We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Richard Dillard | Creative. Visionary. Serial Entrepreneur.

That recalls, the age-old question, “Are Entrepreneurs born or are they made?” I think both apply to me. I feel I was born to be an entrepreneur, but I was also groomed to be a better at it, through growing in my business experience. For most of my life, I’ve been in one form of business or another my entire adult life. I’ve been an entrepreneur before being an entrepreneur was cool. For me, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am a creator. I am a visionary. I am an entrepreneur through and through. It has not been easy, but I refuse to live life any other way. Read more>>


Joshua Boes | In home cooking instructor and caterer.

What is my thought process behind starting my own business? In all of the years that I have spent working in other restaurants, I have felt that I can do things more streamlined and give the guest a better dinning experience. To me, going out to eat is not just going to get sustenance. It is about going to an art exhibit. You go to a place, you see the menu. That is the art gallery. You are presented with a plate of food or the art. There are many senses that should be excited at this point. First you see the beauty. Read more>>

Ashley Speaks | Purpose Visionary Coach, Founder

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit but I just thought it was a normal thing. I didn’t realize until I got a bit older that there was something specifically inside of me that I needed to produce. I know and truly believe that there are people assigned to each of us and if we’re not in position they cannot get into position- so essentially we can hold others up. I didn’t want to delay anyone from thriving in purpose. So with Girl Code Collective it’s an act of obedience and a place where women thrive. I never want anyone to feel like they have to do life alone- we were created for community and GCC is a special community. Read more>>

Kovaski Jones | small business owner of a cleaning service and professional photagrapher

I have always wanted to own a business but I never knew what I wanted to do. My first business that I started was a cleaning service. I started this in the middle of a pandemic, I focused on Covid Disinfecting and it was extremely busy for me as you can imagine. I wanted to help people stay safe during this crazy time. But I really had a passion for photography, this is why I invested into purchasing camera equipment and started my business doing photography of all sorts, nature, events, weddings, headshots, etc. So my goal now is to help provide great memories for everyone and their families. Read more>>

Marquis Lupton | CEO/Founding Partner of TCP Network

As a former News Reporter, I was constantly pulled off of great human interest stories only to cover another shooting, police involved incident, or some kind of calamity. I quickly began to notice I was reporting on people that look like me in a negative way, disproportionally. In news there’s this saying, “If it bleeds, it leads”, so I started TCP Network (The Cultured Professional), to challenge that news model. I wanted to give folks that looked like me, a local news source they can not only trust, but also enjoy and be entertained. The thought process behind starting my business, was to give US a local news outlet we can trust, like, understand, and vibe to! News with a Shimmy is what we like to say on our morning show (TCP In The Morning). Read more>>

Kaf Herring | Multi-business owner

I have always been driven by my desire to cultivate excellence in myself and opportunities for others to excel in life. I am very self motivated and enjoy a challenge and so starting a business has always been very organic for me. I think a major reason that has been the case for me is I create businesses out of my passions. I have been in business for myself since 2012, when I started my own sports performance gym that caters to NFL & MLB athletes. I leveraged my network of agents, players, and personal experience playing football to build a successful business in the sports industry. Read more>>

Miles Brockman | Automotive Detailing Specialist

The thought process around starting my own business was simple, I want to create generational wealth for my family! I believe every individual should have some type of business or side hustle outside of their regular 9-5. My business which is called Big Smoove Auto Detailing, LLC, is based out of Southfield, MI and I provide mobile auto detailing services to customers in the Metro Detroit area. I started my business in 2019, with literally a water house, a bucket, car soap, glass cleaner and tire shine. My god-sister Jaymi Hall, who believed in me, invested in me and bought me my first piece of real detailing equipment! Read more>>

Trevor (Trae) Blanks | Entrepreneur (Shoe designer)

My thought process was plain and simple. GRIND! I was focused on starting my own business to take care of my family, and do things my way. Read more>>

Casey Richardson | Founder, Author, Business Coach & Consultant

BLAZE GROUP LLC provides Black female entrepreneurs with access to knowledge, capital and mentorship. During the decade that I spent as a banker, structuring multi-billion dollar loans for tech corporation, there was never anyone that looked like me on the deal teams that I worked on. There certainly wasn’t anyone who looked like me on the receiving end of those deals. The same was true when I spoke on stages to global leaders and when I went to golf courses to deepen client relationships with clients. Read more>>

