The Courage To Thrive

RIck Murray b&w

Rick Murray
CEO, Arizona Small Business Association


Once a frontier state, specific to mining and agriculture, Arizona has since thrived over the decades. Arizona is now home to over 400,000 registered small businesses in industries such as technology, medicine, finance, and real estate. With Phoenix ranked as 14th in start-up companies1 we are seeing more and more small business owners travel to Arizona to get their small businesses off the ground. As encouraging as that is, we, as small business owners ourselves, know that running a small business can be tiring, hard work, and even discouraging at times, with 8 out of 10 small businesses failing within the first 18 months2. What does it take to beat that statistic? What type of team should you be building to have a business that is not just successful, but booms?

When I look at my team here at the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA), I find a close-knit group of hard working and dedicated individuals. Creating the right team for your business is the most important thing you can do for your company. Without a cooperative and effective team, your business goes nowhere. Qualifications of each teammate are important, yes, but that is not all that should be considered when hiring. The culture of your environment is much more important. A successful team is one that encourages and motivates one another, celebrating successes, and getting back up from losses together. Choosing team members with skills needed, but also strengths and weaknesses that align with the culture you endeavor to create is vital.

It’s not uncommon for the typical “what do you do” question to come across as you go to events and make contacts. What I have learned over the years is to stop answering. More specifically, share your story or your purpose for why you do what you do. People connect better to emotions, making it so important that you are clear on aspects such as your values and mission statement. More importantly, as business owners, we have to ensure that our team also understands our purpose as an organization. A good team and leader understands how all of the tiny day-to-day pieces fit into your larger picture.

Whether or not you consider yourself to be in a fairly standard industry, creativity has the means to take you to a completely different level in your business. Innovative thinking on a daily basis is one of ASBA’s goals as we try to continuously improve what we’re doing. Changing the way you market yourself, spicing up your current events, or even just updating your documents and filing systems can do wonders. Instill this in your team. Innovative thinking involves risk. It demands taking chances and the willingness to fail in order to learn better for next time. It takes the courage to thrive, and courage in all areas is what makes you successful.


1 Metropolitan Area Rankings for Startup Activity (2015) Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
2 Five Reasons 8 out of 10 Businesses Fail (2013)



Rick Murray is CEO of Arizona’s largest association dedicated to small business and he has been involved in many entrepreneurial endeavors including CEO of a $30 million business. With his role in the Arizona Small Business Association, Rick helps Arizona’s small business community through various programs and services. Most recently, Rick helped author Arizona’s equity crowdfundiing law passed at this year’s legislative session. Rick can be contacted by phone at 602-306-4000 or email