Flexibility. Commitment. Hard-Work. Support. If any of those words strike a chord with your 2021, then perhaps you’re like me and will enjoy the following:
2021 was really the first year that I took a deep dive into consulting, training and running my own business full-time. It was eye opening, difficult, rewarding and above all else it was a learning experience.
The biggest themes that drove my success and defined my business were “support”, “high-quality” and “affordable”. I’ve come to know these as my guiding principles.
My entire business is based on supporting camps with these high-quality, affordable training opportunities. If I didn’t have these guiding principles “That Summer Camp Guy” wouldn’t be the business that it is and I probably wouldn’t have had the year that I did.
I’m finding that success can mean many different things. To me, it means providing a rewarding experience to my clients and the community-at-large while covering my costs. As the business evolves and my needs evolve I’m sure that I’ll measure success differently, but in 2021 I had a successful year because camps were served with rewarding experiences and I was able to cover my costs.
Four Lessons Learned:
- Flexibility: Coordinating 15 different camp trainings was difficult, but because I enjoy problem-solving and thinking critically with empathy I found that flexibility was a strength I possess. Every single camp that I served this year threw me some kind of curveball that I needed to work through in order to provide a high-quality experience. Some were coming at me at 100mph and some were a bit more manageable. It would have been easy for me to say, “I’m sorry but I can’t work with this. You need to find a solution in order for me to serve you.” But I never did. Instead I’d find a solution myself (because I know Camp Directors are already over-inundated with challenges) or more often than not we’d work together to troubleshoot an issue and find some acceptable compromise. If I weren’t flexible with communication, facilities, staff and timelines then I wouldn’t have had the success that I had.
- Commitment: If I didn’t believe in this business 100% and the ability it has to serve summer camps in a meaningful way it would have died before March. I’m a freethinker and have in the past done several projects that burned out after a few weeks or months because the level of commitment just wasn’t there. I believe 100% in summer camp and my ability to serve the industry. One thing that I really enjoy about this one-man-band business is that I rarely have to compromise on my goals or methods for attaining those goals. I get to set the agenda and how we make that agenda happen. If I don’t believe in something, I don’t have to pursue it and that is a very liberating force. However, it can also be incredibly stressful… so let’s talk about hard-work.
- Hard-Work: As I mentioned, this is a one-man-band. If I don’t do the work, the work doesn’t get done. I am the accounting department as well as the marketing, professional development, legal compliance, instructing, quality assurance and travel departments. In 2021 I was learning as I was teaching. What a weird feeling. The work won’t get easier in 2022, but at least I now know that if I put in the hours to make this thing successful then it has a chance of meeting that goal. I don’t always adhere to the adage “work smarter, not harder”. Instead I usually find myself “working harder, smartly”. You pay a price though when you work harder rather than smarter, so let’s talk about self-care and support.
- Self-Care and Support: I paid a price this year. My mental and emotional health tanked, hard. But oddly enough that wasn’t entirely because of my business. It’s because I was doing too much with too little. I’m only one man and juggling a new business, traveling, being a loving dad and husband, and the stresses of everyday living in a global health pandemic was just too much and I’m still recovering. Feelings of guilt were probably the #1 deterrent to my well-being. When you’re on the road for about 45 days over the course of 2 months, you feel like a pretty crappy dad and husband. I love leading staff trainings, but man it takes a toll. I’m so thankful that I have a supportive wife, family and close friends. Without their support this wouldn’t be possible. I have a great business partner with Dave Sherry at The Sherry Group LLC, who always takes my call and gives me encouragement. Thank you everyone for keeping me going.
So what’s to come? An even better 2022. I have plans to serve camps once again and hopefully extend my training season to allow for a few more camps. I’m trying to take care of myself and stay positive through it all. I’ve also started 2 part-time jobs and am planning a week of camp with Dave! I survived 2021 and am looking forward to thriving in 2022. Stay tuned and thanks again for your support.
Now booking camps for 2022!