My badass side project when I turned 40 . . .
I’m a big fan of starting out-of-the-box ideas. Those wild and crazy thoughts we do not think of actually doing but would make you feel totally badass if you did.
I love IDEAS and often take them on as a side project. Usually, I start an idea no one has done before - there’s no course, book, or video to show you the way. It's more about the adrenaline and the doing to see if I can pull it off.
Starting California Moto Tours
I was with a beautiful man, Kjell from Sweden. He was a serious motorcycle fan and had these cool magazines from Europe showing magnificent tours with rented motorcycles.
My mind started thinking how neat it would be if there were tours like this through the Southwest; California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado.
I had ridden on the back of Kjell’s bike a few times but knew if we were going to ride, I needed to get my own motorcycle.
I was clueless, but the bug hit and after I took a month-long motorcycle class we took off on a 1,500-mile road trip from San Diego up California Hwy. 1 all the way to Washington state.
During this beautiful ride I had time to think . . . is there anyone in the U.S. providing motorcycle tours?
After we got home, I started researching and could not find one company. Eventually, I found out you could not get insurance to rent motorcycles in the U.S.
That did not stop me, I started calling insurance companies and eventually, we DID get the insurance needed. Given this green light, I moved full-speed ahead to start a motorcycle tour company.
This was a major undertaking where I learned many of the lessons I now use when starting new side projects.
Lesson 1: Start with a Big Idea, then make it simple:
Start simple research on all the reason’s why your idea could work. I do not write down the reasons it won’t work. I keep it positive.
There are many negative reasons why not to do something - but that’s not the way my mind works. I learned to get started by doing what you can do:
I picked a Name: California Moto Tours
I formed a simple Mission: to provide motorcycle tours for Europeans coming to the U.S.
I took a Territory: the Southwest: California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado
We bought some motorcycles: Europeans love Harley Davidson's, so we bought a couple of Harley’s and also a few sportbikes. This led to also partnering with a Swiss company that had some bikes in the U.S. we could use.
We maxed out the credit cards. That's called risk.
The Marketing Plan: I started getting in touch with motorcycle companies and magazines in Europe . . . through letters and faxes! This was before the Internet and social media. It turned out great. Over the next 6 months, we received a lot of publicity and filled our first tour. –
We were the first to market motorcycle tours in the U.S.
Our First Guests were: the CEO of Kawasaki motorcycles in Germany who brought his wife and son - a journalist from an Italian motorcycle magazine (what a handsome sexy guy . . . of course, his name was Mario.) Then there was a couple from Holland, a woman from Denmark, a wonderful and really funny gay couple from Germany, a former Honda racer from Ireland and a retired gentleman in his 70’s from the UK.
The Out Come: this is one of the most fun businesses I’ve ever started. Riding motorcycles through the most beautiful country, and the camaraderie was something you can’t make happen. The group really bonded. There were so many different lifestyles and personalities and yet, everyone became like best friends.
For a number of years, the group continued to get together in Europe to ride and continue tours. This is something I hold so dear.
We eventually “monetized” by buying a small hotel south of Telluride, Colorado, and taking on a financial partner.
This was our mistake . . . changing up what was working and taking on debt with a partner
The big lesson; we should have continued as we started. We were doing great but then felt the pressure to grow. It was not necessary to take on that pressure.
Do not go down the path of thinking you have to grow so fast and take on partners. Soon as you take others' money and become partners it becomes complicated. I’ve learned a minimalist approach is much wiser.
We eventually split up the partnership and ownership of hotel . . . but, all is good when you move on in a positive way. Lessons learned and grow from there.
The pictures below tell the story of the fun we had when we were small and just a low-key side project.
The inspiration; go do an idea that you can be passionate about. Don’t worry about failure. Don’t make it complicated – it’s always about the Doing and Getting Started