Overcoming Failure with Confidence & Motivation

A question was posed on a popular Instagram account along the lines of - 'How do you overcome failure while maintaining confidence and motivation?' Rather than awaiting the interview to follow, I took a moment to reflect. Because as someone who loves to set goal after goal, shortcomings are not a stranger to my lifestyle. So how can I continue to navigate the ever-evolving world of entrepreneurship, despite those moments of defeat? I don't believe there is one magic answer to this question. We all deal with failure in our own way, which leads me to believe that coping becomes a personalized systematic mantra that we sing ourselves to sleep by. 

Uncover the Lesson

Naturally, we've all been a victim to failure. And if you're paying attention, hopefully you've learned a thing or two along the way. Often times, I think lessons are only really apparent in retrospect. Whether that be realizing you shouldn't have put the burner on so high after the smoke alarm goes off minutes later, or putting the pieces together after a bad breakup that maybe, just maybe, your friends were right and you probably shouldn't have 'wasted' those past 3 years. Like I said - retrospect. Unfortunately, some lessons in failure take a little longer to surface. 

Utilize the Lesson

Now if you burnt last night's dinner, are you still going to attempt cooking tonight? Probably. You have to eat and take out gets expensive. And I hope you're not that distraught over a simple mistake you made the night before. So why after a bad breakup, are we so hesitant to try again? As if love is destined to fail us once more. Why do we let some failures eat us alive, while we brush others off like they never took the slightest hit to our ego? When we fail, our sense of self can take a hit, and because everyone gathers a sense of self from different experiences and circumstances; what seems a failure to me may not even affect you, and visa versa. But rather than stew in the negativity that may arise when we let our ego take over, can we turn failure into something useful? Instead of acting on self deprecation, can you turn a lesson into a useful tool to hopefully learn a thing or two for next time. So much so, that we can turn coping, into thriving. 

I'm no expert, but I've yet to let yesterday's failures be reason enough to give up on my dreams. Why not? Because every failure is just a speed bump my friend. It'll slow you down, but it's no reason to stop moving forward. In saying this, some failures should probably be analyzed a little deeper than being treated with Halmark's finest cliche. Sometimes, we need a big defeat to show us that we're on the wrong track. And don't be fooled, changing your course of action doesn't necessarily mean quitting.

Mind the Ego

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Ego; it can become your greatest driving force, or the dark shadow that will stand in your way. And realistically, the choice is yours. So, what feeds your sense of self? Is it your wealth of knowledge, your punctuality, your preparedness? Or is it your ability to make others laugh, your tenacity, your kindness? Either way, we are human, and we carry just about every trait under the sun to some extent, even if that means we're only a little aggressive, or a little manipulative. My point is, we derive our own perceived value from various traits, and depending on the make up of your sense of self, a lack of certain traits will basically attack your self worth. So how do we manage to map our way through failures, counteracting the damage done to our confidence? Well, if you can get to know yourself well enough, you'll learn what drives your ego, and you'll evidently learn how to dismiss that same ego, all in the same breath. 

Taking the time to learn about what makes me 'me,' has been a saving grace, to say the least. Looking at both my accomplishments, as well as putting the spotlight on those moments that I'm somewhat ashamed of, has made it a little more clear as to what my values are. And when I do experience failure, I try my best to consider where that failure came from. Was I aligned with my values at the time, or did I somehow lose track of those positive traits that make me 'me?' And through this, I've realized that sometimes that onus is on me, and sometimes it's out of my control. So when I fall short, it's up to me to make that promise to myself to be better tomorrow. And when circumstance is out of my control, can I find ways to overcome these obstacles by utilizing the skills and knowledge that I do have. By strengthening my sense of self, I'm able to find that confidence and motivation that's necessary when we experience failure. And failure is just that - an experience. Which is temporary, and filled with life lessons. So, what values make you, you? What failures have not compromised your sense of self, but have been a product of your own compromises? And what circumstances have made you question your value? How can you overcome those obstacles? Because failure is a natural and necessary component to life. How you tackle it, is the real test of character. 