Tiffany Ellis | Owner/Operator

We’ve always wanted to be the masters of our own sail so to speak. However, we struggled a bit with finding a business idea that was new and exciting. Then like a light bulb, we realized that although we were close to Atlanta, we indeed lived in an entertainment desert and people are always looking for things to do outside of home. Moreover, you can always find something for little kids and adults, but rarely an entertainment venue uniquely designed to capture the attention of youth, teens and young adults. And so, Controller Game Lounge was born! Read more>>

Vanessa Gibson | Owner & Artistic Director

The thought process behind starting my own business involved a miracle, a strong passion and a lot of determination.. My story as to how I started was nothing but a gift from God. My start wasn’t your typical story of how most people start a brand new business. I started as a teacher for the studio, but I was so driven to help the owner restructure her classes and the business, that I just started taking over. There were some things that needed to be updated and changed. Therefore, the business wasn’t working to its full potential. but it has a lot of promise. After 4 years of teaching and making myself the assistant, the owner of the studio at that time decided that she wanted to retire and so she decided to let me start taking over. Read more>>

Trinetta Love | Filmmaker/Director/Writer/Editor & Executive Producer

I started TStarzz Entertainment Inc. after I saw a need for talent to be exposed in Atlanta, GA. While participating on several films and stage projects, I met so many wonderful and extremely talented actors and creatives that weren’t getting as much exposure as I thought they should, and so it inspired me to create a platform to expose not only myself and my many talents and gifts – but to also put a spotlight on other’s who possessed the “it” factor as well. And, that’s when TStarzz Entertainment Inc. came about. The “T” stands for Trinetta and the Starzz represents how I feel about everyone I work with – they are truly Starzz! Read more>>

Ashley Monet | Dancer, Teacher, Director, Choreographer

“Someone’s gotta do it” In the beginning, it was something I had to truly sit, pray, and juggle with. Did I really want to start my very own dance program, or does it just sound good to say? I genuinely love kids and dance, I have taught under some amazing bosses for the past 7 years and it is time I implement my own ideas on my own dancers and business. So, yes someone has to do it, and that someone is me. Read more>>

Dexter Scott Washington | Entrepreneur, Portfolio manager

I always wanted to be my own boss and run my own business. I cultivated a passion for dabbling in the stock market for several years and realized I had a natural talent for this type of business. So after years of giving advice to friends and family, I decided to share my knowledge to a wider landscape. Read more>>

Kaylah Edwards | Crochet Artist & YouTuber

I wish I could say there was some sophisticated, Shark Tank-esque logic to me starting my crochet business, but there wasn’t. I was in middle school when I began selling my crochet items. I was a fidgety student so I took my crochet to school to have something to do with my hands while in class. One of my classmates noticed I was making hand warmers (à la Avril Lavigne in the early 2000s) and asked to buy one off me. From that sale, more classmates would ask me to make them random things and I saw this as an opportunity to be able to afford all the Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch I could ever want. Read more>>

Tish the Glam Boss | Serial Entrepreneur, Educator & Mentor

My thought process behind starting Tish Taught You Business Academy was that I wanted to create a positive and motivational program that provides business education for students that want to pursue entrepreneurship, and educate current entrepreneurs the importance of business/personal development and finances. Read more>>

Erica Williams | Co-Founder, The Chef and the Baker

The Chef and the Baker was started organically when Chef Jason London and I started dating and realized that we had complementary culinary talents. We both had a desire to start our own food businesses, and a mutual desire to serve people through food. Chef Jason has background as a restaurant manager and personal chef, and I had been baking for years. After understanding that our passions & purposes were aligned, The Chef and the Baker was born! We provide Comfort Food with a Twist via private, virtual and and pop-up in-person events. Read more>>

