As someone who’s always been an avid hiker—it just made sense to build a company that encourages people to get outdoors and explore the best hiking, mountain biking, cycling and skiing adventures right outside their door. And that’s exactly why I founded 10Adventures, the world’s fastest-growing online outdoors platform, where travellers can plan their own adventure or book a guided tour in over 50 countries.
In the past twenty years, I’ve spent extended time exploring the world, hiking across the Andes, the Himalayas, Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees, Rockies, Sierras, and the Coast Mountains. Yet, nothing could prepare me for the challenge of balancing my fast-growing adventure start-up, alongside my fast-growing family— during a worldwide pandemic.
Now, as we settle into month ten of the pandemic, I’ve begun to notice a few key things that have helped me balance my family life and work-life (while still maintaining my sanity). Here are my five key tips if you find yourself in a similar position:
- Working remotely leads to more family time
Our company functions as an asynchronous remote team, which means I have the pleasure of working from home. This allows me to manage my team and help out around the house at any point. Since I have the opportunity to work later into the evening, we have gotten into the habit of taking long daily walks as a family, which helps break up the day and enjoy time together. Essentially, working from home means I have lots of daily touchpoints with my family, while also being accessible to my team.
- Set a clear business plan and trust team members to execute
Overall, COVID-19 has affected the travel industry more than any other economic downturn in history. I have worked through four major downturns throughout my career, and being a founder and CEO of a travel company during a pandemic, I know how challenging life can be. I also know that eventually, the downturn will end, and now is the time to get a jump on competitors.The key for 10Adventures was to have a plan for what we want to accomplish during the pandemic and then getting the entire team to work on their part.In our case, we have been working on scaling our marketplace, alongside many other fantastic ATTA tour operators, while also growing our audience. Currently, we are on track for over 1 million users in 2020, and according to recent data, we are the fastest-growing outdoors community among a group of over 40 competitors— growing at 12x the industry average.
- Connect as a family away from the home (office)
When we have the chance to step away from work, it’s important for me to be fully focused on family time. This often means getting out of the house and into nature. In the past year, one of the greatest changes we’ve found was transitioning from doing adventures with friends to doing them solely as a family—it’s been hard. We have had a lot of failures, as the kids just didn’t take to camping, hiking, or ski touring.
Luckily that started to change in 2019, and the pandemic gave us plenty of opportunities to further work on building endurance and getting our kids used to new activities, like backpacking. While our youngest is only five, we’re now able to backpack as a family up to 12km, and this winter has had them snowshoeing up to 10km. Overall, the biggest thing is patience, understanding they’re just kids, and finding adventures that are right for them. I often find I think very little about work when we are out in nature and hitting the trails.
- Empower your team to make decisions
One thing that I’ve learned as a leader—who also prioritizes family time—is that your team members have to feel empowered in order to make decisions without you. Working remotely can only be effective if your team knows you believe in their skill sets and abilities. You don’t need to come together all the time on Zoom. In our case, we have infrequent Zoom calls, as nobody particularly loves them. But, we’ve found other forms of communicating that work and free up more time for me to get through my own workload and join my family for a daily sit-down dinner.
- Deal with the stress
Even with the best-laid plans in place, as a business owner, you’ll inevitably deal with stress. Rather than ignoring the stress or working through it in the hopes, it fades away, I find it’s best for my business and my family to face it head-on.In my case, I find meditation very beneficial, but I also find talking with my wife, or even playing outside with my kids a great way to deal with stress. Not only do I feel myself relaxing, but it encourages family time, and often, I come back to my desk with a solution to my problems and a lowered stress level.If that’s not enough, make sure you take time fully away from work. On the weekends, I find getting on a bike for a long days ride, or hiking in the mountains a great way to give my mind the freedom to not think of the problem. Which often…invariably leads to solutions.
As for what’s next for 10Adventures, we’re getting ready for a once-in-a-lifetime boom when the pandemic is finally resolved. We are always looking to connect with great local tour operators who want to grow their sales in the UK, US and Canada. Please drop me a note at [email protected] or message me on LinkedIn if you want to learn more.
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