Is it easy? Nope. Is it worth it? Yes.
This post is dedicated to each and every person who has sent us emails, Facebook and Instagram messages or comments reading something like this: “I don’t enjoy my job. It is my dream to be able to do what you guys do and make money, I just would have no idea where to start.”
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: I want you to do what we do too, so in this article I am going to break down some valuable things I’ve learned in the last few years of building and scaling this company.
Owning a business in an industry which you are deeply passionate about, assisting people in realizing their dreams, watching your guests and students drastically increase their skills, and being able to share knowledge is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling things on the planet.
Time for a short rant, then I promise we will get down to the good stuff.
Hear this. One day you are going to wake up and it’s going to be the last time you do it. One day you are going to be given the chance to reflect on everything you built, created and contributed during your time on earth. If you don’t enjoy your occupation, then why would you keep torturing yourself?
This is 2019.
Jeff Bezos built a company that made $72 Billion dollars last year. There are 20 year old internet entrepreneurs and influencers that fly around in their private jets. There are companies that generate $3 Million dollars per year selling goggles for dogs (they’re called Doggles, Google it).
Thanks to the internet, there has never been an easier time in history to market yourself and make money.
Interior Fly Fishing Company is a small business, there are companies I look up to and think “wow, that is what I want to build”, and I am not here telling you that I am a super expert business owner or the greatest fishing guide on the planet.
I’m not here to sell you something, I am here telling you (for free) what has and hasn’t worked for me so you can get started today.
Guiding and fishing are two different animals.
Being a guide means being an instructor, it does not mean kicking back and catching big fish while your bank account soars. Paying complete attention to the people in your boat, noticing what they might need at any given moment, being extremely patient, managing your emotions during (inevitable) periods of slow fishing, these things will make you successful.
Am I fortunate to have guests that insist that I fish with them, and demonstrate what it is I am doing and why? Yes. Some days feel too good to be true, but remember that there is a level of professionalism that must be maintained at all times. Fish on your days off, provide a high level of service on your days on.
Know your fishery.
Understand that people are going to hire you for what you know. At the end of the day, someone is willing to pay you simply for the knowledge and skills you have in which people want access to.
It imperative to know where you are taking people, what your obstacles are going to be, the longevity of your good fishing season, and what they can expect. Don’t start offering trips in an area which you are not heavily versed in while hoping to make some quick money.
Your clients will be able to tell immediately whether you are experienced in your craft or not. Know your boundaries, do your research, and most of all invest an ample amount of time on the water learning the idiosyncrasies and technicalities of your fishery.
Focus on service more than money.
Asking yourself “how can I provide service and value to my customers?” is going to get you exponentially further, quicker, than “what can I do to make a few fast dollars?”
Money simply comes when you have something of value that people want. I pay people to teach me about investing, to cut my hair, change the oil on my vehicle, or to cook up a meal I would never even attempt at home.
In the same way, money is a by-product of providing an excellent service. Going the extra mile for your client base is not only going to lead to much higher fulfilment, it is impossible to give as much as you can without something coming back your way.
Build something of value, do it to the highest of your abilities, treat people extremely well, and making money will be the least of your issues.
Learn the numbers.
This is not going against what I just mentioned, this is me saying that you can save a ton of time, and cash flow, by investing the time to learn the ins and outs of small business finance. Something I practice daily, something that is important, businesses need money to survive and simply wishing it will be there is not a strategy.
Embrace the Suck.
Sooner or later, usually the former, things are not going to go as planned and sh*t is going to get real. I can vividly remember waking up at 6am for 36 consecutive days when I started this company, blogging every single day, before finally receiving our first booking request on the 37th day.
“Life must be tough when you just go fishing every day”
“Must be nice not having to work”
“What is your real job?”
These are things people have actually said (via the internet, of course) to me, and these people are an important part of the process. I do not try to validate myself, or prove anything to them, it is best to just find the humour and keep moving forward.
Don’t get discouraged because you aren’t an expert right away. The first time someone booked a trip with us, I didn’t even know how to send an invoice!
I will tell you one thing for free: it is not what it looks like on Instagram and Facebook! I have made mistakes that have cost me plenty of money, messed up the schedule, had vehicles break down during guided trips, and I am grateful for all of these lessons.
Have fun, mess it up, embrace the fact that difficulty is part of the process and failure is the best source of information.
Research your market.
Who is your ideal customer? What does your corner of the industry need right now? Determine what it is, then execute. Do not fire from the hip, hoping that somehow you are magically going to put your name in front of the perfect group of people.
Do you want to make a living, or have a side hobby? Calculate how much you aim to make annually after tax and operating expenses, divided by the amount of days you can realistically operate during the course of the year.
Scared you are charging too much at five, six or seven hundred per day? Remember that there are people that pay $80,000 per night to rent the penthouse suite at the President Wilson Hotel in Las Vegas.
Never, ever feel bad for charging what you are worth in exchange for your service and knowledge. The right people are out there for you and your company, it is only a matter of time before you begin to attract them.
I would never, under any circumstance, rely on one source of income (guiding) to live off of. Is it possible? Of course, but why limit yourself?
If something unforeseen arises and that source of income gets removed, you better hope there was a bit of planning and a safety net in place.
Other sources of income in the fishing world can include freelance writing, book sales, commercial fly tying, influencing/product review, YouTube, inventing and selling a product or merchandise, the sky is the limit. Learning to create passive income is one of the most valuable things I have ever learned.
Set a standard and live up to it.
Our mission is to provide the absolute highest possible level of service to our clients, regardless of circumstance. There will be days you are tired, there will be mornings it is pouring rain, regardless of circumstance means showing up no matter what.
Our guides are some of the greatest people I have ever met, I feel incredibly fortunate to have staff that share the same system of values and principles I do in delivering for our guests. Find people that want what you want, or have what you have, and your success rate will compound rapidly.
Just get started.
When is the perfect time? Now. Not tomorrow, and not the next day, and not when the kids are out of the house, and not when you “know enough”, and not when you feel ready, and not when you feel it is a safe move, and not when your parents or your friends give you the green light, if you want it, just get started.
A humbling moment was getting home from working 130 consecutive days, waking up the first morning and typing “how to start a business” into my Google search bar. There was so much to learn then, and there is so much to learn now.
It is easy to wake up at 5am and go to bed at midnight when there is a dream and a vision pulling you forward. It is hard to get up when you are not going where you want to go. I will reiterate the fact that I do not consider myself a complete expert on any of the above topics, they are simply my own experiences/opinions.
“Don’t die with your music still in you”Wayne W. Dyer
Do it for yourself. Don’t do it so that you can hashtag #guidelife on Instagram and show everybody you are a superstar, do it because you feel it is in you to share and give to your fullest potential.
Have some questions? Love or hate everything about this article? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to chat.