ADVICE: Starting a business, pivoting during a pandemic, and backing yourself

Every year, thousands of professionals bite the bullet and take the leap into the world of business ownership. Perhaps it’s to action an idea they’ve had for years, or they’ve had enough of having a boss and are ready to be the boss. But one of the most common challenges all new business owners face, is timing.

When is the best time to start a business? And as the world changes around you, how do you know whether you’ve done the right thing?

This interview covers Amanda Leigh Doueihi’s journey as a business owner, how she’s pivoted during COVID-19, and how she plans to continue sustaining and growing her consultancy, Nomadic Breeze.

  • Why did you originally start your own consultancy, Nomadic Breeze? 

I was living in New York for almost 8 years, working as a lawyer. I was no longer inspired by the work I was doing and was also ready to home to Sydney. I’ve always wanted to work for myself and be able to offer a range of services that allowed me to tap into my broad skill set, while helping others gain clarity around their own businesses.  

  • Have you had to adjust, change or pivot your business since its inception, including during COVID-19? If so, how did you make and implement that decision? 

Yes, absolutely! When I started my business, I was working with smaller businesses and then got the opportunity to work with an ASX listed company. I was referred to them by one of their senior leaders and the team was really impressed with the quality of my work. It was the confidence boost I needed to work with the big guys.

However, the impact of COVID-19 required yet another pivot. I started consulting individuals and supporting them through the transition COVID-19 has required of us all. I was mainly focusing on consulting and supporting businesses, and now I’ve utilised the same skills and framework to support individuals. It’s been really fulfilling to be able to help people through this uncertainty and help them find hope to keep going. 

  • What has been the most challenging aspect of founding and running a business on your own? How have you overcome this? 

I struggle with dealing with the numbers, which is really what makes the difference between a business and a hobby. I’m a dreamer and a doer, but not so much a fan of accounting. I tried doing it on my own and wasn’t sure what to do, which took more time.

I decided to get a bookkeeper in who has made that entire side of my business effortless for me. It has allowed me to use my energy to focus on what I’m good at and what brings in business, and I also get to support another small business who makes it their mission to be experts on the numbers side!

The other thing that has been challenging is being alone. It can get lonely and it can also be hard not to have someone to bounce ideas off. So I started working from a co-working space in Parramatta (Grounded Space) and loved the camaraderie of the other business-owners working from the space. We all support one another. We cheer when there are wins and commiserate together during difficult times. It’s made the biggest difference in running a business alone.

  • For others considering starting their own business, what’s your advice on choosing the right timing? How do you know when the market is ‘ready’ for what you have to offer? 

There’s certainly research that can be done to determine if the market is ready. However, it depends on what the business is. Some businesses will absolutely need to determine the right timing, however, for others, there’ll never be a right timing. If you truly believe you can offer value with your unique service or product, I say go for it.

How many accountants, lawyers, shopping centres, restaurants are out there? You don’t see people saying “oh, there are too many cafes in the world, I won’t open another one”. We all bring our personality, vision and life experiences to what we offer. And people resonate with different services and products for different reasons.

You might not even realise that people have been waiting for you to start your business, and they might not have even known it themselves until you start. It’s not easy, it’s scary, but do your research and back yourself. 


About the expert

Amanda Leigh Doueihi never felt like she belonged in Sydney. So she went in search of her crew in New York. She felt such an intense connection to the city that she moved there without ever having visited and worked there as a lawyer for almost eight years.

Not knowing a soul, Amanda had to learn how to network like the locals in order to make new friends and find work. Her background in journalism equipped her with the tools she needed to discover the stories of the city she fell in love with and the people who inhabited it.

Amanda is obsessed with teaching others how to cultivate the power of forging their own path on the edge of the community and how to create their own crew with intention and purpose.

And she loves the idea of focusing this set of skills within the community she grew up in – the one she finally came home to.