Permission to Kick Ass

Jennifer Wells: The Adventure of Building a Business

Episode Summary

Entrepreneurship is an adventure. And today’s guest, Jennifer Wells, made adventure her business. The creative confines of her academia office job left her wanting more, so Jennifer did a complete 180 and became an outdoor specialist. She navigated fear and imposter syndrome to turn a hobby into life-changing experiences for her customers. Listen to find out the impact you can have when you dare to be different.

Episode Notes

Starting a business can be scary. When Jennifer started her business ten years ago, fear reared its ugly head. Rather than let it stop her, she asked, “how can I get around this?” and learned to work WITH fear instead of running from it. Her focus on problem-solving and a dedication to the people she serves kept her outdoor business open and growing (even during COVID!). To learn how to embrace challenges and keep moving forward, you gotta listen to this one. 

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This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Jennifer’s Bio:

Jennifer is an outdoor recreational enthusiast and professional who loves sharing her passion with others. Her passion for the environment and thirst for the outdoors motivated her to change careers at the age of 35 and start her own recreation-based business. Jennifer has a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.S. in Recreation with a focus in Outdoor and Environmental Education. Jennifer is an American Canoe Association instructor and instructor trainer. Because she recognizes the need to provide safe learning environments for her customers, she believes in spreading best practices in paddle sports education through her instructor certification program. On top of her American Canoe Association Instructor certifications, Wilderness First Responder, she is a licensed trainer for CPR and First Aid through the American Red Cross.

In the off-season you can find Jennifer teaching our future recreation and outdoor adventure professionals at Ithaca College as an assistant professor in the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department where she enjoys teaching and sharing her knowledge and professional experience.

Although, Paddle-N-More and Finger Lakes Adventure Camp are her passion, Jennifer also teaches and leads outdoor excursions and adventures, such as backpacking, mountain biking, and backcountry travel. She loves to be outdoors and if the wind conditions are not right for paddling, you’ll often see her kiteboarding just off of the Myers Park location.

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Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:02):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey everybody. And welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today is my new friend, Jennifer Wells. Say hi, Jennifer.

Jennifer Wells (00:25):

Hey y'all.

Angie Colee (00:26):

And she said, y'all okay. I know that this is going to be magic. Like I say, y'all I'm from Texas. So I always have to say y'all as well. And then people make fun of me, but I don't care. Cause y'all is just a great word. So tell us a little bit about what you do, Jennifer.

Jennifer Wells (00:42):

So I am, and I would have to say I'm an outdoor specialist. I actually started a business 10 years ago. Um, and, uh, I do kayaking, canoeing stand up paddle boarding rentals, lessons, guided trips, and also a lot of guiding, uh, with individuals who are interested in adding more adventure to their life. Um, I but, I didn't start in this realm. I didn't actually outdoor adventurous I, um, and an outdoor specialist. I worked at Cornell University for seven years. I actually worked in curriculum design, made professional development programs for human resource managers and all that jazz.

Angie Colee (01:26):

Oh wow.

Jennifer Wells (01:27):

Um, but I hated my office job. I hated being stuck behind my computer for 10 hours a day. And so yeah, I bit the bullet and decided to change careers, uh, way back when, um, actually got my graduate degree in outdoor and environmental education and, um, started teaching part-time at the college. I, um, I actually got my grad degree from, and then I also started teaching for Ethica College, um, which is right around the corner from Cornell University. Um, and so I'm also a professor at Ithaca College in outdoor adventure leadership. So I teach what I do.

Angie Colee (02:11):

That's awesome.

Jennifer Wells (02:12):


Angie Colee (02:13):

And that's great to switch too, which I think is great because I talked to so many people that are starting businesses and they're like, but I don't know what I would start my business and it's not related to my background. And I love that you shared that because it shows that you basically made a complete 180 and decided to go in a totally different direction and made a life doing something different from what you already knew. And I just, I think that that's the one, like the thing that's right in front of people's face that they refuse to acknowledge that you could do something completely different. That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be the easiest choice in the world to make, but you don't have to stay where you are. That's not a requirement.

