Fulfilling the Small Business Dream – Robyn from Coffee Ink Calliope

One of the highlights of Queensland Small Business Week was the inclusion of Calliope businesswoman Robyn Hamilton from Coffee Ink in “One Hundred Faces of Queensland Small Business”

Robyn shared her journey at a small business seminar last week – taking the plunge from a career in social work to open up the popular coffee spot – and had a lot of tips to surviving as a small business newbie and thriving in an economic downturn:

“I get excited when we crack 140 coffees a day, not million-dollar turnovers, but that’s what the 100 Faces were about, the little people like me,” she said.

There are 3,800 businesses in the Gladstone region and 97 per cent of them are small businesses. Robyn said nothing could have prepared her for the pressure:

“I actually liken it to becoming a parent for the first time: you can go to every class on birthing, breastfeeding and parenting, read every book, watch every video, talk to every other new parent you know, and you will still not be ready,” she said.

She attributes her upward climb to building solid relationships with clients and staff as well as with nearby small businesses and the wider community – a takeaway from her days as a social worker:

“You’ve got to take the time to get to know your customers and be genuinely interested in them. Remember their names, take note of their preferences: people love it when we’ve started on their drink before they’ve reached the front counter.”

“Be kind to their children! Try and be attuned. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone’s okay if it looks like they’re having a bad day. Give of your time when you can, it could make all the difference for someone who’s walked into your establishment.”

“I am still a social worker at heart and I took that with me to my shop. I’ve been fortunate enough to combine my love of food, coffee and people at Coffee Ink and the community really have started to embrace that,” she said.

I do feel like the community loves Coffee Ink and we’ve become important to them