When we met at university all the way back in 1999, neither of us was really sure why we were studying an Arts degree – probably because we didn’t have a clue what we wanted to do with our lives and an Arts degree was about as generic and non-committal as you get.
We both grew up with parents that had been self employed and we both spent our childhoods watching our parents busting their chops to get ahead in their businesses. We both have huge respect for them for showing us what hard work really looked like.
After our first few dates, we discovered that we both had the same dream of being our own boss, creating our own future and having absolute freedom, however neither of us felt it was a dream that was really encouraged by either of our parents who had both at times experienced struggles in their businesses – without putting any pressure on – it seemed to us both that they would’ve preferred have to seen us follow a more conventional path – get good grades, get a great job, work hard and choose “safe”
That was never going to work for us.
So back in 2007 we were teaching ESL (english as a second language) as a way to explore the world. Teaching had been a good move for us after finishing University. We’d travelled the world for most of those 6 years and taught ESL in most places we went.
The memories were great and it had given us the opportunity to do what we loved most – travel… but we were done with teaching english and effectively whilst running our own show on semi-permanent or casual basis we were just exchanging time for money and didn’t have much opportunity for growth.
We wanted a new challenge, something exciting, something that gave us a chance get out of bed every morning and do something we loved.
Eventually it came to us – a day tour company!
It seemed like a great fit. We loved meeting people, we loved the travel experiences that our much loved home city and state of Melbourne, Victoria had to offer. We loved food and wine, great restaurants and bars, wildlife and the outdoors, sporting events, adventure…but the only problem was we had zero experience in business, zero experience in the tourism industry and zero useful networks and connections.
We really had no idea what we were doing, although we were soon up and running and through necessity we quickly became tour guides, bookkeepers, marketers, reservations, sales and operations managers. We were responsible for business development, design, vehicle maintenance, office management and tons of other stuff we had no idea about.
We had no idea who our customers were. We just hoped they would find their way to us..whoever they were and like the look of our tours.
We had no systems, no processes, no business plan and terrible IT skills.
We felt like imposters. We felt like we had no business being in business and that we were soon going to be found out.
We were fumbling around in the dark in that first year, hustling everyday in the hope that tomorrow would bring something good.
After the end of that first year in business we made $20,000 after tax. Total. For the two of us…
But then we started working this whole business caper out and things started to change..
We made a lot of mistakes, we learnt how to do a lot of things right and…