Bill Kerr is Founder and Director of AdventureFit Travel, a first-to-market adventure travel company combining travel, fitness and high level coaching. Bootstrapping AdventureFit from strength to strength, he has managed to build AdventureFit into a strong market presence.
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3 Key Points:
- Take mental health seriously. Talk to the people around you and get help when you need it.
- Failing is learning. Get out there and try things.
- Work on a business you’re passionate about. Your drive and vision will come through.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [02:55] – Bill is from Melbourne and is a keen surfer
- [03:55] – AdventureFit generates revenue from trips
- [04:26] – They’ve just started a podcast and are looking at starting to do affiliate marketing
- [6:00] – What does one trip look like? High level coaching and an adventure holiday combined
- [08:30] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Struggling with severe anxiety when he was about to launch his first trip
- [11:00] – It can be hard for guys to talk about anxiety and mental health issues
- [12:20] – Be honest with the people around you – talk to friends and loved ones
- [13:33] – Bill now tries to have time for meditation and health every day
- [14:33] – Bill takes a cold shower every morning
- [15:27] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: At the end of his first trip, all of Bill’s clients told him that it had been the best experience of their life – and he realized that he wanted to keep selling that experience
- [18:00] – Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint
- [18:15] – Biggest weakness? – “The back end. Spreadsheets and profit & loss statements”
- [19:00] – Biggest strength? – “Driving my vision and building my brand”
- [19:40] – What has Bill most fired up today? – “We’re starting our first trips to South America later this year”
- [22:35] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Travel. Seeing the world.”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Never judge a book by its cover.”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I work hard.”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Trello
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Shantaram
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter is taken cared of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – Google the best bar in town and spend $500 hanging out there making contacts
- [24:19] – Connect with Bill via AdventureFit Travel or on Twitter
- [24:45] – Parting piece of guidance: “Just get out there and give it your best shot. You can only fail, and then you’ll learn.”
Bill: I am, John. Thanks for having me, I’m ready to go.
John: Yes! Bill is founder and director of Adventure and Fit Travel, a first to market Adventure Fit Travel Company combining travel, fitness, and high level coaching. Bootstrapping adventure fit from strength to strength, he has managed to build Adventure Fit into a strong market presence. Bill, take a minute, fill in some gaps in that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Bill: Okay, so I’m Melbourne born and raised, or just outside of the city of Melbourne. I grew up surfing and living on the coast, and then I kind of moved into the fitness industry a few years ago, and then found myself where I am not which is the director of Adventure Fit Travel, a company that I started, and it’s all been a real, real whirlwind experience.
John: Well I like you put from strength to strength, and Fire Nation, that’s our goal, to move from strength to strength. It’s not always gonna happen. You’re sometimes gonna stumble, and potentially even fall. But if you can pick yourself up and go to that next strength, that’s building a business. Now let’s talk revenue, Bill, because you even put here that you were first to market, and sometimes that can be tough. It’s great to be that land grab, you get there to be first to market. But other times, it’s tough because that concept hasn’t been proven, so to speak. So what ways are you, as a company, as an individual, as an entrepreneur, generating revenue in your biz?
Bill: Well, we generate our revenue basically from our trips. So we run adventure holidays for the fitness community, and we take up to 15 people away, five times in the first year. We had five trips in the first year. This year we’re looking to go for eight trips, and all the revenue at the moment comes from there. We’re just trying to diversify into a couple of different revenue streams, which is we have just started a podcast, which is going well.
Bill: And yeah yeah, loving it. Really loving it. And then we’re also looking at trying to get some brands on board to do some affiliate marketing, and work together because we’re starting to grow a pretty strong membership base, and readership base, newsletter base, all the bases going well. So, yeah, I think in the future it would be nice to have a few more trickling revenue streams, but at the moment, all of our revenue comes from our trips that we run.
John: Now are you going on every single one of these trips?
Bill: Funny that you ask that. It was a very big moment for Adventure Fit. It was two weeks ago when I returned from the first of our Bali trips, Bali and the Gilly Islands, and then I left the second trip in the hands of Dave, one of my staff members, so myself and Dave led the first trip, and then the second trip, Dave and one of my other staff members, Jackie, led the trip. And that was the first time that I was able to step away, and actually let the trip run with someone that wasn’t myself. So that was great, because that’s eventually going to have to be the way that things –
John: Right, of course.
Bill: That things are. And it’s not as glamorous as it sounds living out of a backpack, living out of a suitcase or backpack so much of the year. I’d like to be able to pick and choose the trips and just the ones that I need to build, that I need to suss out, and the ones that I wanna go on and enjoy myself.
