Build on your natural talents and be confident about it.
Prior to launching Happy Bellyfish, an online healthy cooking school, Anastasia Sharova followed an unconventional and exciting career path. She worked in research and international development, led marketing in an educational start up and then ventured into healthy cooking and nutrition. She credits her entrepreneurial success to this unique experience across industries, which led her to starting a company of her own. Anastasia has always believed that entrepreneurs are the real drivers of positive change in society and aspired to build a mission-driven business, which reflects the values of its founders – Happy Bellyfish is the testament to that.
Anastasia is an advocate for healthy lifestyle, a long-time yoga practitioner and an aspiring writer. She is the creator of Happily Globalized Blog. Her work also appeared in major media outlets, including Elephant Journal and Thrive Global.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Happy Bellyfish is a healthy cooking school that offers online cooking classes and meal plans. All our programmes are led by experts who teach very practical and easy skills and knowledge. The courses are designed for those who have little time to spend in the kitchen and don’t necessarily have any special professional equipment. The idea for it came from our real life challenges.
Nowadays more and more people become aware of the importance of their nutrition and every day food choices. Not many people, however, are able to follow through daily when it comes to healthy eating habits. The reason for it is a simple overwhelm. There is an enormous amount of information about healthy foods and nutrition advice (often contradictory), additionally media constantly declares newly discovered superfoods and food trends. It is not easy to navigate in this ocean of information, let alone bring it to your own kitchen.
At Happy Bellyfish we also give a lot of importance to healthy traditional diets from different countries and work on preserving this knowledge and adapting it to modern life. There is a lot to learn from the world’s traditional kitchens and most of the ingredients are not even exotic anymore. For example, our sourdough baking course introduces Russian rye bread baking techniques, and our healthy desserts class features ideas inspired by traditional Indian sweets.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Our company is working 100% remotely and right now I’m also taking care of a newborn baby – so my day and productivity hacks are built around the regime of my baby.
I always set my priorities for the day the day before – just before going to bed, so that I don’t have to spend precious morning hours on creating my to do list.
I wake up at around 7 am and get straight to my yoga mat – I always start my day with a short yoga practice. Then comes family time and after that I dive into emails and discussions with my team. First part of the day is mostly reserved for more creative work, while after lunch I spend more hours on routine tasks. Calls, interviews and meetings are scheduled around my baby’s nap times or in the evenings.
If we are shooting videos for Happy Bellyfish then it’s a completely different story – the entire day is spent on location.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First of all, I create a mind map. I’m never short of ideas, so to make sure that they don’t overwhelm me I always put them on paper and try to organize them visually first. Then I look at a practical side of things and draft an implementation strategy. The key to the implementation will always be an ability to bring the right talent together and build a strong team around those ideas, as nobody could achieve great things alone.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that if you really want to, you can learn everything you want and perfect almost every skill you wish, as long as you have internet access and a strong desire to do so.
You see, just a couple of decades ago it was not possible. You had to have an access to schools, teachers and libraries. Sometimes this access was not possible simply for geographical or financial reasons. Now, regardless where you are based and even what language you speak you have access to amazing teachers and resources in every niche. There are truly no excuses for not learning what you really want to learn.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
You might be surprised – but it’s a habit not to miss my breakfast! Yes, there is a reason why I do what I do – I’m a strong advocate of healthy nutrition and I know based on my own experience how healthy eating habits can affect not just your productivity, but also your overall health in a positive way. A habit to have a breakfast is one of them. It gives me a necessary energy kick in the morning, improves my focus on what matters and reduces food cravings for the rest of the day. I feel better, think better and in the end spend less time on thinking about food.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Build on your natural talents and be confident about it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Don’t ignore any areas of your life to be a truly happy and successful person. Family, health, work that satisfies you and utilises your talents, personal and spiritual growth, hobbies – yes, you can have it all. It’s just the matter of setting the right priorities at the right time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I take silent walks and spend them thinking, daily. This is the time when I get away from gadgets and from my work routine. It gives my mind necessary rest and allows me to look at many matters from a different angle. Some of my best creative ideas and solutions came to me during those walks. Fresh air, silence, absence of digital noise and a different environment can do wonders!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Partnerships. There are a lot of inspiring entrepreneurs, bloggers, nutritionists and cooks who are pursuing the same mission as our company. Connecting with them and uniting our efforts, complementing each other’s strengths, creating joint programmes was the key in growing our business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey I was testing different business models and passive income streams. I did not take decisions fast enough, however, even when I could already identify what was working for me and what was not. As a result I ended up directing my focus to too many things at once, instead of focusing on the right ones. Even worse, while one business was making money, the other one was “eating it up”. So, my mantra now is: take decisions fast, and act upon them even faster!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a service for an easy delivery of organic farmer’s products, collected from small local farmers. This idea might not sound new and I know that many Start Ups are already working in this niche. However, almost in all cities where I’ve been staying in the last years, access to good quality products from small farmers is not easy. That’s a big pity, because there is a big demand for it, but it is simply not possible for a family, which stays in a city, to collect products from different farms (all small farms have a limited line of products). If such effective system existed it would encourage people to consume more locally grown produce, which is healthier for our diets and our planet.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I’ve recently spent was on a fitness-related online course. My health is one of my biggest priorities – there is no success in business and in life without good health. I travel a lot and my weekly schedule changes all the time, so a regular visit to a yoga studio or a gym is out of question. I’ve been studying yoga and other physical practices on my own for years, building it in my daily routine. I’m very happy that nowadays the practice is accessible regardless of where you are based and what your day looks like.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
It’s not a service exactly, but a gadget – my mobile phone. Basically all apps that allow me to do my work through my phone are my life savers. I often have to work on the go or in places and situations where the use of a lap top is not possible. The ability to answer emails, create and edit documents etc. on the phone saves me a lot of time and headache.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhhig. It explains how our brain works and why we behave the way we behave. By understanding these patterns you can influence and change your own behavior to achieve your goals – be they professional or personal. This book will also be an interesting and useful read for everyone who works in marketing: it shares great case studies of famous companies which understood consumer behavior and used it to their advantage.
What is your favorite quote?
“Are you here to experience life or to think about it?” — Sadhguru
- Partner with other entrepreneurs and influencers who share your vision and values.
- Make decisions fast and act upon them even faster!
- If you feel stuck or need to come up with a creative solution try to take a silent walk in he nature. The change of environment and absence of digital “noise” can do wonders.
- Don’t ignore any areas of your life to be a truly happy and successful person. Family, health, work that satisfies you and utilises your talents, personal and spiritual growth, hobbies – yes, you can have it all. It’s just the matter of setting the right priorities at the right time.
Instagram (Happy Bellyfish):
Blog (Happily Globalized):
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.