Jennifer Wells (02:51):

Exactly. And I, I, I think one of the things that really, um, helped kind of spawn the decision was when supervisor told me to stop using my creativity to stop, stop stepping out of what my job description entailed. And I shouldn't think, um, of different strategies on how to do things differently. And that's when I realized I can't live in this, this type of a structure, I need the freedom. I need to be able to utilize my creative mind. Um, and so I, you know, I went into starting my business more as a, a, uh, a hobby. I didn't really start it to like say, Hey, this is going to be my career. And then all of a sudden it was just like, bam. It happened. And it just grew. And in three years I ended up with three locations, um, a camp program, um, running rentals lessons that people wanted, people wanted to come and, and actually, uh, actually enjoy our services that we offered. And a lot of it was related to just being outdoors and how, but it's, it's not just about providing these outdoor recreational opportunities. It's all about the magic that we kind of line into it. And I, and, and that's what I, uh, I w my employees and I talk about this all the time. We say we sprinkle on the pixie dust of what you would normally think as being just a, Hey, we're going to go kayaking for a day. Well, there's a lot more to it than just going to kayaking for a day. Um, and so, um, my background, my original degree was in communications. So I had a lot of the marketing, um, the ability to write well, uh, for different populations. And so I, I think that's one of the things that has been so beneficial to me over the years, um, as a business owner, is being able to tap into all of that.

Angie Colee (05:13):

I agree I'm totally biased, but everybody that listens to the show by now should know that I, I have a background as a copywriter. I am a sales and marketing expert as well. And I totally think that that is the key difference between people that are well, let's one of the key differences, cause we're going to talk about another one in a minute, but one of the key differences between the people that make it and the people that don't is the people that make it know how to talk to that. They know who their people are and they know how to talk to them. And like, they can't see this video cause I'm not publishing it anywhere. But when you said we sprinkled pixie dust on it, my face just was like, ah, well, because I'm a huge Disney nerd too. So if you talk about sprinkling pixie dust on something, I'm like, yes, magical experience and I live for experiences. And so actually I'm really curious about that. And I want to dig into that a little bit, if you are cool talking about that. So I loved this idea that like, it's not just a kayaking trip. We, you know, and there's more to it than just we get, we get a couple of kayaks and we take a trip. What, I don't want you to give away your secret sauce, but like, what do you do that makes it magical for people?

Jennifer Wells (06:20):

It really starts, um, with the communication, um, and the marketing in the beginning, it's all about developing the relationship, just providing an opportunity for industry because people are scared. People are, are nervous about actually doing, stepping out of their comfort zone. And so it's all about helping. One of the things that we really focused on is we help people step out of their comfort zone into what is called the learning zone, um, where, where the that's, where the magic really happens. And so I see it, it's, it's hilarious. I, I run these programs these week long programs, um, every year and when new individuals come into it and they're there, they have this fear, they have this like hesitant, but they start developing a relationship with me with other participants and they start to get more comfortable. They're still learning, but they start to build this courage like, Hey, I can, I can move forward. I can actually do this. And that's why I love the name of your, your podcast is like, it is all about kicking ass. Um, and so by the end of the week, it's you have this group of individuals who, who are like, oh my gosh, I had no idea that I could take on this challenge and conquer it. Like I've added something so fabulous to my life. And what is wonderful about it is that we talk through the entire process. We debrief. We don't, we don't just say, okay, let's do this challenge. And then we're done for the day we talk about it. And how did it impact you? What were your emotions that you were feeling? And, and so a lot of people will go walk away from the programs that we offer, where they actually feel like they've learned something about themselves. And not only is it something that they've learned about themselves during that outdoor recreation program, whether it be kayaking, whether it be backpacking or mountain biking, or another type of program that we offer, but it's transferable, oh, I can adopt this in my, my, not just my personal life, but my professional life. And so we've gotten to, that's something that we really focused on is how can you, what did you learn about yourself and how can you move forward with it?

Angie Colee (08:59):

That's such a great experience. And I just want to keep hammering on that word experience, because a lot of creative people, when they start their business, they'll start thinking about like, what kind of service or time for hours or something like, but if you could transform people, if you could help them with something like this, I think that's, you're doing an amazing service for not just your clients, but for the world. Cause like they're gonna feel a certain kind of way about themselves. They're gonna feel more empowered. They're going to transfer that energy to the people around them who are then going to be wondering like, Ooh, what did you do that? Has you in such a great mood, which brings you more potential clients, like they're going to bring their friends back for more adventures. And it changes you from just, uh, from a vendor that pedals in like adventures to an advisor and a leader and like somebody that you really want to travel with. And the cool thing that I thought about that I was taking notes while you were talking. Cause it was great. There's such a parallel between that and the business community, because it's the same kind of thing. You've got to surround yourself with people that are on that same adventure. I'm totally going to steal your language. Business building is an adventure. Uh, you may, it may not involve whitewater, but sure. It sure does feel like it's sometimes when your stomach jumps right up into your stomach.