John: No, I do love that. And I do have a couple questions, because I’m just kind of curious. You did say a first to market adventure company combining travel, fitness, and high level coaching. So let’s kind of talk it through. What does one of these trips look like? Let’s just use the Bali example.
Bill: Alright, Bali for example. So I have been to Bali a bunch of times, so I didn’t need to do too much research, but normally what I would do for Bali, for example, is I would – I’m pretty good with geography and I know what there is to do around the world. I’ve traveled to 35 countries in the last five years and I really love traveling. So I’ll pick a destination. This time I picked Bali, and I’ll make sure that I can plan as action packed of an adventure itinerary as I can in the seven to ten days that we pretty much normally run our trips. And then from then, we will train every day, so we’ll do kind of weight lifting, CrossFit, power lifting, a bunch of different styles of work outs, but we’ll train once a day, and then I’ll get high level coaches in from many different disciplines.
So for example, in Bali, we had Dmitri Klokov, who’s a Russian world champion weight lifter and he’s a coming off silver medalist. So he flew over. I flew him and his wife over. He had a ball. He came and ran weight lifting workshops for our gang, and they got a real buzz out of it. They just absolutely loved it because he’s one of the stars of the sport, and one of the best there is. So that’s kind of where the first to market came from. It wasn’t the fact that I was doing adventure holidays for the fitness community, and it wasn’t the fact that I was getting high level coaching, and doing coaching weekends or weeks or seminars. No one had really combined the both. So that’s where I feel that I was first to market in that aspect, yeah.
John: No, I love that, because that’s kind of one of my biggest, to be honest with you, complaints about a lot of vacations that I go on, is that I just get fatter and I don’t like that. Because I’m here at home, I can work out, I have a virtual trainer, I can kind of control what I eat. And that’s really important. And I love going on adventures and getting out and doing really cool things. But I just don’t wanna feel like I’m giving back all of those gains that I had while I was at home, focused, kind of like in my little bubble here. So I kind of love how you combined that, and how that goes forward. So if you ever need a podcast coach, Bill, on this trip, we might need to talk here.
Bill: Yeah, let’s get it happening. I’ve got plenty coming up. Let’s slot you in.
John: Oh, I’d love to. I would. Now let’s talk about your journey, Bill, as an entrepreneur, because, again, first to market, you’ve had a lot of great ideas. Some have worked, some haven’t. You’ve had ups and downs. But what would you consider, to date, your worst entrepreneurial moment? An Bill, take us to that moment and tell us that story.
Bill: There’s been so many ups and down, John, as anyone can attest who’s started a business. And I think what I would call probably the worst entrepreneurial moment was just when it all came to a head, and I started seeing someone, a psychologist, for problems I was having with anxiety, late 2014. And I’ve never had any mental health issues, but it had gotten to the point – I’d always been a little nervous around groups of people that I didn’t know and so on and so forth. But the year of 2014, that was the year where – I registered the business name 2013. 2014 was spent planning, preparing, getting the first trips up and running. And then September 2014 was the running of the first trip.
And throughout 2014, I started to really get stressed with the business because there was so much time I was putting into it. Money was just getting bled out left, right, and center. And then it was also the stress of the first trip coming up. All these things combined, and I just became – not a miserable person. I was never really miserable, but I started to get this really crazy social anxiety. And I know this isn’t a straight black and white business move that was my worst entrepreneurial moment, but I believe that it all came from the stress that came with running a new business. I’d never had to deal with anything like this before in my life.
And I think it came to the point where I had crazy anxiety on the first ever trip, and I hated it. I hated every minute of it. I loved the people, I loved the experiences, I knew everyone was having a great time. But, me, I couldn’t enjoy it. And then following that up, I went straight from there to my best friend’s wedding where I was best man, and I went through the same experience. And so I came home and I thought, “Alright, I have to start getting help with the business. I have to start learning how to – I can’t just do this myself. I’m not smart enough, I’m not studied enough. And I need to start taking this anxiety thing seriously.”
So that’s when I kind of checked in and started seeing a psychologist to fix that issue that I had. And, yeah, I think that was probably the lowest point of the whole two and a half year period. There’s been ups and downs and single things where I’ve made a small mistake, and it’s cost me $5,000, or this and that. But I think that was the overall combination of starting a business rolled into, yeah, giving me some serious issues.
