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Do you want to know a secret?

Today I want to get Real with you. Yesterday, I posted a very long post on my personal Social Media sharing the struggles of entrepreneurship. It was a very long, authentic, “behind the scenes” post that really put myself and Explorer Chick out there.

What happened after I posted it? An outpouring of love and support from friends, family, entrepreneurial peers, and our Explorer Chick community. I received several private messages from fellow “bosses” who appreciated the message, found inspiration, and were just grateful they were not alone in the struggles that accompany starting a company from scratch.

I took pause today debating if I should share this piece of the Explorer Chick story with you – to many of you I’m just some random stranger in your inbox weekly.

Obviously, I decided, “Yes.” This should be shared. The reason is Explorer Chicks open up and shit gets real on our adventures. Not intentionally, but it just happens. Facing fears and intense challenges together instantly bonds people. Women will openly share painful parts of their lives never told to another soul with our small group whether hiking down a single track trail or bursting in tears pushing themselves beyond anything they imagined possible. There is never judgement from the community. Only love and support. I think the reason is simple: We all have our struggles – sometimes we can relate to each other. And, it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone in your journey, your experiences, or your feelings.

And, so I choose to share my post from yesterday. I know there are fellow entrepreneurs in our Explorer Chick community. Hopefully, my post from yesterday will be relatable, inspiring, or maybe just something to read to pass the time until your weekend starts.

Here it goes…..

“Do you want to know a secret? This time last year I seriously considered shutting down Explorer Chick. I was beyond broke and burned out. Personal life? Ha! You can forget about that. My every waking moment was spent in front of my computer or mentally focused on building Explorer Chick. There was no dating. No going out unless by the charity of good friends or my family. I was stretched thin mentally, financially, and physically.

While relaying all of this to my mom from my car parked in the garage (I remember this vividly), she asked me if this is what I wanted to do with my life. She knew I wasn’t fulfillingly happy. In starting my company, I had gained new freedoms while sacrificing others. Those “others” were starting to bear down on me: work = paycheck, regular schedule, personal life on weekends and evenings.

I found myself questioning why was I working so hard and for what? What did I have to show for it? I was working long hours for nothing. Would you show up to work 80+ hours per week and not collect a check? Here’s the thing, I knew I could go deliver pizza part-time, let my brain detox, and make decent money. It would be fairly easy to transition back into the corporate work force. I was 35 – yeah, that weighed on me too comparing myself to the achievements of my thirty-something peers. Why the hell was I torturing myself when it would be so easy to go back to a traditional life?

This was my entrepreneurial “come to Jesus moment.” I struggled with this decision knowing that what I was doing was important. Explorer Chick changes lives. I thought of all of the women I had guided. Envisioning their faces and those trip moments over and over in my head. They had kept me going up to this point. Knowing the transformative power of challenging adventure travel was my motivation. But at what expense? Could I continue to sacrifice my livelihood, myself for them?

I called my closest friends asking for advice, their wisdom. They listened and they supported, but could never tell me what to do. I called Mandi, who not only has been a best friend since we were kids, but who had just started working with me part-time. She was still fresh on the Explorer Chick scene, and I swear she knows me better than I know myself. I will never forget her words,

“Give it one more year.”

So it was decided on that phone call. One more year. We committed ourselves to our decision.

Looking back I have no clue how we pulled it off. I was delivering pizza 4+ nights a week, hustling pallets on eBay with Mandi, and reselling thrift store finds as my only source of personal income. In between, my time was dedicated to a renewed vision for Explorer Chick.

I am now en route to Brazil, my 7th country this year. My team has expanded beyond me and Mandi to include Becca and Amy in the back office with Lauren and Jenn in the field as guides. The Explorer Chick banner has been photographed in Machu Picchu, Iceland, Havasu Falls, and on too many hikes to name. Next week, Becca is guiding in Iceland, Jenn will be in the Dominican Republic, Amy will run the office, Mandi will manage the Minis, and I’ll be at a conference in Campo Grande. In a few weeks, we will be launching even more international and domestic adventures. And the best part is following the #explorerchick feed filled with stoked and empowering stories from our Explorer Chicks on our adventures.

This is what being an entrepreneur really looks like. It’s hitting your lowest lows with the Universe testing your commitment. It’s the hustle, the grit, the perseverance, the dedication, the discipline to dig your way out. It’s absolutely questioning your sanity. It’s probably one of the dumbest decisions I have ever made. No one in their right mind should strike down this path. It’s freaking hard. But, it’s also my best decision and one I thankfully have stood by.

So here’s to giving it a year! 🥂 And, what the hell, here’s to another.”

Thank you to all of you who really kept the fire burning in my belly. The Explorer Chick Team and I really do all of this for you. As you venture out with us, please do me a favor: Tag us on Social and #explorerchick. I follow these obsessively and read every single post. You keep me motivated. 💗

Cheers to boundless Adventure in the Outdoors, Explorer Chicks!

Nicki Bruckmann
Founder, Explorer Chick

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