If you are setting up a business, use the email address to ask me questions and I’ll do my best to help you as my own mentors helped me in the early days.Looking for expedition adventure travel? Then check out our website and come along with us. Who knows where that first step may take you; away from what you are and do now…
It took Paul 10 years to realise he was not enjoying his job anymore, but the moment it dawned on him, he decided to do something about it. Now he runs a 4x4 adventure expedition business called http://www.onelifeadventure.co.uk" rel="nofollow">OneLife Adventure (it's all in the name) making peoples' dream trips a reality.
If you are setting up a business, use the email address to ask me questions and I’ll do my best to help you as my own mentors helped me in the early days.
Looking for expedition adventure travel? Then check out our website and come along with us. Who knows where that first step may take you; away from what you are and do now…
Right now I’m working on our 2014 4x4 expedition program; juggling dates, geo-politics and market stats.
Essentially I run a small 4x4 adventure expedition business, http://www.onelifeadventure.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">OneLife Adventure. We run 5-6 foreign expeditions a year to a variety of exciting destinations: Iceland, Spain, Romania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya as well as weekends in Wales and Yorkshire.
Originally you had to own your own 4x4 but now we can rent fully equipped 4x4s so anyone can join us. The emphasis is on travel and experiences rather than the driving, but having a 4x4 gets you into some incredible remote destinations.
On a day to day basis I can be doing anything needed to run a small business that takes me out of the UK for 5 months a year - servicing our 4x4 vehicles, updating the web site, going off to collect printer cartridges or be driving with a small group of guests in the middle of the Sahara, Iceland or Spain.
Seems so long ago now that I’ve nearly forgotten but I recall managing a technical sales team in agriculture, flying around Europe; not enjoying it, but it took nearly 10 years to work that out! When I realised that I’d stopped enjoying it, it was time to change.
Hard to define 'the moment'.
I’ve always enjoyed travel so when I left 'the former life' in 2003 I went down to Africa for a year, basically to have a bit of me time and get into some of the wild remote places I’d not yet got to. 13 months later the basic idea of a specialist 4x4 adventure company was born.
Look at the company name, OneLife. Its all there really - life’s not a rehearsal so do it now ...... no regrets at the end.
Plan, what plan?!
The first year or two was a blur, based on instinct rather than plan; very reactive and a massive amount of time and hard work. I was helped by some good friends in the industry, which accelerated the growth of the customer database.
Funded out of my own pocket - no chocolate on the digestives for a year or so - but great fun.
Worst things: hard to recall and certainly not many. Possibly being driven around a small town in Mauritania on the back of a moped with a seized chunk of our Toyota’s front axle that I had to get fixed overnight so that 12 guests could continue their holiday.
Best thing: surviving being driven around a small town in Mauritania on the back of a moped. Seriously, building and running your own business, you control it totally, getting some things right first time. Also watching people surprise themselves as to what’s possible, getting into more of the worlds wild places and sharing the experiences.
Focus on customers and customer service - it’s key in the travel sector. We now enjoy massive customer loyalty but it was hard won. It's very easy to get distracted on technical issues, vehicles and routes but you have to focus on selling and promoting; we often have to pack 12 months promo and marketing work into 6 simply because we are out of the country.
Technology helps you stay connected in Europe but outside of that, even sending an email can be a really frustrating, slow business. It’s a business, not a holiday for you.
For 95% of the time I have the best job in the world, but when things go wrong its suddenly your chance to show what differentiates you from the competition – its somebody’s holiday that has just gone wrong; they have worked for 48 weeks to get this time off and you’ve got to sort the problem out - NOW.
Hard to define any one thing.
Checking out what the competition is up to before you set up helps you get your offer right first time (nearly). Other than that, talk to people, link with key influencers in allied sectors, and stick to your word.
Use local small business support organisations. Don’t pay for adverts in press - contribute articles and editorials instead.