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.

Tirrell Johnson | Event Planner & Event Stylist

One of my aunts took notice that I had an eye for décor and presentation while assisting in decorating at my grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration in Baltimore, Maryland. She planted the seed and my heart would not let it go. I began creating – I planned intimate gatherings at my home, coordinated and helped with design at a wedding, and put together dinners for a few of my friends. I was amazed at how fluid the process was for me and honestly, how much I just love the art of beauty, sophistication, elegance, and all things celebration! Planning has been something that comes “natural” to me. This ability, this gift, this purpose of event planning, event styling, wedding planning and wedding coordinating came from God. On Christmas 2019 my parents gifted me $200 cash. I took half of that and filed for my LLC and the other half I used to open my business bank account. Read more>>

Dani Washington | Scent Designer + World Traveler

When I started my business, my thought process was that of having a sense of freedom. I had just returned to the US from spending a year in Spain, and I was absolutely missing all of the travel opportunities afforded to me by living in Europe. I missed being able to take a weekend and head to Portugal or spend a few days in Morocco. I wanted to create an outlet of sorts, so I set out to create a company that gave me the nostalgic feeling of being in these various places while also allowing others the chance to smell these places through my nose in the same way that people who share their photos allow others to see destinations and places through their eyes. Memories are closely tied with a sense of smell so it was a natural fit for me to decide to create a home fragrance brand based on various destinations. Read more>>

Ashley Hunt | CEO of Mocktails For Mommy & Creator of Mommy & Me Organization -Self Care Enthusiast

My thought process behind starting my business was offering a need to mommies and giving them an outlet that they might not have the opportunity to get. I had to first find a need, what is something that we as women , we as mommies, we as people are lacking? That’s better self care and to know mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially you can treat yourself because you deserve it. Once I figured out the need, my business has done nothing but be successful. Mocktails for Mommy started off as a way for myself to not go crazy. I was stuck in the house six months pregnant, COVID hit us all hard. I wanted to go out, I wanted to have fun but most of all I want to have some great drinks but of course I couldn’t. So I created Mocktails for Mommy, LLC sharing nonalcoholic recipes to women who want to treat themselves. I get a ton of people who have told me their story and how my mocktails help people who are recovering alcoholics, also people who have certain medical conditions and they cannot drink alcohol. Read more>>

Rain Chapman | Chef & Self Care Enthusiast

The Unicorn Effect came about as a rebrand of myself, I just had a baby girl – I had gone through my own ups and downs in personal life and with other businesses that I did carry. So I hadn’t done anything for a while (no cooking, no events, nothing. And she has such a magical personality – i call her my little unicorn. And when you think of unicorns you think of love, magic, and happiness. All of the things I wish to bring to the clients I come in contact with. I wanted people to feel happiness from the love they were getting in the food they receive, or even now in our skincare products, feeling happiness and magic from a pure place. Read more>>

Dr. Corine Ferebee | Integrative Health and Functional Medicine Pharmacist & Personal Trainer

I knew that in order for me to truly be happy I need to develop a sense of balance in my life. Corporate America was not going to allow me to do the things that truly brought me joy and reach the level of success that I desired. I need to create a lane that would allow me to make the decisions in my life that would bring me happiness. Therefore, I created Trinity Wellness Rx Consulting, LLC. Read more>>

Dee-Andre Ferguson | Social Worker

My thought process behind starting my own business? Well, one of the first thoughts that came to my head when I started my own business was the idea there are very few black men in the mental health field. I wanted black men and women to have an open space to speak about their struggles in a system that was not created for US with someone who looks like them and understand their struggle. Read more>>

DJ HITMAN DB | Traveling DJ, mix Show DJ, Host, Party Promoter, Brand Ambassador, Heartless Grind CEO

It really wasn’t a thought process I was more so motivated by my older cousin James Lester. He is the one that motivated me to start DJ’n. He told me to use my leverage that I have and the following that I have and make it into some thing great. I decided to take his idea and turn into what it is today DJ HITMAN DB. Read more>>

