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.

Kaitlin Gustave | Owner of K Arrow Productions

Starting my own business, K Arrow Productions, was a huge risk for myself. I previously worked for a corporate company doing what I love as the digital editor and assistant editor of The Team Roping Journal magazine and The Breakaway Roping Journal, which included social media management, news writing, website content management, event coverage, podcasting, some photography and more. Read more>>

Aleah Chilleen | Owner- The Venue at Chilleens

Honestly at first I didn’t think much about starting my own business. I thought for sure I never wanted to be in the restaurant industry, I had no idea I wanted to be in the wedding industry either. Someone suggested getting married our back area, which at the time was a dirt, a run down bar, an old stage and a pavilion built in the early 70s. I thought they were crazy. I vividly remember telling them maybe if we add some grass and like a water feature then maybe but now?! No way. Read more>>

Andrea Neff | Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Starting my business happened so gradually and so naturally. I’d been slowly taking on more and more freelance photography work since college, until I was working full time at a 9-5 job as an in-house photographer for a mattress company as well as running my own show on the side. I’ve always felt drawn to jobs that were service-oriented, and additionally I loved that my photography introduced me to new people on an almost daily basis. Read more>>

Joshua Kaine | Musician, creator and plant person

I’ve always experienced life through a creative lens and felt the need to allow that to become my reality. I like working hard, I like working with my hands, and I like to allow life to change me and be fluid, but I don’t like doing work that doesn’t fulfill me spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Having the opportunity to create something from the heart and share it with the world is a gift that I have to be grateful for every day, and I feel like I can only do that by working to make it possible. Read more>>

Danny McPadden | Owner/Video Producer

My inspiration to start a video production business began when I was in the Army. I was a Psychological Operations officer, i.e., an expert in creating military propaganda campaigns. Wow, how pretentious does that sound? In doing so, I learned the craft of writing TV commercials and documentaries. I became infatuated with the production process…script writing, cinematography, directing, editing—yeah, all the cool stuff. Read more>>

Kadriya Musina-Sallus | Founder & Certified Therapeutic Riding instructor

We started Salt River Vaulters as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the goal of helping children with disabilities and it was never intended to be a traditional business. We found that no equestrian vaulting clubs existed in Arziona and though that it would be beneficial for kids who may not be able to be on a traditional saddle. Read more>>

Ruben Sanchez | Artist

I guess freedom is the magic word. Freedom to create, freedom to choose, etc. I think it is the only way to unchain creativity 100%. You gotta take lot of risks but if you’re perseverant is rewarding and enriching. Read more>>

Jenn Harper | Founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics INC

The thought process behind starting Cheekbone Beauty came from a literal dream I had. I woke up in the middle of the night and had my “this is what I have to do” moment, and got on my laptop to start writing what I now know to be my business plan. I knew that I had to start this company and that it had to serve as a pillar of representation for Indigenous youth so that they could see their tremendous value in the world. Read more>>

Sydney King | CEO & Founder of SydShakes, Artist Manager, Model, & Entrepreneur

I always knew I needed to make a huge impact on the world. I knew if I wanted to help people on a large scale, it required me to be passionate about what I was doing and scale my efforts to the max. It’s a funny story about how I started SydShakes, because it was originally to help myself. Let this be your sign to focus on yourself before you try to focus on the world. Read more>>

Alex Tan | Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Practitioner

At 28 years old, I gave up my engineering background and went back to University to study a 4-year degree in Chinese Medicine. At the end of that degree, we went to China for a 6-week internship, and I ended up staying 10-years. I was already a seasoned traveler and China was an amazing adventure back then. In Beijing, that is where I met my wife who is from Flagstaff Arizona. We had 3-kids at the time, and decided to move closer to family, so when we moved to Flagstaff, I opened my Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic. Read more>>

Bruce Liles | Purveyor of style

The belief that we could create something unique. It was a stubbornness to not fail, to succeed beyond all odds. A dream I had in childhood, knowing that there would be no turning back. Read more>>

Kyle Seip | Cast Iron Specialist & Home Chef

My thought process was a series of stages that continued to out-do each other. From a young age I learned the value of a good yard sale/flea market and enjoyed going to them with my mom and siblings. That progressed into finding things that myself and others found value in. Before I knew it, I started growing a small clientele which consisted of family, friends and local collectors. They would give me very specific items to try and find and I loved to treasure hunt for them. While the hunt continued, my focus gravitated towards the kitchen. Read more>>

