posted by Jackie Gaston
I've known Steve for a long time and have known him mostly as a musician. It was really interesting to me when he responded to my call for interviews. He provides a fun and needed service to the San Antonio area making it possible for almost anyone to get a close up look at the sites in and around San Antonio, Texas.
Please tell me a little about yourself and your business.
After a career in respiratory therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, I semi-retired (time to get off the road). Started hosting guests through couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) and would take guests on rides through the city on some of my recumbent tricycles. The people said I was a good guide and suggested that I do it as a business. I liked cycling and recumbent tricycles, so I figured, why not? I obtained certification as a tour guide and opened San Antonio Bike Tours (www.sanantoniobiketours.com) in 2010, offering guided, narrated tours of historic San Antonio on ultra-comfy recumbent tricycles. I also sell ultra-high performance human powered vehicles (velomobiles) as well as recumbent tricycles. The newest extension of the bike business is San Antonio Adaptive Trikes (www.adaptivetrikes.com) marketing recumbent tricycles to the adaptive population (people with balance issues, autism, or other conditions that prevent them from riding conventional bikes. I teach Certified Tourism Ambassador classes for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. I also do free-lance photography (www.yourpaparazzo.com) and still do a bit of consulting, training, and certification inspections in the hyperbaric arena. On July 9, I was issued U.S. Patent #8479734 “Overpressure Protection System and Method for a Hyperbaric Chamber”.
How long have you been a solopreneur?
In some respects, all my life – in my tour guide/recumbent mode, 3 years.
Who do you serve through your business? Who is your perfect client?
Most of my tour clients are visitors to San Antonio, with a smattering of locals. The perfect tricycle client is one who wants to remain physically active and is not willing to let their challenges keep them from their goals. It’s so rewarding to see someone’s face light up when they realize that they CAN still ride a bike.
What was your intention when you created your business and do you feel that your intention has changed since you started?
I hoped to generate enough income from the business to allow me to get off the road (I was traveling about 3 weeks per month). It’s still my intention.
What do you feel has been the biggest challenge you've faced in getting started and maintaining a business that supports you?
Promotion – trying to get the best bang for my advertising and marketing dollars.
How do you feel that the Law of Attraction comes into play in your business?
Though I’ve read your blog, I’m still not sure that it comes into play – I do think that the principles you follow can be useful as a way for people to bring peace or order to their lives.
Do you differentiate your business personality from your private self or do you feel the two are well integrated? Please give some examples or tell me how it comes together for you.
I’ve loved history all my life and been an avid cyclist for about 15 years – this is a perfect integration.
Have you ever had a big flop when launching a product or program? If so what did you learn from the experience?
In the late 1990’s I started a company to build hyperbaric chambers. My partner and I put substantial money into development of a prototype machine and were about to go into production when there was a major change in Medicare reimbursement for hyperbaric treatment. There was a sudden, though overall short-lived (and lucky for my core business), contraction in the industry which caused us to cancel the project, at a substantial financial loss. I learned the need for plenty of capital for these type of projects and to not go into a business that is dependent on the decisions of a single entity.
Tell me about a big success you've experienced in your business. I'm interested in how the idea came to you, what intention(s) you set before you created it, and why you consider it a success.
I had left a company I helped start up and established myself as an independent consultant in the hyperbaric field. One of my former competitors called me 5 minutes after I announced my new business and offered me a job. I declined the job, but offered to consult with his company. Over the next year, I did work for him and many other clients, was staying busy and making a good income. He and his partners later offered me not only a job, but equity in the company. Since I had a year to work with them, I had a good idea about how they did business and how I could help them become more successful. After 7 years, we had grown the company from 4 to 22 clients – one of the partners was ready to retire so we sold the company and did pretty well.
Any words of wisdom for others who are interested in starting a one person business?
One of my old business mentors told me that the key to success was to “do what you know”. I agree. Find something that you’re good at, learn all you can about it, make sure you can communicate your vision to others, and deliver on what you sell.