Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dawn Loeliger, Co-Owner of TruthTeller Winery, located in Washington, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

TruthTeller Winery is a Washington State-based boutique winery. We have two labels, TruthTeller and The Miscreant Project, and have tasting rooms in Woodinville (in the Seattle area) and Walla Walla. Our customers range from folks just learning about wine to seasoned wine aficionados. We are committed to making outstanding wine and creating fun and approachable experiences for our customers.

Tell us about yourself

This is career #4 for me. My prior experience includes law, marketing, consulting, and strategic planning. Careers 1-3 gave me a great background for running a business. I always wanted to try my hand at my own business, but before starting the winery, I wasn't sure I was passionate enough about anything else to do what it takes to build my own business. My husband and a dear friend are the other owners and winemakers. We complement one another well. Wine is not the glamorous lifestyle people often assume, but I love the challenges. There's something very special about looking around and being able to say, "we built this!"

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Although it may sound basic, I have to say I am proudest of simply figuring the business out every day! There are lots of education programs about making wine or being a sommelier. There aren't a lot of resources for simply learning the business, especially as a small bootstrap operation.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Owning your own business is a 24/7 gig unless you give yourself permission to step away to refresh your mind and spirit. Even with the staff you trust, when it's yours, stepping away is extremely hard to do.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Always look below the surface.

  1. Many businesses look fun and cool from the customer's perspective. Find people in the business who are willing to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. You're going to experience all of those things, and it's best to understand that from the very beginning.
  2. Make sure you have a plan with milestones for evaluating the direction of your effort. As grim as it may sound, locate the exit early. Know your limit and when to walk away if you need to.
  3. Have a vision for what you want and set realistic goals for achieving that vision (and be willing to ditch that vision and go in another direction after you learn more).

Where can people find you and your business?

Facebook (Walla Walla):
Facebook (Woodinville):

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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