When I was starting out back in 2007 as a fairly clueless new tour operator, I struggled in pretty much every department. I’d started up with literally zero business experience and not so much as a day’s experience in the tourism industry.
I also had non existent administrative or IT skills and after 2 years of working 60 hour weeks for little return, chasing my tail, trying everything and having nothing work, I was nearly ready to pack it all in, admit defeat and try something else.
Investing in a business coach was a massive turning point for us
It was right about that time that, in desperation, my wife and I finally acted on what we knew… we needed help…so we brought in our first business coach.
At the time it was an eye wateringly expensive decision – one that we really couldn’t justify and one that cost far more than we could afford…
But we just knew that a business coach was THE thing that we needed to invest in if we were ever going to make a success of our little tour business.
It was a pivotal moment for us and to this day remains the best business decision we’ve ever made.
Within 12 months, revenue had jumped to $400,000 and in a little under 3 years we hit 7 figures:
But more importantly, we had grown our team, expanded our fleet of luxury vehicles and dramatically improved our lifestyle. We were working less, doing amore things we loved when we WERE working, we were travelling extensively and…life was great.
We ended up selling our business in 2017 for 7 figures…a dream result for us.
But why am I telling you this?
Well, I can trace our success all the way back to that pivotal moment, that turning point back in 2009 when we engaged our first business coach.
Getting crystal clear on your vision for your business and your life is the first step
We learned so much in such a short period of time…things we were able to implement easily and quickly…things like creating operational systems, creating and executing a clear and simple marketing plan…how to start building the team we needed around us when we couldn’t afford to.
However, the very first thing we learned from our business coach was to get crystal clear on our vision — our vision for both our business and our vision for the life we wanted to live.
At the time I really questioned the value in doing this…was this REALLY the best use of my time?
I’m the kind of personality that wanted to drive forward. To build build build, to sell sell sell and it took some convincing for me to understand how valuable this process can be and to get on board.
For us it changed everything and it shaped every future decision we made about our business.
So for me, creating a clear vision for your business and for your life is the very first step.
Everything flows from there.
If you haven’t put yourself through this process before, no matter what stage you’re at in business, it is so beneficial — you could argue critical…to take a step back and put a crystal clear vision for your business in place — what you want it to look like now, what it’s going to look like in 3 years AND what your ultimate dream vision for your business is a number of years from now.
So when you’re creating this clear vision for your tour business — one that you aim to turn into a reality, here’s what I recommend you do:
First, it’s important that you ask yourself some probing questions about your business:
- What’s happening in your business right now?
- What kind of revenue are you generating, what does your bottom line profit look like? Are you paying yourself a wage? Is it sufficient?
- How many staff do you have? What kind of roles are they performing?
- What kind of tours are you running? How many tour guides do you employ throughout the year?
- How seasonal is your business? Do you rely on a small peak season or do you have an even spread?
- What kind of markets do you service?
- Most importantly, What EXACTLY are you doing in your business right now? Is it what you want to be doing?
Get it all down on paper and put it somewhere you see it every day
Next: I recommend creating a table that looks something like this (what it looks like isn’t hugely important — what is important is that you get it all down on paper in a place you can refer back to regularly so you can see your progress)
…and then start populating your table/ chart by asking yourself those questions above about your business 1 year from today and 3 years from today.
My advice here is to be ambitious but make it achievable.
Finally, what does your DREAM business (and your dream life) actually look like? Dig deep here and don’t hold back!
It’s important to be realistic at this point. Getting from your current version to your ‘dream’ business version is going to take a lot of hard work. There are going to be setbacks, you’ll have to navigate various crises, there are going to be hard times, frustrations, self doubt…everything that any small operator experiences over the journey….
But for me, it was so much easier to create the business we wanted AND the life we wanted by doing these exercises, getting it down on paper, putting it somewhere prominent — like in my case the wall of my office where it was literally in my face constantly — and revisiting regularly. It may feel like a waste of time when you’re in the moment. It did for me. I had to be pushed a lot early on to keep prioritizing this.
Trust my word that this process is powerful and I KNOW we built a business and created a life that we love because of it. So, take the time. It works!
If you enjoyed this article and found it really helpful, please take a moment to download our 15 Steps to a 7 Figure Tour Business.It’s a look ‘behind the curtain’ at the step by step process we took to turn a vague idea into a multi 7 figure tour company. Enjoy.
After starting and selling a day tour company in Melbourne, Australia, Josh Oakes and his wife launched The Sunshine Tribe to help tour and activity operators across the globe build amazing businesses and create awesome lives for themselves. Josh is also the co-creator of the online program 7 Figure Tour Business – a proven, step by step system that helps tour businesses get more customers, scale their operations, and increase their revenue.