Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amelia Hicks, CEO of Old Quarter Coffee Merchants, located in Ballina, NSW, Australia.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Old Quarter Coffee is a social enterprise that imports, roasts, and serves 100% Southeast Asian specialty coffee. We source our beans ethically through direct partnerships with farmers, ensuring that every cup of Old Quarter coffee is doing good in the world. Our goal is to improve the lives of everyone along the supply chain, from farm to cup. We refer to this positive impact as "Daily Happy," and we are working on spreading it globally! Our customers are Australian-conscious consumers who drink specialty coffee. We supply wholesale coffee to cafes, run our own cafe in Ballina, NSW and sell online across Australia.

Tell us about yourself

I come from a low-income family, and I saw how a lack of opportunity and money made it challenging to live life to the fullest with the people you love. Since I entered the workforce at 18, I have been determined to create a life of financial freedom. I'm so lucky that I was gifted with parents that supported me and my choices with unconditional enthusiasm! This gave me the confidence to speak up and advocate for issues I feel passionately about, and I was able to use this passion to develop my leadership and business skills through almost a decade of volunteer social activism and working in the social enterprise and start-up space.

I am motivated each and every day to build Old Quarter Coffee into a household name because with every cup of coffee we sell, we can create a more positive impact in the lives of everyone we work with, most importantly with our farming partners. There is nothing more motivating and fulfilling than doing something for reasons bigger than ourselves. Connecting to our purpose will always be the quickest way to success.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is to have built a business with the love of my life. There is nothing more fulfilling than creating a life and business with the one that makes you truly happy. Working with your partner has its ups and downs, and it's not always stress-free. But nothing that's easy delivers the big rewards. I would say, if you work well with your partner and you're thinking about taking the plunge, definitely do it. You won't look back.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things, particularly in the early years, is adjusting to the relentlessness of the work. I remember thinking I worked hard, and then I started my own business! Being a business owner will test you. It tested me. It tested my determination, drive, and resilience. Entrepreneurs with big dreams need first to understand the reason "why" they are building a business because when the chips are down, that is what will give you the grit to stay focused on your vision and create the strategy to get it!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Understand your why. If you connect to your purpose, it will guide you through hard decisions, motivate you when you have none, and help you find people who believe what you believe. You 100% need those!
  2. Celebrate the small wins. If we don't slow down and enjoy the journey, then we miss the best parts of building a business. As with anything in life, it is who we become along the way that matters, not just what we accomplish. And the best way to enjoy the ride is to stop, reflect and be grateful for the privilege we have and how we are able to use our privilege to create the business of our dreams.
  3. Know your numbers and get access to capital. Take the time to learn how to understand and interpret your financials. There is nothing more powerful because, at the end of the day, if you don't understand what the drivers are for success, you can't make the right decisions for your business. If you want to scale, you will need cash, and getting the people and support around you to access affordable capital will enable you to invest in your business to grow.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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