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The November Minimalist Challenge

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You're stranded on a deserted island; which 3 things are you taking with you? I'm sure most of us would say something along the lines of a favourite pet, some form of entertainment, and maybe some matches if we're going for practicality. Now what if you were asked this same question, but in everyday life? Impossible, right? Well, maybe not so far fetched - at least that's how the minimalists see it. 

What Is Minimalism?

I like to define minimalism as a way of cleansing myself of anything that doesn't serve me; that being my mind, my body, my health, my home, etc. The list goes on. And when I say the word serve, I simply mean - does it bring my life joy; does it provide purpose; does it better me in some way, shape, or form? Now minimalism doesn't just have to be in regards to "things." Sometimes cleansing ourselves of toxic relationships, bad habits, and certain lifestyle choices help us find greater joys than throwing out old T-shirts ever could. 

The Minimalist Challenge

As some of you have already witnessed, this year I participated in November's Minimalist Challenge. This means that every day I got rid of a number of things, equivalent to the number on the calendar. For example, on November 10th, I got rid of 10 articles of clothing. Now this may not seem like much, but by the end of the month, I had freed myself of 465 things! And I figure what better time to cleanse my soul than right before the holidays... which we all know can be a tad overwhelming and a little too commercial. 

My List of Goodbyes

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How Did it Go?

I've found that as the days progressed, I became more and more willing to let go of my possessions. Things I stopped using or things I was keeping "just in case," no longer seemed necessary. If anything, they were simply clutter that I would rather not look at. I thought this challenge would get harder and harder as the number of things I was getting rid of got higher, but honestly I think it got easier. It's funny how the value of material items change over time. I think the same goes with mindset. Value isn't necessarily a dollar amount, I think it's more so a state of mind. I also realized that keeping something for "nostalgic purposes," is not a reason if those memories aren't pure. This has helped me let go of old gifts, letters, and tokens I've kept over the years as symbols of memories. By all means, keep your baby blanket tucked away somewhere, but maybe it's time to throw away that necklace your ex gave you years ago. Nostalgia is a trickster. Letting go is an art form. 

What's Next?

A 30 day challenge is one thing, but how do we maintain this minimalist lifestyle? If you take the challenge, you'll most likely find that letting go of material things becomes habitual. I've realized that living in a clean and simple space is essential for my own piece of mind, which only fuels my desire to keep it that way. I'm less inclined to buy things I don't necessarily need, or things that I'll only use briefly. And when I do have a need for something, I ask myself how I can meet this need in the simplest, yet most efficient way. You'd be surprised what you can come up with. I've also found that I have a greater desire to give back. In the past month, I've donated a ridiculous amount of clothes, kitchen tools, and random odds and ends. And if it wasn't evident already, giving feels GREAT! It definitely puts things into perspective - literally AND figuratively.

For more information on minimalism, be sure to check out The Minimalists webpage & blog. You can also find them on Instagram for daily minimalist inspiration!

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Conquering the Winter Blues

Winter. The word alone sends a shiver down my spine! There's no question; winters in Canada can be harsh. And I'm not just referring to heating up your car before the sun rises, feeling the ice cold tile floor under your toes, or having to maintain a healthy level of moisture on pretty much every party of your body. Unfortunately, these chilly dark days can prompt my nothing but familiar friend, "seasonal depression." As someone who lives a rather upbeat and positive life, seasonal depression is one pesky little monster who has definitely played a part in challenging my ability to tread water. In saying this, I know that I'm the furthest from alone on the subject, as many Canadians seem to suffer from the same yearly cycle. However, as a repetitive participant in the winter blues, over the years I've been lucky enough to learn from my body; finding ways to nurture and protect it from the season to the best of my ability. So, in hopes of shedding some light on my fellow soldiers - here's a brief summary on how I've learned to tackle the season. Keep in mind, I'm not a doctor - I'm simply sharing personal opinions. If you're struggling with mental health issues, it's usually best to seek professional medical attention, and work to form a plan/coping strategies that work best for you. 

