Monday, May 22, 2023

Adventure Setbacks

The first rule of adventure travel is you will have setbacks. This is a problem for most people, in that their adventure is during their vacation time, and who wants to have setbacks while on vacation? However, setbacks are often the most memorable part of an adventure. You can apply this to running a business too. 

A business is about risk and reward. Risk comes with setbacks and if you can't emotionally deal with the ups and downs, you're better off as an employee. It's the travel equivalent of a cruise.

The key with adventure travel is to expect setbacks and plan for the most likely problems. Doing research, planning for the unexpected, and having a budget for setbacks is helpful. Having a flexible schedule is also important. When I had a six month plan, everything was casual. Now I have a three month plan, with people flying in to join us on particular days in cities a thousand miles away. Deadlines are stressful, and it's why I've eliminated most of these time based stressors from my business.

In my case of getting a vehicle import permit, I worried about our import paperwork before I bought the truck. I researched the problem, decided it was an acceptable risk, and bought the truck anyway. Getting initially turned away from acquiring a permit felt like a repudiation of all that analysis, a bigger blow than say, being bumped from your plane seat. This too shall pass.

The result was manageable. We lost three days on this trip because of my paperwork problems along with a couple hundred dollars in fuel and lodging. Those three days are being borrowed from a stop at an RV water park, one day instead of four. If you had two weeks off, three days is a disaster. Three months? It's a minor setback. 

Again, in business, you can ameliorate setbacks with good strategies like proper capitalization and diversification. If a Magic set sucks, you are in a lot more trouble if Magic is 70% of your business than if it were 30% of your business (my case). A bad month for me right now means I dip into my cash reserves. 

Five years ago, on a similar trip, it meant I missed a Friday payroll and had to run it on Monday. If I waited until I had my cash reserve, I would never have taken that first amazing trip in my Jeep down to Honduras. I don't want to do trips like that anymore. You know why I haven't started a second business? Because I don't want to do businesses like that any more.

The setbacks are what makes a trip interesting. They get included in your mental highlight reel, even though they sucked in the moment. The suffering is stripped out in hindsight. If you ever watch travel channels on YouTube, you're probably waiting for the problems. How people deal with problems is entertaining and educational. The most boring thing in the world is watching people have stress free travel. My book is relatable to people not because of the charts and business plan data, but the stories that are interspersed between those chapters. The setbacks, the moments of loneliness, the unexpected, are what makes it interesting.

The setbacks are just beginning for this trip, as the RV parks get thin in Mexico as we head south. Really thin, to the point you often have one choice and you better hope it's available. We have no idea where we're going tonight. One RV park is in an old town and is too narrow to get into with my trailer, while another is larger, but appears to be closed for the season. We'll be at a WalMart this afternoon as a temporary stop point to figure it out. This problem is our size paradox, which I'm going to get into, just so you understand the adventure ahead.

The size paradox is we want rigs big enough to live in comfortably for months at a time, but the best sized vehicle for traveling around Mexico is probably a van. A van is something you live out of. Last night I slept in my comfy queen sized bed and right now I'm sitting in a recliner, drinking coffee from my coffee maker, next to a big fridge, while the AC is running. I could certainly push some cushions together to sleep, boil some water for a pour over, store my food in a dorm fridge, and sit in a lawn chair outside and watch the sun come up, but that gets old after months and I'm not getting any younger. I'm also bringing along my son with his own set of issues, and part of the deal is my companion (whoever it is in the future) will be comfortable.

All of this has business applications, of course. You take on the risk you're willing to tolerate. You put a line in the sand of how far you're willing before you change direction. There will be tremendous setbacks and unexpected problems, so be sure to have the time and capital on hand to weather them. You will remember 100 crazy stories for every record sales day. Create an environment you want to spend time in first and foremost. You will be living in it, perhaps longer than you expected. You should enjoy going to work each morning. I know I do, especially if it's in my recliner on the coast of Mexico.

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