinogenic soot as it burns, potentially causing respiratory issues and cancer. Read more>>

Jennifer O’Connell | Attorney Representing Victims of Trauma

I came from the world of big law firms and heavy volume practice. I was in that realm for ten years, and I found it extremely difficult to really dig in to my client’s cases – the things that separate them from the pack and the uniqueness of their lives and stories. In my industry, being able to do that is what makes the difference between a good lawyer and a great one, and in many scenarios, it makes the difference in the value you can bring to the client at the end of the day. With this firm, I refuse to get too big to really learn my client’s lives and the idiosyncrasies of their individual cases and claims. The other perk to that is we only have to work with the client’s we really mesh well with and who also have that feeling in return. Nothing good comes of working relationships that aren’t built on trust and reciprocity. Because our business plan includes keeping a strategy in terms of size, we can pick and choose the relationships that support us and our clients. Being the best is not about quantity, it’s about quality. Read more>>


Max Schecher | Vice President

Construction isn’t easy don’t; let anyone tell you otherwise. This isn’t something that we do just for the paycheck. We take a lot of pride in being able to take a step back and admire the work. The amount of effort and energy required to do a great job is often undervalued and overlooked in this industry. On top of that, generally speaking, contractors get a bad rap. We hear horror stories all the time of people taking deposits and never showing up to do the work, leaving jobs unfinished and never coming back, or just doing sub-par work, which frankly can be extremely dangerous. That’s not what we’re about. We saw an opportunity to take our skills, ambition, and charisma and try to make some serious change in this industry. What we offer is a beautiful finished product and unparalleled customer service. Construction can be a loud, disruptive, and messy ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be. One of our main goals is to have our clients enjoy the construction process from start to finish, especially since many people are working from home these days. Read more>>

Sienna Trapp Bowie | CoFounder, Fortuna

We are queer, latinx, feminist chocolate makers and have spent all of our adult lives exploring borders. All three of us have backgrounds in the arts; multi-lingual opera, analogue music composition, visual mixed media art. As a result we are confidant in our ability to commit to a creative concept and work towards its manifestation. For us, Fortuna is an art collective or a band and we come from that perspective as co-founders of our business. Read more>>

Gorodn Coopman III | Personal Trainer

My thought process was I needed something to build that I can be proud of. I enjoy a challenge, and what’s harder then putting it all on the line and walking the path less traveled. though I don’t always have all the answers making mistakes on this journey is the sole thing that keeps me humble and ambitious to continue learning. Saint Wrong abbreviated St_rong is lifestyle brand that teaches others that our wrongs are not mistakes if we don’t continue to repeat them but rather grow into someone who can teach those lessons to others also know as a saint. Read more>>

William Reeves | Leather Craftsman

Growing up I was always one of the kids who was pretty good at art and making things, so I have always enjoyed creative things, and because of that, I have always owned some type of creative small business since I was in early high school. With that in mind, I have always been interested in old world ‘lost arts” as I call them (i.e. pottery, blacksmithing, glass blowing, leather craft etc.) Around 2011, I was really into watching blacksmiths and similar creatives on the internet. In 2012 I moved from Philadelphia to Denver with my now wife. Obviously I could not become a “smithy” in a 2 bedroom apartment, my neighbors would kill me or I would light the building on fire. So as i fell into the youtube whirlwind of artisans, I discovered some leather crafters and thought it was really cool, since you can essentially make almost anything from leather. It also did not take up a lot of room to get started and did not make much noise at all (good for the neighbors). I started it as a hobby in 2012 and I called it Quiet Leather Works because I could not become a blacksmith, and now I have been full time for almost 9 years. Read more>>

Keilen Shigematsu | Chef & Owner

I have always wanted to build a company where food was used on the focal point to bring people together and start conversations. The catering and personal chef services were just the initial starting point of the company. Read more>>

Jackson Gould | Entrepreneur & Video Producer

Starting my own business was something I was interested in from a young age. My dad is an entrepreneur, so I grew up around it. I also had a string of absolutely terrible bosses and thought I could do it better myself. I had been working in the music industry for a few years, but also had a background and college degree in video production. After spending lots of money on bad concert videos for my bands, I bought some cameras and started doing it myself. 6 years later, I am still filming a ton of concerts but have also branched out to corporate work, weddings, real estate, and live streaming. Read more>>

Michele Messenger | Encaustic Artist

A few years ago I found myself making more and more art, getting better at it, receiving praise for it and then, ultimately, being asked if I’d like to participate — in a small way — in an art fair. That experience was very successful and it was clear that making and selling art was going to be a new thing for me. I’m a full-time freelance graphic artist, but finding the time to make art was an easy thing to fit into my days, weeks and months. Making, marketing, exploring, teaching…it all became a part of me and my story. Read more>>

Terence Rogers | Chef/Owner TBD Foods

When I was finishing college it was in the midst of the great recession and jobs were scare, people seemed to be able to make a living in more non traditional ways and that was very exciting to me. I had always do some small jobs for myself in the past but I really wanted to move into working for myself. The idea of putting in long days and working hard seemed a lot more exciting when it was for myself and my company instead of someone else’s. Read more>>


Taylor / Paige Daugherty / Michael | Photographer & Videographer / RN & Online Coach

We wanted to have a place that we could not only utilize for our own businesses – Taylor being photo and video based and Paige being online training, product, and social media based – but also a place that we could make an impact in our local creative community and beyond. Read more>>

