Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy. So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Liz Illg | Business Owner

I have always loved animals – especially dogs. I have six chihuahuas (all girls!) – and they are very much my fur babies! So for me, opening my own pet-related store was a natural step. I opened Puff & Fluff Pet Grooming in Phoenix in March 2013. When opening the business, I had one goal: to provide amazing grooming services to the pets in my community! Read more>>

Kate Wilkinson | Hair Artist

Simply put- I was attracted to the independence the hair industry provides. I worked odd jobs before attending cosmetology school 11 years ago and quickly realized I didn’t enjoy working under others, or for someone else’s success. I knew that I’d eventually be entirely on my own, though there was much work to be done before that was achieved. I now have complete creative control within my environment and craft as a whole. Read more>>

Jack Thompson | Technology Meets Design and Function

I always wanted to be my own boss and have the flexibility to manage my health and family life. Read more>>

Mark Lipczynski | Photographer

Self-sufficiency was my main driver. I had been employed and laid off several times in the dying print industry of newspapers and print magazines, so I had to make a pivot in 2008 at the peak of the great recession while I was going through foreclosure on my first home. I decided to take a risk, abandon the illusion of secure employment and trusted myself to make it work starting at the very bottom. Read more>>

Rani Sweis | CEO & Creative Director

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs so it’s no surprise that I would become one myself. I could’ve started any business that just makes money, but I wanted to build something that I was extremely passionate about. As an entrepreneur, you have the unique opportunity to craft a career around the life you want. I’ve always been super curious about a TON of things. I played 5 different instruments until my parents vowed never to buy me another one. I couldn’t help it. I was an explorer and a creative so it was important that the position I built for myself allowed me to the ability to learn new things on a regular basis. I’ve been an artist since my first Ninja Turtle drawing at the age of two. And although I dabbled in many creative outputs drawing was the one constant so a career in design made the perfect sense. Read more>>

Kristin Borns | Owner

Opening up Borns Solutions AZ was not an initial goal when I began my professional career over 20 years ago. However, the longer I worked the more I began seeing potential opportunities to go out on my own and work on projects I cared about with people who were driving missions that I supported. Fast forward to the birth of my first child and suddenly the desire to work this way was in parallel to a want to be more present and flexible as a mother. Recognizing the timing might be right, I reached out to an established network to talk about interest and opportunity. I believed then, and do even more so today, that my varied experience in government, non-profits, advocacy and policy give me a perspective that is truly unique in the consulting field. Read more>>

Kayla Fields | CEO & Business Owner

My thought process behind starting my business was to bring forth the Good News of Jesus Christ on different types of apparel. I have always loved sporting events and school spirit days where I would be able to get completely decked out in the team/school colors and jerseys, ultimately, to represent who I was rooting for. With Divine Messengers Apparel, I am a representing Jesus Christ and I want to bring light and the message of hope to a dark and hopeless world. As we have begun to tell people about Jesus, we are also showing people. DMA is more than just bold statements of faith on t-shirts, it is coming alongside one another to help the different needs in our communities. Read more>>

Emma Millett | Public Speaker & Entrepreneur

There were so many things that I wanted to do, and messages I wanted to contribute and communicate, and I didn’t want the decision of how, or when, or where to be up to anyone but me. It didn’t make sense to find someone else’s ladder and put years of my life into figuring out the right way to climb it when I could just put that effort into building my own. My content is my own and it’s fueled by MY passions. Read more>>

Bridgette Borzillo | Owner & LMT

I wanted to create a nonjudgmental environment for dancers to learn from one another, putting egos aside, and always push them to be their best in dance as well as life. We have accomplished this with CaZo Dance Theatre (established 2014) and now we are expanding into our own space to enrich lives, build confidence, discipline, and have fun with CaZo Dance Center. We ensure that the instruction doesn’t force technique or over stretch and builds strength within each individual body. I have seen too many injuries with young dancers that don’t warm up or stretch properly and were forced to look like everyone else in the group. We want the dancers to be individuals instill work ethic so they can achieve their goals. Read more>>

Aimee Blake | Founder

(Aimee) Our first location was located in North Scottsdale. I started as the owner/operator. It was always a dream of mine to own my own business. As we got busier and busier at Sugar Sugar, we started to see more clients coming to us from out of town. People would ask where our Chicago locations were or ask when we were coming to Dallas or Denver or Detroit. But it wasn’t until we started noticing quite a few clients get right off the plane to come see us. That was when William and I spoke about sharing our brand nationally. Read more>>

Rustin L Odom | CEO & Creative Director

Simply put, I have a passion for storytelling and I know that my passion could never reach it’s fullest potential by working for someone else. Maybe it’s the way I was brought up, but I’ve always believed that there is no point in wasting time, money or a chance to smile and having my own business, following my own dreams is the perfect manifestation of that ideology. Read more>>

Jude Chavanne | Photographer & Videographer

As a collective of young individuals with varying skills, one of our co-founders realized that we could come together and utilize our talents while turning a profit. This peaked our interest seeing as each of us commonly shared an entrepreneurial mindset. We also saw this opportunity of establishing a business as a fun way to bond, create and to learn the process with each other. Read more>>

