Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy.  So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Semira Sawyer | Digital Marketing Specialist & Content Creator

Since we have last talked, I have formed my own business named Mira Mira on Air LLC that doubles as a digital marketing and production company. The thought process behind starting my own business really started during the pandemic. It was. a couple months before my college graduation when the world health organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Which ultimately change everything. From job offers, to after college plans, and travel plans everything changed. A lot of media and marketing companies had ceased all productions until 2021 which meant there was no need for any new help. That’s when it clicked in my mind instead of waiting for one of these Fortune 500 companies to notice me, why don’t I begin to build an empire of my own. I already had the five plus years of experience in Journalism, Public Relations and Marketing. I just took everything that I learned over the years and applied to my business plan. Thus Mira Mira on Air was born. Read more>>

Craig Mycoskie | CEO and Head Brewer of Round Trip Brewing Company

After 12 years in the brewing industry, I had some friends here in Atlanta that called to see if I wanted to start a brewery of my own that they would support opening. Honestly, I was apprehensive. However, Amy had the foresight and sold our house before I quit my job in Texas. She knew this was my best opportunity in life to do this and wasn’t going to let me pass on it. Read more>>

Cheryl Burnside, PT | Physical Therapist and Entrepreneur

After 20 years of practicing as a physical therapist, I got burned out, treating injuries and symptoms that I could prevent. So instead of becoming a complainer, I wanted to be part of the solution. In 2006, I decided to have a Tea Party that promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual support to 30 women. That year at the ladies’ request, we had another Tea for Health. It became a yearly event that leads to Phenomenal Women’s Health, Inc, a 501(C)(3) in 2007. Read more>>

Felicia Lanier & Taundra Dunbar | Kids Coloring Co Owners

About 3 years ago we came together with the thought of wanting to do something different. At the time of starting our business we both had small children and we would often get together and do activities with our kids. Our initial business idea sparked from our love of cooking, crafting and spending time with our children. We decided to start a line of coloring books that would allow families to read the story, color the pages and then make a recipe that is included within the story. It is intended to be a fun interactive way to spend quality time with family. We have since expanded our business to include garden kits that also promote family time and fun!. Read more>>

Rasheeda Jones | Candle Maker

Once I decided that I was going to turn my candlemaking hobby into a means for income. I began doing research on what type candles I would make. My concept was not to only sell a pretty jar. I wanted to sell candles that would be provide multiple benefits. Nice embellishment to home decor, aromatherapy, intentional,fun, self care aid, and last but not least great smelling. My over goal was to Set The Mood. Which is my slogan. Read more>>

Renaldo Jean | Owner, Hella Chips Cookie Co

Quality of life. I spent 10 plus years climbing the corporate ladder only to find myself unfulfilled and wanting more out of life. Like most people, I dreamed about one day creating something that I could be extremely proud of. Something I could hand down to my future kids. When I realized that I was yearning for more, the gears in my mind started working. I wanted to create something that would allow me to connect with people and bring my creativity to life. I decided that I had to take full control of creating that environment and a way of life that I could flourish in. So I set out with a plan and a special chocolate chip cookie recipe thats near and dear to my heart, to do just that. Was I afraid? Absolutely. But I always try to keep the “why” in the front of my mind so I never forget the bigger picture. Read more>>

404Hugo| Recording Artist

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. When I started this, I knew timing would be everything so I made sure I had a highly structured plan and method of release. Read more>>

Cara Walker | Founder of PrettiPassionate, Elevation Strategist, & Speaker

The reason I started my own business was to fill a gap and provide a solution to an area that I thought was a huge problem in our world and in my community. From the moment I entered the workforce right after college my perspective changed. I no longer believed that you only work to survive, something I saw my mom and generations prior do….but that in fact you can work to serve a higher purpose and be fulfilled while doing it. So, I began my own personal quest of fulfillment, purpose, & impact and on that journey I thought, “what if a whole community of women had access to these same tools, resources, and experiences to help them transform into the person they were created to be.” My brand PrettiPassionate is a personal development company. Simply put…we help women tap into their highest potential to at the base level …start businesses, but we do it in a very unique way. Read more>>

