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. We asked some phenomenal entrepreneurs about their thought process behind starting their own businesses. Our hope is that by making the thought-process less intimidating we can help more folks think through whether they should take an entrepreneurial leap.

Alexa Ellis | Co-Founder, SVP of Marketing and Implementation at the Swarm Agency

The Swarm Agency was started somewhat by accident in 2009 during the Great Recession when I was laid off from my position as a Marketing Director of a small technology publication. A number of professional contacts reached out about contract digital marketing and web development services after I was laid off, and my husband and I parlayed that work into founding the agency. We were primarily digital-first marketers, and we didn’t see a lot of “digital-first” marketing agencies in 2009. There were a lot of traditional agencies trying to go digital. Instead of pitching big, traditional creative campaigns that didn’t impact our clients’ bottom lines, we wanted to focus on easier-to-measure digital marketing strategies to provide a consistently positive ROI for our clients. Read more>>

Channon “Chay” Powell | Owner & Creator

My father was the original candymaker extraordinaire! He taught me everything I know. He was part owner of a candy store in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. We provided the full N’awlins handmade candy store experience by selling everything from turtles and truffles to candy apples and candied pecans. I worked there all throughout high school and college. Once I moved to Atlanta to take on a career in corporate America and got laid off, my thought process was to lean on my culinary skills. I started out with a route selling to local businesses then began my stint as a table and tent vendor. Thereafter, I joined the food truck and catering industries of which I am apart of today. My father is no longer here with us but his spirit and legacy lives on. Read more>>

Darrell Burke | Owner

Written in 3rd person: Owners Darrell Burke and Eric Wittgen discovered that their tastes were similar when they began to decorate the house they bought in 2011. Because they were combining households AND Darrell’s previous house (where they both lived when Eric moved from Dallas) was about a third smaller, they realized that some of the furniture and accessories they had just didn’t work in this new house. So in those months of sorting the old furniture out and bringing new furniture in, they realized that, many times, one would say that he liked (or didn’t like) a certain piece just as the other was expressing the same opinion! And that’s when the thought of Bur-Witt Design started to materialize! As for their love of painted furniture…well, that came later. When the guys purchased a cabin in North Georgia, Absolute Bliss Lodge, to be used as a vacation rental, of course their design instincts kicked in! They wanted their cabin to have an “English hunting lodge” feel…but up-to-date as well. Read more>>

Jasmine Brunson | Intellectual Property Lawyer

My thought process of starting my business was to create a sustainable law firm that reflects God’s biblical principles. I aim to use my legal education combined with my spiritual gifts to serve my community. Not only is this law firm a method to create generational wealth for my family, it is a tool to help others create wealth for their families. I complete this mission by helping entrepreneurs’ protect their intellectual property. Read more>>

Kenya Parks | Entrepreneur, YouTuber, Streamer & Flight Attendant

Wanting a change for myself is what sparked the creation of my own businesses. Being in control of my future while helping myself and others became my sole purpose. This mindset keeps me going & encourages me to create new ideas and bring them to life. With this, remember to give yourself credit where it’s due with anything you’re thinking of pursuing. If you believe in yourself, your talent and your skill…do everything in your power to not let that go to waste. Especially if you know your craft could not only better yourself, but others as well. Read more>>

Maia Berry | Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my brand basically included me knowing that I had to be the one to make changes and the one to break generational curses. That means starting businesses, making better choices, and positively impacting the lives of others. Read more>>

Joann Kandrac | Interior Designer

We had both worked in the corporate world for years and then left for personal reasons – Joann to raise her kids and Kelly to go back to design school and start fresh. We worked together at a design showroom for four years and become friends. We worked together on a show house and realized how well we worked together. We decided to take a big leap of faith and dive in. Read more>>

Patrice “Sway” McKinney | Founder & Owner of Encore Salon Suites

I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and make my own schedule. I struggled to find out exactly what I wanted to do but I always enjoyed the art of cutting hair. Every time I entered a barbershop or salon I would get this indescribable feeling. I knew I wanted to become a barber and own my own barbershop or salon. Having to decide between a professional basketball career and entrepreneurship , I chose entrepreneurship without a doubt. In August of 2008, I moved to Atlanta, GA to purse a barbering career. In 2013 I received my Master Barber Stylist license and in 2016 I made my dream a reality and I invested into my first salon suite business. A couple of years later I started my own brand independently called Encore Salon Suites. We currently have 2 locations open and we are building our 3rd location as we speak. Being an entrepreneur gives me more personal and financial freedom and it’s one of the best decisions I have made. Read more>>