Sherese Shy-Holmes | The Business Doula

We all know that one grandma, aunt, sister, or best friend that has an amazing business idea and entrepreneurial goals. We may have even seen them launch several ideas only to see them fail, and they quietly go back to their 9-5 and tuck their dreams of financial freedom into the, “I guess it’s not meant for me’” folder. The problem is, most businesses don’t fail because their idea was bad, they fail because they lack business development skills. They didn’t know how to position, package, and profit from their idea, because success isn’t a secret it’s a system. That’s exactly why I decided to launch my business when I noticed that there was a gap in helping ambitious spiritually-minded women– monetize their purpose, navigate solo business development, and break their financial glass ceilings. I watched my grandmother navigate solo business development, as the only Black-owned salon in a predominately white neighborhood for over 27 years. As a little girl. Read more>>

Astheris Miller | Audio Engineer & Web Developer

I wanted to start a socially-minded podcast network and media production company. At first, I thought of modeling the practices of other companies, then it dawned on me that Tsuga must create equitable content from the ground up. I redrafted the articles of organization with a co-operative structure grating co-equal votes to the members. Tsuga Productions exists to provide a platform both to amplify marginalized voices and create immersive audio experiences. Read more>>

Wayne Williams | CEO Mr. Williams

My thought process behind starting my business was having the ability to generate Financial Freedom. I’ve spent years working for a job and not being able to see where my time was going, Until I decided to change my mind set. I began learning more skills and moving around my job and utilized it in my business. This was the motivation I needed to get my business off the ground and turn it from an idea to a reality. Read more>>

Kayy | YouTuber & Business Owner

When I decided to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia back in 2017 after graduating from college I fell in love with watching other youtubers who documented their daily lives in Atlanta. After binge watching numerous vlog channels I realized that a lot of people show you the city but they didn’t show the “real city”. I decided that when I moved I’d show people all the things to do, where to be, who to see, and all that jazz. I felt that If I did those things that I could truly help someone with their move. Imagine relocating to Atlanta from out of state. Sure you can visit but there’s only so much you can learn without actually living. I simply created my brand to fill the void. Read more>>

Joanna Ng | Wedding & Family Portrait Photographer

I never saw myself as a business owner, let alone a professional photographer. I was taking photos of my family and friends and posting them on my social media page just for fun, and it was when people outside of my family and friends started asking me to take photos that got me thinking that maybe this was something I could for a living. Read more>>

HEATHER Cross | Owner & Principal Designer

My thought process behind starting Heather Cross Designs Co was pretty simple. If I have a talent/gift, I have the education to support it, I should monetize it. Monetizing your gifts is something you will hear me passionately speaking over everyone that I come in contact with. We have the power to utilize the gifts God has given us by activating our faith and trusting the process. Read more>>

Shelby Green | Holistic Financial Planner

Working in the finance industry, companies have their process. I have worked for 3 other financial companies in the past, all GREAT companies; however, they all on the same way inside. They preach their own strategy of how to get clients, and want you to stick to it. They also preach and stand by their products, which are great but not always best. I wanted to start my own business to acquire clients how I prefer and also be able to use my own processes I have created, and now I am also able to utilize the products of over 20 financial institutions! This allows me to not pick a product based on the company I am with, but the clients needs’. Me starting my business was the best decision not just for me, but also for my clients and any future clients we obtain as it is now THEIR needs that are priority no matter what company I pick for them to use. Read more>>

Dawn Henderson | Herbalist & Entrepreneur

Everyone knows that I love all things holistic and natural. I’ve always been the girl with a home remedy for anything, and my kid even goes to a holistic pediatrician. I think that people really just trusted my advice and what I shared about what herbs, and remedies helped with my family and I. So when I made too much of a coffee scrub I used for my face and body, I went online to see if anyone wanted the extra and so many people inquired that I made more. At that point, I would say I thought it was just a phase so the thought process for me was to just keep going until people stopped asking. Once I really got serious, I just wanted people to know that it’s important what you put into and on your body, and also how you take care of yourself mentally and spiritually is important as well. As long as I’m passionate about where this business comes from and what I stand for, the goal is to continue to grow so more people can learn that. Read more>>

Cliff Bramble | Restaurant & Start-Up Consultant

The thought that has always gone into starting my business is knowing that I can do it. Having the self-confidence, determination and a high motivation level is a major factor in getting any business started. Planning is also a major part of starting the business. Proper planning, along with following set steps will assist in getting any business off the ground. Read more>>

