In a recent report, the Kauffman Foundation ranked Missoula fifth among cities with a population of less than 250,000 for its number of startups. The report also ranked the city first in the small metro category for having the largest number of new startups launched between 1990 and 2010.
The Missoula Current runs a Q&A with a local entrepreneur who’s starting a new business. In their own words, they explain their startup venture, the successes and challenges of getting off the ground, and how to find out more about their operation. This week’s entrepreneur is Hobie Hare, founder and president of Your Life Nature, LLC, in Missoula.
Tell us about your background and briefly describe your current business.
Through my business, Your Life Nature, LLC, I help people experience more peace at home, more effectiveness at work, and a more positive mindset in life through nature connection mentoring, speaking, guiding and photography.
My background as a Yellowstone park ranger, naturalist guide and international educator has given me insights and experiences that support people in connecting more deeply and consistently with the natural world, no matter where their feet are.
When did you first come up with your business idea?
Probably when I was living and working in Tokyo, Japan, for two years in the late 1980s. I would brainstorm and then try out different ways to connect with nature there, as it took considerable distance, time, effort and creativity to connect with the natural world as compared to doing so in my native state of Virginia.
Fast forward to when I was leaving my year-round job in Yellowstone to move to Missoula in 2007, when I realized that even in Montana, where nature nearly surrounds us, nature connection is a vital human need that often goes unfulfilled for many folks.
What prompted you to pursue it?
I received some coaching for my initial business idea, which was narrowly focused on my nature and landscape photography. Soon afterwards, I realized that I needed more steady and viable income streams than that to thrive, one being providing nature connection services to people who desperately needed them, whether they lived locally or elsewhere in the U.S.
One day, my business coach, nearly as exasperated as I was, asked “Hobie, when are you going to stop hiding behind your cards?” She helped me brainstorm, articulate and beta-test my nature connection mentoring programs, and that success, coupled with the guiding in national parks that I was already doing, helped me take the leap from the day job to being my own boss, and helping more people connect with nature moving forward.
What were the initial challenges and how did you overcome them?
I didn’t come from a family background of people who were entrepreneurs or had family businesses, so I had to seek out the support and camaraderie of others in similar situations.
This has been crucial, both being able to support and provide accountability to others on their business journey, and being supported and held accountable to others for my own journey
Second, realizing that I was wearing too many hats, and how wonderful it was to pay others to do their brilliance (think technology here) which freed me up to focus on mine, helping people connect with nature.
Taming perfectionism, procrastination and people-pleasing has become easier since I started my own business. I remind myself often that being in business is a process and a journey, and that I have come a long way by becoming more disciplined and consistent in my work habits, routines and systems.
How do you see your business evolving over the next few years?
I am excited about how I can continue partnering with others who are tech-savvy and able to reach vast audiences who hunger for more nature connection in their lives, no matter where their feet are. I’d love to support people, especially those who are farther removed from the natural world or are unable to visit it easily in person, create meaningful ways to connect with nature in their own lives and to enjoy and share their discoveries.
I would also love to establish international partnerships and collaborations to support this vision, as I believe that the more connected we are to nature, we are also kinder and more peaceful stewards and citizens.
What advice would you give others looking to start their own business?
Be sure to get support for you and your business, otherwise it will be a lonely and frustrating journey making you wonder why you decided to go for it in the first place. Offer that support to others as well. Join, and consistently attend a local or regional networking group. Have one mastermind or accountability partner who is on a similar journey that you can connect with once a week by phone and, if you’re able to, connect with once a month in person.
Keep a journal so you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Celebrate your accomplishments and always ask, “How can I make someone’s life better or easier today?” Keep taking action.
Also, schedule and honor time off to play, relax, rest and do nothing. Life is short and it’s no fun if you’re always working!
What is your immediate business need?
Great question, but I’d say it’s aligned with the response to how I see my business evolving over the next few years. Also, making sure there’s always time to walk my talk and create consistent nature connection in my own and my family’s life as Your Life Nature continues to expand and grow.
Lastly, continuing to hire and bring on others to do more of the tech stuff, and welcoming elegant, win-win solutions to business challenges when they arise.
How can people find out more about your business?
Please visit Your Life Nature to learn more about how you can create a deeper connection with the natural world. From the website you can sign up for a free nature connection e-zine and also schedule a free 30-minute Nature Discovery Call. I will soon be launching a Nature Boy app via the iTunes store, so let me know if you’d like to be notified when it comes out!
If you’d like to share your new western Montana startup, answer the questions included in this survey and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your photo and a link to your website.