Readers often email us asking us for advice about new businesses they are thinking about starting and we often find that many of them don’t have a framework for thinking about a more fundamental question: why should or shouldn’t you start a business?

Below, you’ll find how successful entrepreneurs from across the city thought about this very question when they were considering whether to start their businesses.

Betsy Kelley | Owner

I found some important things to be lacking in the custom apparel business, and I wanted to fix them. Communication and timeliness are key, and hugely missing in my industry. When I started my business, I wanted to solve those problems and fill a need that I saw, giving my clients a breath of fresh air and a much more catered experience. Read more>>

Michael Baxter | Producer & Photographer

I was the reluctant entrepreneur with no intention of starting a business. I left my last corporate job and was temporarily freelancing until I found the job I wanted. Here am I 17 years later so I figure this must be the job. Read more>>

Tamara Bickley | Makeup Artist

As a previous newspaper journalist, I worked for both large and small media outlets, and was no stranger to planning meetings, co-workers, teams, and reporting to management. Though many people thrive in such a work environment, I, as a creative and independent thinker, occasionally felt limited and held back, in part due to my young age and budding experience at the time. That’s not to say I did not enjoy what I was doing. I loved writing and editing, and I was trained to do just that. But I wanted to explore my artistic and business ideas without seeking approval from a boss. I dreamed of having flexibility in my schedule because at the time, I was in the midst of growing my family. I also hoped to change careers. I had long wanted to become a makeup artist. Since I had a journalism degree and had worked at a major metropolitan newspaper, I felt inhibited and scared to make that change. Read more>>

Renaldo Key | Owner & Cinematographer

Two words: Generational Wealth. I come from a southern family of hard workers who clocked in and out of a job that they didn’t necessarily like only to make ends meet. I determined long before now that I would be the generation to change that. After being the first to graduate college, I decided to move to Arizona in seek of more graphic design opportunities than my small hometown of Columbus, Georgia could offer. Although I often did freelance work, I always had the mentality of “needing” to have a traditional job. When I found my calling behind the camera, I knew that it would be the beginning of a shift in my family’s history. I started KEY Media with the intention of creating a business that would provide wealth for my family and my future family. I wanted something that would give my children an easier path to an empowered life. I want to not only set an example but also give them the opportunity to be their own boss which is completely opposite of things I was taught. Read more>>

Steven Aquilino | Professional Photographer

I had worked for other people/companies in the past and was never quite fulfilled with it. I had been working in the motion picture business as a camera assistant for many years. I knew photography was where I wanted to be. I also knew that wedding photography could be something where I had the chance to be very creative, but also make a living at it. I had never had my own business so there was a lot to learn about being in business. I started with shooting some weddings for free to work on building my portfolio and build up my skills working with wedding clients. Read more>>

Jon Boles | Founder & CEO

I’ve been an entrepreneur going on 11 years now. Building brands seems like something I was born to do. It’s been a lot of hard work of 80+ hour weeks for years, but it’s never truly felt like work. I created Avintiv Media out of pure necessity. My thought process was simple: it was a business model that I needed for my other companies, and I saw a need in the market place for a boutique agency that actually cared about helping businesses grow. At the time of launching Avintiv Media, I had an eCommerce activewear company and a manufacturing company. I kept getting burned by contract workers and other agencies. It seemed like every time I turned around; I was getting screwed out of money. I decided to learn graphic design, coding, web design, and SEO on my own. I started to rebuild my eCommerce company with everything I was learning, and that’s when everything changed. Read more>>

Tonya | Founder & President

I honestly never though about running my own rescue. I was with a heeler rescue for 5 1/2 yrs, they had closed. then i worked with a couple of other rescues, and had decided i wanted to start my own and go back to working with cattle dogs and catahoulas. There is such a great need to help these dogs. Read more>>

Amit Upadhye | Architect, Yoga Instructor & Adjunct Faculty

I think, having one’s own practice is one of the most fulfilling things. It’s like having a child—you do whatever it takes to raise them. I was drawn to Architecture because of its creativity but it was only after I met Glenn Murcutt in Sydney, Australia in 1995, who has a solo practice, that the dream of having my own studio began to become a reality. Glenn Murcutt, now a Pritzker laureate, is someone who conceptualizes, draws, and executes to maintain full control over the entire process. I was sitting in his yellow Citroen when he pulled out the most beautiful hand-drafted drawings from the back seat and unrolled them on the steering wheel. He said, “I was working on these till 2 AM last night.” I saw the spark of passion in his eyes. This interaction left a mark on me and gave me the courage to start my own studio almost a decade later. Read more>>

Jaclyn Fishbach | Business Owner & Pet Caregiver

I started my own business in a more informal way. I started raising and training service dogs for Power Paws Assistance Dogs when I was in 8th grade. Because of my service dog experience, friends referred me to other friends and I started dog sitting. I realized that I could turn my passion for helping dogs and their owners into a business. I started my business Pawsome Pet Services, LLC and have expanded the different services offered to include dog training and care of medically fragile pets. Read more>>

Matthew Kayne | Founder

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and enjoy finding solutions to new and existing problems within my professional and personal life. As a corporate employee for 10+ years, I gained a lot of skills which allowed me to take the leap into starting my own business. I didn’t plan on the business growing as it has, but just kept my head down and worked towards the goal of freedom from working in corporate America my entire life. Read more>>

