Julie Crabill, the CEO and cofounder of Inner Circle Labs, always dreamed of being her own boss. But her entrepreneurial aspirations took a backseat as she rose the ranks of a PR agency and came to run her own practice there. “I saw how hard and thankless it really was and became complacent.”

That changed when she returned from a trip to discover that firm executives had revamped her role in her absence. “Despite my seniority within the agency, I didn’t have as much authority as I thought I did. Ultimately, my fate and that of my team’s was in someone else’s hands.” She decided to strike out on her own, launching her San Francisco agency in January 2010.

Today, she’s glad she took that leap. Not only does she control her professional life, financial independence has allowed her to be there for her son and for her community. “I am able to be more readily available for my kid when he needs me — whether that be volunteering for a school event, picking him up during early close days or taking him to a doctor’s appointment,” she says. Crabill has also gotten involved with local nonprofits Samasource, which connects low-income people with digital work opportunities, and PREFund, which supports public education in her neighborhood.

As she suspected, starting up was hard work. But it was worth it. “It was extremely uncomfortable, but I’m so much happier for it.”