Life Hacks from a “Stubborn” Business Owner

By Donatella Arpaia

This post is sponsored by Chase Ink®
I’ve had the good fortune to run 14 restaurants during my career … and we’re about to close on number 15.
Like most people who go into the food business, I’m passionate about what I do. I love it, but it’s hard work, especially when you’re a stubborn girl trying to do everything yourself (that’s lesson No. 1 — don’t try to do everything yourself!).
I made many mistakes early in my career, but I learned from them. Whenever entrepreneurs ask me for advice, it reminds me just how much I didn’t know back then and how much I’ve learned along the way.
In business, it’s all about efficiency — making the most out of your time and money. So here are some life hacks I’ve learned, as a business owner, that I wish I’d known when I started out:

Overestimate your budget. Whatever you think your budget will be when you start a business, make it larger. Not kidding. Owners underestimate unforeseen costs. Big expenses, little expenses – they all add up fast.
One way I get the most out of my expenses is using my business credit card to pay for just about everything. With the new Chase Ink Business Preferred,, I earn3X points on travel, shipping purchases and in other select business categories– rewarding me on business purchases I make regularly. Any reward points you earn can be earn invested back into your business– and help pay for those things you never plan for.

Choose partners wisely. Most people want to go into business with friends or family. That’s fine … until you realize they may not be the right people for the job.
For my latest restaurant, Provo Pizzabar, my goal is to open more locations, quickly, to capitalize on the growing upscale quick service market. So I chose partners who have expertise in something
I don’t — franchising and expansion.

Dare to delegate. You just can’t do it all. I used to feel I was the only one who could get the job done. I don’t anymore.
Build a team with a variety of skills, and work with people who can help you develop the systems and infrastructure to succeed. To grow, you may have to give up some things you like, but it’s for the best if someone else can do better.


Know when to let go. This is the hardest lesson of all! As I mentioned, I’m stubborn – and that can be good sometimes and bad sometimes. It’s bad when you hold onto an idea, or even a business, when it’s time to cut your losses and move on.
With the right team in place – including people willing to disagree with you – you will make smart decisions faster. Including the painful choice to let go.


Stay informed. Even as you delegate and share the to-do list, stay informed of the day-to-day aspects of your business. You can do this in a streamlined manner that keeps you apprised of what’s going on without the burden of doing the items yourself.
For example, I sign every check myself at Prova Pizzabar. I have team members that keep the machine running smoothly, but I know what we’re paying employees, what we owe to vendors, and how those investments turn into profit.
It’s tough to own and manage a small business. So don’t make it any harder than it has to be.




Donatella Arpaia is a celebrity chef, restaurateur and television personality who appears on The Food Network. She and other small-business owners are finding creative ways to use the rewards points earned on their business credit card to invest in their business. Learn more about the new Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Card.

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