Good Business Is Good For Business....
The outdoor industry is saturated with activity providers. We think we've been around the block a while but almost every visit to the usual outdoor venue hotspots and we see vans with logos we've never seen before or we read of a new company in some magazine or other. We're not surprised of course. The outdoors is a growth industry and there are many outdoor professionals for whom running a business doing what they love is their personal holy grail. That's how Peak Mountaineering came about after all.
It's not hard to start up a small business. A website, maybe some publicity materials, a few useful contacts and you are up and running. Many people have taken the plunge and, although some businesses sink, others thrive. We also regularly get into conversations with people who, although they are still on the starting blocks, are ready to start their business adventure in the very near future. Here's a few shared thoughts on the business path......
Change is good
As a business Peak Mountaineering has grown steadily over the years, but I still see it as very much a work in progress. Having said that, I never anticipate it being anything else. Surely every business should be constantly changing? Changing to adapt to new markets and trends. Changing to open up new revenue streams. Changing to keep the business passion alive for everyone involved. Change is good.
Constants are good too
But as well as the change there should also be constants. The aspects of the business clients identify with and that, in that sameness, brings comfort and a sense of belonging. McDonalds has been a brand based on people knowing what they'll get in any branch and people like that. Constants are really as important as change. The visibility of the long established logo that triggers a memory response when the customer finally gets around to booking that course. The name coming up in conversation because someone saw your magazine article or logoed vehicle parked in a layby. The development of links with other businesses and private individuals through social media.
Be nice to people
The times you go that extra mile for a customer who hopefully passes your name on when their friend asks that they recommend an activity provider. The sponsoring of good causes or the help given to protect the local environment. A chance conversation in the pub that leads to new business or helping a family find the correct descent route as you pass them staring at their map with a puzzled expression during a mountain day. Working with local businesses and equipment manufacturers to further their brands and, in doing so, hopefully furthering yours too.
Be proud of what you've created
For some entrepreneurs business is just about income and, of course, we all have mouths to feed. But surely it is as much about, if not more, to feel the warm glow of a job well done. That client who congratulates you on your instruction style or that email saying a friend had suggested they contact you because they had such a great time. Even the dreaded Trip Advisor reviews can be a marker of client satisfaction (or otherwise!). Seeing that new programme come to fruition or the smiling faces of the family who have been introduced to climbing for the first time. Reading your latest gear review and knowing it will help others make informed choices. Smiling at other hillgoers and making the time to chat. Being in touch with the outdoor community.
It's easy for your business to be all consuming but you need your own space too. This is especially important when you are a small business because, with modern comms, time away isn't really time away. They'll always be that search for a wifi source to answer emails after a day on the crags.....but hopefully you won't let that take over. Of course, if you are an instructor who is always only operating at the difficulty level of their clients then surely there is also little personal development. Your career in the outdoors was undoubtedly born from a personal passion for adventure so keep the fire alive with some 'you' time. The same goes for learning new skills. It is fun to be on the other side of delivery and to feel that buzz of trying something new.
Look to the future
The face of modern business is changing at a rapid rate and you need to keep up. Technology that allows you to operate more efficiently. Online resources to tap into. Social media. Developments in equipment that change instructing styles. Meetings through online resources like Skype to minimise travel. Internet banking and chat forums. It can be hard to keep up with the possibilities. Hard.......but essential!
Love what you do
If you are passionate about your business and instructing it will shine through. It will infect your clients with the same enthusiasm and give them the same love for the outdoors that you have. Your smile of support at the right time will speak a thousand words and your reassuring calmness will provide them with calm when the situation is making them stressed. Feel proud that you are in a job that allows you so much influence over people's lives. Relish the business developments you make - every little success is success. Run a tight ship focussed on the highest quality provision - your business will benefit and so will your clients. Enjoy the ride.........
Posted by Paul