Wendel Dandridge | Spiritual Life Coach and Self-Publishing Master Teacher

I honestly had no intentions of starting LEDNEW Enterprise LLC. However, one day I realized that people were willing to pay me for my skills and services. I’ve written a few books, and people needed help publishing theirs. I’ve always been a go-to person for spiritual advice, and people I know where in need of spiritual life coaching. At one point I was a full-time vocal and piano teacher simply giving lessons someone taught me. For me, my business wasn’t about making money but rather legitimizing my skill sets to create an enterprise of opportunities to share with others things I’ve learned. It was at the moment that I realized “people are willing to pay for what I know and can teach” that I started the process of building my business. Read more>>

AJ Lalwani | CEO of Red Voice Technologies

I got into the technology sector pretty early in my life and worked in various roles before becoming the Vice President of the company I was working for. I was now in-charge of the entire company operations. I realized I had the business acumen along with my technical expertise. I also realized that I had reached my career ceiling with this company. That’s when I asked the owner of the company for a share in the company. His first response was to bring the company lawyers in the conversation and remind me that it was his company and no matter how much the company grew under me – I was still an employee. I still remember his lawyer saying “You cannot learn to fly while staying in the nest”. The sound of those words still resonates in my ear. Read more>>

Laura Lyn Coody | Wedding Planner & Social Marketer

As a kid, I was always interested in art and creating. I started at UGA as an art major, but quickly realized that while I was covered in charcoal in the dorm stairwell, my friends were out building relationships and memories. I wanted to be a part of those memories too! Soon after, I started collecting wedding magazines because I’m a hopeless romantic and love all things pretty. I had clear totes full of gorgeous wedding editorials before I finished college and started organizing tear-outs in a whopping 4-inch binder for my “future designs.” After college, I worked in corporate Atlanta for a great company where I loved the people, but I had zero underlying interest in that industry. I planned events for the company and loved creating joy for the employees. Then, after leaving Atlanta, I managed someone else’s business and was putting all my energy into making that business better while also stomaching all the stress and anxiety when things weren’t lining up. Read more>>

Rashod Stanley | Aspiring Fashion Designer

I figured with these felonies on my record it will be difficult for me to get a job that will pay enough to live how I want to live so I figured if I started my own business I would have more control over my own future. Read more>>

Savitra | Owner of New Era of Style

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start a business. In July of 2017, when I returned to school to pursue my MBA, I began to take my idea of being a small business owner seriously. Since my MBA program required me to create a small business, I decided to work on what eventually became my online boutique. The feedback and knowledge I gained throughout my program prepared me for my journey. I wanted a small business that fed my desire for fashion, passion for business and purpose for helping others. I enjoy fashion and wanted a boutique that reflected the needs of working professionals who juggle the everyday demands of having a busy life. The pieces that are sold in my online boutique are versatile and can transition throughout the busy day of our customers. I also wanted to have a business that was built on purpose. Our slogan is “Fashion with Purpose.” Research has shown that customers are more willing to buy from businesses that have some sort of social responsibility. Read more>>

Christina Duren | Community Organizer, Beautiful Brown Girls™

I am originally from Miami, FL, but spent most of my early adult years in New York City. I formed my core group of friends there. We had a blast every weekend enjoying brunch and different events around the city, and in 2009 I decided to move back to Miami. It really felt like a “starting over” moment for me. I was in a new city “in my eyes” and really missed the friendship and sisterhood bonds I created while in NYC. So that started me on my quest of how do I find like-minded friends. I frequented Meetup often in NYC being new to the city there and finding my tribe that way. Moving back to Miami led me back to Meetup. I searched through a few groups and could not find a good fit for me. I needed a space where I could just fully be me, find some good girlfriends who had similar interests, and as a new mom, I just needed a day off! So that day I decided to create my own group doing all the fun things I loved to do with friends back in NYC and the Beautiful Brown Girls Brunch Club was created. Read more>>

Dane Reid | Professional Voiceover Talent

I think many great things are born from necessity. Sometimes the motivation is profit. Sometimes it’s personal. For me I knew that I needed to express my creative side. It was spiritual. I was never meant to work for someone else. Money could never provide me what I really needed. I could’ve been a millionaire and have still felt empty. I needed to create something. I used to listen to commercials for nightclubs on the radio thinking, “These guys get to create new content all the time and it’s so cool” From then I started imitating them and a fledgling career was born. I started doing voiceover. I began in 2004 and I haven’t. Read more>>

