How to be successful on Small Business Struggle Street

Only 50% of small businesses make it to the five year mark.

That’s right, only half of small businesses are operating for five years. As the owner of a very busy café in Brisbane, I’m super proud to say that my business is one of them!

I have recently celebrated my fifth year in business. It has been – and is still at times – a challenging journey, but one that has fostered an immense amount of personal growth. I don’t claim to be an expert, but my personal experience as the owner of a successful small business has taught me a lot of things that I would have love to have known when I was starting out.

Mindset matters!

Success takes a lot of work, grit and determination

I used to cry in the shower most days when I got home from work.

I had so many negative thoughts such as ‘what am I doing wrong?’, ‘when will I get good at this?’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘this was a big mistake’, or simply ‘I don’t want this amount of responsibility”. I soon realised that I had an unhealthy mindset and decided that I needed to restore balance to my crazy business life; or at least try to manage the crazy negative thoughts that were crowding my brain and holding me back.

I don’t claim that bad things don’t happen in my day to day. There are so many points along the road to success that continue to blind side me and throw me back into that old mindset of negativity and wanting to stop. , However the way I deal with these challenges has changed a great deal.

I have shelved a lot of my anger, negative self-talk, negative talk in general, and being mean.

I must confess that as a chef I did and do possess a chef mentality, which can be abrupt, impatient, and sometimes too blunt. By starting to respect myself and not allowing negative self-talk I have found that I am more empathetic to others. Through this experience I have learnt how engaging in disrespectful conversation with yourself encourages you think about and speak more negatively to those you encounter.

I have taken a conscious step toward better mental health and a more balanced approach to my work and life by practicing gratefulness and meditation daily. I’m not fancy about it – I like to keep things as simple and basic as possible so that I can sustain my consistency. I keep a grateful/thankful journal in which I write six entries per day: three in the morning to start off on the right foot as I rise and three in the evening to reflect positively as part of my sleep routine. When it is time for me to wind down for sleep I use an amazing meditation app that takes me through guided meditation for 10 minutes. And that’s it! In a matter of minutes I’m done for the day. My brain is looked after; I’m feeling good and focused on the positive things in my day and I’ve reflected on the things that can be improved tomorrow.

What I have realised lately is that the more successful one is the more work there is to do. It never gets easier but the person, however, can get better at being successful. This doesn’t come naturally, all of us need to try hard each day to have a mindset for success, but with practice and consistency in effort we can achieve this every single day. Even the bad days, they just simply won’t be as bad as they used to be.

Nutrition is key!

Plan, prep, and package. These steps are the key for a successful week in my life, business and mentality. I eat better, make better food choices, snack less, crave junk less, and generally feel better – which in turn makes for a better week all around!

I place value on eating well and minimizing packaged and processed food. Preparing my food on a Sunday is such a cathartic activity and is one of my most fulfilling activities of the week. I listen to some music; get to prepping and the time just flies!

I take the time to not only cook and prepare my food ahead of time, but package up single serves in re-usable containers. If I pack it, I’ll eat it. So it is a true grab-and-go system. Since I’ve started implementing this system, I’ve noticed that it is very rare for me to be sick.

Snack packs of pre-chopped fruit are my main stay. I survive extremely long and physically demanding working days on my fruit packs. I just love them. Lately I have been feeling like a change, so in addition to this I am now working on a new habit of successful people… the green smoothie! Part of my plan, prep and package Sunday is to make smoothie packs which then get popped into the freezer. This grab-and-go combo is fantastic! I am able grab a smoothie and fruit pack in the morning when I’m flying out the door at 4am, I end up moving so fast and easily through my morning routine that I no longer change my mind and go back to bed!

Success is what you define it to be.

Ultimately ‘success’ is what you make it. For me success is about balance. Your successful business will always take more from you than you can give, and the more you are prepared to give to more it will take. If you make your work your only meaningful activity in life your success in business will be vacuous and lonely.

I believe that true success is:

  • having positive relationships with the people – in and around your business
  • knowing when to put business to bed and spend some time on yourself
  • spending quality time with the most important people in your life

This, to me, is the sign of a truly successful person. It is something that I am yet to truly master on my own journey but I keep trying every day to achieve the balance.

Guest on the Hot & Healthy Blog – Dawn Hargrave