1. Nighttime Routine

Getting the proper 7-9 hours of sleep each night is essential to healthy living. During rest, our  levels of cortisol and adrenaline decrease, allowing our bodies to repair and grow. Limiting sleep can put your body in starvation mode, which can cause irritability, increased stress, and weight gain. A main factor in maintaining proper sleeping patterns is a hormone known as melatonin. Shorter days means cutting back our sunshine hours, which effects our melatonin levels. In order to maintain a proper sleep schedule as the seasons change, it's important to send consistent nightly signals to trigger proper hormone activity. Simple things like dimming the lights, turning off the computer/tv, reading, and practicing aromatherapy an hour before bed, have done wonders for my sleep schedule. I've learned that keeping these signals as consistent as possible plays a important role, so I aim to start my nightly routine around 8-9pm. And on nights that I'm particularly irritable, taking a melatonin supplement half an hour before crawling into bed, has definitely done the trick!

2. Morning Exercise 

Another habit I've gotten into is scheduling my exercise for first thing in the morning. This way, I know I'm starting my day off right, which keeps my mood elevated throughout the better part of my day. I don't have to worry about getting in a workout after a long day of work, and I can save my evenings for "down time," which better prepares me for my nighttime routine. I'm not a coffee drinker, as I can get a little skittish, so I now add pre-workout to my morning routine. This way, I get a quick boost before exercising, as well as half a litre of water (mixed with pre-workout) first thing in the morning! A current favourite --> C4 Blue Razz.

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3. Maintain Active Living 

Aside from my weekly gym routine, I try my best to stay somewhat active throughout the day. Luckily my job allows me to get up and move around as much as I like, but if you're working in a more sedentary workplace, it might be a good idea to take little walks around the office every half an hour, or go for a walk at lunch time. I've also tried to incorporate nightly walks if I'm feeling a little "cabin fever" coming on. A quick 30-45 minute stroll around my neighbourhood usually does the trick!

4. Supplement the Summer 

It's important to understand that as we lose daylight, our body's chemistry changes. Personally, I've learned specifically what my body needs to get through the season. I know that prescription medication isn't something I'm comfortable taking, so I've done my research in finding other options that compliment my diet. Most of this is trial and error, and highly dependent on your personal needs. Supplement-wise, I currently take a B-complex, iron, lysine, vitamin D, and I'm dabbling with ginseng. I would definitely recommend a vitamin D supplement to EVERYONE in the winter, because that's where a majority of us Canadians fall short. And if you're unsure of what your body needs, getting blood work done is a great place to start! 

5. Limit Recreational Drug/Alcohol Use

I'm not much of a drinker, so limiting alcohol use in the winter really wasn't a struggle for me. Alcohol is known as a depressant, which can throw our chemical/nutrient make-up off balance. Obviously everyone has their own tolerance level, so just be mindful of yours. As far as recreational drugs go, I've only ever dabbled with the green stuff. And as much as I found it to be a natural sleep aid and help with anxiety, it often left me feeling lethargic, unmotivated, and don't get me started on the munchies! Anyway, I aimed to go weed free for a month, and I've now surpassed my goal, which I'm proud to say is an ongoing thing. I'm actually a little indifferent to marijuana use, but personally I don't believe that it fits into my lifestyle at the moment. And by cutting it out, I've found new ways to improve my sleeping patterns, diet, and cope with my anxieties. Clearly cannabis use is a personal choice, but it's always a good idea to take a look at your "habits" and investigate whether your choices are serving you in a positive way. 

