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Thea Mendes took a quirky idea of making donuts for dogs and turned it into a business that allowed her to forge a new path. She made this happen through hard work, smart thinking, boundless ambition… and a helping hand from CGU. To learn more about Thea and her business journey, start reading here. 

Now it’s your turn. If you’re nurturing the spark of a business dream, it’s time to stoke that fire. Don’t be one of the nine million Aussies who wish they could start a business but don’t do anything about it. Be one of the bold and ambitious 6 percent who take a chance on their own good ideas. 

Revisiting the 5-step action plan for business success

Remember the five-step action plan we introduced for launching or reviving a business? We’re going to revisit that plan today, with help from Thea’s business mentor David Stefanoff, to outline the steps you can take to bring your own business dreams to life. 

STEP 1: Celebrate your ambition 

It’s not easy to share your ambition, especially here in Australia. There’s the fear of failure. Imposter syndrome. And our natural reluctance to be seen as a ‘tall poppy’.

But there’s also power in talking about our dreams. Naming your ambition is the first step towards making it happen. So… what is your big, ambitious, business dream? Write it down somewhere: 

“Within one, two or five years, I will…” 

Now say it out loud. Tell someone. Make a commitment to put time into planning (a lot of great ideas happen in short bursts).

STEP 2: Work on your mindset

Ask any successful entrepreneur and they’ll say a positive mindset is essential to lasting the distance in business. “Resilience is the single most important characteristic that can impact an entrepreneur’s chance of success,” David says. “Small business is hard, and things go wrong, so the ability to keep going when things don’t work out is critical.”

Here are some ways to nurture a resilient mindset: 

  • Focus on the big picture. Remind yourself why you are doing this business. Is it for the flexibility? For your family? To follow your passion? Remind yourself why you’re in business and why it is important to you. “Success is not something that happens, it is something that emerges through solving problem after problem,” says David. “Entrepreneurs who constantly refer back to their proposition have a much greater likelihood of achieving their goals.”
  • Embrace mistakes.“Problems and mistakes are made constantly,” says David, “but these are opportunities to learn and refine and improve. Fail early, and quickly move forward. A quick failure is a good failure, as quite often it enables a different path to be set.” 
  • Learn to switch off.Even the most dedicated, the most energetic and the most successful entrepreneurs need to factor ‘down time’ into their lives. When a business is new it can feel all-consuming, but by deliberately earmarking time out, you’ll be nurturing your creative thinking, your relationships and your health
  • Stay curious and keep learning.None of us will ever ‘know it all’. Though fostering your curiosity will keep you interested and motivated, and make you better at running your business 
  •  Celebrate your achievements.The first $100 earned. An email from a happy customer. A positive review. A story in the local media. Keep a record of all your achievements – both large and small – to inspire you and pick up your spirits when times get tough 

STEP 3: Plan carefully 

“There’s no ‘right’ way to write a business plan, but a wrong way to do it is to not do it at all,” says David. “Not having one is not an option! A business plan is the most important aspect of developing the business. Setting goals and timeframes dramatically improves your chances of success.

“A business plan does not need to be complex. If you cannot explain your business proposition simply and clearly, your customers are not going to understand it, so keep it simple.”

David says a business plan should clearly outline: 

  • What you are doing (your product or service)
  • Why you are doing it (such as to make money, or make a difference)
  • Who you are doing it for (your customers) 

You can then draw up plans for:

  • Operations, outlining your business including its structure, registrations, location and products or services 
  • Marketing s, including an analysis of the industry you’re entering, your customers, your competitors, and your key marketing strategies and targets 
  • Financial plans, showing how you’ll finance your business, costing and financial projections

Take a look through the useful info at help get your business plan underway. 

STEP 4: Prepare for growing pains 

As a small-business owner, you need to be both the CEO (the visionary) and the employee (the person who shows up each day and gets the job done). 

But while you’re on the factory floor, so to speak, it’s hard to keep an eye on the big picture, and growing pains can sneak up on you if you’re not prepared. To ready your business for the inevitable changes that will come as you grow, be sure you do the following: 

  • “Constantly refer back to your business plan and make adjustments where necessary,” says David. “This feedback loop is an ongoing task.” 
  • Regularly review what the business needs from your staff, infrastructure and equipment to be sure you’ll be ready to meet the needs of your customers as your business grows 
  • Take time to get established. “It is important to build a very solid base for a new business, in terms of product or service and processes, and to ensure these accord with customers. Once this is established, then growth can be planned.”
  • Outsource. When you first start out, you’ll probably be doing most of the jobs. But as you expand, consider outsourcing so you can focus on the areas where you really bring the most benefit to your business

STEP 5: Choose a support-team 

“Support can come in many different forms but having a reliable and honest sounding-board or business mentor is invaluable,” says David. “This is someone who is not afraid to tell you how it is, objectively, from a distance that may not be obvious to the business-owner who is deep in the detail.” 

What you can do next to make the most of your ambition 

• Seek out a business mentor: visit

• Get support and advice: apply for a CGU Ambition Grant

And one last thing: don’t give up! As Thea says, “There is no better reward than seeing first-hand the results from your own ambition and hard work.”

Ready to go for it?