Jenn & Chase Pickett | Content Creators

Because we’re parents and heavily focused on our family life, we knew it would be hard to pursue the traditional path to a career in entertainment. We also wanted full creative control, so starting our own business made the most sense. Read more>>

Kaili Spear | Creative Director, Photographer & Filmmaker

When I first took the initiative to make my naturally skilled hobby (photography and film production) into a business, my first thought was “what is the name going to be?”. Better yet, what is the message or motive behind what I’m trying to create. It first started with “Cheeky Productionz” my sophomore year of college due to my given nickname being “Cheekz” because of the smiles I gave cheek to cheek and because of my big squishy facial cheeks… Eventually during the summer of 2018 before my Junior year of college I decided to change it up and give it more meaning and a more professional presentable name that would better describe me as a person and my creativity. I had family and friends describe my work as “raw” and I would say the same in my head because its all natural and authentic work. The more I kept telling myself that my work is authentic and raw. I then broke down the word “raw” and what it meant to me. It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 in my dads garage when I came up with the meaning and name all together. Read more>>

Katie Bryl | Graphic Designer and Owner of Brylliant Design LLC

Being a creative extrovert stuck at home all the time due to the pandemic, I ended up with a lot of energy that needed a direction to go in. So, I channeled it into making cute, funny things that I hoped would make people smile. Community had just come out on Netflix, so I made a “This is the Darkest Timeline” sticker that reflected my current feelings and my friends all really enjoyed it. Because of all of their positive feedback, I decided to take things a step further; starting my small business was something I had been wanting to do for years but never felt was the right time or was something I didn’t have the energy to dedicate to it. Then 2020 brought me the time, the energy, and the drive to finally make it happen. Read more>>

Fredrick Martin | Independent Filmmaker

My thought process behind 404 Productions Entertainment was that I wanted a place for filmmakers and artists to be creative without the Hollywood rules and standards. I also looked at the type of films that were being produced, and I said to myself, “there’s no way they are going to produce my movies unless I make my own noise in the industry.” So that’s where I began with my blueprint for my vision. I created A company where independent filmmakers can be free. It’s a lot of work initially, but when people begin to see and believe in your vision, they want to help. Read more>>

Traveling Troy | Artist & Creative

While I’ve never had a problem working for anyone else, It naturally happened for me. After leaving my more corporate gig, I hit the ground running, and never looked back. Initially, my thought process was to pay bills, but I developed a passion for art again being directly involved with clients and people in need of creative services. I’ve always been a person wanting to help others reach their goals. So developing the skills to help them do so my business naturally evolved for me. So if I had to say what my thought process was, I’d say more than anything wanting to be helpful to others. Read more>>

Monetia Smothers | Ms.exq.fullfigure Ga 2018

The first thing came to my mind is how can I help the community and what is it I can do to bring quality to my network around me. What can I bring to the table to help grow. Read more>>

Takesha Pratt | Travel Expert

I have always had a passion to travel the world and my goal was to show my friends and family how to travel stress free and without breaking the bank. I never considered turning my love for travel into a career, but after planning a much needed vacation for a close family friend, and receiving a shoutout on Facebook, my DM went crazy with people wanting help with their upcoming travel plans. I couldn’t believe the amount of business I was receiving and the amount of money I was making doing what I loved. I was working as a Respiratory Therapist when I started my travel career and soon after my love for travel took over my life. I made a plan to step down from my Respiratory job in 2020 and of course Covid changed my plans. I decided to follow my heart and give up my role as a Full time Respiratory Therapist August 2020 and I haven’t looked back since. I could no longer Work for anyone else and not WERK for myself. Read more>>

Zara Love | Business Woman & Author

The reason why I started my business LOVE GLAM XO is because around the time that I started, there weren’t many black owned beauty brands. Being a woman of color, it used to be hard to find makeup that catered to my skin tone and looked right. Back in 2016 when I started, I actually was kind of scared because I didn’t know what the outcome would be. I always wanted my own makeup line since I was 11 years old. So, since I was only 11 years old at the time, I knew nothing of FDA laws, formulas, etc. But, I did know that I loved beauty, and being able to be creative and expressive through it. My invention came out really cute, but at the time I didn’t take it seriously. Then, I got to high school and I was actually able to wear real make-up versus the cute little Claire’s and play palettes. I was excited and really started to perfect the skill of makeup. Still, after using many different brands, I learned the different formulas, and diversity for many brands didn’t cater to all skin types and tones. Read more>>

