New Measures of Success
How my personal minimalist journey made my business thrive
As it turns out, business and minimalism are perfect bedfellows. But for me, it took a while to come to this realization.
In 2013, my husband and I quit our jobs in London, moved to a seaside town, and opened a wine shop and bar with no prior experience in wine or business ownership. That was the easy part.
I’ve never been drawn to a flashy, high-income lifestyle, but when you start a business, the pressure to ‘succeed’ in this way can be very intense. After all, an average CEO’s salary is around 271 times that of an average worker.
The first year was hard. Building a customer base takes time and with no other income coming in, we had almost no money to our name. I never wanted debt; the business was built on a few thousand pounds my husband and I had saved so there were no loans. But after a while, no backing meant no money. According to conventional understandings in our society, we were failing.
In 2014, a chance encounter with The Minimalists changed everything. The concept that “stopping unnecessary purchases equals an instant pay raise” was my light bulb moment and I spent the next year putting it into practice. For me, minimalism was easy. I didn’t find it hard to throw away half of my belongings or to stop buying items that I didn’t need. I went a step further and moved a few miles away to a less salubrious part of town so the mortgage was halved. Everything that I didn’t need had left my life. Perhaps I was always a minimalist at heart.
I realized that changes in my own life would have a huge impact on the business’s chance of survival, so it began to go through the same rigorous process. It became more streamlined and more focused.
The plan worked. After much hard work and determination, the business grew fast and, thanks to minimalism in both my personal and professional life, became profitable. Instead of focusing on myself as the profits grew—getting a bigger house, a newer car, or taking a higher salary—I hired staff, giving two local people employment. I invested in some shop renovations to streamline some processes and lessen the stress on employees. I strived for good working conditions, reasonable salaries, and other perks. And I realized that I didn’t feel like I had personally sacrificed anything.
In its essence, minimalism gave my husband and I the financial freedom to indulge in our passions without the stress and constraint of high living expenses. We travel. We eat out. We indulge in our love of wine. We do all of this comfortably. And we do it all on less than one person’s average UK salary between us—less than we pay our own staff.
We realized on our minimalist journey that travel, wine, and food were our cornerstones. By focusing on what we actually wanted from life and by getting rid of the noise, we are thriving and our business is too. Now, we measure success not by the money that comes in, but by how happy we are and how often we are able to indulge in our passions.
Success has been redefined for me and I’ve never been happier about it.