Jessica Tomasin | Founder – Connect Beyond Festival and Jet Up Productions

After working for a production company on a temporary basis, they offered to create a dream position for me. Little did I know that offer was contingent on a partial sale of the company which never happened. I already quit my other full time job so my back was against the wall. I reached out to a friend to see if they had any leads on a job and he told me that I was too smart and too talented to ever find myself in this position again. I started to think about that and realized I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone but myself for my success and I started my own business. For the first three years I took on as many clients as I could producing festivals and events. After three years I decided to start producing my own events as a way to continue to grow my business. I primarily produce my own events and consult with venues and other producers now. Read more>>

Ivy Cleveland | Nurse Practitioner/Aesthetic Injector

My biggest thought process behind starting my own business was to honor my grandmas legacy by helping women learn how to better take care of their skin inside & out. My grandma raised me and she had beautiful skin. She gave me pearls of wisdom to care for my own skin inside & out. Read more>>

Andria Parker | Owner and Lead Designer

Initially when I started my business, I was driven by the desire to work for myself with flexible hours. It was important to me to be able to re-enter the work force while still being able to spend time with my kids. In addition to this, I was in a place where I was ready to create my own designs surrounded by a team of qualified employees who shared my passion of making a difference in other people’s lives through personal relationships. Read more>>

Jamilah Conway | Group Exercise Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Trainer, Nutritionist

When I started my business, my intentions was to do training and give nutrition advice for free because I was that passionate about my career field. Once I started doing more work as a trainer and nutritionist, longevity wise I knew I wanted to make it an official business. With a heavy case load of clientele, this helped me shed light on raising more awareness of health. Without any help I guided myself to learn marketing strategies, understanding how society works with holistic wellness, and how to even create my own blueprint to create my future wellness center. Throughout my journey, I learned to stand up for what I believe in and do not let others tell me otherwise! Til this day, I still thank God for bringing me this far despite the L’s I took. Read more>>

Dajairea Carter | Creative Director

My main thought process behind starting my own business was the wanting of creating a brand that represented not just who I am creatively but also a pushing fourth of showing how beautifully creative men and women of color are when it comes to our trades of businesses and the showing of how we are more than just the “hoopers” and “singers” that are always displayed through the media. Read more>>

Haleigh & Cody Brown | Co-Founders, Home Bar Network

We established Home Bar Network on April 7, 2020 when things started getting real with quarantine. Both of us have always been insanely passionate about bar culture, and all the cocktails, spirits and stories that come with it. When the bar Cody worked at had to shut down, we posted a video on his personal Facebook of how to make an Old Fashioned using what you may have in your kitchen, and our friends loved it. Next, we posted a Martini video, then a Margarita and soon enough the idea for Home Bar Network was born. We realized that people have been watching cooking shows for decades, it’s about time there was a network dedicated solely to the beauty of a properly made cocktail. Our goal is to teach our viewers and those who take our classes that great cocktails at home are only a few shakes away. Read more>>

Carolina Bimonte Hart | Pastry Chef , Mother of 3 under 3

Life balance. When my business started for real was in the beginning of the pandemic. I say “for real” because I used to take an order here, order there while working 70+ hours as a pastry chef in 3 different places. But then pandemic hit, I had to pull my 2 babies out of daycare (2.8yo and 1.5yo) and I was pregnant with my now 3mo. So starting the business for real was a needed route to my future. But I knew I couldn’t just sit here and promote cakes and sweets in a time where everyone was not celebrating or only holding intimate celebrations, and that’s what helped me succeed, I came with novelty items. First was the cookie decorating kit (nobody was doing it when I started), I sold 20 alone just within the first week. Then I launched the party box in 3 different sizes which came with cake, sweets and savory pastries and there it goes 10 boxes in the first week of launching. From there, orders had not stopped. Read more>>

Siphne Sylve | Illustrator & Muralist

I decided to start my own business because I believed it was time to start investing my energy into work that I love. The process was long, but evident. I wrote, I meditated, and I planned. I spent time rediscovering what I loved about making art. I spent time thinking about what makes me happy. I also spent time thinking about how I could make a living doing what I love. Like most major decisions or new beginnings it was scary, but eventually the need to make a move became stronger than the fear — it had to be done. Read more>>

Jimm Frazier | Baker

I literally went back to the drawing board and was wondering to myself… “How can I go about life and make sustainable income doing what I love?” How can I find a way to stop working at jobs that dont bring me joy? How can I make time for myself to thrive? And this is how. Read more>>

