So, is it possible to follow your passion for snowboarding and make a very good living along the way? Yep. My friend Nev did it and he’s killing it to the tune of a very nice blue collar income.
I’ve very briefly covered his story before, but I don’t think you can ever have enough motivation to get off your butt and do something about your life, so let’s talk about Nev’s story a little more in depth and hopefully it’ll inspire you.
Eh? Who’s Nev?
Long story short, Nev Lapwood is a former coach of mine, and he runs SnowboardAddiction.com, a site dedicated to selling snowboard video trick tips that don’t suck.
I’ve referenced his story briefly in a few random blogs in the site, but never really going into much details. If you want the full backstory on his company, I did an interview with Nev in a past Snomie.com podcast.
Just how successful is he?
Very. He was recently referenced as one of the case studies in the recent Amazon.com #1 best selling business book, ‘The $100 Startup‘ – which depicts the stories of entrepreneurs who made a living outside of conventional methods in an effort to teach others their methods.
The author referenced Nev as growing his company from a modest 30k per year up to a very nice income today, all from his home while travelling and doing snowboard coaching.
He grow very fast in a very short period of time by putting in the hours and tweaking his business along the way. Even now Nev only needs a handful of employees to handle most of his day to day business chores.
How did this happen?
He tried something out, got a little bit lucky and worked hard. The same way everyone else becomes successful. While true, that answer won’t satisfy you, so let’s dive in a little more.
I’ve mentioned before that when I first met Nev in NZ, about 5-ish years ago, he was still trying to figure out how to program his website to sell snowboard trick tip videos. He’s come a long way since then and it’s only been a short time.
So besides making his trick tips dvds and selling them on a website, how did he do it? Well, he found a niche in his passion for snowboarding and he made great content that was needed, that no one else was really doing well at the time.
It’s the key to success at nearly everything, especially business. Find something you love to do, then find a part of that which no one else is doing and connect that to something people want and deliver an awesome, high quality product.
But did he just get lucky?
Sure, he got a little lucky by being one of the early guys to put really good snowboard trick tips out there, plus I know for a fact he gets a ton of business from his youtube trick tip videos, which were also a little lucky to be put out at the right time.
However, he wouldn’t have been lucky if he didn’t start somewhere and put in the work to make it happen. He made his trick tip videos, put them online, hired a programmer to make an online store and set up a business to sell his trick tip dvds.
From what I know about Nev, I’m pretty sure to this day he still doesn’t understand how to code a website properly, but he gets things done by spending his own money to hire people to do it for him.
Every success takes a little bit of luck, but you don’t get lucky unless you put in a lot of hard work beforehand. You have to overcome a lot of obstacles to get yourself in a position to be ‘lucky’.
So, how can you make a blue collar living on something related to snowboarding?
Well first off, the exact amount of money isn’t the important part. Sure you want to make a decent amount of money, but you and I both know that we can function perfectly well on far less than the multiple 6 figure income.
According to many studies, if you earn more than 70-75k per year, you start to run out of luxuries to spend your cash on (unless you have a few kids). Rent/mortgage payments, holidays, ipads, eating out and snowboarding a lot won’t cost you 100k per year (unless you eat lobster and caviar all day, every day).
It’s been shown that happiness levels don’t actually improve for people making 1 million per year vs 75k per year.
Alright, so how do you make a decent living off snowboarding then? Honestly, it’s a million little things, such as finding the right connection between what people want and what isn’t out there, but if I had to narrow it down to 3 things it’d be this:
The average number of people with the balls to actually go try someone non conventional like starting a business is insanely low. Most people are happy to dream about having a job they enjoy or a job based around their passions (ie snowboarding), but they don’t have the balls to try.
I’m willing to bet that if most people met Nev 5 years ago and he told them, “I’m going to make snowboard trick tip DVDs and make a very good living from it”, most would laugh it off and go on their merry way.
It takes balls to try the unconventional, especially in the face of everyone else who has been bred to follow the popular route of college > job > 50 years of work with short holidays > retirement.
2) Connecting need with a high quality product and the right niche
You can’t just go out and make a random snowboard related product and think people will buy it. That’s stupid.
Avoid becoming one of the 5000 new ‘Made in Antartica by real penguins for real penguins, 100% no chinese products’ snowboard companies that ends up broke and spending their life savings on a bad business plan.
You have to find something you’re good at (or can become good at), something the public wants, plus something that public doesn’t have yet. In snowboarding, that could be the next big boot technology or it could be something simple like what Nev did by creating snowboard trick tip DVDs.
Make a high quality product that people actually want and don’t go into a field with high end competition unless you’ve got insane amounts of money to spend to catch up to your competitors.
It’s silly to go into a field with high end competition unless you want to throw a ton of money away on marketing. For instance, you wouldn’t want to try to sell trick tip videos when SnowboardAddiction.com already has the entire market share and a huge user base.
You will fail. Many times. You will get something totally wrong and have to adapt. Things will go wrong that are outside your control and you will have to adapt.
Being in business with a good product isn’t good enough. There’s tons of good ideas, from people in niches they love, and they fail every day. They didn’t adapt when things went bad or they stuck to a fatal flaw in their plan that they refused to change along the way.
Did you know Nev actually had a snowboard trick tip company before his current one? Without going into many details, that one became a tangled, horrible mess and Nev had to start over from scratch.
You need the balls to try and the balls to adapt and keep going when curve balls get thrown your way.
Finally, don’t chase a big payday from snowboarding or some other passion simply because you want money.
Wanting to make a good living is great, but also do it because you love it and it interests you and I guarantee you that you’ll find it far more motivating on those hard days when things aren’t going right.
By the way, here’s the business book Nev was referenced in: ‘The $100 Startup‘ – I make no money from this and this isn’t an affiliate link. I just believe it’s a good resource for people wanting to have a go at making money from their passions.
“Luck is what happens with preparation meets opportunity.”