Jennifer Wells (10:13):

Exactly. Exactly. I actually do a it's the river of life I do with the program or with one of my programs. And, um, I will ask people, draw your river, but just think about your, your journey on that river. But think about the obstacles. What is that whitewater that you encountered? What were those boulders that you encountered that maybe you had to divert and get around? Um, what were your strategies? And, um, it's really a lot of fun to hear those stories, um, of the individuals that I work with. And you know, I, I've been working with a business coach for a couple of years now and she keeps telling me, you you're, you're a coach, you're a business coach. You're a person, a life coach. I'm like, what? No, not what are you talking about? And um, but I I've come to realize over the past few years that, oh yeah, I I've helped actually make people's lives better.

Angie Colee (11:19):


Jennifer Wells (11:20):

And, and you talk about experience and it's kind of funny because I think one of the other, um, benefits of who I am as a professional is the, I am a professor. And so I teach a lot about the theories, the concepts related to, to outdoor recreation, to the outdoor profession. And so I purposely design experiences or I purposely design our programs with the idea of the experience. We create an experience for our customers.

Angie Colee (11:56):

Yeah. And I, I think that's so smart and I love that part of the experience includes that support just because like I wrote down and I underlined it a couple of times comfort zone, you're challenging people to step out of their comfort zone, which for a lot of people is a stopper like full. Run face first into the wall. I'm not going any further. This is uncomfortable. I don't like it. No. Business is a lot the same in any big change in life, really you're stepping outside of your comfort zone. So of course it feels like imminent danger. I'm going to wind up homeless under a bridge, surrounded by feral cats. And I'm going to slowly starve to death. If I try this thing, which is why I'm like, okay, so, but if you're trying to build this business and you're trying to do it in a vacuum, I imagine that it's pretty similar to like buying a raft and just going out on the river on your own, you don't know what you don't know and you're probably gonna fall over like, yeah, you're, you're gonna fall over. You're going to wipe out, you're going to go over a cliff that you didn't know was there, like there's some preparation and some community support and turning to some people that maybe know this and they can show you the way versus just trying to figure out everything on your own and going over a waterfall.

Jennifer Wells (13:02):

Exactly. And it's okay to fail.

Angie Colee (13:07):


Jennifer Wells (13:09):

I often times when I take my students or I take my customers backpacking and we're, we're hiking doing a day hike up to like a mountain peak and all of a sudden we're hit with snow pack and we can't go on. Or if there's another, another obstacle or another barrier that can't allow us to move forward, we have to stop. Um, but, but it's also at the same time, it's like, okay, so what? So what we have to stop? Our lives are more important than moving forward. And it's okay to not achieve the goal that we were necessarily had for that day. What can we do? What can we do to maybe achieve the goal in the future? What are some strategies? How, what are those? Um, it, like I said before, it's about the dance. It's about looking at those barriers and I see this in, in, and, and I've adopted a lot of what I've learned from my own personal adventures and my own like craziness, I guess you could say. Cause that's what my family sometimes thinks of me. Okay. But I see it as a dance and we're moving with the challenges. We're moving with the barriers. We're not, we don't have to be stopped by them. It may change our goal, but it's okay. It's okay we can't necessarily meet that goal as it is. Um,

Angie Colee (14:39):

Well, that's such a, like, I want to highlight again, I think that that's brilliant that you talked about, so we had a plan. We're going to go hike this mountain. We encountered something that forced us to stop. Does that mean that the rest of the journey was bullshit and you should never have done this? Like, cause I feel like people treat their business and their life that way. All right. Well that didn't turn out like I hope. Like screw that I'm done walking away. I quit. Like, I bet that the rest of the hike was fun until you had to turn in. So it was okay. Well I enjoyed what I could. I got what I could out of that. I probably learned a little bit about weather gear or layers or something. Like it taught me how to be better prepared as a hiker because it came into this problem and this challenge I hadn't faced before and I still got to enjoy at least part of this. It wasn't a total bust. So like, yes, guys treat, treat your business and your life really like a hike that you didn't get to complete, but at least you got to have some fun, like come on. If you're building a business, have some fun with it, don't treat it like life or death.