Mona Morstein | Naturopathic Physician

I graduated from naturopathic medical school in 1988 and did a year residency in Family Practice. At the end, I had been in Portland, OR for 5 years and was ready to leave; the weather did not agree with me. Also, I was not invited to join the medical school so it behooved me to either join another medical practice or start my own. The only option interested in me joining them was a naturopathic clinic in AZ. I investigated it and wasn’t sure. I also checked out a homeopathy oriented practice for sale in OK, but the sale conditions were unreasonable. The option I really resonated with was a naturopathic practice in Great Falls, MT, as the physician wanted to teach at the medical school I had just graduated from, and Montana looked good to me. The practice price was reasonable. Read more>>

Jimmy Rios | Co-Owner

I always felt compelled to help people and in the early 2000’s I started helping my clients with bundled financial services before this even became a term. I had a all my licenses to be able to offer my clients the ability to have a one stop shop. Because most of my clients were 1st or 2nd generation latinos in Arizona there was huge trust factor involved and this was before social media and google – so getting an old school referral for great service was my marketing and modus operandi. Read more>>

Mike Guillen | Marketer & Videographer

I’m a terrible employee. There are a lot of people in the world who work well in that type of environment, but I thrive in an environment where the onus is on me, every day, to produce quality work for my clients. As an employee, it was simply too easy for me to do the minimum required, get annoyed, become bored, and eventually leave within 6-8 months. It’s now been two years from the time I became an business owner, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Read more>>

Ted Verderame | Founder & Owner

I’ve always known I wanted to start my own business. Doing so was simply a matter of timing and the right idea. My career leading up to founding Endatto was spent in the management consulting industry, helping others to start or fix their businesses. In late 2018, the desire to start my own was too great to ignore. Around this same time, life threw a few curveballs that made it imperative to my health and happiness that I had total control over my day to day life. But, I had to figure out what I was passionate enough about to turn into a career, as well as which of those passions represented a realistic business opportunity. After a few months, it was clear that my love for watches could be transformed into start-up, and thankfully the barrier to entry in terms of capital was not too large a sum to overcome. From there, it was all about making the right contacts. Read more>>

Anjuli Morse | Babe Council Founder

In 2017, a staggering 85% of Americans participated in cultural protests. 1 in 5 of them attended a political protest or rally, and 20% of them were first-timers. Since then, millions of folks have been activated and made their voices heard. But most were left asking, “Now what? What do we do next?” Studies show that civically involved adults have greater self-esteem and better personal relationships, fewer illnesses, lower levels of depression, and even live longer. But in real life, we simply aren’t being shown how or given enough opportunities to be good citizens. We’re disconnected from the issues in our communities, and from our own power to effect change. “Getting involved” requires so much hoop-jumping and can be so overwhelming, that most of us are giving up and doing nothing instead. Read more>>

Katharine Halpin | Management Consultant

As a CPA I was involved in lots of business transitions and transactions. Clients would buy and sell divisions or companies. Leaders and Managers would transition in and out; smoothly or not smoothly. I saw so many challenging situations and realized no one was addressing any of the people aspects of these transitions or transactions. To make matters worse, I saw many people, myself included, whose strengths were not in alignment with their roles. All of this inspired me to want to address these challenges in a win/win manner. I knew that work had not worked for my Dad, a CPA in Mississippi who died of a massive heart attack at the age of 55 from so little work/life balance. I knew work had not worked for me as a CPA being asked to perform analytical tasks when I’m a people person. Read more>>

Jonathan Kaplan | Owner & Mobile Mixologist

I enjoyed bartending at concerts & sporting events but wanted to have control over what I made and how I could make everyone’s events special. Why work for someone else when you can work for yourself. I wanted to focus on doing things the right way & making all about providing the best possible service. Read more>>

CaS Facciponti | Major (Retired) US Army & Co-Founder/President Operation Shockwave

Operation Shockwave was created in 2017 out of necessity to combat the National tragedy of veteran suicide. With the knowledge that 22 veterans suicide each day (one veteran per day in Arizona, alone) there was an absolute need for help. The vision has always been to offer a sustainable program that involves complementary healing modalities along with long-term mind-body care for the veteran and family. In the beginning, the focus was on education, rehabilitation services, and community outreach. Over the last four years, the organization’s mission has been able to incorporate the original idea behind its start: a more holistic approach to healing from invisible wounds and trauma. Read more>>

Aida Franco | Furniture Restoration and Refinishing

I come from an artistic family and so I was exposed to art from the beginning. I began my business as therapy while I was going through a divorce. I have been able to provide for my daughter with this business, which is incredibly empowering and liberating. I’m very fortunate to have the freedom to work my own hours, to be my own boss, and to express myself through my designs. Read more>>

Chris and Jim McLennan | Festival Founders & Directors

We have several businesses that we run. But the most thought provoking one has been, for the last 14 years, our film festival/convention – The Phoenix FearCON. As fans of films and film making, we used to attend film festivals for years. Every time we would go, we would talk about what would make this festival, or that festival better and we started making a list: “If we ran a film festival, what would it be like?” We would add to that wish list each time we went to another festival. Until 2006, when we decided to go ahead and do our own film festival with the intention of exploring independent film and film makers. Our intentions were not just to show their films, which, if you look at statistics, a very large percentage of films shown at festivals are never seen or heard from again and we found that statistic very unfair. Read more>>