LaNise Thrasher | Heartbreak Coach

The Love Cheerleader was established after I went through the healing process following one of the most traumatic events of my life, divorce. Divorce is such a taboo subject, and the only thing many people have told me is that “It does get better.” But that was the end of it! There was no strategy in place to assist me in healing and adjusting to my new normal. So silently, I went through a massive healing process that turned out to be the best thing I could have done for myself! Many people began requesting me to assist them after I was healed, and after praying, I realized that I had a responsibility to heal others. Healed people heal people. Read more>>

Stephen Martin | Vice President

Couple Stephen and Angela Ramsammy-Martin, along with son Ethan Ramsammy, own ACESA Cleaning Services, LLC, a facilities management company offering commercial cleaning, disinfection, and recycling services to clients in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Stephen and Angela launched ACESA Cleaning Services LLC in December of 2019, but Stephen says this is a goal they’ve been dreaming of for a while. “Both Angela and I wanted to leave a legacy for our blended family. The name ACESA represents the initials of each of our children. We wanted to build a company they could be proud of with the expectation that they would carry the company forward and build on the foundation we started.” “We have a lot of passion to do the best job at whatever we do and we both want to carry on our family name; that’s really important to us.” Read more>>

Tangie Jackson | Sneaker Stylist

I started THIS CHICK’S GOT KICKS!®️ because so many women love kicks just as much as the guys do so I wanted to celebrate us. We can still be feminine if we choose to (moms, wives, teachers, corporate professionals, GIRLY) and love kicks. I believe the some females (especially middle-aged females) tend to feel some guilt or shame because they would choose kicks over heels any day of the week. I was that female. I had to learn to be unapologetically me. Yes, I like my heels but I LOVE my kicks! Now I want to celebrate us sneaker-loving chicks in a fun, cool way. My brand is all about saying it loud and proud: “This chick’s got kicks!” Read more>>

Cultural Dept | Promoter, PR, DJ Manager & Event Planner

I wanted to create a platform that showed how important culture is because cultural department is literally all about the culture and it’s not driven by money. It’s literally for the culture and to push soca music to be more than what people think it is. They think it’s just Jamaican or dancehall, or a combination of dancehall and acrobat. We gotta fix that! Read more>>

Shenaye Coleman | Certified Womb Wellness Facilitator

My thought process behind my business was I want to help women with womb wellness and educating them on how powerful our presence is in this world. I wanted my business to be a sacred space of blissful rebirth and channeling femininity. Read more>>

Tobias Smith | Music Producer, Filmmaker, Tech Entrepreneur

I come from an entrepreneurial family. My uncle and aunt owned a barbershop / beauty salon on the south side of chicago and my grandfather owned an electric contracting company. I watched my mother and father struggle as workers and watched my grandfather and uncle take vacations, shop, and have their basic need taken care of without worry. It was plain to see that ownership was a pathway to economic freedom. My father always pushed and supported me to the best of his ability for me to be an owner. And while I attended Wayne State University, I noticed that everything I was learning should immediately be applied if I was gonna live the life of my dreams. I always interpreted the knowledge I gained in college from an owner’s point of view rather than an employee. Read more>>

Elena Colquitt | Finance Manager

After graduating from college in 2007 with a business degree focused in finance I learned quickly how life could change. The crash of the stock market in 2007 created volatility that my generation had never seen. The economy for the next three years was unstable, as I result I experienced two lays off – one period lasted over nine months. These layoffs taught me to 1) change how I managed my finances, focusing on savings before debt and 2) there was no such thing as “job security”. The lack of job security eliminated my fear of being without a job because I’d done it and knew how to survive without missing any payments and providing for myself. Read more>>

Tamarie T | Musician,Performer, Teacher, Producer/Composer, Songwriter

My main goal for creating my band (Tamarie T. & Thee Elektra Kumpany) which is my business, was to bring a musical sound or I should say an overall experience to lift the vibrations in the world. To create something innovator that would inspire a person to aspire to be the highest version of their SELF Read more>>

Jenelle Salazar | Entrepreneur

I’ve always known I wanted to have my own business I just didn’t know what or when ut would actually happen Read more>>

