7 Tips for Small Business Owners

If you’re starting a business in Arizona, take this advice from three local small business owners.


Meet the Arizona Business Owners

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly budgeting can help you tend to financial matters while keeping up with the daily business work.
  • Cultivate community partnerships that nurture your business growth.
  • Choosing a local credit union for business banking means more personalized support and service.

Are you launching your own business? Whether you’re still in the dreaming phase or just got the keys to your brick-and-mortar shop, taking advice from those who have been there – and are succeeding – can go a long way.

At OneAZ Credit Union, we have the privilege of working with over 11,000 local businesses for their financial services. We connected with a few small business owners to get their best advice for starting a business in Arizona. Get ready to take notes!


Meet the Arizona Business Owners

Stephanie Vasquez Fair Trade Cafe

Fair Trade Cafe is a local favorite coffee shop in Downtown Phoenix that serves shade-grown, organic fair-trade coffee and an assortment of in-house baked goods and artisan crafted sandwiches.

I realized the negative impacts that a simple purchase of coffee could have on the earth and our people. I wanted to create a community space where we could have a positive impact.

Diane and Sean Babb Pralines of Prescott

Pralines of Prescott was established in 1991 in downtown Prescott. The family-run confectionary has grown over the years to offer handmade chocolate, gelato, pastries, coffee, espresso and more. Owners Diane and Sean have run Pralines since 2017.

When we took over Pralines... we used resources like networking, joining the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, mentors and synergistic partnerships with other small businesses.

Mike Spangenberg State Forty Eight

State Forty Eight was founded in 2013 by Mike and two other entrepreneurs and was born out of a shared passion and appreciation for the state of Arizona. The company carries an array of uniquely designed shirts, hats, accessories and other products that represent Arizona.

Since we started State Forty Eight with only $1,500, we certainly had to maximize our limited resources. My partners and I relied heavily on our community, relationships, and work ethic during the first three years in business.

Terri Shupe Epic Motorsports

Epic Motorsports is a powersports dealership serving the Thatcher area, offering new and pre-owned UTV/SxS and other powersports vehicles.

Arizona is a great place to have a business. In our specific field, it's riding season all year round. The Arizona weather makes it the most ideal place for our outdoors-based business.


7 Tips for Small Business Owners

Each with their unique stories and experiences, these three Arizona business owners graciously shared their insights and wisdom to empower you on your journey to success.

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1 Start with a vision and goal.

Every successful business starts with a clear vision and achievable goals. Whether it's a desire to fill a gap in the market or a passion to provide exceptional service, having a vision sets the direction for your business. Diane and Sean Babb of Pralines of Prescott recommend having a 5- to 10-year plan laid out to the best of your ability.

2 Lean on your community.

Building a strong network within your community is invaluable for small business owners. All three of the owners we spoke to commented heavily on their community networks as a critical part of their success.

Stephanie Vasquez of Fair Trade Cafe, who is heavily involved in the Phoenix community, says when she started her business

I really had no idea what I was doing. The resource I leaned into the most was my community.

Many Arizona communities also offer resources to help small businesses get started. Terri Shupe of Epic Motorsports said they utilized the Small Business Center located at Eastern Arizona College to help them prepare their business plan.

3 Learn to create a budget.

Financial management is the foundation for the longevity of any business. Learning to create and stick to a budget ensures that resources are allocated wisely.

Diane and Sean Babb budget for their business on a monthly basis.

All fixed expenses are laid out in an excel spreadsheet along with the due dates. Budgeting monthly allows us to be able to tend to all the needs of our retail business while still taking care of financial matters.

When their business is earning higher income, they set aside money to be able to cover costs for harder times.

If needed, we also try to cut our expenses and lower labor costs.

Shupe says they set yearly budgets that reflect their business goals.

We are constantly evaluating our financial records and making decisions daily, weekly, and monthly that align with the goals and outcomes we have set. We actively save for slower times and cut back on spending when we analyze the data from our daily reports.

4 Invest in legal assets.

An important part of getting your business started is to ensure its protected legally. From trademarks to contracts, investing in legal assets safeguards your business from potential risks and disputes.

Mike Spangenberg of State Forty Eight recommends starting with a trademark and professional bookkeeper.

5 Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Anticipate obstacles and have contingency plans in place. Whether it's market fluctuations or unexpected setbacks, being prepared minimizes the impact on your business.

Spangenberg's biggest advice was to do what you need to do to be prepared for anything.

To sustain growth, I believe it is crucial to invest time and money into the right people systems and processes. We recently brought in a proven and trusted fractional CFO group in the apparel space, and they have been instrumental in taking State Forty Eight to the next level. I'm a big believer that proper preparation prevents poor performance.

6 Embrace the labor of love.

Running a business is not just about making money; it's about pursuing your passion and making a positive impact. It’s clear these three Arizona business owners love what they do and are in it for the difference their business makes in the community.

You better love what you do and be willing to make sacrifices because growing and sustaining a business is highly challenging.
- Mike Spangenberg, State Forty Eight

7 Bank local.

Supporting local businesses extends beyond customer relationships. Banking with local institutions strengthens the community ecosystem. From personalized service to reinvesting in local initiatives, banking locally fosters a symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone.

Feeding into the local ecosystem is crucial for our overall success.
- Stephanie Vasquez, Fair Trade Cafe

Diane and Sean Babb of Pralines of Prescott say the difference of banking local is in how you are treated.

Big chain banks look at your business like a number. Banking local brings support, nurturing, resources and stellar customer service!

Shupe says banking local allows for a more personal experience, and their team has developed and maintained relationships with their bank manager, loan officers and tellers.

Most business owners need and want a relationship with their bank that makes them feel heard, catered to a bit, and important. That is why we have maintained a loyal partnership with OneAZ at the Safford branch; we appreciate their attentiveness to our needs and willingness to help us with whatever task or goals we have in the works.


Why Businesses Bank with OneAZ

As a local credit union deeply embedded within the Arizona community, OneAZ is committed to empowering small businesses to thrive. Our personalized approach, tailored financial solutions, and unwavering support exemplify our dedication to the success of Arizona's business landscape.

Spangenberg says:

OneAZ Credit Union has been an incredible partner for State Forty Eight. Not only have they invested in us financially with a co-branded credit card, line of credit, and t-shirts, but they genuinely are good people who do what it takes to help us grow.

The Babbs have business checking and savings accounts with OneAZ and do their personal banking with us as well.

OneAZ has partnered with us in many ways including purchasing our products, offering banking services that help us keep track of our cash flow and checking in to see what they can do for us using their resources.

When launching your business, take the advice of these successful Arizona business owners and lean on your community, create a budget, and prepare properly for the unexpected. Consider banking local for all your business lending and financial needs to foster even stronger community relationships.

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