6. Maintaining Proper Health During Flu Outbreaks

Hopefully I don't need to remind you to take standard hygienic precautions, such as washing your hands regularly or coughing into your arm rather than your hands. But given the heightened normalcy of sickness during the season, I'll shed some light on some of my own practices. Something I've gotten in the habit of is cleaning the equipment I use at the gym before AND after use. Before is a personal preference, and after of course is a courtesy. Washing your hands after your workout is another great practice, as we know that exercise can briefly lower the immune system. Recently I've started using a diffuser to aid some breathing problems, and after researching various essential oils, I've found that eucalyptus oil can play a part in fighting off the common cold/flu. I like to set the diffuser for a few hours as I'm falling asleep - a practice I use about 5 times a week. Along with the essential oils, I started using natural immunity boosting agents from Saje Natural Wellness. Here is a list of the products I'm currently using on a regular basis:

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I'm a big advocate for natural remedies - I wouldn't be sharing these products with you if I wasn't. Clearly somebody hasn't been endorsed yet (cough cough). And my last little tidbit of information; proper nutrition people! It works wonders! When we fuel our bodies with all them nutrients, we give our immune system the opportunity to build and repair before things go too far south.

So all in all, treat your body right! Give yourself the love and care you deserve, because the simple act of doing so, can have an extraordinary impact on your mental health. Again, mental health is individualized. Different strategies work for different people, so work toward becoming mindful of your needs. Maintaining good mental health is an ongoing process, so be patient with yourself.

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Why You Should Be Adding Kombucha To Your Diet

Author: Rebekah Carter

If you're looking for a way to boost your diet with some healthy eating and drinking, and you've already checked out the best blenders for your juicing craze, then it might be a good idea to take the next step and try "Kombucha" tea.

Kombucha is a highly popular fermented tea that's made from sugar and black tea. It's brimming with enzymes, minerals, and vitamins that are great for your body, and over the years, has been prized for its healing properties. Kombucha uses something called "SCOBY", a colony of yeast and bacteria that makes it a nutrient-rich beverage. The process of fermentation for the tea can take up to 12 days, depending on the process you use.

Exploring the Benefits of Kombucha

Although in the past, Kombucha was a very obscure drink, it has quickly emerged as a popular solution for those seeking better wellness. Available in a range of different grocery stores and health food stores, you can either buy Kombucha directly or brew it yourself using strategies that you can find online.

Kombucha is attributed with a number of fantastic health benefits. For instance, the nutrients that Kombucha contains are fantastic when it comes to supporting the body in a host of different ways. Studies surrounding Kombucha at this time are somewhat lacking, but the anecdotal evidence is significant. Here are just some of the ways that Kombucha may be able to improve your health.

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1. Kombucha Improves Digestion

Although scientists aren't entirely sure why Kombucha is so effective at improving digestion, we do know that this substance is rich in beneficial acids, enzymes, and probiotics which are essential to maintaining proper gut health. According to Harvard Medical School, a healthy stomach is brimming with about 100 trillion different microorganisms. This means that we need plenty of good bacteria to survive.

Drinks like Kombucha, that contain beneficial bacteria for your gut, could help to ensure that your microbiome remains in balance, so you're less likely to suffer from stomach problems. Of course, this is all relevant to your overall gut health, so if you’re experiencing serious digestive issues, it may be beneficial to speak to a healthcare professional to see if this can in fact be a solution for you.

2. Improved Liver Support and Detoxification

We constantly expose ourselves to a range of toxins almost every day, which can have a significantly negative effect on the body, often resulting in fatigue or general unwellness.  The liver is one of the most important organs of detoxification in the body. Fortunately, Kombucha is a substance brimming with Glucaric acid, which is great for the liver and natural detoxification.

Kombucha also promotes better digestion with the healthy gut bacteria we mentioned above, which means that you can have an easier time processing food and enjoying more energy every day without having to resort to sugar and caffeine.

