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Maggie Beer: if I knew then …

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Successful South Australian chef and business woman Maggie Beer reflects on her life and career to consider what advice she would give her younger self.

I was 34 before I found my niche.

I certainly had no grand plan, but every aspect of my life in business has taught me something, regardless of whether the lesson was pleasant at the time or not.

There have been so many occasions I’ve had to pinch myself over the last 25 years. Being named the Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 1997. Being painted for the Archibald. Winning the Remy Martin Cognac/Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year for the Barossa Pheasant Farm restaurant. First seeing my products on supermarket shelves. However, I think the thing I’m most proud of is that my passion for what I do has never waned. It’s what drives me on a daily basis.

Watching my parents build their business gave me a true sense of what level of commitment is required to succeed.

There are three key lessons I would have liked to have learned a bit earlier: be persistent, love every part of the journey, and gain the ability to think laterally. If I had known these things from a young age I can only imagine they would have helped me in all manner of ways.

I also think watching my parents build their business gave me a true sense of what level of commitment is required to succeed in a chosen industry.

It was certainly not formal business training but more an education absorbed via osmosis from my parents and an understanding of the daily runnings of a business.

That included being witness to (and directly affected by) the collapse of their business and understanding the nous required to recover from that.

My husband Colin and I were always prepared to take risks when it came to our business, provided we had done our research and could make it an educated risk. I’m sure most of my current business sense has been built over the years on a good mix of preparation and intuition that I learned from my Mum and Dad.

If I could change anything it would be to find a bit more balance in my life. Things are extremely busy, so much so that I can easily forget to take in what I am immediately surrounded by and what has already been achieved. Everyone suggests I should slow down! While I don’t wish that in any business sense, because I love what I do so much, I do think finding more time for things like reading and gardening could be prioritised with equal value.

Most importantly, I would like to tell my younger self to never, ever worry about what things may look like on the outside. Go with your gut feeling every time.

This article was first published on The New Daily as part of a series in which Australian identities offer advice to their younger selves.


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