Editor's Note: This is the first post by Maria Brophy. She will be blogging about her and her husband's -- prominent San Clemente surf artist Drew Brophy -- business and the art business in general. Her website is MariaBrophy.com.
"Most of us spend our lives as if we had another one in the bank” -- Ben Irwin
Small business owners often find themselves stuck on an endless treadmill of work.
There was a time many years ago that my husband and I were on that treadmill.
We felt that we couldn’t leave our small business, even for a few days, because we were afraid it would all fall apart.
Then one day we decided to change the structure of our business.
We simplified. We designed it to be mobile so that we could work from anywhere.
Despite the never-ending list of things to do, we started taking long trips.
Last year we took our biggest trip yet. We left our beloved San Clemente home and traveled the United States for five months.
We ran our business out of a little black file box and a Mac.
We packed up four paddleboards, three surfboards and camping gear. We explored 28 states and Canada, racking up over 14,000 miles on our Ford van.
Often we didn’t know where we would sleep each night. We went where the wind blew us.
We zigzagged up, down and across the country and back.
We wanted to see for ourselves if the Great Lakes actually have waves worth surfing (they do.) We traveled the grizzly bear country of the Sawtooth Mountains, and put our Riviera inflatable Paddleboard into the rapids of the Salmon River.
We had always been curious to see Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls and Devil’s Tower and the Appalachian Mountains. We did all this and more.
To most people, the life of travel that Drew and I live is just crazy.
“What does your husband do for a living that allows you to travel like this?” One man asked when we stopped for crawfish sandwiches in Biloxi, Mississippi.
“He’s an artist.” I answered, chuckling to myself, because I knew my response would confuse him more.
The truth is, what we do for a living has little to do with how we are able to have these adventures. It’s because we choose it. We created it. We consciously lined up everything in our lives so that it could happen this way.
While many people tell me that they wish they could live a life of travel, I know that not to be true. The nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone.
You have to be open to the unknown, like running out of gas in the Sawtooth Mountains where there are grizzly bears. Or that sometimes you won’t find a hotel or campground when you’re too tired to keep driving, so you pull over and sleep in the van.
You must be flexible. I nailed a licensing deal over my cell phone in the Black Hills of South Dakota while my family stared at Mount Rushmore. I lined up a speaking engagement at Furman University while resting on a dock in Binghamton, New York. The clients on the other end of the phone had no idea I wasn’t sitting at a desk somewhere!
(On the other hand, sometimes, taking an adventure can grow your business. You'll connect with people, come up with new ideas, return feeling refreshed and more creative.)
The biggest tradeoff is that you might earn less money. You might miss a call when your phone doesn’t work in the Grand Tetons. The distraction of almost hitting a wild buffalo on a Wyoming back road can set you back on your sales calls.
But the FUN and the experience you gain is worth more than the opportunities you miss.
After all, what are we working for, if not our happiness?
You may never choose take a big trip like this, but I hope you are inspired to take your family out to see the world every now and again.
And when you return home, the memories you have made will far outweigh anything you gave up.
Here’s to an exciting life,