There are plenty of entrepreneurs and business owners who skydive, swim with sharks, or race cars to let off steam in their downtime. And that’s great. But what if you don’t want to save the adrenaline rush for your days off?
What if you want to build a business around the very thing that gets your blood pumping?
Should You Take the Plunge?
Some people will tell you it’s impossible. Most people will tell you not to quit your day job. But here are two successful thrill-based business owners who will tell you a different story:
And, according to Isley, anybody can make a business out of what thrills them.
“Doing something like this may not make you a millionaire,” Isley says. “But if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll make it succeed.”
So—if you have the passion—here are three tips to help you make a living at whatever it is that makes you feel alive:
1. Find the Spot Where Money and Your Passion Meet
Jason Isley wanted to dive for a living, but he didn’t want to be a dive instructor—there were thousands of dive instructors already. The competition was fierce and the pay was low.
He saw a better opportunity in underwater filming. And even better than that, he and his business partner saw a gap in the underwater filming market. When they started Scubazoo in 1996, they not only took vacationers diving, but they also filmed their underwater adventures and sold them the footage to take home—on VHS tape. And in the pre-digital, pre-smart phone era, this idea was golden. It was the perfect intersection of passion and money.
Of course, now that intersection has changed. But Isley was smart enough to change with it.
Around 2007, Scubazoo moved away from resort filming altogether and focused on broadcast filming for enterprises like the British Broadcasting Company, which then led to even more lucrative opportunities.
“We’ve started doing more commercial projects, “Isley says. “A commercial for shampoo which is shot underwater pays probably five times as much as an underwater shoot for BBC.”
So, before you go off and start your business, brainstorm the best paying markets for what you provide, and if the market changes, change with it. Never stop looking for where your passion and money meet.
2. Find Ways to Diversify
“You have to diversify to survive,” says Isley.
For example, even though Scubazoo is known for underwater production, the company also does topside filming and location fixing for shows like the Discovery Channel’s, Naked and Afraid.
Plus, Scubazoo publishes coffee table books to showcase its underwater photography and spread the word about conserving marine life.
And Scubazoo isn’t alone in its “diversify or die” mindset. RPM Stunts has also found success by diversifying.
Rene Mousseux doesn’t just perform the stunts in movies. He also rigs stunts, rents out stunt equipment and has recently started making his own films.
So, as you establish your thrill-based business, take a note from Mousseux and Isley’s playbook. Find ways to spin off ideas from your business and capitalize on them, too.
3. Figure Out Social Media
Isley doesn’t exactly love the idea of social media marketing, but he knows that in today’s digital world, it doesn’t matter if he likes it. It matters that it works.
“I hate to say it, but your online presence really does open doors,” says Isley. “If you have a huge following on Instagram, people take notice.”
And he says that even the BBC, who was traditionally averse to letting anyone have a sneak peak of production footage before it was released, has embraced the power of social.
“When Blue Planet II came out, the sequence of the trevallies feeding on the birds went viral,” he says. “So, everyone knew how good that sequence was and that made them come and watch the program.”
And that's exactly why anyone who starts a thrill-based business should also use social media. It has the power to draw people to your business and open doors that might otherwise be shut.
So, suck it up and do the social media thing.
The Thrills Are Worth the Boring Parts
If reading advice about the “boring” side of running a thrill-based business makes you have second thoughts, don’t let it.
I asked Isley if the less glamourous parts of his job, like his dreaded social media tasks, ever make him wish he was back behind his draftsman’s desk.
And he emphatically shouted, “NO!”