Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sailing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kevin Wasbauer, Founder & Captain of Shearwater Sailing, located in Monterey, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I offer local and offshore sailing charters on Monterey Bay and beyond. My customers are
- locals and visitors who want to experience the beauty of Monterey Bay from the water and who prefer a private experience, and
- beginning and intermediate sailors from Northern California who would like to gain offshore experience in a controlled environment on a large and capable ocean-going sailboat with a professional captain and crew.
Tell us about yourself
I have been sailing most of my life, and I did it professionally for most of my 20s. Then, I got a career and had a family, and lived a land-based life for many years, but I always stayed involved with sailing at a high level. Fast forward to the pandemic, I knew I wanted to get back to doing something I really loved, being on the water, and I thought I had identified a niche here on the west coast of the US, where sailing charter companies are scarce. I had the great good fortune of finding a boat suitable for the business and having some financial help to buy and refurbish it. In June of 2021, I did my first charter, and it was magical. I continue to derive great satisfaction from introducing people to the beauty of the Central California Coast and from taking aspiring sailors on longer passages up and down the coast. When I have people who really want to learn, who ask a lot of questions, and are eager to jump in and participate, that fuels me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Everything about starting a business was completely new to me. I had to figure it all out for myself, with help from others, and now after 18 months, I look back at the hard work I put in and all the decisions I had to make, and I see the result, and it seems incredible that I actually pulled it off.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Many people have many ideas and say they will help with various aspects of the business, and honestly, many of them don't come through. I had to learn not to count on people by default, which is somewhat against my nature. When someone says they will do something, my natural assumption was they would follow through, but now I just assume they won't. That is a fact of life that is easier to ignore when you are in a conventional job, but when you have much more at stake, it becomes a big problem. It also makes me more grateful for those who do follow through, and I realize how valuable reliability is in a person.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- One piece of advice I got when starting was, don't quit your day job. I have a family and a mortgage and bills to pay, and as much as I wanted to take the plunge 100% into my new endeavor, it was not practical. I continue to work my day job and am slowly and steadily building up the business and hope at some point that it will be possible to do it full-time.
- Honestly, if it weren't something I really loved doing, I wouldn't be able to commit all the time and money to the business that is required. So make sure you love it!
- And finally, life goes by really fast, and you only have so many times you can reinvent yourself. A friend told me I had been given the gift of having a purpose in life to introduce people to sailing and that I needed to pursue my dream of starting Shearwater Sailing. He was right, and I have absolutely no regrets for having done so.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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