Jennifer Wells (15:40):

Exactly. And so yeah, when I looked back on my, my 10 years of being a business owner and the challenges that I faced, I it's just like, oh, it's just an adventure.

Angie Colee (15:55):

I love that!

Jennifer Wells (15:55):

And I think about, I think about so many people since I've been in this, in this industry, I've watched people come and go, I've watched new business owners come and go. And they're like, oh, it's too physically demanding. Oh, it's too challenging. Um, oh, I got to work so many hours. And luckily for me, I, I had a lot of the knowledge, a lot of the training in human resource management and other leadership and other, another portion of the background that I was able to place in my business. So when I first started my business 10 years ago, I, I knew I couldn't do it alone. I had to have a team of people I could count on. And I learned early on. So do not do things that you are. I don't like calling them weaknesses, but I call, I like to call them, you know, like, Hey, this is not my forte. I hate finance. I hate bookkeeping. So I hired a bookkeeper. Um, I'm the big picture type of person. So I hired an, um, one of my, uh, an individual on my leadership team who knows how to take everything that I'm thinking about and put it into words and protocol and, and guidelines and, and, and policies and so forth. So I really truly believe it by building my team. I built my company and I say it all the time. I didn't do it alone. And it, it takes one of what, what is the same? It takes a village.

Angie Colee (17:36):

Oh yeah. It takes a village to raise a child, the village, the village to grow a business. Absolutely. And I, I don't think you pointed out a couple of different things that I want to unpack, especially for people that are at the newer end of the spectrum. One is that you don't have to do everything yourself. And often if you try to do everything yourself, you're going to spread yourself too thin and wind up, not actually moving forward. And then you you're in this situation that those owners were telling, I'm working too many hours, I'm doing too much stuff. Nobody told you that you had to take on the physical part of it. You could hire someone else to do that

Jennifer Wells (18:08):

Early on. I realized, wow, I am burning out, burning myself out really fast. And, uh, and I like you, I actually read three years into, um, owning my business. Uh, The E-Myth. I don't know if you read that great book. Um, I mean, it talks about McDonald's a lot, but, but, um, there are some things in there that I thought were highly valuable to me as a business owner and a lot of individuals in my career, in the outdoor recreation industry go into it as like an owner operator. I went into it thinking I'm an owner, I'm going to work my business. I'm not going to work in my business. There don't get me wrong, but I'm going to look to my teammates to be doing a lot of, a lot of the work I'm going to be delegating a lot. Um, and that I think is what truly saved me as a business owner from saying, screw this. I don't want to, I don't want to work these hours anymore. I started a business because I wanted to take vacations for myself. You know, I, business owners can take vacations if they do it right.

Angie Colee (19:26):


Jennifer Wells (19:27):

They don't have to work 80 hours a week if they do it right. And they do it smart.

Angie Colee (19:32):

Yes. And you know, that's one of the big myths that I want to bust right here. And now that if you are taking on building a business, that you're just going to be working around the clock and, you know, a lot of extra hours for not a whole lot of extra pay. Look, if you buy into that myth, you're probably gonna design your business that way. But if you go into your business thinking about, okay, so here's what I need to make to cover my expenses. Here's what I want to make to change my lifestyle. Who do I need in my corner that can help me get there, start making smart investments. And then there was another key thing that I wanted to circle back to is, you know, your skill was in being this adventure person, but you also had the ancillary skills of marketing and leadership and knowing this backend structure, which I wanted to highlight, because those are skills you can learn. Jennifer learned them. I learned them. You don't have to start your business knowing all of these things, you can pick them up along the way, courses, trainings, whatever you want to do and get better as you go. But you absolutely don't have to wait until you've mastered all this. And you've got your team lined up. And the perfect plan before you get started.

