Three out of the four Best of Largo winners this year have been open for less than 18 months, so they still have the trials and tribulations of opening a small business fresh in their mind. The Leader asked the owners of each business what advice they would give aspiring entrepreneurs. Here’s what they had to say.

Cory and Heather Jioscio of Smallcakes Cupcakery

“Do your research,” Heather said. “You can take a very expensive route otherwise.”

She said they quoted everything out, including the sign, buildout, equipment and insurance, and it took them 11 months from start to finish.

Above all else, though, persistence is the key, Cory said

“When things get tough, don’t give up,” he said.

Jimmy and Tammy Olson and Casey Cameron of the Thrift Shop of Largo

“Make sure you get up every day,” said Jimmy, who noted that it hasn’t been easy considering he helped make 107 home deliveries this past year.

Tammy said research and location have been important as well. She added that building a network and an online presence right away are also a must.

“Being a family business, I’d say another important thing is learn how to say you’re sorry,” Jimmy said. “We’ve stepped on each other’s toes at least once.”

Glenn and Stacey Shaffer of A Premier Lawn Care & Landscaping

“Make sure you have some capital in the bank,” Glenn said. “So many people go out and think I can go out and do this, but they have no money. The first time somebody stiffs them on a job or a check bounces, they’re in trouble.”

Justin Walsh, James and Whitney Haley of The Fitness Box

“Just do one step at a time,” Justin said. “Whatever you have to do, accomplish that. Then move on to the next thing, starting from all the city permits, the building. There’s definitely going to be mistakes made. We’re still making them. It’s just about learning from that mistake and getting better. The beginning is definitely the toughest, because you have to have all of your ducks in a row.”

James echoed those comments.

“If you think of the big picture, then it’s never going to happen,” he said. “You have to focus on the details – small goals, small details in the order they need to be done.”