📣 Announcement 📣
We (Coreena and Roy) have decided to take a sabbatical from business life in 2024.
As the title suggests, our sabbatical will be dedicated to restoring our energy, inspiration, and creativity.
We will return late in the year to resume operations by 1st January 2025.
I (Coreena) am excited by this opportunity, even though the decision was not an easy one. There was indeed more contemplation than I can put into words… I have thought extensively about whether to divulge everything behind our decision. However, let me shed a little light on why this is the right thing for us right now. At the risk of this being an essay (bear with me), I will skip over the nitty-gritty as best I can.
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that managing a micro-small business, regardless of its nature, involves an array of challenges and triumphs that are essential to achieving success. In our business, the day-to-day involves a range of responsibilities like curating itineraries, leading experiences, comms with experience partners, website content creation and updates, marketing & social media, online listings, industry and trade relations, enquiries & reservations, general administration, and so much more – and for all of this, I (Coreena) wear the hats, switching from one to the other depending on what’s highest priority at the given time. Simultaneously, Roy tends to tech matters and offers private photography tuition outside of the regular work hours of his IT specialist role, which he partakes in the work week Monday to Friday (for which I am incredibly grateful, especially since 2020). Suffice to say, life becomes quite chaotic at times and often, our personal photography interests are placed on hold. Of course, we manage to get out exploring nature with our cameras (essential to ongoing well-being) at chosen times, however, our images are sometimes left unreviewed and unprocessed for far too long.
Leading nature-based photography experiences fulfils my innate passion for what I love to do. Building personal connections with our guests and being a part of their photography journey is another of my innate passions. And owning and managing a micro business is a lifelong dream for me. I am a self-driven individual, with 25+ years in nature-based tourism and hospitality, so for quite some time, I’ve been familiar with challenges that may be encountered during my journey of owning a nature-based experience business. I also grew up in a small business retail and hospitality environment. You could say that I was put to work from the age of 6! I’ve always known and expected to be constantly on the go. I can confidently say that for the most, everything has been, and is manageable. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges that come my way, along with success in overcoming them.
Like many things in life, work & business, there’s often something that’s not the most enjoyable
All the aforementioned aside, there’s an aspect of business that is increasing the demands on me and our micro business… and for us, this is red tape and government bureaucracy!
It simmers in the background, generally unnoticed in the public arena. It’s with good reason that we ordinarily prefer to keep it that way too – because our guests deserve an exceptional experience unhindered by all the bureaucratic ‘stuff’. I guess that in opening up like I am now, I reveal much more than is customary for me to do.
Of course, we need to comply with government rules and regulations for the range of activities and services we offer. We are not against maintaining the licenses and permits per se, that’s not what this is about. However, over the years, we feel that it’s like spinning plates to keep up with it all! In summary, to comply with said rules and regulations, we need permits for a range of different reasons, such as, commercially visiting Tasmania’s national parks with tour guests (not only the individual parks pass that is also required), a food service permit allowing us to purchase, prepare, store, carry, and serve food during any and every experience, and vehicle permits and driver registrations allowing us to offer transportation for passengers. There’s more to it than only acquiring all the relevant permits and accreditations for our business (matters of compliance), but I’ll spare you the particulars.
While upholding my commitment to leading extraordinary experiences for our guests, this ever-increasing amount of red tape and bureaucracy unwaveringly simmers in the background – all year round!
To focus on the bureaucratic part of running our business, I feel my attention can become diverted from the quintessential foundations of the Shutterbug Walkabouts experience that our guests enjoy and praise us for.
With all this going on behind the scenes, in particular over the past year, I began to feel my usual vibrant energy for the operational aspect of our business (as in, leading quality experiences for our guests) was being zapped more and more by all the bureaucracy!
Suffice to say, I have sometimes struggled to stay energised and motivated while keeping up with it all. Dare I say, social media has played its part in my mental health too – even if I don’t post anywhere near enough to stay noticeable – which is something that I forever feel guilty about. Why? I have no idea… it seems to me to be an expectation of society and businesses – one that I feel I am unable to meet. Anyway, on a personal level, more concerning is that for too long, I have pretty much ignored my photography and other personal life interests while prioritising everything that’s needed for others.
And the decision is made…
In the process of deciding to take a break, my mind swung back and forth with many thoughts and questions, like how could I possibly risk the continuity of 12 years’ operating our much-loved business? Eventually came an answer that made total sense… “Well, if you don’t take a break, continuity won’t mean anything if the guest experience is an undesirable one.” At that moment, I realised it was a no-brainer… not being one to quit without effort to remedy, I recognised that it was time to take a break, slow down, reset and return with a refreshed level of dynamism and passion.
So, this is exactly what I will do – for the year 2024, I will discover, experience and photograph! And Roy is looking forward to the opportunity of the same.
So, what does this mean for Shutterbug Walkabouts?
Well, first and foremost, I emphasise… we are not going anywhere in the long term – we are just taking a break!
While we will be non-operational for the duration of our sabbatical, our business will be maintained in a way that ensures the least amount of disruption to our activities upon our return. We assure you that we are enthusiastic about coming back in late 2024, boosted with extra vitality to resume operations of our Tasmanian photography experiences that our guests are accustomed to.
Essentially, this sabbatical is a break from “business as usual” to restore our energy, inspiration, and creativity.
Among many things we want to achieve, we intend to dedicate time to our adventures and immerse ourselves in our photography interests, including further learning and exploration (which will benefit our Shutterbug guests in the future).
We also have it in mind to tackle the mammoth project of processing our huge image collections and to catch up on life in general. With it now 12 years since establishing Shutterbug Walkabouts, we simply want/need to recharge and nurture a simplified life, personally and professionally.
Communications that you can anticipate to receive from us through 2024?
So, we’ll likely be quiet for the first couple of months of 2024. However, after this period of restoration, I have it in mind to (finally) get around to publishing blog posts that I have thought about for a very long time. Gosh, I may even have some time and headspace to post on social media 🤯 (whoa!).
Visiting our blog or subscribing to our newsletter is the best way to stay ‘In the Picture’.
This is also where we’ll announce our return. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here.
If you vow to be patient with me (as I re-ignite my energy for social media), please continue to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Whatever the case, I aim to share stories and updates about our photography pursuits throughout the year along with content that we hope will contribute to you exploring the great outdoors and photographing nature’s beauty. Without any promises being made, we might even have a couple of other special announcements along the way too. 🧐
Last but not least… THANK YOU!
We genuinely appreciate all the connections we have made in our community, and we thank you for your understanding and support during this period of transformation.
We wish you a thriving 2024 and we look forward to being back with you for 2025.