Justin Robinson | Executive Chef

I began cooking in my dorm my freshman year of undergrad and slowly but surely I began to perfect my craft. It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta for graduate school that I realize how much of a gift I had in the kitchen and how it could impact other’s lives and health. Through my studies in Public Health, I realized I could mend both an educational tool and my culinary endeavors into a career, performing cooking demonstrations on healthy eating to public crowds and local schools; meal prepping for multiple clients to help them achieve their fitness goals; or simply just changing lives one taste bud at a time. I always have a lot of ideas floating around but to remain focused on my goals themselves, I put it all in God’s hand and do the footwork my self. No matter how obscure the goal may be, I have faith that I will achieve it. Here is a message to everyone reading this, “ If your goal doesn’t seem impossible… it’s not big enough.” I really just wanted to be “official” and professional. Read more>>

Sean Woods | Sean Woods | Cinematographer, Photographer, Educator

I’ve always had a thing for media since my younger days when I worked in the audio booth and with the camera crew in church. I’ve just always thought there was something cool about the boards, cameras, lighting, music and everything else. While in college, I ended up going down the radio lane for a while and as I was traveling with the sports teams, I ended up picking up the camera more and more. At that time, the plan wasn’t to become professional…I was more so filling a void that I noticed. While traveling with the teams, I always noticed that the players would complain about not being able to get any photos from the sports photographers. So, over the next few weeks, I spoke with a few of the standout players and told them I would take a few photos for them during the game to use on their social media pages. It literally took one game…then word got around and everyone wanted to get photos. After I began to post the photos consistently, I started to receive inquiries from players of the other sports, as well as other local schools. Read more>>

Dawn Aneada | Actress| Director | Producer| Writer| CEO

Starting my own business was really just me listening to what God said! I have always been mulithyphenate with acting being my main focus, however, I can not deny the many gifts I was given. I initially planned to launch my own production company by the start of 2021, but I woke up one morning during the pandemic and God said “NOW”! Do it Now! So I did it and unbeknownst to me within the next 3 months Bossin Up Productions would be I pre-production for four different projects. Read more>>

Shymère Nwabukwu | Owner/ Head Purveyor

My thought process behind starting my own business was empowered behind my passion for cooking. Cooking was that is my innate trait that I wanted to pursue but in healthier more refined approach. Overall, I knew my idea was to organize a catering service that accommodated the needs of vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and to those who were looking to transition into healthier eating habits and or dieting. However, being that it is a catering business I knew I wanted to incorporate unique element of upscale dinning to my arsenal. I want to create unmatched dinning experience which allows the consumer(s) to have unforgettable ambience of entertainment, tablescaping, and an impressive menu of wholesome foods to select from. Read more>>

Kevin Thornton | Life Coach & Author

Being an entrepreneur was not something I ever wanted to become but I was on a spiritual journey and in this journey is where I found my calling to become a life coach. Nothing was forced and everything started coming to me organically. When I got certified, I was still working in corporate America and I was going to ease into the business by doing it part time until I built my clientele and brand up. I started building my tribe via my daily post on social media and through that I started attracting clients. From there, an opportunity came for me to be a guest host on an podcast which then turned into me having my own podcast called the Wellness Architect Show. The podcast helped my grow my brand even larger and once again, this was something that I not want to do. Read more>>

Ravin Brown-Banks | Creative Event Graphics & Treats Designer

As a child, I’ve always been creative and artistic. I was always the one ready for art class and down for doing projects such as DIY that allowed me to be me through my creativity. My business first started off as me making hair bows for little girls. I began to think deep into it to think how can I better my business with something for all ages, something fun and most importantly to show how creative I can get. So I decided to jump into the party world where I started with family first making sweet treats, balloon columns, party favors and custom gifts to match their theme. I though to myself, parties are forever, everyone has them whether it’s a birthday or a wedding etc. On social media I started taking classes and one on ones with other treat makers and crafters to better my craft. After much practice, I began to fall in love with how my creative juices would just flow as I designed different things for other people. I’ve designed T-shirt’s, drinking glasses, anything I could think of I’m creating it. Read more>>

Latisha Frye | Executive Director

I’ve always been an entrepreneur and owning my own business was always a dream of mine. I’ve managed to work in the healthcare field and other jobs while trying to run my business. After having several booths inside the flea market, I decided to open my own store front. I’ve had several of businesses and some of those businesses included: Bakery & Deli, kids consignment and retail. While opening my last business, I also decided to go back to school to further my education. I had most of my credits from a community college I attended so I finished in 18 months and received my bachelor’s degree in Healthcare management. After finishing school and working in the healthcare field, I decided to branch out and start my own Home Health agency. This has been the most rewarding career I’ve had. Read more>>