I am the co-owner of Annapolis Electric Boat Rentals in Annapolis, MD. We offer vessels for an environmentally friendly powerboat ride. Powered by 16 golf cart batteries, the boats travel at a top speed of 6 knots (6.9 mph) producing very little to no boat wake. Because the boats are electric, there is zero engine emissions or noise pollution to take away from the serenity of the trip. I’m lucky enough to meet many amazing people who have all kinds of questions about the boats, however the number one question I receive during my day is “How did you get into this business?”.
In 2017, after having worked for the same corporation for almost 25 years, I made a big decision to change my employment. I decided it was time to stop working for someone else and become my own boss, so I left the corporate gig and bought some boats.
I didn’t hate my corporate job, in fact, it provided me with some incredible opportunities over the years. I was lucky enough to start with the company when it was a local private company, and I helped it to grow to an international public company. The company provides a tremendous service. Personally, it allowed me to provide for my family, travel the world, and be proud of the work that I had done. However, it was almost a 40-mile drive from home to the office in DC, which made it a 7 to 7 day…. on a good day. If there was a kid or recreational activity during the evening, it was very hard to get there on time.
In December of 2016 I was looking at a business brokerage website, a site my then current company owned, and I found an advertisement for a boat rental business in Annapolis. I clicked on the ad and immediately recognized the location. How many times had I driven or walked past where the boats are located and thought how great it would be to work there? I immediately called my wife and said, “we are going to buy this business”. I can’t say my enthusiasm was met with the same level of excitement. After some due diligence, strong negotiations, and start-up business paperwork, we owned the boats by March of 2017. There was a mixture of terror and excitement as my daily routine was turned on its ear.
So, now I have to figure out how to make this venture go. No longer do I have the support of a corporate machine behind me, but what I do have is a strong partnership with and support of my wife, and co-owner, without whom this never could have happened. By training she is a CPA, so naturally the numbers fall to her (while she continues to work a more than full-time job). Lucky me, I get to be the public face of the business and my new office became a boat in Annapolis. Game, Set and Match!!
With our first season under my belt I’ve learned several things. One, people want to help you succeed when you take a giant leap of faith. I was shocked by how many individuals and organizations reached out to help and support us as we got started. Two, marketing is confusing. Should I Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, buy an ad in a periodical, or all of the above? I’m still working on figuring that out. Three, this isn’t a bad way to live. It’s fun to work with guests that are so excited about the service you provide. I will warn you that I’m a hugger, and without a doubt my daily hug count has gone way up, I smile a lot too.
Finally, as I’ve told this story over and over in response to the question of how I got into this business, I hear a version of the same comment …. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. They may not be referring to a boat business, it may not be about starting their own business, it is about doing something they love. My response is always the same, go do it. Take the risk if you can, pull the trigger. If you’re a hugger, like I am…your arms are going to be tired.