3. Kombucha Improves the Immune System

Our immune systems are essential for keeping us healthy. Fortunately, Kombucha is naturally rich in antioxidants, which means that it's great for supporting the immune system. While there's no magic bullet available when it comes to enhancing immune system function, it's always a good idea to do everything you can to improve the immune process.

Kombucha is brimming with a substance that's called DSL, or D-Saccharic Acid Lactone. This substance has fantastic antioxidant properties, and it's not present in any other unfermented teas, although there are plenty of teas out there that are rich in other types of antioxidant.

4. Improves Joint Health

Kombucha is also a great substance to drink if you're one of the many people who suffer from problems with arthritis and joint health. Kombucha fermented tea is full of a compound called glucosamine, which is great for improving the health of your joints, and reducing the pain you might experience due to stiff joints.

Glucosamines are perfect for naturally increasing the level of hyaluronic acid you have in your body, which helps to lubricate and protect the joints. In some studies, this substance has even been shown to provide better, or similar relief as over-the-counter painkillers.

5. A Better Alternative to Other Drinks

If you're sick of piling on the pounds because of all the sugar-laden drinks you consume such as soda, then it's a good idea to turn to Kombucha instead. The substance is naturally carbonated as a result of the fermentation process, unlike sodas which are artificially carbonated through a process of forced carbonation.

This fizzy tea can, therefore, be a natural and familiar alternative to other carbonated beverages, great for providing nutrients and probiotics that might not otherwise be available in soda. Plus, Kombucha contains less sugar than most soft drinks, because the sugar is consumed by the beneficial bacteria. Available in many different flavours, kombucha is also a tasteful and healthy addition to your favourite cocktails! But, we all know it is just perfect as a stand alone beverage!

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The Best Recipes for Juicing with Fall Flavours!

Author: Rebekah Carter

Fall is in the Air - AND it's in Your Juicer!

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Fall is finally here, and with it comes a range of unique flavours and colours sure to spice up your life and revitalize your senses. While the freshest berries of summer, like strawberries and raspberries, might be a thing of the past for avid juicers, that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy incredible fresh beverages throughout the cooler seasons.

From the obsession of pumpkin spice flavours, to a range of delightful veggies and fruits designed to detox your system, keep you feeling slim, and prepare your immunity for winter, there are countless delicious juices to try over the next few months. Here, we're going to take a look at the best juicing recipes for the fall months to help keep you on track with your new favourite hobby.

Remember, where possible, it's best to choose organic fruits and vegetables for your juices, as this will help you to avoid any pesticides or unwanted chemicals in your healthy beverages. At the same time, keep in mind that you're free to adapt and change these recipes however you see fit, if you're feeling creative.

1. Pumpkin and Apple Crumble

What could be more fall-themed than a pumpkin and apple pie mix? This delightful blend is sure to warm your heart and keep you feeling festive as you make the move towards winter. Just juice the fruits thoroughly, add your spices and vanilla, and mix with a dash of water to find your ideal consistency. You'll need:

  • Ground Nutmeg
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave
  • 3 Apples
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin

2. Berry and Pear Potion

This is a slightly more refreshing mix for when you need something to wake you up first thing in the morning. Simply juice your berries on a low speed to get them ready for blending, then add your other fruits on high speed. You'll need:

  • 1 Apple
  • 3 Pears
  • 1 Cup Cherries 
  • 1 Cup Blueberries
  • 1/2 Lemon

3. Metabolism Magic

When we enter fall, we can quickly feel as though we're becoming more prone to illness and disease. After all, opportunities for colds and flu seem to lurk around every corner. This blend will help to keep you feeling healthy and boost your thyroid function too. Simply juice the fruits and veggies on high, and you'll be ready to go. You'll need:

  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Apples Cored
  • 1 Cup Pineapple Chunks
  • Thumb of Ginger