Paige Hawkins | CEO/FOUNDER – EVRYWR Official Clothing Line

When I first started my business, EVRYWR ( pronounced as everywhere) it was based off of the fact that I couldn’t find any loungewear for me. That was cute at least! (lol) Im a weird size between plus size and “regular” size so finding something that fits MY body the way I wanted it to was my main goal for not only me but for my customers as well. It was totally spur of the moment too! I was trying on clothes from another fashion company, while on the phone with a close friend of mine and I was complaining about how something was a size 14 ended up being too small or too big (even though both items were considered the same size.) So me, being the dramatic woman I am yelled. “I’M CREATING MY OWN CLOTHING LINE” and my friend was like “I love that idea for you”. It was the beginning of the pandemic and I had no idea how I was going to test vendors without spending a butt-load of money but I did it. Read more>>

Joe Howell | Producer & Managing Director

I started my business Stage Ten Media, to have the flexibility to create for my clients and release quality content for consumers. I have always been an entrepreneur. I started a business in college and did well with it. I love the flexibility of being my own boss and making decisions. I have worked for some great companies over the years, and being able to contract for projects is a good option. I am creative by nature and I wanted a business that I could make a good living and create. Since I also use conventional business practices, my company has diversified and we do consulting, investments, and asset holding. I have a financial and technology background, so executive work comes naturally. Film production and Executive production are what we do. I find there are many young creative’s that are trying to turn their art into their business and it’s not always easy. We consult and sometimes partner with all types of business owners and creators to make great content and monetize. Read more>>

Devin Hunter | Co-Founder of Coffee Man Cold Brew

When we started Coffee Man Cold Brew, we noticed that a lot of cold brew coffee was very strong and intense. It almost required cream and sugar to drink and usually had a harsh, bitter bite. We wanted to create a brand of cold brew that offered fun, natural flavors that were lighter and easy to drink. As a result, we started infusing fruits, flowers, and spices into the brewing process similarly to craft beer and kombucha. We now offer flavored cold brew like lavender vanilla, elderberry chai, and blueberry orange basil. Even our plain cold brews are light and easy-to-drink because we use light roast coffee rather than dark roast coffee. Read more>>

Dr. Joi Freemont | Dentist

I’ve always wanted to be some type of doctor. My father was an obstetrician/gynecologist and he was always pulled away to deliver babies when his “beeper” went off, so that was out of the question for me. As a child I spent a lot of time in the dental chair having work done – from fillings to braces. I never had a bad experience. Both of my parents owned businesses, so being a practice owner was natural for me. Following in their footsteps as owning my own business and building on my passion for being a doctor was a match!. Read more>>

Jamie Lyn Castaño | MSW, RYT200

Imagine a world where our children are taught at a young age that they have everything they need within them to be their best…and they learn to believe it. This is Just Breathe for kids. I created Just Breathe for Kids as a safe space where our children come exactly as they are and grow into the best version of themselves. We do this by introducing the practice of yoga and mindfulness to children everywhere, one breath at a time. Our mindful kids yoga classes focus on one thing: being the best version of yourself. There is no right or wrong, no perfection, no one size fits all. It is a path of discovery for our children to understand and learn how to pause, breathe, and look within. We see there are so many places our children are required or asked to fit into a one-size-fits-all box. In our mindful kids yoga classes, every body and everybody is different (and welcome) and that is exactly how it should be!. Read more>>

Timeesha Duncan | Personal Brand Strategist | Visual Storyteller | Creative Director

I started my business because I wanted to be in control of my success. I had an amazing job working with The Coca-Cola Company, but I wasn’t happy. I felt like my purpose was in helping other people with my talents and I felt my talents weren’t being used at their fullest capacity. I started my business while at The Coca-Cola Company, but I finally got to a point where I had to make a decision. Either I was going to continue to treat my business as a hobby and side-hustle, or I was going to take a chance on myself and see where it. would lead me. I decided to take a chance on my self. The journey has not been easy, but looking back I can definitely say it was one of the best decisions I made for myself and I have no regrets. Read more>>