Jennifer Wells (20:40):

Okay, exactly. A good friend of mine told me one day, you fake it till you make it and how right she was. And I greatly appreciated that advice because when I first started, I always had that imposter feeling. I shouldn't be here and I shouldn't be doing this. What am I doing? Trying to run this business? What, what are you crazy? You're pissing people off. You're stepping on toes. Um, but I always came back to seeing the smiles and hearing the feedback from so many of our customers and it, which made me be like, okay, this is why I do what I do. Um, is I'm I am changing the lives, not of everybody that I meet or everybody that I work with. Um, but those who I do touch have just, I I'm, I'm crying right now, thinking about it, just have really done some amazing things, um, since they've been through our programs

Angie Colee (21:44):

And that like having that as a reason why, oh my God, I'm, I'm kind of getting a little bit, uh, emo over here, a little verklempt. Um, but that has done so much for taking me out of the fear too. I don't know if that holds true for you. It's like when I start worrying about, am I going to be able to make payroll, can I afford to bring this person on? And I start freaking out about my business. I go right back to the person that I'm helping, whose life I want to change, and that's not going to be everybody just like you said, but that person that I can help and change their life. What can I do for them? How can I grow this and help them and focus on them, not on me and my bullshit. For some reason, refocusing it on the people that I want to do this work for always seems to help me get out of that funk. It's crazy.

Jennifer Wells (22:28):

Yeah. Yeah. Talking about fear, um, was, um, probably one of those personal barriers that I had to, I don't think you overcome it. I think, um, fear you should always, you should always have fear in your, in, around you. One, it gives you a notification of something really tragic is going to happen. Uh, but to working with it rather against it, um, is, is one of the things that you can do to move forward. Um, early on fear definitely created a barrier and blocked me from making productive decisions. And I, I don't, I do know how I overcame it. It took a little bit for me to overcome it, not overcome it, but to, to move around it rather than seep myself into it. Um, but I do think it's scary. It's scary, starting a business. I remember the first day I opened my doors, my stomach was just ready to explode. And, um, I just remember just with, with my, one of my teammates, we were walking together and I just looked at him and I said, we're, we're doing it. We're doing it. And, um, and so it wasn't until I probably three years into it that I realized how much fear was keeping me from moving forward. And I don't have the same fear I had back then, for sure. I think, um, I think it helped me learn a lot of things, but, um, one of the biggest things, I think the fear and a lot of the challenges that I faced just helped me become a more resilient business owner, more, uh, even in my personal life. I mean, like I said, I love your podcast name.

Angie Colee (24:25):

Um, well, it changed my life to talk to somebody else. Like it was in a private mastermind, but I remember this person basically like walking me through it and we're both writers and in graphic detail, like basically posting journal style of like the meltdown that they were having after they hadn't heard from their client, which of course wound up turning out all right. But it was my first glimpse into another writer like me, somebody that I really admired and was like, oh, that person has their shit together. And I really want to be like them feeling just as nervous as me being just as scared that every project that they turned over wasn't good enough. That that was when people are going to find out that I'm a fraud. And that really set me off down this path of being like, okay, that person has a really successful business. And they're also melting down on the inside on occasion something, okay, I'm not alone here. And I worked through this. And so I love that you brought that. It's, it's not something that ever goes away because fear look, it's hardwired into us biologically, and it's trying to protect us. It's your brain trying to do its job, give it, give it some credit. Just recognize that there's not actually a saber tooth tiger hiding around the corner. And you're not actually in danger. It's just your brain trying to convince you, Hey, we're about to die. Stop doing that. Like, I, it never goes away. It just evolves. And it lives at the edge of your comfort zone. So it's going to come out to play or come out to try and fight you every time you are stretching and doing something new. So I've learned to look at it, you know, in addition to my tool of, I think about the person I'm trying to help. Every time I grow, I've learned to look at it as an indicator, that something big is on the way something cool. It could be on the way here for me. If I just push through this discomfort and keep going, have you had a similar experience?

Jennifer Wells (26:17):

Oh, very much so, um, I think years ago when I first started my business fear was a blocker. But now if I get a sense of fear, it's, it's almost like I get really excited. What can we do? Well, what are we doing with this? And I'm like, when I'm sorry, but when COVID hit, I was just, I sat back in my chair and I was like, oh shit, what am I going to do here? Am I going to my, going to have to actually close my doors? And I just, I kept my ear to the ground. I kept listening to what see the CDC was coming out with and others were saying, um, and I was just like, no, I'm not letting this stop me. And I do. Our local health department actually sent me an email and was like, no, you can't open. Um, and I just responded and said, no, let's talk first. I had already written my protocol for the our COVID plan. I had already like, had everything ready to go and what we're going to do to work in the world of COVID. So we could stay open and provide services that that would help with mental health, with individuals that were all of a sudden needing to be socially isolated.

Angie Colee (27:45):

Yeah. Like talk about the perfect thing for people to cope with suddenly being locked up, like get outside in nature, do something that distracts you from being locked up.