Christina Loya | Event planner

When I started my own business I was searching for something I loved to do! Through the years I have worked numerous jobs where I didn’t have the freedom and didn’t truly enjoy what I was doing I have a creative passion that needed a outlet , I was always spending money to decorate my home and that’s when Desert boho events was born! I needed to find a way to make money decorating instead of spending money decorating my home to get that creative energy out, We live in a small lake town that lacks anything “Trendy” I was scrolling on Instagram one day and someone posted a picnic on the beach in California and I took that idea and ran with it! Read more>>

Chelsea Woodworth | Legal Paraprofessional in Limited Jurisdiction Civil and Family Law, Legal Document Preparer, and Advanced Certified Paralegal

Working a traditional job became too much for me for various reasons. I needed more flexibility in my life. I love to travel, but it was always difficult to take time off while working for a traditional employer. A few years ago, I wanted to travel to Europe with my best friend. I provided my employer with almost a year’s notice before my 2.5-week planned vacation. Before this vacation, I rarely took time off and I always rolled over my vacation time every year. Read more>>

Lauren Goslin | Recipe Creator, Food Blogger & Photographer

At first, not much! I began my blog as a way to record recipes and bond with other at-home moms, as I was newly at home with two young children. After a few years of consistent posting, however, I began working with various brands that aligned with what I was doing, including oatmeal products, a local Arizona morning show, and a publication called Gluten-Free Magazine. It was awesome, because I was just doing what I loved and making money for it! Read more>>

Katelin Kinney | Commercial Photographer and Retoucher

I never wanted to start my own business. I always knew I wanted to be a commercial photographer, but I hated the idea of finding my own clients, dealing with business costs/taxes/insurance, or trying to negotiate pricing. I had hoped to find some sort of full time employment at maybe an advertising agency- I later learned that’s not the structure of the commercial photography industry. I did find a decent full time job doing photography for Amazon sellers, but the company I worked for went under right before Covid hit. Read more>>

Sarina Siebenaler | Children’s Book Author

At the start of having a family, my husband and I made the agreement that I would be the stay-at-home parent to our 3 beautiful children and manage the household duties. The ’round the clock management of being a nurse, teacher, playmate, chauffeur, chef, and the housekeeper was my new job and I did it with pride, while keeping busy. Although, my children and family were my first priority and commitment, I felt the enthusiasm slowly dim with the interalized feeling of losing a piece of my identity. I yearned to have a creative outlet, but struggled to find what it was that would full-fill me, but also be helpful to others, while being able to stay home and care for my children. Read more>>

Philip Tzeng | Food Blogger

Food has always been a passion of mine. As I was building a following on Instagram and gaining more traction and attention, restaurants and brands started reaching out to me to either do paid posts or social media management, which in turn led me to start the business, LasVegasFill. It was never really the plan, it just happened to work out that way! Read more>>

Lloyd Hopkins | Executive Director/Founder

In the work of improving schools there isn’t enough being doing for our educators. The social entrepreneur in me realized that there was an opportunity to engage the community in a unique way around elevating what it means to be a teacher in our society. So, I combined my passion for creating a more equitable education system with my admiration for teachers and the Million Dollar Teacher Project was born. Our emphasis is to make every teacher feel like a million dollars so they can do the same for our children. Read more>>

Carrie Hirshberg | Trainer, Clinician & Ambassador

My ultimate passion is helping horses and helping people. While working corporate jobs I was always being pulled into training and giving lessons. At one point I was managing a barn at the same time! My thought process behind starting our own business was to devote more time to the horse industry, all aspects of it, while remaining flexible for our family since we have a 6 year old son. Read more>>


Hello, the thought process behind me starting my own business was being able to provide for my family and your self. Having a craft or being able to create and build with your hands is a great key to have in life. With that it allowed me to do open my own business, which was a life time goal. I started at a young age knowing that learning this craft would one day pay off and through hard word and dedication i was blessed to start a business. Read more>>