John: I’m really glad, Bill, that you can kind of break this down for us, because to be honest, I’m looking at your Skype photo here. You’re a big, strong, strapping gent, and it’s hard sometimes –
Bill: Thanks, bro.
John: for guys, specifically – you’re welcome – it’s hard to be honest about feelings and vulnerabilities and emotions that are quote unquote not manly. And I think it’s really important, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs, both men and women, but specifically men who kind of have this perception that, “Oh, I must be manly.” We just let it keep going, until it’s just too late. We never ask for help, we never know where to look. And it can really drive you over the edge. And I think stories like yours, Bill, that you’re sharing, could really help a lot of my listeners, and again, both men and women, that are really letting pride get in the way. They know deep down that there’s a problem. They know that, “Hey, I know I’m an introvert on some levels, but man, I am just super anxious around groups of people now. What do I need to do?”
These are problems and questions that people are asking themselves every day, all day, in different varieties and different spectrums for sure. But the reality is, Fire Nation, you have to talk about it. You have to communicate to loved ones, to professionals. You need to have that conversation. It has to start. You need to see where unwinding that yarn will lead. Because it’s only when you get to the base of that yarn that you’re actually gonna know, “Hey, okay, now I can potentially create this solution.”
So, Bill, that’s my huge takeaway is just communication, and just be open and honest, and let’s just be real about what’s going on in our world as entrepreneurs. I mean, it’s stressful. We get it. You have a lot of pressure on you. These things are going to build up. I remember when I was applying for law school and then about to start law school, I would wake up in the morning, I was just grinding my teeth, and I’m like, “I’ve never grinded my teeth before. Where is this coming from?”
Bill: It’s crazy, right?
John: Yeah, I had to get to the bottom of it. It was strange. I was 27 years old, and it was the first time that it had happened to me. So, a lot of food for thought. But, Bill, what would you say was the best thing that came out of that for you? What do you wanna make sure that Fire Nation gets form that story that kind of led to – I’m not really looking for a happy ending, but just you improving from where you were?
Bill: Yeah, absolutely. Well I think that whole experience made me improve in business sense, where I went out – a mentor actually came to me, who I deal with now on a regular basis, who has been great. And I also have bettered myself as a person. So I started seeing a psychologist – which, I only went and saw her for four or five sessions, but then from then I started implementing things like meditation. I implemented a system that I use daily to try and make the most out of my weeks and keep my body and brain running at its optimum, and that’s things like trying to get one little meditation session in everyday, trying to get some reading in everyday, starting the day with a cold shower and a green smoothie, getting eight hours of sleep.
So I’m very conscious of these points now. So I used to, for a couple of months, to make it into a routine or a habit, I had a little chart where I’d tick off if I hit one of those goals, and then I would try and better that score the next week. And I did that for a couple months, just to get in the routine of it. Now I don’t so much fill out that little chart, but I’ve picked up all these habits, especially mediation’s probably the biggest one, which I was always very against. I’ve never really been a spiritual person. My mother’s a yoga teacher, very spiritual, and I’ve always been just the polar opposite. But it’s just helped me to become a more grounded, a more relaxed, a more calm and cool under pressure person. It’s just made me happier, and a better person, and a better business owner.
John: So let’s talk about cold showers for a second, because there’s a lot of different ways to do cold showers, and the reality is I’m too much of a wimp to do a straight cold shower, as it is right now. I hope that I improve. But what do you do for a cold shower? And this is quick, though. Couple sentences, what does your cold showers look like?
Bill: My cold shower looks like I wake up in the morning, turn the cold on ice cold, as cold as I possibly can. I jump in there, I wash myself head to toe in literally 30 seconds, and I get out of there.
John: Uh, but I love the long showers.
Bill: But it shocks the body. The endorphins kick in, and it’s just a great way to start the day.
John: Define great way. I mean, I just love rolling out of bed knowing that I’m about to get into a steaming, pipe hot shower. It really makes me happy. But I do end with cold, so many I’m getting better. I do end cold for a solid 30 seconds to kind of spike me up, but I’ll get there, I’ll get there. So let’s do a little bit of a shift now, and I wanna talk about what you consider one of your greatest aha moments to date. So take us to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Bill: Okay, so I think with my aha moment, it was probably the end of my first trip. I wasn’t really sure. I remember I had spoke just earlier about the fact that I really didn’t enjoy the trip myself. I was struggling, I was stressing, I wasn’t sure. But on the end of the trip on the final day, we had nine clients on the first trip, we had ten, a sell-out trip, but one pulled out at the last minute. And basically every person that came on the trip came up on the last night at the dinner, came up and shook my hand and thanked me personally for the greatest experience of their life. And that was probably the point where I thought, “Okay. That’s the most important piece of the puzzle. The product, the experience that I’m selling to people, the large, big ticket, life-changing item, that’s what’s gotta be A+++, or I’m gonna fail, basically.”
