"Riding the Waves: A Small Business Owner's Guide to Thriving in Tough – Natalia Willmott
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"Riding the Waves: A Small Business Owner's Guide to Thriving in Tough Times" - Natalia Willmott

"Riding the Waves: A Small Business Owner's Guide to Thriving in Tough Times"

Hello there fellow entrepreneurs, I know times have been rough lately. Feeling like tossing everything out the window? Trust me, I've been there and I revisit this frequently. With 16 years under my belt in retail, I've picked up a few tricks to keep my spirits up and my business afloat. I want to share these with you, because, let's face it, our journey is not just about business; it's a life adventure too. Our business can so much feel like a reflection of who we are but we are not just a business- we are way more than that.

1. Build Your Inspirational Arsenal

Collect those uplifting quotes, lovely comments from social media, press mentions, and glowing reviews. They're reminders of your journey and fuel for your passion. I stumbled upon my name in last year's House Beautiful magazine - totally forgot about it, but it make my day! Winston Churchill hit the nail on the head: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

2. Connect with Your Tribe

Hang out with other small business owners. They get it, the highs and lows, and they can offer unique perspectives and advice. At a recent networking event, a photographer friend sparked an idea for me to explore estate agent styling. Helen Keller said it best: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

3. Find Your Cheerleaders

Surround yourself with people who root for you - mentors, loyal customers, friends, and family. My family's protective and wants to keep me safe but sometimes you've got to spread your wings right? It's only through what you believe are mistakes and failures that you not only see the good but you can progress. Oprah Winfrey once said, "Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher."

4. Stay Nimble

Our small size is our superpower; we can pivot quickly. Learn, experiment, and don't fear the occasional misstep. As Jeff Bezos puts it, "We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details."

5. Wing It with Confidence

Don't be afraid to improvise. Setting rigid financial goals can mess with your head. Dream big, and let your creativity lead the way. Steve Jobs knew what he was talking about: "Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things."

6. Your Business, Your Canvas

Your business should be a reflection of you. Lately, I've embraced this more - it's liberating to do what you love, your way. Maya Angelou said, "You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

7. Embrace the Unexpected

Stay open to serendipity. The best opportunities often come from the most unexpected places. Just the other day, something I styled sold before I even posted the video!

8. Trust Your Instincts

Your gut knows best. I balance website analytics with intuition. Sometimes, you just need a quiet moment to find answers. Richard Branson advises, "I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics."

9. Celebrate Every Win

No victory is too small. Lately I've learned AI, mastered my camera, and work on my positivity. Anne Sweeney says, "Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live."

10. The Journey Matters

Remember, business is a path of growth and discovery. I sold an item recently that I showcased four years ago - patience pays off!

11. Know When to Pivot

Letting go doesn't mean giving up. Sometimes, it's about refocusing. Arianna Huffington puts it well: "Sometimes the best way to complete a project is to drop it completely." Steven Bartlett also said, “Quitting is for winners...” I put aside my other business My Billet Doux to focus on this one. And now although the Christmas sales are not what they have been in previous years- am I going to quit? Absolutely not.

12. Keep It Real

Be honest about what you can do right now. Overstretching leads to burnout. Stay in your lane and enjoy the ride.I have worked my business around my other life commitments and that is the best I have been able to do.

13. Vulnerability is Strength

Showing your soft side can open unexpected doors. There is this saying fake it till you make it and I often reflect on it- but if you don't ever say you are struggling you will never see a helping hand. People love the opportunity to help others and that's the magic I discovered. Brené Brown said it beautifully: "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change."

14. Money doesn't define your worth

It's crucial to remember that your financial success is not the sole measure of your worth or your business's value. The journey of entrepreneurship is about much more than just profit margins. It's about the impact you make, the lives you touch, and the joy you find in your work. Financial ups and downs are part of the journey, but they don't dictate who you are. As Suze Orman wisely said, "True wealth is not about money. True wealth is about relationships, about good health, and about continued learning." Your value as a person and a business owner lies in your character, your passion, and your ability to make a difference. And am celebrating the difference I know I have made in the lives of others by injecting a bit of beauty through my pieces, my styling and my personality. 

Riding through these tough times as a small business owner is a challenge, no doubt about it. But remember, every challenge is a chance to grow and an also an opportunity for profound personal and professional growth.  Stay inspired, follow what makes you feel good, and never forget that your unique journey is worth sharing – and so is mine. Keep pursuing what makes you feel fulfilled, stay connected with those who uplift you, and always remember the unique worth you bring to the world – because that's what truly matters.

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