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.

Leigh Ann Cannady | Founder & Artistic Director, Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts

The beginnings of my business, Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA), is probably like most other businesses: I saw a need and thought I could help fill it. When I was a private voice and piano teacher teaching lessons out of my home, the question I was asked most was, “Where can my child take a theater class or do a production?” I never had a good answer since that option wasn’t widely available in our community. I began to see that there was a need in our community that wasn’t being filled by other extracurricular programs. I may not have done very well in my college economics class, but I did learn the basics of a successful business are really simple: supply and demand. Read more>>

Phil Gentry Jim Sheppard | Owners and Coaches of Straight Blast Gym Buford

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? PG: As a third generation entrepreneur I always saw myself running my own business so between high school and the age of 30 I started 7 companies. Not to mention I was also fired from 2 out of the 3 jobs I had making it pretty clear that working for myself was the best option. I always had big dreams of being a Real Estate magnate or selling my software startup to Google for millions. After chasing that for several years, in 2010, I decided to match my drive for business success with my life passion, Martial Arts instruction. It seems like an obvious choice now but my dreams of grandeur stunted my ability to see what I was put on earth for. Read more>>

Brandi Coleman | Owner of Mood Teez

At the time I started Mood Teez, I had been working for my full time employer for 15 years. Although it has been a great company to work for, I had no retirement, no 401k, not anything to to sustain me if something was to happen to me. I am also a single mom of 3 and was living paycheck to paycheck. My pastors had been preaching a series and teaching about multiple streams of income and we as children of God supposed to be living here on earth. It definitely wasn’t the struggle I was living. My prayer every morning was for God to show me or give me an idea along with the resources. Read more>>

Tameka L. Williamson | College Admissions & Funding Expert and Executive Coach

As long as I can remember, owning my own business has always been a dream. It was initially my own engineering firm because I wanted to solve large-scale problems and transcend the norm as an African American woman operating across the African diaspora. Of course, it evolved over the years, but the common thread was being a solution and making a difference. Little did I know, my business would do that and so much more. After enduring the economic downturn in 2009, I was challenged with examining my value-added skills and seeing how to parlay them into offerings that would benefit others. Read more>>

Nicole Long | Owner, Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency

3 years ago I never imagined starting my own business. I had a great corporate career and loved the work I did. And then life changed when I became a mom. I couldn’t imagine spending 12 hours a day, 5 days a week away from her for the next 20 years. I knew there must be a different solution. So I started my journey to find a business that could give me a good income while also allowing me the flexibility that was most important to me. Read more>>

Sed Joseph | Founder, StageWing™ DJ Equipment Rentals

I started StageWing™ to fill a personal business need. I was booked to DJ a wedding out of town. I made a decision to fly with my DJ controller but was forced to check it instead of carrying it on the plane. When I arrived at my hotel, I noticed my luggage had been opened and inspected by TSA which somehow resulted in a damaged power cord. Immediately, panic began to set in – I had only a few hours until rehearsal! Unfortunately, I did not have a network of local DJs to call upon to bail me out, and the power cord was not easy to find at nearby popular electronics stores. Read more>>

Camelia (Mimi) Felton | Yogipreneur

First let me start by saying that I am so thankful to have this platform to share my story. My voice and my business matters and I want to change the state of this world through Mimi’s Yoga Kids. I’ve wanted to start my own business for some time now. When my kids were small I often had some little business brewing to keep me going. I was a stay at home mom and wanted ways to earn extra money. I did organizing, baking, makeup, selling Avon, selling jewelry, selling candles and a host of other things. One other thing I’ve always been passionate about & good at is teaching kids. Read more>>

Latasha Williams | Millennial Career Coach & Resume Writer

I always love a question like this! My thought process was actually quite simple in nature but also complex in action- let me explain. The CORE reason I started was to help people like me, who look like me, who are from where I’m from- having a life of NO’s, struggles, and being told of what you CAN’T do- instead of what you CAN DO! My way of giving back was to help women be in rooms where they thought they couldn’t be in ( it wasn’t just the door closed- it wasn’t available for them to enter). I wanted to help people elevate your career value and brand based on them not what anyone else may think and how to use a unique blend of education and life to pivot your career life forward! Read more>>

Jabria Luddley | Founder of Miss Lucy’s Cleaning Co. LLC and Flight Attendant

Initially my thought process was that I would absolutely not start my business “until the time was right.” For me, that meant I had all the funds, supplies and knowledge. I even told a close friend of mine that I was waiting for that moment. Her response was “Jabria, it is never going to be the right time, if you keep waiting for that you’ll be waiting forever!” I was honestly mad at her for saying that to me, but then I grew to realize she was right. I went online and filed for my LLC. No, I didn’t have a business plan, business cards, all the supplies or knowledge on running a business at the time but it came with the process. Read more>>

Chauntae Marable | Entrepreneur & Implementation Specialist

Longevity and being ‘RecessionProof’! With the impact of Covid-19 I found myself furloughed with no backup plan. This was the 2nd time in 2 years that a company had the ability to do that to me. I immediately knew I had to generate income outside of having a job. I thought about my hobbies, talents and hustles trying to decide which one made the most sense. I’ve been dabbling in natural and holistic care for years so it was a no brainer for me to start with body care. I like that the ingredients are all natural so I know exactly what’s going into my body. It’s also great for sensitive skin as well. Read more>>