Mimi Striplin | Founder, The Tiny Tassel

When I started my business I was working full-time in retail management. After receiving a pair of tassel earrings as a gift from my sister, she jokingly said that I should just make them myself. From there The Tiny Tassel was born. I wanted to create a career and lifestyle that brought me joy, could allow me to afford the life that I wanted, and work at growing something of my own. I’m so humbled by the years spent putting my all into this and seeing what it’s grown to be today. We just opened our flagship store and I couldn’t be more proud. Read more>>

Emory Paul | Homeless Nonprofit President

My nonprofit was sparked when I was passing out backpacks filled with supplies with a club at my school, and we were unable to provide everyone with a backpack. When a man who was homeless asked me if we had an extra backpack and we replied that we had unfortunately run out, I saw the despondent and hopeless look in his eyes. It was at that moment that I knew I needed to make a difference and turn my passion into action. I realized that though I could never do enough, I could always do more. This led me to found Soul Supplies with hope that I could serve people experiencing homelessness on a much larger scale thanks to a nonprofit’s access to grants and partnerships. Read more>>

Evan Grantski | Record Store Owner & Musician

I love music and have collected it since I was young. I noticed that Augusta did not have many options to buy locally. There is also an event twice a year called Record Store Day, which brings large crowds to independently owned record stores. I and many people I know would travel out of town to participate in this event. I knew that Record Store Day would help tremendously with my store once I had it up and running. Read more>>

Kevin-Marie Davis | Business Coach | Asana Certified Pro

As a child, I saw my mom work her corporate career and have a side hustle. After I graduated college, I was blessed with a corporate gig and craved having a side-hustle similar to what my mother had always done. Her side hustle was different from mine, but the idea of having my own money outside of the regular paycheck was a nice feeling. So I did everything from selling Avon, to joining MLMs. It was just in me to have a business. In 2020, I was laid off from my wonderful corporate gig due to the pandemic. Thankfully I already had an established business, so that pushed me to worked harder at what was once my side-hustle. Read more>>

Alex Guidi Zupancic | Owner | Yoga Instructor | Personal Trainer

There are definitely a few things that led me to start my own business. First, being that my dad was an entrepreneur, and my mom still currently owns and operates their business. Growing up, I know that they worked their absolute butts off, but owning the business gave them the flexibility to be there for me and my sister. They never missed a single school function or sports game because they were able to adjust their work schedule accordingly. It was so important having them around for everything, definitely made a big impact on my life. While I don’t have kids, and am not sure if the future holds kids for me and my husband, I want to be available to be there for my family and friends. I want to be able to set my own hours and schedule so that I’m not forced to miss the important things. Sometimes that means working 12 straight hours one day just so I can work 6 the next, but it works and I like it. Secondly, I wanted to combine work and play. Read more>>

Danielle Reid | Award-Winning Marketing Expert and Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business was honestly to take a chance and to do something that I had been afraid to do for years. Entrepreneurship is not something that is often taught when a person is growing up, especially in the era that I was raised; I was taught to get a good career with a company, stay there for 30 years and retire. As a millennial, we are the generation that has been breaking through the standard status-quo on how people should live their life and refuse to settle. I had attempted part-time entrepreneurship in the past and enjoyed the creativity and freedom that it allowed me to offer my clients. The only reason that I stopped was because of the demands that I faced with my full-time career having me on call and expecting responses at off-duty hours even after working from 7 am-6 pm on many days. In corporate America. Read more>>

Shayla Varnado | Founder & CEO

When I started Black Girls Wine I wanted to create a space where Black women could come to enjoy, learn, and connect over wine and feel celebrated at the same time. When I looked around I couldn’t find any one place where everyone was gathering so I wanted to create that space!. Read more>>

Tracy Mitchell | Entertainment Publicist and Clothing Line Owner

I am Tracy Mitchell and I saw a window that was open for someone like me. I am confident that I am very relatable and I always had a selfless nature about myself. In the entertainment space there’s a lot of people out getting it but not motivating others to get it too. I am a business owner. I own PR By Tracy LLC and I have a clothing line called Hustle Baby. My overall brand is Hustle Baby and that speaks for itself. The first step was I had the idea and then I brought it all to life. From there I handled the business/paperwork side of things. It wasn’t easy but I didn’t want to miss out fulfilling the dream. Read more>>

Rolf Hensche | Proprietor

We found Ellijay during one of our hiking trips in the area. We liked the city so much that we bought a weekend getaway cabin on the river. When we retired from the Corporate World in 2018 we moved to Ellijay fulltime. Unfortunately, at the time there were only a few restaurants in the area but nothing more upscale. We were approached by the owner of one of the restaurants downtown and eventually agreed to purchase the business and the building. We completely retooled the kitchen, and coneptualized the restaurant downstairs and live Music upstairs. Read more>>

