DO WHAT YOU KNOW: James Nickels, Owner of Beyond Development


Fine Art by Michelle Micalizzi
(All Rights Reserved)

My muse this week is James Nickles. James owns Beyond Development.


James and I met earlier this year through our mutual colleague and friend Najla Kayyem, Owner of SICFIT and Kayyem Marketing. Naj and James are also members of the entrepreneur organization Accelerator. The Accelerator mission is to empower business owners to grow their business with the goal of reaching one million dollars in sales. Additionally, other Accelerator members, Danielle Feroleta (Owner of Small Giants), was one of the first Art of Fearlessly Doing Business interviews and Derek Herndon (Owner of Sign-A-Rama), will be my last interview in this 2016 series. I feel blessed that so many of their members have accepted my invitation to be interviewed for this series. I have not met one Accelerator business owner that I do not like!

When James and I met, I was immediately drawn to his humble yet driven nature and his sense of humor. It is clear that he is growing his business with a vengeance.

The three biggest things that impress me the most about James are:

  1. The fact that he started his company in 2008 from scratch!
  2. He may have been a reluctant entrepreneur but he is most definitely a happy entrepreneur!
  3. He did not let the economy dictate what his passion was – he did not reinvent himself, he just went back to his roots.

In a nutshell….

James admits that when he was laid off from his last J-O-B he was somewhat of a reluctant entrepreneur. However, once he embraced his role as a business owner, he made the decision that there is no going back to a paycheck. He is the boss now and that has proven to be where he excels.


James took a few minutes out to answer the five Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Questions.


1.) The Story of a Reluctant Entrepreneur

In 2008, there were many people who found themselves in the position that James found himself; he lost his job and had to make a difficult decision. He had to decide between changing himself and look for a job in a new industry OR stick to what he new and dig his heals in and start a new company. It really is mind blowing when you think of it. In 2008 the bottom was falling out of the housing and commercial markets, and that was when James made the bold move to start his company, Beyond Development. Right out of the gate he had no choice but to be fearless! What choice did he have? I understand this choice because I have reluctantly started several companies due to the right job did not show up. We reluctant entrepreneurs have a special kind of hunger; when our back is up against the wall we have no choice but to make it happen.

2.) Do What you Know & Go Back to your Roots

Another thing that really impresses me about James is that he refused to reinvent the wheel or himself to deal with the challenge of building his new business. He has been in the construction business for twenty years and as an expert, he knows the industry inside and out. He did not walk away from a lifetime of experience but leveraged it while recognizing the need to adjust his sales approach. He did make adjustments by going back to his roots and focusing on the residential market, which established his position and future success in the industry.

3.) Make it Happen by Creating Sales

Prior to 2008 sales were not easy to land but dare I say, they were easier than when the recession hit. One could makes sales prior to 2008. After 2008 you had to create sales! These perspectives are very different. The environment had once been like walking through an apple orchard and the apples just fell into your basket. When James started Beyond Development, he had to tie his basket to his back, climb each tree and hand pick every apple. He had to make each sale happen!

4.) Step Out of Your Safety Zone

James had great careers prior to being laid of due to the effects of the economy. He liked the comfort of being a well-paid employee. Being his own boss was not on his radar, then there he was, laid off in a bad economy with one finely tuned skill. He had no choice but to manage uncertainty while tolerating the uncertainty of not always being able to forecast what the next year would bring. James says, “If you let your fear slow you down, it will.” He practices fearlessly doing business every day to the best of his ability and he does so with a big smile on his face.

5.) There is no Going Back!

Once you have worked for yourself it is truly impossible to go back to working for an employer. The secret is out, a new self is recognized. We realize that we hold all the risk but we also have all the power. Once we know that we have power there is no going back to requesting time off for vacation from a supervisor or being told how many hours you have to work or not work. Several of the Fearless 13 in both 2015 and 2016 cringed at the thought of having to work for someone else. Serial entrepreneurs like James have actual nightmares about being an employee. When we first start our businesses we fear the loss of a paycheck. Once we become self aware, employed and empowered we realize that we are the prize and that true freedom lies in our own earning potential and not in a corporate paycheck!
Thank you so much James for taking the time out to be one of the Fearless 13! I look forward to seeing you again at the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Art Opening on May 14th at the Walter Gallery from 7-10PM.

Note from the Artist

When I thought about the universal symbol of a construction guy who had gone back to his roots and grown exponentially, the idea of a hard hat, overalls and a tool belt came to mind. I chose the hard hat imagery and then thought one man standing on his own with nothing… but his determination, his experience and his drive. That is what this illustration is about!

The Art of Fearlessly Doing Business!

Press Viewing (by invitation only): Friday, May 13 6-8PM
Opening: Saturday, May 14th 7-10PM
Conversation with the Artist: Saturday, May 21 7-9PM
Closing Reception: Thursday, June 9th 6-9PM

10% Proceeds donated to the Arizona Consortium of the Arts

Walter Art Gallery
6425 East Thomas Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257



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