Starting a business is often a life-altering decision.  It can affect you in so many ways beyond just financially.  We asked some of the smartest entrepreneurs we know about their thought-process around starting their own businesses.

Lauren Keller | President and Founder of Rafiki Bracelets

I started Rafiki Bracelets as a Junior in high school while taking a social entrepreneurship course called Agents of Change. Two summers prior to starting the nonprofit, my immediate family visited our friend Kitoi for the first time in his home country of Tanzania. His children attended primary school with many students who were orphaned by one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS and were unable to pay for school supplies. Read more>>

Aaron Owens | Fashion Designer

My brand is dedicated to my first cousin by the name of Vernon Evans. I started Y.G.L Clothing company to keep his name alive and build motivation in our communities. Read More>>

Steffi Kordy | Corporate Event & Incentive Travel Specialist

When I started my corporate event company, it was very important for me to include sustainability. I had already been working successfully in my field for 10+ years for another company, so I did not have to reinvent the wheel completely, but I wanted to make sure that with each event, I either integrate sustainable practices or give back to the people and places that were our backdrop. Read more>>

Panos Chalvantzis | Entrepreneur

The idea of my own business was a product of a long-standing desire to work for myself, a quest for independence and for doing something that I love. Getting it off the ground was one of the most challenging and most exhilarating things I have done up to that point. The thought process started with market research where I realized that genuine inspiration and in-depth knowledge. Read more>>

Brandi Henderson | Sea Gypsy Beauty Makeup Artist

When I made the decision to start my own business, it was overwhelming with the amount of decisions I realized I had to make. I wanted everything about it to represent me; the name, the logo, the color scheme, the professionalism, the skill level, the luxury services, and the uniqueness of my beauty services. In order to differentiate myself from other beauty companies, I decided that my logo needed to show people that my makeup applications are waterproof and that one of my specialties is underwater makeup. Read more>>

Lori Rizzo | CEO/Celebrity Event Planner, Lori Rizzo Events

I am an epic failure as an employee. Period. I am a Type A, extremely principled and strong willed, determined and driven. I always felt stifled working for someone and undervalued. I think “big” and did not want to be conforming to the minds of mediocrity and small mindedness. Read more>>