We have lots and lots of contacts in our industry so come to Cornwall for a surf and a beer and we will chat it through... or just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
"All I really knew was that I wasn't doing what I wanted. It wasn't actually just the job but the confines of working for these massive organisations. I needed a goal and an option to create something." With that in mind, Andy created Wavehunters - a surf company in Cornwall. Great escape!
We have lots and lots of contacts in our industry so come to Cornwall for a surf and a beer and we will chat it through... or just drop us an email at https://escape.co/admin/heroes/544-andy-cameron/%5Cmailto:email@example.com%5C%22" rel="nofollow">firstname.lastname@example.org
I am living in North Cornwall operating a surfing adventure company!
I worked for GVA, an international property adviser, and I was based in the West End of London. I joined as a graduate and worked up to the pay grade of a senior surveyor. It was a great job working in a really dynamic team with plenty of travel and great perks. The pay and package was good and I enjoyed the role. I joined GVA when I was 21 and left just before my 26th birthday.
My issue wasn't the job or the company; it was the package of it, combined with living in London. We all worked really hard and we were rewarded but I just didn't see the end goal. I felt every day that I wasn't making a difference and that I was completely disposable. It was also the monotony of the Tube, people's blinkered-out looks on life that the city was everything, and complete lack of community.
All I really knew was that I wasn't doing what I wanted. It wasn't actually the just the job but the confines of working for these massive organisations. I needed a goal and an option to create something.
There wasn't one moment of truth for me, it crept up on me. After about 3 years in the city I was offered an opportunity to RACE around the world. GVA let me have a four-month leave and off I went.
I was in the office one day and the next racing around the world with a camera crew following me, and then four months later I was back in my office!
After another 6 months in the office I knew that I was going to have to go for it. In hindsight the RACE around the world had massively unsettled me and opened my eyes to so much more than working in property and chasing the pounds. My mum told me years later that the moment I had gone on my round the world trip she'd knew I would never work in an office again.
A few of mates from university had also left the city and joined the forces and I really considered doing that but had broken my shoulder playing rugby at the time so I thought I'd give my new idea a go!
I never really had a plan! A mate of mine built me a little website for free and I convinced another mate of mine to come in on the business with me. Although the business idea actually kept changing, we decided to buy a guest house in Cornwall, turn it into a surf lodge, and focus our marketing on attracting young city types to come to Cornwall for an all-inclusive weekend.
We would organise everything right down to the trains, pick ups, surf lessons and BBQ! The whole business was designed around the fact that the two of us wanted to live in Cornwall and surf.
Once we had scraped enough money together and got our commercial mortgage it all happened really quickly. We found the guest house in November, the offer was excepted in January and we completed on the 1st May 2004 and were waiting outside with a van full of all our stuff!!
The fact that we might fail just didn't really cross our minds. We had scraped all our savings together, borrowed from family and had just enough money to buy the property, do a little marketing, buy a minibus and the rest would have to be funded off of cash flow....
The first day that I was actually working on my own business was amazing. Everything you do is directly benefiting you and your business. But of course that works both ways, and every time you're not working, you're not earning. It's great to be able to go for a surf and that count as work!
When you start a business you really don't envisage all the emotional turmoil you might go through. My business partner and I went our separate ways within 18 months of opening the business, mainly because we both wanted different things. We are still good mates but at the time it was lonely and hard.
As far as my dad was concerned, I had thrown in a good career in the city to go surfing and therefore I should sort it out myself. My girlfriend at the time was an actress who was going between London and LA, and when she bought me a ticket to fly out to the states she didn't really understand when I had to decline because I had to drive a mini bus or wash some dishes!
Opening and running your own business is all-encompassing. You are the MD, the bin emptier, you are on call 24/7, and even if you're not on call you're still thinking about it!
As the business grows and becomes successful, you become more and more proud of what you are doing, and people want to be involved with your business and be associated with it.
As a company we have received many industry and non-industry accolades. For me, the fact that I dreamt up an idea to change my life and move myself somewhere that I wanted to live, and that the idea has become a success, has made it all worth it.
Just go for it - if it all goes wrong then you can go back to your old life. If you don't try it, you will be wondering forever what could have happened if you had.
Not much really, most of our ideas that have worked have been gut feelings. I always enjoyed watching other companies to see what they were doing. I have also read a lot of business books over the years, but really I have just listened to other people; people that have been successful, and, probably more importantly, people that have failed.