Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Erik Francis | Author, Educator, Presenter & Professional Development Coach and Trainer

I guess the best way to describe my thought process behind starting my own business is that it was not a conscious thought. It was an idea and a hypothesis. where I asked, “What if I did this?” That question became “Could I actually do this and be successful and should I do it?” Now my question that drives me is, “How could I keep doing this despite and in response to current events and shifts or trends in education?” It was not my career ambition or lifelong dream to have my own education consulting and professional development company. In fact, it was never on my radar. I thought I would follow the traditional professional pathway of an educator – classroom teacher, site administrator, district office leader, superintendency, and retire to teach at a college or university. Read more>>

Jessica Robertson | Tucson Wedding & Event Planner

My career background includes 10 years of hospitality with 7 of them focused on sales and events with skills ranging from audiovisual to catering sales to event management. Enter Spring of 2020 and it quickly became a rough time to be in the hospitality industry. I suddenly became a stay-at-home mom and a kindergarten teacher to our sweet, 5-year-old son and I realized that this was an opportunity to reassess my life. Being home, I realized what I missed about my job and, adversely, what I didn’t miss. I realized that being in charge, bringing visions to life, decorating amazing spaces, and problem-solving when all combined was my passion. At home was where I belonged, but it was important, for my sanity, for me to have a purpose aside from being a mom and that it needed to be fruitful for our family at the same time. Read more>>

Edgar Esteves | Director & Entrepreneur

I was born in Valencia, Venezuela and came to the states and overstayed my visa when I was just a year old resulting in not being able to “legally” get a job. So what I did was start my own business, I originally wanted to do it with some of my good friends at the time but they weren’t taking it seriously as I was so I bet on myself, opened up my business and it’s the smartest thing I have ever done. My dad knew an accountant, he helped me start an s-corp and the rest was history! Read more>>

Tyson Weed | Owner & Tattoo Artist

I wanted to start something new. I’ve been in the tattoo industry for about 11 years, and I wanted to open a studio that was more client-focused than other tattoo shops. Tattooing is a booming industry, and there’s a lot of money to be made. But for me, tattooing is so personal. I wanted to create a family environment for both my clients and other tattoo artists. I also didn’t want to profit off the work of other artists – it just didn’t seem right. So I created a collective instead of a typical tattoo studio. Sentient Tattoo Collective is a welcoming, warm space for clients and other tattooers, providing the highest quality experience for everyone involved. I’ve lived in Tempe for about 8 years now and I was so stoked to start a business here. Read more>>

Michael Moyer | Owner & Primary DJ

When starting my business ten or so years ago, I wanted to combine my love of Djing with my hospitality background to provide a fun, personalized special event/wedding DJ experience. People deserve a DJ that can actually mix proficiently between different genre’s and adapt to a mixed crowd of people. It was my thought that if I could tailor the music experience to the client and their guests, while still helping to MC the different moments of the evening to keep things moving organically, that it would really fit a lot of modern clients who may be getting married or having a private party. So many modern people don’t want their parents DJ. Specializing in providing this type of custom DJ experience that aims to fit each client’s unique music tastes has been quite rewarding… I get exposed to unique music and groups of people regularly, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Read more>>

Merita Kraja | Restaurant Owner & Community Activist

I am a civil engineer by education. I was hired to design and construct the restaurant and when the client could not continue and start the place, I had to make a difficult decision. I finished and took over, my idea was to run and sell later. My friend, came from Italy to help and teach me how to cook and manage a restaurant. September 11 happened, I could not sell it, I own Euro Pizza Cafe for 2o years now. I had another baby, my mom moved in with me and the restaurant gave me more flexibility to be with the kids and have a business. I am a single mom of four and the kids grew up doing homework here and playing at the park nearby. I embraced my new adventure for also gave me an opportunity to be part of a great community and meet wonderful people. Read more>>

Tim Murphy | Entrepreneur

It was a natural progression. I never sat down and said, “I’m going to start a business.” I cleaned pools all through my teenage years into my mid-twenties and always wanted to do more. I had been cleaning pools for ten or twelve years and getting pretty bored with it when someone I knew approached me about building a pool. I jumped at the opportunity. Through that experience I fell in love with building swimming pools and wanted to keep building more. I didn’t even consider it work, it was just something I really liked to do. I enjoyed the whole process–from designing the backyard to working with subs–that goes into creating a new backyard. Read more>>

Nassybah Touriño | Illustrator & Founder

Starting a business is definitely a bumpy road. Looking back when I started my Illustration and stationery business I wasn’t even aware of it. I wanted it to be a hobby that paid for my art supplies rather than a business since I had a toddler at that time. I also was living in the cold Midwest and the long hours spent indoors drove me crazy, I needed to do something with that time. I have always painted but I never showed it to the world and was scared of not getting any good feedback. But I did it anyway, driven by my love for insects and painting. After a few months I saw the potential and decided to educate myself and learn about how to do marketing and social media. I also realized my fascination with bugs could be a way to tell and teach other people about the importance of this creatures. Read more>>

Abigail Smithson | Artist

As an avid fan and practicing artist, I felt like I was missing something from the podcasts I subscribed and listened to that were about sports. The content was geared so specifically for a certain audience, that no information was brought onto the show that touched on other cultural elements outside the sports world. I wanted discussions about history, about art, creativity and current events, alongside my dose of sports news and analysis. Of course, I still found these shows informative, entertaining and fun to listen to but I wanted something more. I decided to start the podcast Dear Adam Silver (named for the current commissioner of the National Basketball Association) to create a space for sports and art to be considered side by side, where non-traditional perspectives on sports were given a platform and regularly discussed. Dear Adam Silver is for people who care about sports and want to think about them beyond the lines of the court or field. Read more>>