Melissa Young | Wardrobe Stylist

My immediate thought behind starting my own business was generational wealth. As a mom of 3 I’ve always dreamed of ways to prepare my children and the future. As my business grew and my love for the work evolved, my thought process shifted to passion and purpose. It fuels me daily and helps me be creative and innovative. Read more>>

Ashlee Williams | Photographer

The main questions that were racing through my mind was: “why, how & when.” Why do I want to start a business and why does it matter? How am I going to achieve this and how do I even run a business? When am I going to announce that I am a “business” and when did I realize I wanted to become a business woman? Even though I had so many thoughts and my anxiety was at an all time high; I knew that it was time. I was becoming so busy and my family could see the passion I had for photography. Read more>>

Chef Qutie | Private Chef and Caterer

The thought process to starting my own business was simple, all I could see was the future. I imagined what doors would open, what opportunities would present itself, and I imagined the leader than many will look up to. I thought that my food was amazing and so widely enjoyed, my potential to grow had just been unlocked, and I thought that it would be easier than it has been. I also thought of the success of my business being equated to a Marathon, and not a race. Read more>>

Kiara S. Miles | Career Consultant & College Influencer

I wanted to be able to create a way for our community to grow in the realm of job opportunities. I know there are millions of various opportunities available , but it’s heartbreaking knowing that there a millions who simply don’t know about them. I created The Job Cartel, P.C in hopes to help others expand their skills, passions and financial status. Read more>>

Jesula Jeannot | Speaker and Author

I wanted to create something that people could relate to. Being an author was never something that I imagined but I knew I had a story worth sharing with the world. And I was tired of playing victim of past, it was time that I own up to my pain and not let it defined me. My book “The Other Side of Pain” was a way for me to find breakthroughs and faced my traumas. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy process but I was determined. I told myself “just do it afraid”. Read more>>

Assata Salim | Marketing Consultant & Luxury Children’s Boutique Owner

Entrepreneurship runs through my blood. On the flip side, I’m one of those people who works a 9-5 while also working to establish a successful business. My goal is to transition to full entrepreneurship, to earn what I’m worth and to obtain financial freedom. My experience as an employee is what fuels my drive and shapes my thought process. Every successful business identifies a problem and works to resolve that problem. Legacy, problem solving, and financial freedom are terms that summarize my thought process behind starting a business. Read more>>

LAVAHI | Artist and Founder, Replay and Rewind Records

While the internet has made it so much more advantageous for independent artists to have agency in the music industry, there are still barriers and gatekeepers that make navigating the industry a bit difficult. There are still many perceived advantages to joining a major label, having the support of the machine to “put you on” and put you out there on a grand scale. However, the losses of the artist’s literal independence and ownership of work and self are what have kept me from submitting to major labels. I learned very early what it means to own your masters, what it means to take your full shares in royalties, what it means to write your own narrative. And I often learned through loss. It hurts your ego and your pockets when you get burned; and, hopefully, you learn how to heal and move forward in the right direction after these experiences. Part of my process of moving forward was learning how to do for myself. Read more>>

Brittney Keith | Entertainment Mogul

For me, even when I was little, I always had an ambitious, entrepreneur mindset. I knew I wanted to be successful, but wasn’t sure on how. I can honestly my boss/mentor, Footy, really instilled me to always be your own boss. Outside of working for him, he always encourages me to take what I learn and to re-create it for my own brand/business. I always had my paperwork done (registering my business, etc) but I never really took it seriously into this year. I think a lot of times we get caught up working for someone else our whole lives, but in the background don’t think to put things in place to plant seeds for ourself, our family, and our future generation. Read more>>

Jim Vinyard | CEO

I wanted to use my gifts, talents, and experiences in a way that could support a lot of for-profit business’ and companies, and also non-profits organizations to make an even bigger impact in their communities and in the world. I have a few decades of career experience in the large scale event planning and production, marketing and advertising, and local and global non-profit logistics and operations. So as a result, my company VCG Experience Company was born in 2019. A Digital Marketing and Event Company focused on clients making impacts in the world!. Read more>>