Samantha Farley | Founder and CEO of PEOPLEPROUD

I’ve always had the drive to want to start something on my own and have the flexibility and freedom within my career. Having your own business lets you run your day the way you want to, rather than working a 9-5 for someone else. I also enjoy the challenge of starting a business and seeing what I can and cannot do. Some people like to spend their money on going out for drinks with friends… I like to spend my money on starting businesses! It is truly a fun process for me. Read more>>

Karen Hertz | Chief Brewista and Founder of Holidaily Brewing Company

Holidaily Brewing Company is a combination of my education, work life and personal life. I have an MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Colorado at Denver and had 10 years of beer industry experience, primarily at Molson Coors. In my personal life I was impacted with health issues. In 2007 I was diagnosed with melanoma and in 2008 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and an autoimmune thyroid disease. After surgery and radiation treatments, doctors recommended a gluten-free diet. I discovered for most foods and beverages I could find a replacement or just eliminate that food. Beer, however, had very few options and the quality of those that did exist didn’t compare to the booming, traditional craft beer quality happening around me in Colorado. Read more>>

Ashley Easton | Traveling Bridal Hair and Makeup Artist

The idea to start my own business began when I moved to a small agricultural community with a good amount of summer tourism. I had quit my cushy, commissioned hair stylist career of 8 years at the amazing ‘Swank Salon’ to physically help my significant person build our home. You know when a flip switches, and you just can not do what you were doing before even though it was great?! I toyed around with the idea of starting a local restaurant for income. I debated getting a job at a vet office. I even considered bartending! My better half would always say, “why don’t you get into wedding hair?” 🧐 Stubbornness, that was why. I knew there were a handful of wedding venues within an hour of my town and I couldn’t find anyone local who was specializing in bridal hair and makeup. I thought, if I keep ignoring this opportunity I am dense. Read more>>

Ed Gazvoda | Fireless Cremation System Manufacturer

My dearly departed company, Cycled Life, sold the first alkaline hydrolysis system to a funeral director in OH, back in 2010. After selling a second system, Cycled Life was bought out by my manufacturer, Bio Response Solutions. In January 2019, I decided to personally invest in creating a better system and chemical process than my original system. Working together, two UNC professors of biochemistry, a former Ball Aerospace system engineer, and myself invented a much faster system than my original one. Last month, we sold both the “crematory” business and funeral home, Sustainable Funeral®, which I had been operating, since 8/19. Now, I am focused solely on manufacturing and selling our Alkaline Hydrolysis 2.0™ system: the FC500. Here are a few of the numerous problems with the existing alkaline hydrolysis systems: • Dangerous high-temperature systems. Read more>>


Jessica Austin | Owner, Mrs. Fancy Plants

I opened Mrs. Fancy Plants at the beginning of COVID-19. When I was buying my own plants, all of the shops were 15 or more miles from me, making it a long journey to and from the plant shop. When I started Mrs. Fancy Plants, I wanted to offer a plant shopping option on my side of town. My hope is to make unique and healthy houseplants and florals accessible and convenient for my community!. Read more>>

Kelly Turk | Associate Broker- West and Main Homes

I have a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. I have worked with at-risk youth in the State of Colorado for over 10 years. Although I love what I do, from 2019-2020 I went through a divorce. Prior to the divorce, I always thought about getting my real estate license; but there was always a reason not to. When I got divorced, being a single mother and wanting to ensure financial security for my son and I lead me to start my own business in real estate. I got licensed in 2020 and started to pursue building my own business full force. Real Estate has always been an interest of mine and now, it is more of a passion. Helping people to find “home”. Helping people to achieve some financial flexibility and freedom through a sound investment platform. Equally so, helping people achieve a dream that they may not have thought as possible through connecting them with education and resources…those things help me to feel fulfilled. Read more>>

Sierra Duffy | Lifestyle Photographer

I’ve loved photography since I was about 15 when I received my first point and shoot canon camera. I loved capturing memories. My younger sister and I bonded over photography. She was a natural. Unfortunately, she passed away 5 years ago. Taking photos was my way of keeping her close to me. Things just came together after that. I started booking shoots and people kept mentioning me and here I am taking lifestyle photos and capturing memories. Read more>>

Dardoh Skinner | Entrepreneur & Lawyer

I have always been a design enthusiast and a lover of all things home decor. When my husband and I moved into a house in Denver and I started decorating I looked online for decor that would reflect my African culture. Both my parents were born and raised in The Gambia, in West Africa and I spent most of my childhood summers there. I searched online for baskets and pillows and other decor items that were being sold by Africans and couldn’t find anything. There were a lot of African inspired collections but none by any people who had direct ties to the cultures that the goods came from. It inspired me to look into my in connection with craft through my Gambian culture and see what I could do to tell that story. Read more>>

Cindy Sheahan | World traveler. Hiker. Backpacker. Solo Woman Adventurer over 50

“You’re not getting any younger.” This stark and real thought got me out the door and into so many adventures, explorations, hikes, vineyards, museums, concerts and more. I’ve been traipsing around the planet full-time for more than 3 years, stopping back home in Denver for a couple of months each year to see my kids, do my laundry, file my taxes, replace my Chacos and meet my grandbaby. I write a blog and post often on FB and IG – my goal is to help people (mainly women) get out the door to travel solo – to backpack, hike, explore and enjoy this crazy beautiful world – without fear, without a big budget, without reservations. Read more>>