4. Fall Sunrise

This vibrant looking juice is great for keeping your heart health on track thanks to the beet contents. The ginger will leave you feeling refreshed on colder autumn days, while the carrots will prep your immune system with plenty of vitamin C. Combine all the ingredients together on high, and drink straight away for the best results. You'll need:

  • 1 Beet
  • 4 Carrots
  • 2 Apples
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Thumb Ginger

5. The Autumn Cleanse

Detox your body and prepare yourself for the months ahead with this delightful fall juice. Designed to help boost your bodily functions and leave you feeling healthy when the temperature starts to drop, this is a great juice to drink first thing in a morning before you head off to work, or start tackling your daily tasks. Juice the citrus, pineapple, and berries on a low speed, then add the remaining ingredients on high. You can drink this juice in place of one daily meal. You'll need:

  • 1/3 Cup Cranberries
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Stocks Celery
  • 2 Oranges
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/2 Cup Pineapple Chunks

6. The Fall Sangria Mix

Finally, celebrate the new season with this wonderful juice blend. You'll need to mix in a little bit of your summer harvest to create the right mix of fruits, but it's well worth it when you're just moving into the first weeks of fall. Juice your peach and citrus fruits on low, then switch to high for your apples, and throw in the cinnamon and honey last. You'll need:

  • 2 Oranges
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Peach
  • 2 Apples
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon 
  • 1 Teaspoon Agave

Note: Feel free to add in a little bit of chilled red wine if you want the full sangria effect!

About the Author

Rebekah is a passionate writer and healthy-eating advocate. She's always keen to try out the latest foods and recipes, explore new information about health and fitness, and expand her understanding of the world around her with constant learning.

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Diary of an Entrepreneur: Ch. 10

Chapter 10: Balanced in Business

I'm writing this on a Monday afternoon, and in an effort to be as transparent as possible, I would just like to point out how tired I am. Not to make excuses for the inevitable mess of words that will most likely follow this intro, but man I could use a nap... or a brief coma (either one should do the trick). "Amber, just stop complaining and make time for some extra Z's!" Alright, can you not lecture me when I'm only partially conscious? Anyway...

I will tell you, today was like most mornings. I woke up, scanning my arm over my bed, searching for my phone so that I could turn off that deathly alarm clock. And in those brief awakening moments, I decided at which level of zombie I would be functioning at today. This of course is always followed by a promise to myself that I will go to bed early. But hey, guess how often I follow through on this nagging issue.... ALMOST NEVER. 

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Something I've learned as a small business owner - you will be the most accountable for your actions that you've ever been. Mind you, this is more so a personal realization. I can only imagine how accountable I would be as a mother, doctor, professional apologizer (this is a real job, I looked it up). Anyway, my point is, with accountability comes a responsibility to not only your business, but to your self as well. And for someone who has struggled with mental illness in the past, finding my balance in business has been something that I've had to be extremely mindful of. 

In my first month/month and a half of working the shop, I was ultimately limited in all other areas of my life. My stress level went up, my social life disappeared, my "me time" was spent either at home or at the shop - both of which I would be stewing over business plans. I had begun to neglect so many parts of what made me the well-rounded individual I have always set out to be. Now this was not an oversight - I was well aware of my actions. One thing I can proudly say about this experience is that I have learned the significance of temporary feelings, stressors, circumstances, etc. Throughout those first (very stressful) weeks, I had to be my own voice of reason, constantly reminding myself that I would find a work routine that would work for me. And you know what, that's exactly what I did. Did I have a few slips along the way? Of course. Did I doubt myself once or twice? Yes, only natural. But reminding myself that the major lifestyle change I made was going to take time to adjust to, was a major tool in getting me through a stressful period. 

