It has been a little over 6 months since I showed my first clients around Zona Zero. I really like guiding mountain bike enthusiasts around in this magical area. As as a designer, the other part of my brain, I am accustomed to reflect on the things I make and improve them when needed. The time came for an iteration of the guiding business so far.
“ One part of my brain is wired towards mountain biking and the other part of my brain functions as a designer. They are an inspiration for each other and sometimes they meet.”
So what did I learn so far?
Starting a business is super exciting & harder then you imagine.
It took over 6 months of exploring the trails of Zona Zero before I had enough knowledge of the trails and the area to start guiding. Which meant no clients before August 2018 and therefore income with guiding. The clients are not lining up at your doorstep in the first year and probably the second year neither. You always hope that is the case, but it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time and perseverance.
Being a guide is not going to give me clients.
Being a guide is just small part of running a mountain bike guiding business. First and foremost I need to be an entrepreneur, looking for the right opportunities. Next to that I had to become a SEO and online marketing specialist, a web designer, a salesmen, a bike mechanic, a cartographer and have first aid knowledge.
My best asset is not guiding.
It is funny to learn during my first year with Unbeaten Adventures in Aínsa, Zona Zero, my most valued skill is being able to speak fluent English. The Spanish people and most of the guides in the Pyrenees hardly speak English. This is a both a huge opportunity and a challenge for me. I focus on the international market which is bigger then the Spanish market. The challenge is to get the mountain bikers here. Th Enduro World Series made this area very famous, but the amount of English information about mountain biking in the area is small.
Stay close to yourself and keep it simple.
When you start a business and there a few key players around you very active and successful it is easy to copy them . Or do what you see the other guiding companies do scrolling down their Instagram. Subconsciously the last months I diverged with offering more value propositions, because I thought those were the next steps. I find out now that this was not the case. I need to take different next steps that better fit me. I need to keep it simple and become very good in those few simple things. I need to keep the flexibility I offer and personal attention for my clients at the core.
The next Unbeaten Steps.
More simple offerings
My strengths are flexibility, personal attention for clients, sharing knowledge about biking & the area and speaking English. This means that I will focus on guiding non-spanish people that are looking for a guide for one day to a few days, even a week. This can be mountain bikers that are new to Enduro who want to grow their ability level and build confidence on technical terrain, advanced enduro riders that want to shred down the Enduro World Serie stages in Aínsa and mountain bikers that just want (an) epic day(s) on the bike in this magical place.
This means that I will stop offering fully guided themed bike trips as you can find them on the website. I feel that I am doing the same as my competitors/ other bike companies with this, which A. feels like a shortcoming of my own creative & design mind and B. I actually don’t get really excited about offering these full bike trips by myself.
Guiding for Third parties
The only fully guided theme week I will keep doing is the Dutch Enduro Week together with the amazing Sanne and Wouter from bikeguide.nl. This is one is a blast and I get to show a bigger group of Dutchies this area, is an honour. I do want to offer my guiding services to other third parties that have an interest in riding with a group of mountain bikers in the Pyrenees.
Putting more creativity into the mountain biking business
One of my goals is to show an increasing number of people from all over the world this beautiful mountain bike paradise. If I just keep on producing content like any other mountain biker, mountain bike travel business or any other outdoor business, nothing will happen. Again I need and I want to step it up and use my design skills to show the area, promote mountain biking here and promote my guiding business. So expect, an improved social media appearance, more moving content and better stories about mountain biking and guiding in Ainsa, Zona Zero and around.
Author: Jeroen Spoelstra
Pictures: Sanne Willemsen