Eboneè Abby | A Gloss Boss

I’ve started many businesses but this one was personal . As a black woman in America I wanted to be sure that I not only did I create a lane for myself but also one for my only daughter . As the saying goes what do you give a person who has everything? An LLC at a year old. Read more>>

Andrea Williams | Entrepreneur & Project Manager

Starting my own business came from a place of sadness and angry. My thought process was a whirlwind of emotions that landed into a business plan that formulated my non-profit BeastRob. Prior to starting my business, I tried everything under the sun to channel my angry from losing my father to Colorectal Cancer, a preventable disease. In 2015, seven years after my father’s passing and struggling to cope with his death I could not stay quiet any longer. Knowing that others could combat this deadly yet preventable cancer I launched BeastRob, a non-profit focusing on raising Colorectal Cancer awareness through fitness and social events. Read more>>

Ed Harris | Chef

FREEDOM! Being able to create my own schedule and have the family time that I want whenever. Being able to live life and travel or being available is why. Read more>>

Briana Morgan | Horror Author & Playwright

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long, long time, ever since I understood what being a writer meant. As a self-published writer, I love the degree of control and agency I have over my work. Being an independent author has afforded me so many opportunities I might not have gotten otherwise. Self-publishing is a great fit for me, and I think I’m finally settling in to my career as an author. Read more>>

Shanequa Varhalak | Baker

When I decided to start my own business my first thought was , am I crazy ? My second thought was, anything is possible with hard work and determination. My final thought was to use the skill and knowledge I’ve gained through Junior Achievement back and high school to fulfill this dream. Read more>>

Michelle Enjoli Beato | Founder of Connect with Michelle Enjoli

I realized through the work I was already doing in my professional life that there was a gap in communication, understanding and real connection among multicultural and multigenerational employees and leaders at companies. I wanted to help students, professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs acquire the skills necessary for them to excel in an everchanging business environment. Read more>>

Jean Turner | RN, Certified Health Coach & Author

I’m a giver and a helper by nature. As a nurse and Certified Health Coach, I have a passion for everything related to health, healing and wholeness and want to see others live their life healthy, healed and whole body, mind and spirit. Read more>>

Joe Jennings, Jr. | Screenwriter & Filmmaker

We didn’t want to be in business for ourselves at first. But my partner (Sean Freelon) and I didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t get anyone to talk to us (Agents, Managers, etc.) or even read our scripts. So we decided to be our own cheerleaders. We realized that we had to start from the bottom and prove what we could do on our own before people took interest in us. Read more>>

Trista Edwards | Candle Maker+Business Owner+Poet

In addition to running this business, I am a poet. I write poems but I also create poetic, ritualistic objects…candles. Poetry transports the heart & mind. It takes the everyday, mundane language we use for basic communication and through thoughtful crafting & arrangement, line breaks, use of metaphors & symbols, and the unexpected pairings of words it makes language anew. I hold candles to a similar kind of power. Take for instance your home, with the simple ritualistic act of lighting a candle you can transform a space and curate a new environment. A candle can trigger a change in the space and, ultimately, in you-from work to relaxation, from chaotic to calm, from domestic to sensual, from mundane to luxurious. Read more>>

Dear Pricey Pricey | Artist-Songwriter/ CEO

The lifestyle I wanted wasn’t going to come from one source of income. I needed to create multiple streams. I also don’t like taking orders from others. That’s when I knew I had to start my own business. Read more>>

Tracy Photojournalist Johnson | Visual Storyteller & Magazine Publisher

Well, the thought process behind starting my own business derived from my genuine love for people. As a photographer/visual storyteller, I have done photoshoots for lots of women from all different types of backgrounds. One of the attributes that I have come to love is the strength and resiliency of women. It’s the fact that one would never guess that many of these women had experienced, at some point in their lives, heightened adversity. This is because they do not wear the pain and disappointment of the past on their faces. I really admire this type of beauty. Read more>>

Smart Boy | Producer, Singer/Songwriter & Musician

The process behind starting my business was one that forced me to really take a deeper look into what I was would actually provide. While I love music and love to create it, I wanted to make sure that I was providing an actual service to my clientele that was unmatched anywhere else. There was a lot of soul searching and financial sacrifices involved but in the end, it all worked out. Read more>>

Mike Johnson | Auto detailer

Great question! I actually put three kings together for many Different reasons. I wanted to own a business and create my own income. Creating my own income would allow me to always be able to provide for my family. Read more>>

DJ Lyris “The Hybrid Specialist” | DJ & Owner and Music Curator of WLAG Timeless Radio

Before starting my own business, I worked for the government for 14.5 years. And in that time the most important lesson I learned was that, happiness can only come from what I make it. And for me no amount of money and status could give me the true joy of doing what I love 24/7. If I’m not working in my passion, I’m just existing in someone else’s agenda. So my thought process was to create an avenue where I could create a brand in doing what I love, which is to create and show others how to step into their purpose. Read more>>

Vermell Tunstall | Teacher, youth Advocate, Author, Podcast Host

Actually the process was pretty organic in the sense that I initially did not see myself as starting a business. For me it started out as a grass root effort and community outreach networking initiative. The idea was to build a platform for voices to be heard. This lead to me authoring my very first book Perfectly Imperfect which received alot of great feedback and continuous encouragement. After experiencing technical difficulties with my first publisher while having to learn sales and marketing I was ultimately told that I was a business. (Lol). Read more>>