It wasn't until our third month in business that I decided to start adjusting my priorities. I think I can recall having a total of 2 days off in July. Now I'm not complaining, because I fully understand the commitment I have made, and I want to be their for all of our "first steps," but heck I'm human and it was time for a reality check. It was time to make time for myself! Sometimes this meant simple things like going home for lunch and eating outside in my backyard. And sometimes this meant leaving town for 2 days for a "vacation." Both of which; very necessary! Finishing up with August, and I've banked 6 days off - a small change, but a world of a difference. I've definitely developed a much better understanding of the phrase "work hard, play hard." I think I've agreed to more social events in the past month than I ever would have. I am practically the Yes Man. But hey, in all seriousness, entrepreneurship leaves you with limitless opportunities, which can create a turmoil of unstoppable excitement. Which is why it's so important to recognize when it's time to reevaluate your priorities. I'm constantly learning how to do this. How and what I want to balance in my life. It's ultimately both a difficult and entertaining process. Especially when I'm so tired that I fall asleep while the blenders are running. Lucky for me I have nothing but time and a desire to make this work! And, I'd love to share with you in more detail as we progress. Thanks for keeping up! - This girl is ready for bed. Amber out. 

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Diary of an Entrepreneur: Ch. 9

From our family to yours!

From our family to yours!

Chapter 9: Thriving in Your Community

Ever since we opened the smoothie bar, the concept of "community" has been a constant topic of conversation! And I say "we," because even though I have quite literally run myself ragged at times during this start up, it truly does take a village! And for those of you who don't know me personally, I grew up in Georgetown (home of our vegan love child - My Fit Little Foodie), where I was a fairly active member in the community up until I left for university in 2012 (give or take?). Spending 5 years away from home made it slightly difficult to return to Georgetown as an equally involved member of society, especially while working a full time job in Mississauga. And after a year and a half, I was beginning to feel a slight sense of resentment towards my quaint little town. Now, four months later and I'm telling an entirely different story. And this, I believe, is because of the power of community. 

"Sorry, I Didn't Catch Your Name?"

I really believe this sentence has made a major contribution to my business's growth as a start up. It is unbelievable how much of a difference learning someone's name, and one or two things about them makes in the long run. Establishing a regular cliental can be extremely vital for businesses that are just starting out. And for this, we value each and every one of our customers, because they are the reason we are able to do what we do! I can honestly say there are days when almost every individual who walks through our door gets greeted by name. And if they don't, they'll hear "sorry, I didn't catch your name" as we're exchanging our goodbyes. A quick handshake, and they're on their way. Establishing your business comes hand in hand with establishing yourself, as well as a personal relationship with the person in front of you. You'd be surprised how easy it is to make your customers smile! 

Proud, Protective, & Pleased 

If you live in a small town like Georgetown, you know the significance of this next bit. Bite size communities take pride in their homes, small businesses, greenery, etc. In a place this small, everywhere is home, and we like to treat it that way! When My Fit Little Foodie does well, it acts as a reflection of the community, and their loyalty to local success - and man are they loyal! When we share our success with our customers, they can feel a sense of pride for being a large part of that success. And a successful customer is a pleased customer! Creating that symbiotic relationship between guest and employee is the ultimate goal!

A Special Thank You

Now coming up on 2 months of serving smoothies to Georgetown's finest, I've had the chance to really sit back and reflect on the experience thus far. And I can honestly say, I'm thrilled! The positive feedback we've received from the community has been extremely heartwarming, and for that I cannot thank you enough! We are definitely looking forward to our future in Georgetown, as we grow, learn, and expand on everything we have to offer! To everyone who has shown their support, whether that be words of encouragement, your patronage, or spreading the good word of My Fit Little Foodie, this one goes out to you! So, THANK YOU! 

Diary of an Entrepreneur: Ch 8

Chapter 8: Is it Time?

I've always wanted to (fill in the blank). There's no question about it, we've all said it, thought it, dreamt it. We come up with these goals, lifestyle changes, passion projects, that just sit in the back of our minds. You know the one, probably because it's surfacing right now. And following this grand idea, is a shred of doubt that has now snowballed into a wall, blocking out all the sun from your little seedling dreams. 

