Advice for Aspiring Business Owners


From Local Hampton Roads Entrepreneurs

Over the past year, we heard some really great advice from all of the owners featured in our R&A Business Spotlights. We thought it was worth compiling for anyone looking to start or grow a successful business of their own!

As any entrepreneur knows, the moments of pride and satisfaction also come with a lot of challenges. Encouraging and relatable advice like this can be what helps you push through and continue pursuing what you love.

Learn from 11 local business owners below.


Advice for Aspiring Business Owners -



“If you are coming into something, you have to really love it. It cannot just be an idea you think you can make money on. You have to be passionate about the craft so you can get behind it for a long time.

It might take a decade until it really works because it is hard. There is a lot of competition out there. But the time it takes to build it is worth it.”

-Anna Lorich Akers



“Definitely have a plan in place before taking any action and implement the ‘Rule of 3s’. Don’t hire anyone unless you have interviewed three people in that particular specialty or field. Compare price, education, values, and use all that information to really help reinforce your decisions – whether you are hiring a staff member or a contractor.”

-Debralee Letchford


“Make sure you are ready for the demands, hours, and needs of a business…there are no work hours, they are all work hours! With that in mind, as long as you are passionate about the thing you are doing, it makes it much easier because it doesn’t quite feel like work.”

-Sarah Blehm



“Naturally, you are not going to be the best at everything as a small business owner. You have to bring in experts to help you juggle it all. Whether it’s working with designers or getting help with fresh flowers, you have to rely on other people to help. You start one place, and then it grows. Working with other small businesses helps your business grow as well.”

-Malia Paasch



“Save up a lot of money and be prepared for things to not go the way you expect.”

-Bo Midgett



“Having a launch team is the key to everything! Have proof for your concept and honest peers who are willing to test it and give you feedback. Don’t just expect that everyone will buy into it. You need money to fund your plan. Expect that everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much. Then, you just show up and make it work. Step up and take yourself seriously. Other people won’t if you don’t.”

-Megan Hogan



“You learn to step back, find the right balance, and trust the team you’ve put in place. Honestly, this team is what creates our success. They’re responsible for it. We put the tools in front of them to do it, but they’re the heart of the business.

When you put good in, you get good out. I really enjoy feeding people and putting the effort into creating new things. Whether you’re selling peanuts or shoes, your heart has to be in it or it’s forced. You have to love what you do.”

-Adrian Colaprete


STAY by Cori Samuel

“Don’t feel afraid to make mistakes or feel like you have to know everything before you go into it. (We still don’t!) The fun part is, you’re learning. Looking back, we wouldn’t have taken so much of people’s criticism to heart. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work, and then you have some really great experience.”

-Cori Werrell

“It’s just one foot in front of the other – take a step forward. Every new month can feel like the last month in terms of facing new challenges. We constantly have to reflect and ask ourselves, what did we do last time that allowed us to overcome that hurdle? Don’t leave yourself wondering what if…go find out.”

-Sam Werrell



“Get legal. Save up and get your business license. Get everything in order from a legal standpoint. Then you can jump in full force, without worry or hesitation. Then, practice. Anytime. Day or night.”

-Skylar Wyatt


“When someone tells me that I helped make their house a home, that’s the biggest compliment I could ever receive because to me, your home is your sanctuary. I know it sounds cliché, but if you pursue a career related to something that you are passionate about and truly believe in, you’ll find success and fulfillment.”

-Allison Whitmore



“If you’re looking to start your own business, you’d be remiss to start something you don’t have hands-on experience doing. [I try to] jump in, lend a helping hand or cover for my employees when needed to foster the family dynamic and run the type of business I want to run.

-Jamie Summs



“You’ve got to be adaptable and not afraid to fail. Mistakes are okay. You just push through it. You keep showing up and stretching your boundaries.

I’m always thinking about ways to plant seeds; I’m going to have nothing in six months if I’m not thinking of something now. Planning for the future is crucial to moving your business forward.”

-Stephanie Jones


Which piece of advice resonated with you the most? If you are an entrepreneur yourself, what advice would you add to this mix?


-The R&A Team


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