We’re back with another installment of Follow The Leaders, a blog series where we ask thought leaders to share their insights on leadership, teamwork, and innovation. This month’s question is: What inspired you to forge your own path? Keep reading to hear what our entrepreneurs have to say!

Amie Thompson, President and CEO of Creative Allies

Amie Thompson is an entrepreneur, investor, and content marketing expert who has successfully developed dozens of brands across the country. She is President and CEO of Creative Allies, a Raleigh, NC-based marketing firm whose global cohort of 100,000+ artists have executed projects for Kendrick Lamar, Ben & Jerry’s, and ESPN.

I would consider myself an accidental entrepreneur since I didn’t have any goals or dreams to be a full-time entrepreneur. My story involves being tired! I was tired of working only for money and not for a purpose. I was tired of working so hard and so many hours for someone else. And I was tired of doing jobs that had become very monotonous. But, like so many people, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up! In 2017, I decided to leave my corporate job and take some time off to figure things out. It was the best decision for me. I still didn’t think I was going to run a company, but I took time to focus on what I enjoyed doing and whom I enjoyed helping. I was an investor in Creative Allies, and after about one year of my break, there was an opportunity to run the company. I figured I would give it a try and I slowly changed the company’s focus into what made more sense to me and my skills. It’s certainly still a struggle and challenge in my third year, but I’m helping people, which has always been a goal of mine. We help other small businesses grow, create content, create branding, and many other things.

Joe McCutcheon, Founder and Owner of Enovana

Joe McCutcheon is a serial entrepreneur and business owner who currently owns and operates two successful companies, Enovana Green Cleaning and Carolina Castile Soap. An early adopter of digital and social media as a way to promote small business, Joe is an expert on long-term strategy and risk management.

There are probably multiple reasons, some of which I am not even conscious of. The micro-reason that led me to forge my own path and start Enovana Green Cleaning was that I had been working hard for some time but made very little money. I was tired of working nights and weekends. I came across an opportunity to double my hourly wage and make my own hours by starting a cleaning company.

The macro, larger reasons that led me to this were things such as an attraction to being part of something meaningful. I enjoyed art class all throughout high school and then worked as a cook for many years. I had experienced what it felt like to create something of beauty and watch others enjoy it. Every time I made a beautiful calzone or beautiful pizza, I took pride in it and enjoyed watching the server come pick it up and express their approval at what I had created.

Starting my own company where I came up with the name, the products, the price, every aspect of the business… This was the ultimate calzone! I get so much pleasure from creating something and watching it come to life.

Brian Castle, Founder and CEO of Parklife

Brian Castle is Founder and CEO of Parklife, a boutique agency made up of content marketing experts who focus on social innovation, thought leadership, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). An emerging thought leader in his field, Brian has worked with a wide variety of inspiring entrepreneurs and executives in finance, technology, healthcare, and more.

It was an accident.

I started my company, Parklife, at the encouragement of my attorney and friend, James Forrest. Honestly, I never thought it would amount to anything beyond a vehicle for taking on freelance copywriting gigs as a side hustle to my career as a consultant and marketing executive. I pursued this venture purely as a way to make some money on the side, working with people and on projects that would be fun and rewarding. The path-forging, as it were, isn’t really about me. Things changed when Parklife became “us.” First, Suzette Feller brought her versatility to the mix, and we’ve been joined now by a group of people I wouldn’t trade for anything. Forging our own path, as a truly unique content shop for direct clients and larger agencies in need of thought leadership, social innovation, and DEI communications, is now no longer an accident, but a quest!

Many thanks to our entrepreneurs for sharing their insights this month. Stay tuned for more #FollowTheLeaders!