Now I'm a firm believer in "you can do anything you set your mind to." Yes I know this is cliche, but realistically WHY NOT. "Why not Amber? Well, I can give you a million reasons! I'm making mortgage payments every month, and I need time for my family, and I wouldn't even know where to start!" The list goes on. So how do you know when it's the RIGHT time to start your business? Well, if you've already started thinking about it, guess what... you've already begun! 

There's no question, starting a business takes up a large portion of your time, money, energy, sanity (haha..), need I go on? BUT what's worse, becoming a crazy ball of stress at 23 (not to name anyone in particular) or looking back on your life 20 years from now and quoting the classic "I've always wanted too..?" So what do you need to consider in order to get your butt into gear?

1. Brainstorm Yourself Silly

There's no question about it... some ideas are just not that great. But, even bad ideas can be made into good ones. If you have a business concept in mind, then you've already started brainstorming! Now, it's time to make your hypothetical dreams into realistic ones. In this stage, it's important to be your own best worst critic. Start by creating a business concept, and then pick it apart flaw by flaw. And with each hole in your business idea, find a solution. Rework your concept until you can back it up 100%. 

With a concept in mind, you should be able to build a rough business plan, adding more structure and relevance to your idea. And with a business plan, you will find more flaws, and with flaws - more solutions! Sample business plans are available online as well as at your local library (if anything they will be able to point you in the right direction for sources, mentors, etc). This leads me to my next point - mentors! Once you've picked your business plan apart the best you can, get fresh eyes! Find a local business owner, financial advisor, successful business person, etc and let them find MANY more holes in your plan. This is a GOOD thing! There is no question that someone else will see errors that you won't, and it's much better to sort those errors sooner rather than later! 

One of the things I love about business, is that it's ever growing. This leaves you with endless possibilities for growth. It also means, that you'll have to find a cement supplier, because you're always going to be looking to fill those damn holes. Never stop brainstorming! 

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Alright, I won't give you small business survival rates, because I don't want to scare you back into a pit of darkness. BUT it's important to understand that starting a business takes A LOT of HARD work! And I understand that it doesn't always fit everyone's individual lifestyle goals. That's another key point. ANYONE can do it, but not everyone wants to. Especially once you realize the major commitment that's involved. Either way, you need to have your finances in order to the best of your ability. Personally, I worked in the restaurant service industry for 2 years in order to give myself a cushion. I moved back into my childhood home, and lived on a lovely little budget. I found hobbies that didn't cost much (like blogging), and did my best to treat myself mindfully. I began working with a financial advisor, in order to organize my finances, invest, and start planning long term. Part of your business plan will fall into this category. You'll need to be sure (to the best of your ability) that you can not only support yourself, but your business as well. And depending on your business plan, you may want to look into bursaries, grants, investors, etc. Businesses have start up costs, as well as a lull period where you're potentially taking a broad pay cut. Keep these things in mind when planning. Starting a business has many stresses, so do your best to create some piece of mind financially. 

3. Spend Some Time On YOU!

Ask yourself this: what kind of life can your business give you? Owning a business should be about creating a life that works for you - literally and figuratively. If you create a business plan with the intention of working 50 some odd hours a week every week until you're 65, well that doesn't sound overly enjoyable, no matter what your business is. My recommendation is to take some time for yourself before starting a business. Get in tune with your values, imagine your ideal lifestyle, and most importantly - build yourself up. Starting a business can become taxing in so many ways - physically, mentally, and emotionally. There will be skeptics, critics, and those who doubt you and your business' potential. If I can offer some words of wisdom - Don't be one of them! There's a difference between critiquing yourself and discouraging yourself. It's easy to get caught up in negative opinions, but there is nothing more detrimental to your self worth or your potential business for that matter. Because realistically, they are VERY closely linked. Your business can become anything you wish. And it can change any time you wish. So build a plan that fits your wants and needs, and work on yourself so that you can bring those plans to life!