I want to tell you a story that may just help you if you are passionate about something but aren't sure how to make it a business. Or if your current job or business isn't inspiring you and you want to pursue something else.
In 2014, I read the book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. If you're not familiar with it, it's about a woman who walked the PCT (The Pacific Crest Trail) on her own to help her work through some life issues. I had always enjoyed walking, but had never considered doing something as epic as that. But it planted a desire to do more walks.
One weekend, both my husband and children were away. I had a choice. I could spend the weekend working or I could do something on my own. Inspired by the book, I went to an outdoors shop, bought some walking boots and a waterproof jacket and decided to go walking. The radio issued amber weather warnings about gale force winds and torrential rain as I made my way to the North Yorkshire coast, but I was undeterred.
I set off from Whitby, walked to Ravenscar and then back to a hostel near Robin Hood's Bay, a total of 14 very wet miles, before returning the next day. I loved it. I had the path to myself, the wind and rain in my face and I felt free and happy. That weekend kickstarted my love of walking.
I began to invite friends to come walking with me, and we'd do day walks or two-day walks, taking just what we needed in our packs. I took it a whole lot further when I walked 192 miles over 14 days doing the Coast to Coast. I've since walked the circumference of the Isle of Wight, will walk the West Highland Way in April and will be climbing Kilimanjaro in February for charity..
My phone is full of photos of my daily walks. My cupboard is full of walking gear. I organise walks for friends and follow walking-related companies on social media. All the signs were there. I have a passion, a genuine love of something that makes me feel ridiculously happy without even trying.
Yet for years - as a business owner - I'd been trying to find my passion. And that's because I believed my passion had to be something that I was qualified in. I have certificates and diplomas and qualifications and years of experience in PR, Marketing and Small Business Management, but I have no such thing for walking. I have miles in my boots. That's it.
So I kept my walking as a hobby. Nothing more. I focused on my business. And while I am genuinely passionate about helping small business owners tell their stories and grow their businesses, it's a different kind of enthusiasm to the one I have for walking. It's a head-led experience, rather than a heart-felt passion.
Just before Christmas I saw a press opportunity for a magazine that wanted to talk to women who like walking. I responded and was interviewed. Being a PR person, I tried to shoehorn a mention of my business into the piece, but it wasn't a natural fit. And I realised that I was wasting a valuable PR opportunity. This was the kick up the backside I needed to take charge of my passion.
I'd had an idea brewing for ages but didn't know how to turn it into a business, so I ignored it. The idea was to formalise the name I'd given to the ladies I walk with and use it as some kind of walking related business. The name was Glamoraks (because we wore anoraks but were a little bit glamorous underneath the layers or Goretex). I realised that there was a gap in the market to reach out to women, probably in their 30s, 40s and 50s but could be any age, who don't see themselves as hard core hikers, but who don't want to be labelled as ramblers either.
I realised that I wanted to inspire women from around the world to get out and walk more. The benefits of walking are amazing - and so needed by women who juggle multiple stresses. I decided it was time to take my passion and turn it into something bigger that could truly make a difference in the world. Because walking makes women happy. And if women are happy, the world is a better place (ask my husband).
On Monday 9 January 2017, I set up the Glamoraks facebook group. By Tuesday I had created a website for it. Within a week the group had 220 members. They are sharing pictures of their walks, teaming up, finding walking buddies, inspiring others to get out there, getting information on kit and a whole bunch more.
I have no idea where this is going to go. I still have to figure out how to make this a business. I have a head full of ideas. And it's still a side gig to Campfire. But for now, I'm simply letting the community flourish. By embracing my passion, I know that the right ideas will present themselves to me. And one day it will become a business.
By the end of 2017 there were 800 members, the first Glamoraks weekend away held, the next scheduled and sold out in less than 24 hours, it's been featured in Top Sante, Healthy, Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Telegraph and BBC local radio. Big plans are in place for 2018.
So here are some tips if you want to run a business based on your passion:
If you are a women who loves walking, please join the group. If you want to turn your passion into a business and need help getting clarity, see my Clarity package.