Everything else I can learn along the way – the business side of it, the sales and marketing side of it, the back end of the whole thing – that’s not the most important part to me. The most important part is the product that I’m actually selling to the people. They wanna walk away and have just the most amazing time. They wanna go tell their friends. They wanna remember it forever. And after the first trip, I really got the feeling, 100%, that that’s what I’d done. And every trip since then – we just came back from Bali, and I had a guy, Ash Bedford, good friend of mine now – Ash, he came up and he shook my hand and told me that I’d changed his life forever. He said he sees things in a different light. And that, not only, is an aha moment, as in, “Okay, I think I can do this.” But it’s also really something that’ll give me a kick or a shot in the arm. It’s just very motivating to hear that. That’s actually what makes it all worthwhile, and puts a smile on your face.
John: No, I love that aha moment for a lot of reasons, for sure. And the reality is this, Fire Nation. When you’re driving to work and you’re stuck in a commute, you’re sitting in your stupid little cubicle, and you’re just not enjoying life or your job, you picture, “What’s it gonna be like if I could be my own boss and run my own company?” And of course we just paint the best case scenario. We don’t think about the heat or the travel connections, or having to manage everybody, or the stress of booking everything. Those are real things that happen when you’re living in the reality.
So just like Bill said, it’s not super fun to live out of a suitcase 360 days of the year. It’s just not. We, as humans, we love to have that sense of control of our environment and getting into rhythms and habits. So Bill had to put in that work at first, and he realized, “Hey, this isn’t just gonna be like a pleasure ride for me, either at the very beginning. I’ve got some things to learn, things to progress.” So just realize going in, Fire Nation, it’s not gonna be snap of the fingers amazing overnight. It’s gonna take time to create your vision down the road. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Now, Bill, what is your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Bill: The back end of my business, spreadsheets, profit and loss statements, so on and so forth.
John: What are you doing to improve that?
Bill: I’m about to start business coaching with a Dutch business coach who has won business coach of the year, international business coach award of the year, from some award, yeah, last year. He comes highly recommended from a friend of mine, so that’s what I’m gonna do to fix all that up.
John: Well my recommendation would be to hire somebody who’s great at doing that, because you know your strengths, Bill. Amplify those things, dog, and get somebody in there that’s good at the back end, so that you can be doing what you want, and are great at doing. Now what is your biggest strength?
Bill: Probably the vision, driving the vision of my brand. I think the front end of my business is fantastic. People from the very start have said, “Who’s that big adventure company that you’re working for?” I’ve had big brands like Reebok and Bullet Proof Coffee that have inquired with us about working together. I think the vision and the branding and the building of the brand is probably my biggest strength. I think I’ve done that quite well for someone who came from no business training, no marketing training, no sales training. Yeah, I’d say that’s probably my strength.
John: What is the one thing you’re most fired up about right now?
Bill: We’ve got a new batch of trips coming up. My favorite destination on the planet is South America, and we’re just about to start our first foray into South America with a Peruvian Machu Picchu training adventure later in the year –
John: I’m in!
Bill: and then we’re working on a – you’re in!
John: I’m in!
Bill: I’ve mentioned it to a few people and I get the same response. I think it’s already a sellout. I haven’t even released it, but it’s a sellout.
John: It’s been on my bucket list for a long time, and now that I’m going to be living in Puerto Rico, it’s just a little puddle jump over to that neck of the woods.
Bill: Oh man. Let’s make it happen.
John: So we can make this happen, brother.
Bill: Oh, seriously.
John: Killer. Well, I love that, and Fire Nation, you’re gonna love the lightning round, so don’t you go anywhere. We’re gonna first take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
Bill, are you prepared for the lightening round?
Bill: I sure am. I’m ready to go.
John: Yes! What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Bill: Travel, seeing the world. I started a business when was young. I wasn’t ready for it when I was 22, 23. And then I traveled for about four or five years, and that was what was holding me back. I just wanted to keep traveling as much as I could, and then I had to find a loophole, which I’ve done now, to turn into my career.