Tia Smith-Bolton | Owner of Tailyn Made

I always dreamed of starting my own business, but I wasn’t sure what kind of business to start. It was not until after I had my daughter Tailyn in 2012 when it hit me that I should open an online baby girls clothing and accessories boutique. When I would shop for my daughter’s clothes, I hardly was impressed with some of the styles that I saw in the stores. I wanted her clothes to be unique, different, and stand out from other kids’ clothing. Read more>>

Abram Lembono | Music Producer, Songwriter, Entrepreneur

My family run a couple of businesses back in my home country Indonesia. They have a fashion companies and coffee shops. I grew up watching them how to manage all of their business while spending time with my family. My Mom always support me in music since the beginning. She never asked me to study academic when I was in school but push me to play the piano before playing the video games. So I was learning music from college and business mindset from my family. I spent years learning, performing, composing, writing and the producing music as a professional. In nine years, I have built a reputation as a professional music producer. Read more>>

Kayla Allen | Artist

When I first started The Colorful Kayak I thought I would only sell paintings to people who knew me. My sophomore year of college, I had gotten back into art and I had some friends asking me to create works for their dorms. The joy that came from seeing my work hanging on people’s walls in their ACTUAL apartments inspired me to expand my reach. I did the only thing I knew how to at the time and created an Instagram for my work. There was no business planning in the beginning— I hardly even knew what to price my pieces. (At one point I was selling medium sized acrylic pieces on canvas for fifteen dollars… Read more>>

Ranita Anderson | Dj Nita Beat, Model, Actor

My thought process consisted of moments that came from everyday life. Working 2 to 3 jobs taught me how to become more productive and effective with my time and money. I’ve grasp the concept of business structure from different environments that included a small business and a popular franchise. Understanding the difference between how to handle different organizations both big and small, opened my eyes on learning the most efficient way to run a business of my own. Read more>>

Mary Ellen Sheehan | Teacher

We decided to start Royal Thanaka for several reasons. Our combined story is the story of migration. Htwe and Myo came to the US from Myanmar to escape violence and to raise their family in peace. Mary Ellen’s parents came to the US from Ireland to escape poverty and build a good life. With this common thread we envision a business that shares the dream of living and working according to our dreams and empowering others to live their dreams. Our plan is to collaborate with other businesses, while paying a living wage to all who work with us. Read more>>

Alex Bumgarner | Full Time Student and Small Business Owner

When I was in high school I was a part of a prestigious visual arts program and it stretched me a lot. I loved getting to learn new skills and techniques and grow into different mediums. My teacher bought a button maker for our class so we could advertise for our program and I learned to love it almost immediately. When I graduated and came to college, I still had that drive and creative itch, so I asked for my own button maker as a Christmas gift. Needless to say, when I opened that button press on the morning of December 25, 2019 my life would never be the same; my creative flame was back. Read more>>

Jacqueline Merrill | President & Founder

When I started HIs Soul Sanctuary my thought process was how can I help young adults that are aging out of the foster care system beat the grim statistics that their population face. I knew that the issue that I was tackling was a huge one but also a very necessary one. These children are incarcerated, homeless, and lack education and it isn’t fair and it is not their fault and someone needed to step up to the plate and begin to advocate for them. Apparently, that person is me and I have a great staff/family of individuals with big hearts and the desire to help alongside me. Read more>>

Kristian Espiritu | Storyteller | Macramé Artist

It was sort of an accident. In the summer of 2020, the #womensupportingwomen campaign was gaining popularity on social media as it strayed from its original intention. I was fired up. I wanted to see action from the folks who were tagging me in their black and white selfies claiming to support me. So I challenged my circles to commit to shopping BIPOC small businesses for everything to further their support. That’s when I stepped forward and shared some of my macramé as a launching point. I had no idea I was going to start a full business. My goal then was to get the people in my life to create meaningful connections, not just follow the trends and make a post. And that is still the foundation of my business now. Know who you shop from, what their stories are, and get curious about whether or not someone’s values align with yours. Read more>>

Kelli Spencer | Owner and Curator of Experiences and Memories

We are a family of 5 and as we planned family vacations we were always intentional about where we took our children and creating educational and historical moments for them while still having fun. In our travels, we would always take the tours of the area and we were always disappointed with the amount of information that we received that represented African Americans. We were visiting places that had very historical significance to our heritage. We would visit port cities along the east coast like Charleston, Savannah, St. Augustine, New Orleans and we would always walk away from those tours with more questions than answers. Read more>>