Josh Grzywa | Dive Instructor, Pilot & Veteran

I don’t think my wife nor I had any intention of starting our own non-profit, especially not so late in life. That being said, we are not immune to the struggles many Veterans face post-service. Following my own time in service, memories of the past, friends that were lost in combat, and wondering if a new career would bring the same level of fulfilment and satisfaction often weighed on my mind. I had the opportunity to participate in a handful of different retreats for Veterans that were designed to address these concerns and while each offered guidance in different areas of my life, none of them really tackled the root of cause. Then, 8 Veterans that I served with throughout my career all committed suicide in a 6 week period. While devastated, my wife and I asked ourselves how could this happen but more importantly, what could we do to help? We went to work looking at programs I had attended to find their best attributes and said, “what if?”, what if we put together a program that provided injured Veterans a true, holistic approach to healing addressing multiple aspects of their wellbeing. Read more>>

Gabe Ulibarri | Firefighter, Veteran & Entrepreneur

The thought process behind the business was a collaboration of my two best friends and I who I’ve served with in the United States Air Force for more than 15 years and our love of coffee. We were deployed overseas together in early 2018 and wanted to create a brand and business that would tell stories of Heroes we’ve met while serving. Also, working as a full time firefighter, I know the amazing job we do can sometimes go unnoticed, so the idea of REAL AMERICAN HEROES Coffee was created. Read more>>

Laurie McMordie and CJ Hersch | Co-Founders

From the beginning our mission has been all about the way women feel. All too often women find themselves trying to live up to a “standard” that is elusive and self-defeating. When we were young and impressionable, the perfect woman was 36″ x 24″ x 36″ (impossible!) And while the standard may be different today, women still feel the pressure to change for someone else’s idea of beauty. This is what we set out to change and why we started our business. We design lingerie because it’s an intimate expression of how women feel and when a woman feels good about herself, she can love confidently. This is our standard. Read more>>

Joseph Torres | DJ & Educator

There were a few things that led me to starting my own business, but I don’t have shortest answer to this question. After working my first two jobs as a busser at Carrabba’s and at The Grill within The Wigwam Resort, I knew that I didn’t want to work for someone the rest of my life. However, I wouldn’t have had that mindset, had I not read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” which was recommended to me by one of my best friend’s, Jeff. The interesting part is that the DJ business was never planned, it was more of a domino effect. At the time, I was going to school for business at ASU, but once I read Robert Kiyosaki’s book, I realized that you didn’t have to have a degree just to start a business. Having my first job allowed me to qualify for a credit card. For some reason BOA thought it would be wise to give an 18 year old a credit card with a $5K limit. My mind immediately wandered and thought about all that I could buy for five thousand dollars. Read more>>

Jon Alban | CEO

I wanted to provide a better experience for people when getting help for their technology. I also wanted to help the people on my team find meaningful work inn an environment that did not pressure them with quotas or any of the negative corporate crap we went through in our careers. Read more>>

Frank Kitchen | Motivational Speaker & Public Speaking Coach

The process behind starting my own business was simple…provide for my family. I was tired of being underpaid, undervalued, let go, fired, or down-sized. My wife and I had one child and another on the way and we needed something consistent that inspired us. I was tired of working for people and wanted to work with people. I was looking for work that was relational and not transactional. Read more>>

Rachel Mari Kimber | Chocolatier, Healer & Musician

The thought process behind starting my own business, in all honesty, was the perceived freedom and permission it gave me to pursue one of my favourite passions- chocolate creating and inventing. Most fulfilling of all is taste testing all of the experiments along the way! I also enjoy that I get to offer delicious, nutritious chocolates and truffles to locals who seek a healthier lifestyle without compromising on taste. Read more>>

Jarvisson King | Farmer, Rancher & Shepherd

Where I live, they call it a “Food Desert”, the nearest grocery store is an hour away in all directions. Fresh produce does not last long when we buy them. Why is that? Produce is harvested, packed, shipped, delivered to grocery stores, and stocked before we buy them. That is a long process. Because of this, I started a garden to have fresh produce which my mom and I can enjoy. Fresh, homegrown produce is so much healthier for our bodies. We know exactly how they are grown and how they were cared for. Read more>>

Marjorie Risk | Metal and Mixed Media Artist

My artistic journey has been an interesting one. I have no formal training or degree in the Arts but 12 years ago was at a turning point in my career in an environmental industry. With 20+ years in the field of water resource management and water efficiency, I left my native Arizona for what appeared to be more opportunity in another state. I had managed a Statewide water conservation program in Arizona and a had national role in water but with the ever changing legislative budgets, my agency and many others were facing program and staff reductions. I left Arizona for the new opportunity only to return and year and a half later. Water remained the precious resource it had always been and although the need for conservation exists to this day, I wasn’t landing the jobs upon my return that my experience might otherwise ensure. Read more>>

Jessica | CEO & Founder

I have been in the insurance industry for over 22 years. After being in the corporate insurance world for 15 years I realized I could do this better. I knew we could provide an offering of services that were unparalleled in the insurance industry while making the atmosphere for the employees somewhere they wanted to come to work at. Read more>>

Alexis Armijo | Food Entrepreneur

I was very fortunate that I grew up with a father who was a business owner my whole life. I saw how he was more fulfilled and proud of what he did compared to many people who worked a 9-5. He was always able to be there for my brothers and I because he was his own boss. I always knew I didn’t want to work for anybody and wanted to create something unique and fun. I had worked in sales for many years and got burnt out, even though I was self employed and created my own hours I knew as a business owner I would be able to work with a team. My greatest joy has been collaborating with many different people in the culinary industry. I have learned so much from others and have felt very accepted in the food industry. I think with business my approach is people over profit. My business on paper is providing cooking classes and food tours, but if you dig deep my business is relationships and building connection. I will never lose sight of that. Read more>>

La’Quesha Klines | Owner

Initially my business was named “Boys N Ties” because I really just wanted to dress up young boys. Being a mother of two boys It was always so hard to find stylish clothes and accessories. However it has now branched off into a full Accessory line, for for the whole family. Read more>>