Bored with the world of financial advising, Brent Ackland turned to a different kind of board to launch his second career – a stand up paddleboard (SUP).
As owner of Northern SUP, he has no time to be bored now. He just completed his third season offering this popular sport on Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay.
“I’d always liked surfing and saw that SUPing was becoming a trend. I saw a market for it here because there is so much water around us,” says Ackland.
At first Ackland focused on rentals and lessons but realized he would need more to make it a sustainable business. He had always been interested in fitness and saw PaddleFit as a way to expand and differentiate his company.
“Paddling alone is a killer workout, but when you combine paddling, progressive technique, on-land exercises and a healthy dose of consistency, the results are amazing. Plus, my clients have a blast. I get to make people smile every day for work.”
Ackland is only the third person to become a PaddleFit Certification Coach. He is PaddleFit’s first Canadian affiliate and has further diversified his business to include training others who are launching PaddleFit operations, as part of the core PaddleFit coaching team.
Expanding his business has been Ackland’s biggest challenge as an entrepreneur. “I want my growth to be strategic, sustainable and in line with my business values and ethics. I also don’t want to sink back into that corporate culture I was previously a part of.”
With a business background from Georgian College, he supplements the fundamentals with lifelong learning. “I take every PaddleFit and fitness workshop I can. It doesn’t matter who is teaching it. I can always learn something.”
What’s his one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs? Take advantage of social media. “My success to date has come largely from word-of-mouth.”