Bryan “Harvest Blaque” Hancock | Hip-Hop/Spoken Word Artist

Being an artist I feel like I have something to say and it was time for me to have the courage to share who I was and why my time is now. It is my belief that our gifts are the essential key to unlocking our purpose and can build a life that is even greater than what we imagine. To be a musician and a writer has always been my passion and with the release of my new album “The Mind Scrub”, I am truly humbled to see the fruits of my labor grow, enlighten, and transform. Belief that whatever I put my mind to was the process for starting my business and if I fail, I accept it as part of the process and rise above. Read more>>

Pastor | Dr. Shameka Pointer | Pastor/Counselor

My thought process behind starting my own business was very scary. I really didn’t know how things would turn out as I stepped out in Faith. To be honest I was shaking as I looked for my office and I still get nervous because starting a business is a big risk and even though you hope for the best you still have to prepare for the worst. Read more>>

Shanise Danyelle | Actress, Model && Entrepreneur

I love hats, tanks and tee’s and whenever I take a trip, I almost always visit a gift shop and grab one if not all three. Back in 2019, I thought to myself, why not sell the things I love purchasing… I initially wanted to come up with my own clothing line; I wrote it out in my journal and then I just sat on it, never giving it a second thought. Out of nowhere, Covid-19 came along, and caused many setbacks. During this time, I lost my job due to the pandemic and was out of work for 8 months. I had a lot of free time, and finally decided that it was time to start something for me so I don’t have to depend on someone else’s dollar. This is when ShàCity Prints was birthed. I offically brought this business into fruition in September, 2020. We sell custom clothing apparel; where the goal is to turn your thoughts into creative, unique designs. Read more>>

Ashleigh Montford | Head Creative Consultant

When I was growing up and they are still entrepreneurs to this day. To be honest, that’s the only life I ever really knew, however, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that I was more than unconventional and wanted to really work for myself. In undergrad at Savannah State University, I was a Journalism and Mass Communications major, minoring in English, and also took some courses in Business Management. To be honest, I knew that I had a lot of passions and that there was not one field in particular that I knew I would be happy in for the rest of my life. So why not create a firm that encompasses all of my passions, right?! So acknowledging that I am a creative and further examining how to run a successful business, I started The Opia Designs Company, LLC. Not only does Opia do web development, but Opia also caters to Black-owned businesses that need marketing, graphic design, photography, videography, content development, social media management, and more! Designing Opia to cater to the needs of others while fueling my passions seemed like a no-brainer to me, but I’m still growing and evolving every day. Read more>>

Keith “DJ All Star” Thomas | DJ/Business Owner

The thought process of creating my own business was the importance of pursuing my passion, being in control of my time, having no cap on how much money I could make and creating opportunity for others. Read more>>

Meagan Schwartz | Food Blogger + Designer

A few years ago, when I first started Salt+Rye, I just wanted to share the food I was making, and my heart for sharing a meal with others. I have a background in design and education, and I’m passionate about food (both eating and sharing it). So building a website where I can share food via my recipes just seemed like an obvious choice for me. I truly believe gathering around a table and a meal is sacred. Whether it is just you, your household, or a large party, I think that making time to sit, converse, reflect, and fully enjoy what is before you can be world-changing. When we cook and eat together we can dream together, we can learn from one another, and walls can begin to come down. My vision for Salt+Rye is to be a virtual dining table for us to gather around. A place where you can learn, not just recipes, but maybe increase your confidence in the kitchen. If I can help relieve the stress of planning what and how to cook your meals, it can free you up to fully enjoy feeding your people. You can focus on the meal and the people in front of you and make the kitchen a place of joy!. Read more>>

Khalia Ervin | Founder & Owner

My thought process for starting Sankofa Athletics, LLC was to create an athleisure apparel brand that allows for athletes an non-athletes to feel represented. While simultaneously allowing me as the owner to give back to my community domestically and internationally. Read more>>

Donald Williams | C.E.O./Artist

I wanted something different, something that I couldn’t find. I didn’t want it to be ordinary either. If I was going to do it, then I was going to be authentic. Searching the music scene and not being able to find music with a banging beat and good subject matter is what birthed POWER MUSIC GROUP. Read more>>