I thought that I came here to learn about how to forage plants. Which I have learned a lot about. But I am realizing more and more that I am here to learn about business. I feel like I am getting a compressed business degree while staying here, which exceeds my expectations by a lot.
Nobody in my family or anybody that I know well, owns and runs their own company. Which is why, EYE is such a good opportunity for a person like me. I have thought for a long time that I would like to make my own company and be my own boss. To make my own decisions. To learn from those decisions. Michael, my HE, is a great mentor and becoming a great friend as well. We are laughing together all the time. He is showing me that being different can be an advantage instead of disadvantage. It means that you can make something that no one else can make and offer things that the others will not offer. It is clear to me now that everybody doubted what he was doing until he had a successful business. I imagine my road is going to be similar in that aspect.
For a long time, my dream has been to run my own adventure tours in Iceland. I have loved being in nature for as long as I remember. I had done the occasional hike but when I was 20, I went for my first tough overnight hike in Iceland and hooked I was. I knew from that point that I wanted to at least try to make being in the outdoors my career. The following year, I found an adventure guide studies in BC, Canada. I enrolled and by sheer luck got in. There I learn lots of things about different adventure sports. Somehow, I got fascinated in how to cook in the outdoors. That was a good thing because as I started to guide multi-day trips in Iceland I found out, this is a great skill to have. My guests have appreciated to have great meals, especially, on the days where the weather has not been in our favor.
At the time that I was guiding these tours I was one guide with 16 people. I was getting a good amount of money, but I always thought if I would make my own trips, I could offer better food, have fewer guests and still be making the same amount of money or more. This is an easy calculation to do. But for whatever reason, I have never dared to start my own venture.
Fast-forward to today, 6 years have passed since I graduated from Adventure Guide Diploma. I have put in the work to get experience as a guide and I am now in Denmark. The plan was to learn about foraging to add new skills to my toolkit. A bit more on that later.
Now this is where the lessons of Michael come in. Michael is undoubtedly a master in foraging here in Denmark. He might very well be the forager with the most knowledge in his field. Single-handedly he as changed the accessibility of wild foraged plants to restaurants in Copenhagen. He has made it possible for restaurants to get fresh wild herbs. This is the reason I was interested in learning from him.
The knowledge that I am gaining from this experience far exceeds knowledge of foraging. As he is also a great businessman. He finds a way to do things differently. He has told me that when he started out, he would meet up with every chef that he thought would be interested in buying wild herbs in Copenhagen. Being a chef by trade, he understands the need and wants of the chefs. It is easy to look at his business right now and think that he has always been successful with his business. That is far from the reality. He started out driving to many different places to start to find good ones to pick wild herbs. But of course, it is not a business unless you can sell your product.
Now even in this difficult time of a pandemic where many restaurants are going under, keep only open for 3-4 days a week and have maybe half the seating as before, Michael is finding a way to adapt to this situation. He is finding a way to keep going.
I have wanted to start my own company for a long time now. But it has never seemed to be the right time to start. What I am learning now, it is never the right time to start. I feel like I am getting a compressed master’s in business administration degree while staying here. I am asking Michael every day about something new and his experience. He is giving me un-edited version of how things work.
With this information I am going to be launching my own guiding company when I return to Iceland. Even though there are way fewer tourists in Iceland this year compared to last years, still there are tourists, so there is a chance to get them to come on my tours. I am ready to start to make the mistakes that I will have to make. When the spring comes, I will be able to include foraging wild herbs with my guests and to cook meals for them in nature. I am also planning to have some foraging workshops in Icelandic to teach locals about the incredible flavors at our doorsteps. People have been traveling a lot more locally so this should be possible to do next spring.
Michael has been recommending me to go and talk to people every day to sell them my tour. To rent a mini-bus and just to do it. With his help I am getting to the mindset of just go out and do it. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about.
Start my own company is both the most frightening thing and the most exciting thing for me right now. I have 100 excuses not to do it, but I am doing it. I am going to be different and better than the competition