Jason Allen | Influencer & Farmer

We run a small farm, youtube channel, and soap business. We want to provide skin care products to people that we know are safe and completely natural. On our farm and youtube channel our goal is to show people that no matter how much space you have, you can grow your own food and be more self-sufficient. Read more>>

Chellie Michelle | Owner, CEO

Simplicity, availability, and enjoyment. Those are the three attributes I chose to follow from the beginning and to push my business forward. I started Her Glam Squad because it was such a difficult research project to find items I liked and could afford for my friend’s wedding. Having to go to various websites to find things was such a headache. Plus, the amount I was paying was crazy to me! Since no one else seemed to have a solution, I felt it was up to be to fix it! First, I had to create a simple look and order process for my website. I want users to visit, search for what they want just my typing in keywords or looking through collections, and then having the ability to provide personalization and customization instructions with ease. I even added Sezzle as a payment plan option to further the simplicity of ordering and paying in increments instead of lumpsums. That flows into availability. During my hunt for my friend’s wedding, a huge issue I kept running into was shipping and lead time. Read more>>

Deja Jenkins | Master Stylist/Salon Owner

I always felt like i have too much creativity for a 9 to 5; too much potential . Since i was a young girl i had this undeniable passion for hair . That turned into a bigger passion for making my peers around me feel beautiful. As well as my community. The ability to make someone else feel beautiful through a style that I’ve created just for them is something I knew I wanted to wakeup and do every day . Also, the traumatic things I experienced early in life gave me the strength and inspiration. I knew i wanted to defy the odds against me . And with Hair Innovationz I am doing just that. Read more>>

L. Rachel Valentine | MHRM, Master’s in Human Resources

After I got out of the military, I tried corporate America but it did not agree with me and my personality. Let’s just say it was difficult for me and my boss to see eye to eye therefore I got a new position most commonly known as unemployed. Although the circumstances were not favorable, it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me because it launched me into business ownership. I did not have a desire to allow someone else to dictate when, where, why, what, and how I work, eat, or just live. I decided right then that I would never go back to corporate America again unless it was absolutely necessary for me to survive. I tried a few things and then found that I enjoy helping business owners and that’s where I stayed. I love what I do because I help others. Read more>>

Walton Woodall | Grillbadger Guy

The main reason I wanted to start my own business was that I saw the need for a better grill cleaning brush. When I learned about the dangers of metal bristle grill cleaning brushes I was really concerned for my safety and the safety of anyone using one of those brushes. The metal bristles can break off and end up in your food and cause serious injuries and health emergencies. I set out to find a better alternative. Ultimately I figured out that and all natural bristle brush would work perfectly. At this point I had no idea how I would be able to get the brush manufactured or sell it. Then a friend of mine offered to come on as a partner. He made an investment into the business and took on a big part of the responsibilities. We found our manufacturer and when we had product ready we began selling on our website, on amazon, and to retailers. That’s how it all started. Since the beginning we both have put in a ton of work to make it happen and keep it going. It is not easy to do. We have faced adversity and problems but we just stick with it and don’t give up. Read more>>


My thought process of starting KJ Sugar Lips was to bring desserts a different outrageous vibe and my OWN unique twist of course. My customers know that when they order ANYTHING it will come out not only beautiful but it’ll be melt in your mouth too! All of my desserts are homemade and when I first started I was giving it out for free wherever I was then someone suggested starting my business and start charging and making it a lifestyle. Read more>>

Adriene “Kizzy” Brewster | Motivational Speaker & Minister

The thought process behind my nonprofit organization is simple yet meaningful. I grew up being bullied, rejected, feeling left out and not good enough. These emotions played a vital role on my self esteem & confidence which led me to date the wrong men which also stemmed from being raped and molested. Over the years I carried this emotional and mental weight and it almost destroyed me until I started to talk about it through IPOP INC. “I’m Pretty On Purpose “. Read more>>

Rebekah Diaddigo | Founder/Director | Bluebird Uncaged

As I pursued a career as a professional ballet dancer, I realized that dance can go places that words can’t. So I started asking myself, “what do people need to hear through dance?”. Read more>>