The most unexpected parts about running a small business

The most unexpected parts about running a small business

I think we can all agree that starting your own business has never felt more possible than it does today.

With a quick Google search, pages and pages of business resources are readily available at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. Everything from marketing tips to business plans, and even business ideas if you haven’t come up with one yet can be easily discovered.

But no matter what you find on the internet, nothing can fully prepare you for entrepreneurship more than diving in and experiencing it for yourself. This is why one of my favorite questions to ask our interviewees is, what has been the most unexpected part of running your own business?

While it’s a good idea to educate yourself as much as possible before launching your business, entrepreneurship can be an unpredictable ride, so it’s probably best to leave some room for the unexpected.

Read on to discover what these founders felt was the most unexpected part about having their own business.


Kendall Antonelli, Antonelli’s Cheese

We knew from the beginning that we basically knew nothing. John spent two years preparing and we still felt unprepared. It’s just like having a child. Everybody tells you, “Oh, but you won’t understand until you have the child.” I get that, but it’s not a constructive or helpful tool! So, in the end, I think what we did best was that we fully acknowledged that we didn’t know what was coming our way and that we were just along for the adventure as long as we could do it. That’s helped us through both the highs and lows of entrepreneurship – that sense of adventure and that every day is a journey.

The most unexpected part was that we never dreamed we’d have the support of our community as much as we did. From that first day with lines out the door to folks proposing in our shop to hosting numerous team building events for companies, we’re just always so grateful and humbled that people choose to spend their hard-earned dollar with us. That’s why it’s paramount to us that we exceed their expectations, give them the best experience, and tell a (delicious) story of good food and the artisans that make it.



Todd Gibbs, ToddPilates

The amount of gross revenues that we generate for the Austin and Round Rock economy. Most of our revenue goes right back to the local economy as we support a large staff and various vendors in Austin. It takes a lot of revenue to cover all of our expenses, but it’s nice to know we are putting it in the hands of people and businesses that contribute to city’s vibrant economy.


Zoe Comings, ZOË COMINGS Jewelry

How my business grew. You can’t control the rate of growth of a business, so I didn’t know what to expect. Now, almost 5 years in I can kind of understand the ebbs and flows and what to project a little bit more. 

Another unexpected thing is I didn’t realize how much I would teach. Training people is like being a teacher. Maybe there are other ways to go around it but for me, I’m a teacher. I didn’t realize how much I would learn about that and different personalities. My parents are both teachers and I swore that I would never be a teacher, but it found me anyway.


Amberly Washington, REVELRY

I was not prepared for it to be the 24/7 job that it is. When I am not working on it, I’m thinking about it.There are so many new and exciting ideas that I want to implement, but I just don’t have the time. Fortunately, I have made some cool friends in the industry, so it’s nice to have people to lean on that know what you’re going through.


Christie Zangrilli, Party at the Moontower

Since I’ve been a business owner before, I’ve learned a lot throughout the years but it’s been surprising that it’s easy to forget the lessons you’ve learned along the way. It takes time for people to get to know you and to realize that you’re out there. You’ve been stewing on this idea forever so you open your doors and think people are just gonna come clamoring.

But I think a lesson learned from my previous business is that it just takes time to build a customer base, to get your name out there and to build relationships. It will come and you just have to be patient. I have days where I feel so frustrated and then I have to remember — oh wait! I know this lesson. I’ve done this before, why am I not remembering it? It’s just surprising that things are always feeling new but I have to just calm down for a second and go back to the touchstones of lessons learned before.


Shohreh Davoodi, Glitter & Grit Fitness

The most unexpected part of starting my own business has been a bad case of analysis paralysis. There are so many choices out there for everything! From photographers to designers to tax software to fonts, when you are self-employed it feels like the options for every little thing are endless. It takes a lot of effort to not get stuck in limbo trying to make a decision. I’m learning that most of the time it’s better to choose something–anything–and see how it pans out. The beauty of being the (only) person in charge is that, for most things, you can always change your mind later.


Forrest Harmel, Forrest Woodworks

I’d say just how much mental energy it takes. When you’re working a 9-5 for someone else, you’re getting all your direction, your pay, everything from them. And when that 5 o’clock comes around, you can pretty much leave the job where it is. With our own businesses, it’s hard to shut your brain off.

I feel like I’ve been really stretched (but in good ways) to handle the demands of my own business, which maybe a lot of folks don’t see. Late nights, early mornings, bidding jobs, scheduling jobs, meeting deadlines, making sure you charged enough to actually make money and not just cover expenses. It’s all worth it, but it’s a huge time investment — way more than 40 hours a week.




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