What A Fishing Guide Can Teach You About Your Small Business

| 4 min read

What A Fishing Guide Can Teach You About Your Small Business

Today our sales manager Joe and I will be on day two of a three day float fishing trip on the Madison River so I thought it was fitting to post a fishing/business blog.  On the trip in addition to fishing we are talking 2013 financials, business opportunities and problems as well as 2014 forecasting and budgeting.  It's nice to clear your head and step out of the office to get a different perspective on your business.  Enjoy the post...cheers from the Madison in good old Ennis, Montana.

I had the pleasure of being guided by Jim McFadyean of Montana Adventures & Angling on the Missouri river this past May.  Let me first start by saying that Jim is a heck of a guy and an even better fishing guide.  Jim's claim to fame is he was awarded the 1992 Orvis Guide of the Year (according to him "back when there was only one guide of the year for the country, not one per region like it is now").  I have fished the Missouri several times in the past on my own and never had "a banner day."  As Jim rowed we talked nonchalantly about how and where I have fished the Missouri in the past and why.  Some of his answers were eye opening and I realized how applicable they are to running a successful small business. 

Learn From Mentors

One thing I learned from Jim is how important mentors can be to your success.  As Jim rigged my rod I paid attention and asked some questions.  So what flies are you using? How much weight and how deep?  Jim replied, "7 1/2 feet to the snowman then whatever flies are working."  (For those of you that don't fish, 7 1/2 feet to the snowman means 7 1/2 feet to where the weight goes).  Simple enough I thought but why 7 1/2 feet? So I asked Jim, "Does it have to be 7 1/2 feet exactly and why?" Jim replied, "Yes it has to be 7 1/2 feet exactly.  That is how (I forgot the name of the guy that taught him how to fish the Missouri so let's call him Gary) Gary taught me and it has always worked."

So Gary taught Jim how to fish the Missouri way back when.  Jim listened to his mentor, applied it to his fishing methods and had success.  He then brought that knowledge to his clients who also had success.  So do you admire someone in your business network that you feel runs a successful business? Have you thought about asking them to mentor you? Having a good mentor can be very valuable for your business.  

You Are Only As Good As Your Clients

On the first day of the trip "the W" was out in a big way.  In the fishing world "the W" stands for the wind.  Fishing in the wind is never easy and catching fish can be a challenge for any seasoned fisherman.  We caught fish though...all day long.  Jim said, "Boy I am glad I have you guys today.  If I had a couple of beginners we would be screwed."  Now granted cousin Frank and I are decent anglers but a lot had to do with the work of the guide.  Jim's excellent positioning of the boat and instructions as to where to cast and when, caught us fish all day long in the wind.  I know I would not have caught nearly as many fish in the wind if I were on my own.  Had I been on my own the wind would have got to me and I would have been discouraged.

Now back to what Jim said to us, that he was glad he had us in the boat.  No matter how good of a guide you have you are only as good as your clients.  Take that mentality and apply it to your business.  Your business is only as good as the clients you work with and their success.  Pick your clients wisely and don't work with everyone that comes along just because it means more revenues for your business.  Clients that are successful and fun to work with are much better for your business than just any client that comes along.   

Knowing Where To Look For Customers Is Important

As Jim rowed down the river I paid very close attention to where we went on the river (this was a request of my father in law).  I noticed that we didn't take all the same lines and hit all the spots that I normally would.  I also noticed that we caught a lot of fish...right where Jim said we would.  If you have not fished the Missouri before it can be a tough river.  To me it is pretty featureless.  It doesn't have runs, riffles and rocks, which make most other rivers easy to read.  The Missouri has ledges and unless you know where those ledges are you might as well be fishing blind.  Jim knew all the spots where the fish would be.  So in your business are you looking for your customers in the right spots?  Do you know where they hang out? Do you know what they like? 

If You Are Not Having Fun You Are Doing It Wrong

So we had a lot of fun on the fishing trip.  At times I thought we were having too much fun.  The second day of the trip was a banner day, definitely the best day I have ever had on the Missouri.  Everything came together and we caught a ton of fish.  Jim was smiling, cousin Frank and I were smiling and I think I even saw a few of those fatty rainbow trout give us some grins as they rejected our flies.  There was no faking having fun; it was not forced, it was natural.  You put a good guide and decent fisherman on a river when the fish are cooperating and you can't help but have fun.  Do you truly enjoy what you are doing for a living or are you faking it? Do you wake up each morning excited to go to work or just tell yourself that you actually enjoy your job?  If you are not having fun in your business it is time to make a change.

You can find important business lessons just about anywhere, even on a guided fishing trip.

Have you learned something applicable to your business through your extra-curricular activities?  


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