Jennifer Wells (27:56):

I, and so, and that's basically what I told the health department. I said, listen, I said, I'm offering a service that people want and probably need. We're outdoors and that's important. Um, and so I didn't have to go any further. They said, yes,

Angie Colee (28:16):

Ah that's awesome.

Jennifer Wells (28:19):

In fact, our state actually changed and made my industry an industry that could open in the state in the phase. And so it was just like, it was really an interesting process. So going back to what you said about fear. Yeah. Now when I hear fear or when I feel that sense of fear inside of me, or I all of a sudden see this barrier, I'm like, okay, what do I need to change? What do I need to do to achieve what I need to achieve as a business owner?

Angie Colee (28:52):

How do I get around this? And I left because that exact story that you told just circled back to that hike story. So well, so here's this big snowpack obstacle on your glorious business building hike. And you're like, okay, well, that sucks. And I think that was the critical point for a lot of businesses that, you know, they weren't set up to, to weather a shutdown or an impact that was outside of their control. So that's unfortunate. I'm always yelling about an FU fund. Taking a second to rail on that again, have your money set aside, but that you decided, okay, how do I figure out a way around this? How do I keep my doors open instead of going, well, I guess I'm fucked. And I don't want to minimize the problems of business owners because Lord knows 2020 was a super challenge

Jennifer Wells (29:38):

I sometimes feel awful, um, that I'm joyous in the fact that we were successful last year, um, when it could have been the other direction. Um, because I do, I feel, I feel so bad for the small businesses that had to shut their doors and mean many of them happen.

Angie Colee (29:59):

Yeah, that's, again, it goes back to being part of the community too. And, and I would be willing to bet. And again, it's not a judgment, all support to all business owners, that there were some systemic issues within their business. You know, they, they didn't have the savings. They were probably working themselves around the clock and didn't really have the space to step back and adjust and pivot the way you did. And so, but I'd be willing to bet also that a lot of those folks, once they get on their feet, and I think a lot of them will, right. Because that's just the nature of life, bad times and good times it happens to us all. They're probably going to want to try again, cause like, there's something about entrepreneurship that we were joking about this before the call that you couldn't pay me to go back to an office. If there was a number big enough to get me to go back to an office, I would stop working cause I'd be rich

Jennifer Wells (30:55):

Yeah. I, um, I think it was, I told you this in my email to you that five years ago, I was really like, I should just go back to an office job. What am I doing? What am I thinking? And at the same time, I'm like, well, I don't remember that office job. What, what are you thinking? What are you doing? Why would you go back to your office job? You love your ability to just step out of your own comfort zone and, and create. Um, whereas if, I mean, I hate to say it even as a professor, um, they put the shackles on me. Like I can't take students to the locations that I want to take them to because there's too much risk and, um, that might need to be cut out. Um, anyway, but back to back to being in an office job, um, it, it, I definitely, there is something so awesome about being an entrepreneur about being a business owner and the creativity that you could just get to use and utilize. And yes, it takes a lot in terms of financial budgeting, uh, human resources, marketing. Oh my gosh. I can't tell enough business owners that I'm in constant communication with marketing is the key. If you don't know how to do it, hire it out.

Angie Colee (32:24):


Jennifer Wells (32:26):

Because everyone should be, have some sort of a marketing plan in their, in their, in their wings, I guess. I don't know how to say that. But, um, and I think that, like I said before, that's one of the benefits that I had from my previous careers. I, I wrote marketing plans. I wrote business plans. I was a strategic writer and, and, um, financial management suck at, but I hire quality people for that.

Angie Colee (32:59):

Yeah. And I, I love that too, because I think it highlights that, you know, it circles back to that myth that we talked about, that these things that you have to be working your fingers to the bone in order to be an entrepreneur, you don't, you don't have to do that. Um, you also don't have to be the best at everything.

Jennifer Wells (33:15):

I think I've always been that person. I've always been an entrepreneur. I just didn't know it, um, in my younger years. Um, and I always got yelled at, by my supervisors when I would step out of my job description. Um, I didn't always get yelled.