John: Loophole. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Bill: Never judge a book by its cover. And that’s in relation to people that you meet. My very first day of my first backpacking trip, one of my best friends told me this. He had done a lot more traveling than me. And we were hanging around with some real Jersey Shore style English chicks, and really not my cup of tea. Off the loud I wouldn’t think – they were very loud, very brash, very obnoxious – but they were the two best chicks that you would ever meet. And that was a perfect example of just always take the time to try and get to know someone, find out what makes them tick, and you quite often will really surprise yourself.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Bill: I think I work hard. I think I’m probably able to work as hard as I do because I’m passionate about what I do. But, yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people might have thrown in the towel earlier on, along this kind of journey. But I think I’m kind of proud of myself in how hard I’ve worked to get where I am.
John: Share an internet resource, like an Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Bill: So I got a great one here. I’m not sure – it’s probably been shared on the show before, but Trello. Trello is a shared workspace that I use to coordinate my VAs. So I’ve got two VAs in the Philippines that work, one on the podcast, one as my assistant. And we structure all of their tasks, all of their high priority tasks, all their bigger tasks, all through Trello. Everything that happens in our business is noted on a date on a note in Trello. And then we can go back, find any link that needs to be there, find any document, find any date, any notes, and it’s all there, and it’s all online, so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It’s been a real lifesaver.
John: If you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Bill: Shantaram. This is not a business book, but I have to recommend Shantaram because it’s the number one book that I recommend to anyone. That’s because it’s – I’m a bit of a softie – but it’s the only book that’s managed to make me cry.
Bill: It’s 900 pages, so buyer beware, but it’s worth it. Shantaram’s my favorite.
John: Well I can tell you that I lived and backpacked India for four months back in 2009 –
Bill: Oh you’re aware of Shantaram?
John: Oh, yeah. I was in Leopold Café reading Shantaram.
Bill: Oh, man! I got back from Nepal last year and that was my plan. I wanted to get down to India and just hang around Leopold’s and do the Shantaram tour.
John: Yeah, it was killer, it was killer, and I did Nepal, too, actually. I did the great trek of Mount Annapurna, which was awesome.
Bill: Oh, sick.
John: That’s was a great trek, yeah.
John: Killer, killer time. That location over there, just Nepal, India, I mean it’s just a different world, which I love. That’s what I was looking for.
Bill: Really breathtaking.
John: Yeah, I just didn’t wanna go to basically some place where it was gonna be another version of America. That’s what I love about traveling to these really cool different parts of the world. Now, speaking of different parts of the world, you’re going to a very different of the world. You’re in fact, Bill, going to another world with this question. And it’s the last of the lightning round. If you woke up tomorrow morning in a completely brand new world, identical to earth but you knew no one, you still have all of the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter’s taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next seven days?
Bill: Okay. First thing I would do I would Google the best bar in town, and then I would use the $500 eating and drinking beers at the bar, making contacts for the next seven days.
John: Some people in Fire Nation might be laughing at that, but I moved to San Diego in 2009. It was a Thursday when I got here. I didn’t know a person in San Diego at all. I was a New England Patriot’s fan, which is a football team in the Northeast, because that’s where I’m from. So I just Googled New England Patriots bar. The first bar that came up, I walked to. And I met a guy in a Patriot’s jersey who I am still friends with today.
Bill: Well, that’s exactly right. And it’s also – it’s not who you know – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So if you’ve got absolutely nothing and no contacts, no acquaintances, then you’re gonna have to find some. And that’s legit. That’s what I would do, and it will keep you sane as well.
John: Bill, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Bill: So everything that Adventure Fit Travel does in on our website, www.AdventureFitTravel.com. We’ve got all of our podcasts there. Our podcast is Adventure Fit Radio. We’ve got our blogs, we’ve got all of our trips. Otherwise, you can find us on all the social media channels, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – we’re @adventurefittravel and @adventurefitradio for the podcast.
John: And what is your parting piece of guidance?
Bill: Part of Fire Nation that wants to start a business, it’s always very daunting. I would say just get out there and give it your best shot. You can only fail, and then you’ll learn and you’ll come back better for it. Yeah, that’s my piece of guidance.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with BK and JLD today. So keep up the heat, and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Bill in the search bar. His show notes will pop right up with everything that we’ve been talking about. Of course you can go directly to AdventureFitTravel.com, and come to Machu Picchu with us, if there’s stillroom. You can share this podcast Adventure Fit Radio, which is obviously gonna be awesome. And you can just see all the other stuff that we have on the show notes page, which is going to be killer because we talked about it today. Bill, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Bill: JLD thanks. It’s been great.
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