Starting and growing a business can be an exhilarating experience – not only do you have the freedom and independence that comes with working for yourself, you also get the opportunity to turn your dreams into reality. With that in mind, we reached out to John Lewis, senior vice president and business banking manager at National Bank of Arizona, to tap into his extensive experience working with small business owners and he shares his top tips.

  1. Focus your efforts on what provides the best return. Rather than focusing on weaknesses, find out what your business does well and do everything you can to get better at it.
  2. Make a plan to maximize your cash flow. Whether that means finding efficiencies to reduce the cost of doing business or increasing sales to maximize revenue, maximizing cash flow is a must.
  3. Understand that more customers and revenue doesn’t always equal success or result in more profit. Take time to examine the added cost of generating more customers or revenue to ensure you’re generating a worthwhile return on investment.
  4. Keep the ‘why’ and ‘what’ in mind. You likely started your business because you had a dream or a passion that you wanted to share with the world. Keep that front and center in your business to avoid burnout.
  5. See the value of using leverage to grow your business but understand the risks. When done correctly, using leverage can help you increase revenue without having to eat into your profits.
  6. Establish a stable savings plan to be prepared for disruptions in the economy. Much like you would with your personal finances, building a cash reserve can help you weather uncertainty.
  7. Improve efficiency through an engaged team. Happy, engaged employees generally provide better results and work more efficiently. Invest in your employees just like you would any other part of your business.
  8. Ensure that you’re paying yourself as the business’s owner. Giving yourself a paycheck not only incentivizes you to work harder and shows banks and investors that you’re willing to invest in yourself.
  9. Align yourself with a team of other professionals that can provide guidance. Going into business for yourself can feel like a lonely pursuit at times. That’s why having a team you can turn to for advice and guidance is a must.
  10. Prepare yourself for times of disappointment. The thing most people won’t tell you about owning a business is that there’s a lot of trial and error involved. Expect to make mistakes and be prepared to learn from them.

The important thing to remember about owning a business is that just because you go into business for yourself, it doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself. To get in touch with small business experts like John, schedule an appointment with a banker today at

Written by: National Bank of Arizona, A division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC

Posted by Annelise Patterson