Angie Colee (33:36):

Oh, no. I feel that hardcore, especially since there was, there was a job that I had once where I was trying so hard, you know, again, I'm a salesperson and I'm, I'm looking at this strategy that I came up with, uh, and, and trying to convince the company. I think this is, will really work and it's not going to cost us a whole lot, but it's going to be a really big return. Couldn't get them to say yes. So me and my attitudinal ass, uh, conspired with a few people that I knew would help me and did it anyway. And the results that I expected came in, like we made, it was almost $10 million in sales that we made with this thing. And I got reamed, like not thank you for bringing us $10 million. We didn't have to spend money on, but how dare you go behind our backs, not get approval, blah, blah, blah, blah. The company no longer exists, like literally a hundred store retail chain shut down, but that's, that's the kind of stuff. And actually, I remember what I wanted to say earlier was that a lot of this stuff that you're talking about is simplicity in business. That business doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be hard. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Right. But you don't have to stack the deck and make this harder than it already is.

Jennifer Wells (34:55):


Angie Colee (34:57):

So I love that. Yeah. And you could not, no, never pay me to go back to an office, especially in that place where like they never valued my skills, but in taking the risk, betting on myself and creating this own thing, just like you practically eliminated the competition, there's nobody else that can do that. Pixie dust, the way that you do with your adventures, you know?

Jennifer Wells (35:20):

It's kind of, it's kind of interesting. Um, because I, I have competitors. Um, um, and I always like that. I think that's one of my biggest like, oh, I got a competitor. What do I do? What do I do? How could I take this person out? No, I don't get that way. I learned early on, never talk poorly about your competitors. Always make sure to talk, um, about them well. I've seen people get into competition wars and it's just like, why? You're just burning your boat. Both of you. Um, but anyway, to go back to competition, um, I do sometimes get scared. That's my fear. So I start thinking about my competitors. Um, but then I remember our pixie dust. I remember our pixie dust, our competitor doesn't have pixie dust.

Angie Colee (36:18):


Jennifer Wells (36:20):

Um, and so it's kind of, kind of pretty cool to know that we do something special and unique that not many other people do in our area.

Angie Colee (36:33):

And you're the only one that can do it that way too. Like if, if anybody else tried to borrow your pixie dust, it would appear to be a poor imitation once somebody experiences the real thing. And so that's why I love that, that you brought that up and that's why I'm not saying that you don't ever have any competition when you build up something like this, but when you do it the way that only you can, right. And, and you make it something special, and you're thinking about the people that you can help, and you're not making this harder than it has to be. And heaven forbid we have a little fun along the way.

Jennifer Wells (37:08):


Angie Colee (37:10):

Then you create something that really doesn't have a direct competitor that somebody may offer the same service as you, but they can never offer the same experience.

Jennifer Wells (37:20):


Angie Colee (37:22):

And that's what people will pay for like the experience and the results and that transformation. Awesome. Well, I could talk about this all day. I'm going to ask you to share your adventure site. Maybe somebody is going to book some travel.

Jennifer Wells (37:35):

Um, I have three.

Angie Colee (37:37):

Yeah, go for it. I'll make sure they're all in the show notes so that people can click on it. It's all good.

Jennifer Wells (37:41):

So, um, uh, let me just make sure that they're open. Um, so my first business that I opened was Paddle-N-More and that is, um, is the business that, um, is my primary. It's my, my bread and butter. Um, and that's only because we do rentals lessons, guided trips, and a lot of people want that sort of stuff. Um, so okay. Share screen. So this is my Paddle-N-More site. I'm not sure why my pictures are not loading right now. So hopefully they load, um, um, on your end when you open it up or when others open it up. But, um, like I said, uh, we are located in the Finger Lakes region. We have three locations on the lake. Uh, so what's wonderful about that as you know, wind direction is a great thing, so if it's too windy on one side of the lake, we can send them to the other side and it's part, they, they will do it, but, um, but we, we really focus on the adventure component because I, I, I had a thirst for adventure 15 years ago and I bit the bullet and I get it. People want adventure, whether even if it's just in a, in a day of going kayaking. Um, but yeah, so we have book your adventure and so forth. So, like I said, we do guided trips, uh, rentals, um, and so forth my third one or my second, uh, business, which is, it's just basically, um, like a DBA underneath Paddle-N-More like the adventure camp. And so this is really unique to our area and our camps are full. We, we have a waitlist that's, um, 10 people long or 10 campers long.

Angie Colee (39:32):

Ooh, awesome.

