Grow my business

Entrepreneur stories to inspire your own business success

November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and we wanted to spotlight the stories of a few business owners. These entrepreneur stories will hopefully inspire you to start your own business or to grow your existing one.   

Making your business stand out from the crowd 

Sheila Cowart is the owner of Longevita Pilates & Yoga Studio. Competition is fierce in this space, with more than 38,000 gyms and fitness studios in the United States. To stand out from the crowd, Sheila focused on discovering what real problems people were facing and how her business could help solve it.  

For Sheila and Longevita, this means building a positive, community atmosphere that can lead to achieving fitness and activity goals. This course of action includes tailoring classes and routines for pre- and postnatal women, as well as for those with conditions like multiple sclerosis.  

“If I can make a positive difference in their life for that hour or hour-and-a-half that they’re here, I fell I’ve done my job,” Sheila says.

Sheila is clear that it’s been a lot of hard work, including filling multiple from sales to marketing and more. Yet, she would never trade it for a more traditional corporate role because she knows that what she does matters and “makes a difference in people’s lives.” 

Being an entrepreneur is an emotional rollercoaster  

Some people believe that entrepreneurship is a linear journey either to success or failure. But Tom Douglas, celebrated chef and founder of Tom Douglas Restaurants, said it’s never that simple.  

“Running a business is fabulous, traumatic, satisfying, fulfilling and it’s everything you could hope for, but you got to be willing to take the ups and downs,” Tom says.

He’s been in the restaurant business for 40 years, and he “suffered mightily” at the beginning. He had some very close calls with running out of money, yet he never got quite to that “last buck.” Fortunately, he was able to turn around his first restaurant and now heads a thriving business with multiple restaurants, a catering business, products and more.  

Tom describes himself as a “fighter.” That tenacity helped him turn around his struggling restaurant, but he didn’t do it alone. He commends his team’s effort, commitment and capacity to learn.   

How to overcome skepticism in your business  

Elise Vincentini said people thought she was “crazy” when she quit her job to open a dog daycare in 2002. According to Elise, the bankers and her former employer laughed at her ideas and her business plan.  

Elise is the founder and CEO of Downtown Dog Lounge. She knew there was a viable business in this space, even if it hadn’t been done before. Being a pioneer in an industry will always come with skepticism.  

But 17 years later, Elise and Downtown Dog Lounge are thriving with multiple locations around the Seattle area. She was an early believer in the spending power of pet owners. The pet boarding and grooming industry in the United States is now estimated to be worth more than $6 billion in 2018.  

Pioneering an industry can also be grueling. Elise says she eats, sleeps and dreams about this business. But, it’s been quite rewarding financially but also because she’s been able to pursue her passion.  

“At the end of the day, I’m working with dogs, and how much better can it get than that?” Elise says. “I can’t really think of anyone or anything else I’d rather work with.”  

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The Growth Center does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.