You know that romantic dream of travel, where you plan a leisurely trip to Paris just to paint the Eiffel Tower? Or you go to Italy to sit peacefully on the Cinque Terre, spending the day sketching scenes with watercolour pencil crayons?
Well, I had that fantasy. Before we left Canada to become full-time travellers in 2013, I bought a tin of high-end pastel pencil crayons, packing them with me with the idea that I’d actually use them to sketch the places we traveled.
More than two years later, and the pencil crayons are still shrink wrapped, sitting at the bottom of my backpack.
The thing is, I have very little artistic talent, and I’m a bit of perfectionist. Combine those two traits together, and the dream of sketching exotic cities around the world turned into a bit of a nightmare. Knowing that I couldn’t capture the scenes as I wanted to (see: lack of artistic talent) meant I never even tried (see: perfectionism), and yet I refused to give up on the dream.
Fast forward to 2015, when we arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico. I still had the tin of pencil crayons in my backpack, they were still shrink wrapped, and I still wanted to sketch the places we saw.
That’s how our adult coloring book for travellers came about…the idea of it, at least.
Oaxaca is really colourful, and the change of location, and settling into a new place with new routines, reignited my desire to do something artistic.
At the same time, Geoff and I were spending a lot of time talking about our future, and our desire to build a big, awesome business that we could run as digital nomads (i.e. while traveling). We were spending every evening looking at businesses for sale: we looked at everything from laundromats to pubs to beard oil businesses, but nothing was quite right (although we seriously considered the beard oil thing).
And then, one night we were sitting around, and my desire to do something creative merged with our desire to build a business and continue to operate in the travel sphere, and the idea of a travel coloring book business was born.
You know that saying, “opinions are like a$$holes…everyone has one” ? Well…I think ideas are kind of the same.
We’ve had a tonne of business ideas in the past, some of which we still think are awesome ideas, and may get around to one day. When we were in Spain last year, we were trying to coordinate meeting up with other travellers for dinner, and came up with an app idea that would have solved the problem we were having getting everyone to the meeting spot. A few years’ ago in Vancouver, we came up with an expletive-laden website concept that is both hilarious and, quite possibly, profitable.
The thing is, we’ve never followed through on those ideas in the past. And a great idea does not a business make.
So what made the difference this time? What made us get off our asses, and actually start building a business?
We came up with the idea for our book in October, about 2.5 months before Christmas. And we knew if we were going to actually do it, and get a book ready for Christmas, and get our book under actual Christmas tress, we had to boogie. And so that’s exactly what we did.
In the past when we’ve come up with business ideas, we’ve researched it to death. Without an externally-imposed, immovable deadline like the Christmas shopping season we were now facing, it was just too easy to get bogged down in the details. And for us, when we got bogged down in the details, we also got overwhelmed by the details. And then we’d just give up.
This time, we just started working, figuring it out as we went along, and knowing and accepting we were going to make mistakes … we simply didn’t have time for too much research, or for perfection.
And you know what? We got the book out in time for Christmas. Six days before Christmas, to be exact. It didn’t really leave enough time for most people to buy it as a gift, but we made our goal, and more importantly, we were in business.
We made a lot of mistakes with our first book, and we are still making them. But none have been fatal to our business or brand, so far, and fingers crossed it stays that way. Now that we know we can make awesome books, all we can think of is getting the next one on the market. And while we don’t have an immovable deadline for Book 2 like we did for the first one, getting over that initial hump and moving forward has changed everything for us.