Megan Crowley | Motherhood Photographer

I specialize in motherhood photography, and it all started simply because when I became a mom, I was desperate to document every moment, both big and small. I clang to the memories the photos brought, and I just realized the importance and beauty of motherhood and how quickly time flees. So I wanted to offer other moms the same gift, the lasting memories. Read more>>

Abdallah Khalife | NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Integrative Nutrition Specialist, and CEO and founder of Innovative Strength Solutions (ISS supplements)

I have been a personal trainer and health coach for more than 10 years, I also have a passion for supplemental nutrition. I have been a consumer for 14 years and know the market like the back of my hand. The idea to start selling supplements came to me several years back but things never were quite right (time, finances, etc). After a few years of planning and saving for an initial investment I decided to start my own personal supplement line starting with plant sterols. Read more>>

Mark Malin | Amp Builder | Musician

I build high quality guitar amplifiers, and as a musician I have always been fascinated with the old-school way of building these. As these original instruments became more and more rare I decided, given my electronics background and analytical mind, the availability of the original schematics, maybe I could reproduce one using the old=school techniques. Read more>>

Adriana & Tijn Estallo Giral & van Blokland | Entrepreneurs

We met in Finnish Lapland almost five years ago, working as wilderness guides. We soon realized our shared passion for the outdoors, traveling, and photography. For most of the year, we live above the Arctic circle, where we have settled our residence and keep working in the tourism industry. While the rest of the year, we travel around the world. We have been thinking for a long time about the way to mix our passion and make it an entire year-round business. This was when the idea of Our Northern Tales started. Read more>>

Kristin Webber | Homestead Consultant & Librarian

I wanted to share my passion and knowledge of living a more simplified life with others. I thought about all the skills I had learned on my own and was trying to figure out how I could help others learn the same things without taking years of trial and error. I am passionate about teaching but also about homesteading and getting back to basics. Read more>>

Michelle Guillemet | Your fake baker but real pastry chef!

As a pastry chef , trained in French cooking , I’ve owned a business since I was 21 years old. This time with The Make Pretend Bakery , in a COVID time , I had to think out of the oven and think of an other way to express my passion for the pastry world. A friend challenged me to crate a fake whipped cream mug topper and that’s how it all started! Read more>>

Kennedy Smith | Founder & CEO of Well Versed Magazine

My first ever business endeavor was at age 19. I started making and selling jewelry with my best friend our senior year of high school. This is how I fell in love with the process and knew it was something I wanted to continue doing for the rest of my life. Creating the jewelry business sparked the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me. My first attempt at starting a business had paved a path for what was to come. Later in the year of 2019, I created my first blog with high hopes of it “blowing up” and becoming a huge company one day. Read more>>

Chris Peterson | Woodworker & Craftsman

Oak Dog Woodworking started as a woodworking hobby and people started to notice the craft. We wanted to be able to provide a great product experience for people that were willing to support us. So we decided it was time to start our small business so that could continue the legacy of craft making. Read more>>

Caroline Hannon | Senior Business Strategist & Small Business Owner

A few months into my first job post-college, I found myself in a position that many recent graduates experience. I was stuck in a cycle that involved going to work, coming home, cooking for myself, going to bed, and repeating the process day after day. I felt I was missing a creative outlet, something that was always a big part of my life since a young age, when I started my first small business creating handmade cards. I set a goal for myself in 2020 to find a creative hobby. After trying out a few that didn’t seem like the right fit, I came across polymer clay jewelry. Read more>>

Evie Kevish | Certified Juice Therapist

Before I had kids I always worked out and thought I ate well. It was not until I started CrossFit and learned about food and nutrition that changed my life. Once I joined CrossFit I really started taking what I put into my body seriously. I wanted to be clean and healthy. After a few years of CrossFit, I decided it was time to start a family. I wanted to stay active during my pregnancy, so I did. I had two kids in two years and did CrossFit both pregnancies. I know working out and staying active absolutely helped me give birth and recover quickly. Read more>>

Aika Exceus | Artist/ Designer

I knew building a business/brand, it had to stem from something I love and passionate about. At the time, Haitian designers and artist were incorporating more voodoo symbols, called vèvè, to their art pieces or clothing line. It was a way to show more awareness of the different aspect of voodoo and finally accepting it as our culture because it is part of us Haitian, it is our blood and our ancestor’s way of liberating us from slavery. I wanted to hop on the trend yet think outside the box. Read more>>