There’s no such thing as a stress-free business, as Narelle and Andrew Anderson know. Even the kind of business designed to help people de-stress can present a range of challenges – but it’s worth remembering that help is always available.

Narelle and Andrew Anderson’s business The Life Spring operates across two locations. They have three float cabins in Rockingham and three float pods in Cockburn. As Narelle explains: “Basically they’re vessels full of magnesium water and you float on the top. Your body absorbs the magnesium which makes you feel good.”

Juggling two sites, resourcing and training their teams and navigating the pandemic have created some unexpected challenges to date. Narelle shared how she has dealt with the ups and downs of running a small business.

Enjoy being your own boss

Narelle has realised that it’s always worth remembering why you first decided to go into business.

“The main reason I went into business for myself many years ago was that I get rewarded for my own hard work,” she says. “Working for someone else, I would work long hours and you’d still get the same wage. In your own business, you usually get rewarded for your effort.”

“There’s also the flexibility – I can choose to get up at 4am and do a couple of hours of work so that I can go and play a game of golf during the day with my retired friends.”

Find your favourite way to handle stress

With every business comes challenges and Narelle has found the perfect way to deal with her stress.

“My favourite thing about being in business is that I get to float! Floating is what enables me to do what I do and that’s run the two businesses at the same time. The floating helps me to unwind, decompress and clear out the filing system up here in my head I can run both businesses calmly and successfully.”

There will always be challenges

“We have two businesses in two locations – I would say staffing is one of our biggest issues. We’ve got an amazing team and we’ve always had an amazing team but there’s always staffing issues. If people leave, you need to find the right person, it can be one of the biggest hurdles you can face as a business owner. There’s wages and changes to legislation and things like that can be hard to keep on top of without knowing where to go for help.”

Help is available

Narelle discovered our SBDC services online almost two years before opening her first business.

“I didn’t know where to start. I had this brilliant idea and I didn’t know where to turn, then I found the SBDC website. Eighteen months later we opened our first store so during that time, I was getting pointed in the right direction.”

“Every time I’ve called for advice, I’ve never been left without an answer.”

Narelle has used several of our services to date – and is a regular attendee at our online workshops.

“I’ve used the SBDC services quite a few times. From the very beginning I was helped with things like business planning and market research. The SBDC has helped us adapt the way we deal with staff – for example, the induction our staff and clients do is now by video. Previously it was very casual. Now we keep it a bit more formal with checklists and inductions.”

Photo of Narelle Anderson, owner of The Life Spring, standing next to a float cabin.
Narelle Anderson, owner of The Life Spring.

Acknowledge your wins

Every business was impacted differently by the events of 2020 and Narelle and Andrew had to close the doors at certain points.

“Surviving Covid has definitely been a win for us. It was touch and go for a while there. We had to close down because of restrictions and then had a few false starts where we reopened.”

“The advice we’ve received from the SBDC has definitely helped us. Even from a quick phone call about Covid, the forms we could print and things like that. Information we’ve been provided has definitely helped.”

“We had people ringing us constantly when we were shut down asking when we would be open. One of the things floating does for people is that it helps to de-stress them. Covid was a very stressful time for everybody so reopening was great and we got to see our regulars back again.”

Keep learning and adapting

Narelle knows that being in business means adapting to changing circumstances and being willing to keep learning.

“One bit of advice I would give to anybody starting out is to be adaptable. We think of our business as ever-evolving. We’re rolling down a hill sometimes, sometimes it’s up a hill – but we’re always moving. What I thought eight years ago was going to happen is not remotely what’s happening now.”

“The SBDC webinars and courses help with things I don’t have experience in. I always try to do courses on things that I’m not an expert in.”

“Online courses work for me personally because I can structure that around my day. For a two-hour course, if I leave with one bit of information that I didn’t have before, that’s a win for me. You might not need it right now – but next week or next year you might.”

“I would recommend using the SBDC to anybody going into business – or already in business. We’ve used them from the very beginning from before we even opened right up until today when I’ve just enrolled in another online course!”

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Small business stories
24 October 2022