Jennifer Wells (39:32):

But basically we take individuals or we take kids, youth, um, and they go through, um, they do kayaking, canoeing, standup paddle boarding, wind surfing, sailing. Um, and then we have our board sports camp where they do wakeboarding, um, wake surfing, um, and some other stuff, a couple years ago, we started getting into doing overnights. Um, we had, um, Adirondack adventures. Uh, we did a whitewater camp where we went up to the Adirondacks. Kids got to learn how to, how to actually, uh, do whitewater kayaking and paddle boarding, but due to COVID, uh, we had to actually shut down all of our travel. Um, but, but Hey, we, we made this work and we're looking to do our travel camps again next year, um, May 22. And we plan on actually adding backpacking and mountain biking and rock climbing next year.

Angie Colee (40:29):

That sounds awesome.

Jennifer Wells (40:30):

So, and then, um, and I told you this in my, um, in my write-up when I was writing it up, um, a new challenge that I have faced, um, is due to COVID is that the department that I teach for it is like a college was eliminated and I am losing my teaching job. And so in one year I will no longer be a professor, which is kind of sad to an extent because I thought that would be my, my retirement is I would be a professor for the rest of my life, but Hey, guess what? Um, there was a silver lining to losing my teaching job is I'm actually resurrecting a program that I started before I started Paddle-N-More. And this is where I took women on backpacking trips, rock climbing, trips, kayaking trips, um, and, um, it was all about getting them to step out of their comfort zone. And my motto is seek challenge, embrace grow. Yes. Um, here's some actually photos from some of the trips that I've done. And, uh, but it really is, like I told you earlier, it's about getting and providing an atmosphere where women can comfortably step out of their comfort zones. Um, learn a new skill, learn, learn how to add adventure to their life and, um, and grow from that and how they can adopt some of the, the things that they learned from the process. And so I actually started working with my website designer, because I do not design these websites in any way.

Angie Colee (42:13):

I don't design mine either.

Jennifer Wells (42:15):

Yeah. And, um, and she just, by going through the process, I was able to start developing some programs, um, that I will be implementing in 2022. Um, one of them is like a self guided journey. Hey, watch. I I'd like to start my own podcast.

Angie Colee (42:36):

That's a great adventure.

Jennifer Wells (42:37):

I think I'd like to interview adventurous women and why they got into adventure and how it helped their lives. Um, and I'm currently working on developing a six week course, um, on an online journey through, and I called it Adventurous You. So it's kind of you, but you, you know what I mean? But, um, it's basically about how, how do you start stepping out of that comfort zone? How do you start taking those risks and not allowing your fear to really, um, implode you as an individual? Because I do believe that's what happens with a lot of women, including business owners is they're, they're, they're all of a sudden this barrier appears and people are like, yeah, okay, I'm done I'm out. Um, but the goals of this online program is to help individuals really move through or around those barriers and come up with strategies. And then, um, the second service that I plan to offer is retreats. And I'm already retreats. I've been doing retreats for a long time. Um, but yeah, so, but that's some of the stuff that we're going to be doing. So, so in 2022, um, you know, join us through our online course. Um, and then if you're really interested, come join us on some of our adventures.

Angie Colee (44:05):

Absolutely. You might see me on that cause, uh, what you already know that you may already know that I'm traveling full time. Uh, but I love looking up adventures like that. I never got to do it while we're recording this. I'm currently in Asheville and I was looking at a rapelled on a waterfall hike.

Jennifer Wells (44:25):

Do it! Rapelling waterfalls is so awesome.

Angie Colee (44:28):

I can't wait to do it. It's going to have to wait until the next time come to Asheville.

Jennifer Wells (44:31):

I did my first rapell of a waterfall in Costa Rica. And, um, we were doing, we were working with Outward Bound at the time and oh my gosh. So much fun, so much fun having that water cascade down on you when you're, you're rappelling down. And, uh,

Speaker 2 (44:50):

You're making me want to do it even more.

Jennifer Wells (44:53):

You want to know my next adventure?

Angie Colee (44:56):


Jennifer Wells (44:57):

I'm going to Hawaii to dive with sharks and hopefully see a great white.

Angie Colee (45:04):

Oh my God. I feel like we have to do a follow-up podcast episode. That's not about business. Let's not talk about the business. Let's just talk about the diving sharks. All right. Well, Jennifer, thank you so much for being on the show. This has been a lot of great fun and I will talk to you soon. Awesome. Thank you, Angie.

Angie Colee (45:25):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to That is all one word together, Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.