Kayla Rivera | Reporter & On-Air Personality

In September of 2020, I was laid off from my news job at CBS46 News in Atlanta due to COVID-19 budget cuts. It was a job I loved very much and to be laid off crushed me. However, I understood it was out of my control and had nothing to do with me personally. I was laid off with hundreds of amazing reporters, photographers, producers, anchors, etc. After a few weeks of applying for work, I decided to launch my own news site (newswithkayla.com). I loved reporting, had the skill set to launch my own site, and also had a lot of content from my work at CBS46 News. Read more>>

Amanda Ton | Multimedia Artist

I’ve always been business minded. Growing up I often had to work at my family’s establishment which was something I loathed. I enjoyed making the money and spending it, but being there all day wasn’t ideal to a teenager. As I continued on my life path I would ask myself, “How can you start a business doing what I love?” I knew art would be it for me, but how do I sell that? How do I market it and turn it into a business? Through countless hours of brainstorming, trial and error, and taking risks, I found what worked for me. I knew I wanted to spread the message of love and empowerment through my work. From there I’ve worked tirelessly to execute my vision regardless of what obstacles stood in my way. Read more>>

April Cornelius | Balloon Artist

I’ve always enjoyed social gatherings, such as parties and events. I’ve always felt that the process and the energy that’s involved with planning the perfect party and event was exciting! Early 2020, during the pandemic, I had a little extra time to put some thought into my goals and at that time decided it was the best time to start my business. Of course, because of my love of parties, my goal was to start an event and party planning business. I soon found out very quickly that professional event planning is a huge responsibility and very hard to pull off as a one-person team. With that realization, I decided to focus on event décor, specifically balloon decorations and party rentals. I purchased whatever online balloon training courses I could afford, along with YouTube, and lots of practice, I eventually decided to launch Events & Bouquets LLC in March 2021. Read more>>

Patrick Arnold | “ The Handsome Masseur” & Professional Lover

Absolute freedom in creative expression and realization that I provided the talent that built the clientele base for these corporate franchises were the motor elements behind my decision to jump off the porch and into the world of entrepreneurship. At that point I felt disrespected and unappreciated enough to completely eradicate any and all fear. Just as they used me, I used the combined infrastructures of all the places I worked by taking bits and pieces of how they ran their businesses and used that information to structure my brand new baby. I focused on branding and decided my niche was going to be a service dedicated to well-being of women only. I crafted my technique to become a nurturing vessel of sensual touch and therapeutic relief using my professional knowledge of anatomy and personal knowledge of intimacy. I haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Nikia “Nikki” Jones | Cheesecake Specialist

I never saw myself starting a business. At the time, I was going through a really tough time in my life and I felt as if I was backed into a corner. I didn’t have a “talent”, so I prayed for one. I prayed that if I did have a talent, that it be revealed to me. My maternal grandfather used to own a BBQ business in Decatur, Ga in the 90’s. My maternal grandmother, my mother, and my sister are all bakers. My aunt was a chef in the hospitality industry, and my uncle is a grill master and baker, so I knew I might have had it in me! Read more>>

Aristide Williams | Private Culinary Artist

As a senior Criminal Justice major at Southern University, I wanted to do something I loved as a career. Criminal justice wasn’t my passion, I wanted to pursue something I could relate to. I simply did not want just a job, So I started a small lemonade/catering business out of my small apartment. Read more>>

Chrishonda “Queen Chri” Benson | Creative Entrepreneur & Founder

While traveling to Dubai in 2017, my sister sent me a video of my daughter saying that she didn’t like her “brown skin” because it wasn’t pretty. She went on to say that she wanted “peach skin” because those dolls came with more stuff (accessories). She was 4 at the time & my heart was broken. When I returned, I was on a quest to show her that she was beautiful & magical in her skin! While doing so, I noticed that there was a true lack of representation in the market for black children. The items in stores were limited, they often lacked all the extras, or were just nonexistent. It was then that I realized I wanted to create products to help fill that representation void and the idea for Pretty Dope Society was born. Read more>>