Two years ago Chris Thomas was celebrating his 10th year of service working as a corporate manager for a Fortune 100 company in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, he owns a successful boat and jet ski rental business in paradise (Destin, Florida)…at the age of 37.   “After losing my Dad to cancer at age 61, I started to feel that life was too short.  I had been working long, stressful hours for years, my company was laying off tens of thousands of employees, and I was starting to pay the price with my own health.”  He decided it was time to make a change.

Chris and his wife had always dreamed of moving back to Destin.  Chris had grown up there and his dad was a charter boat captain there. “I came up with a business plan, convinced my wife we could make it work (not as easy as it sounds!), put in my “retirement” notice, sold the house, and moved our family of five to Destin.”  There he established Destin Vacation Boat Rentals ( Chris says his family is truly blessed to live and work in paradise. “My goal is to share my love of the area and its waters with the many people who vacation here each year.”

“I knew what I wanted to do. Convincing my wife took a little more work, and she did a lot of research to address some of her fears about giving up the “security” of working for a large corporation.”   Before his “escape”, Chris’ wife spent some time on Start-Up Nation’s online forums. Then she scoured the internet for business tips and advice. She still reads daily for inspiration, as well as a handful of other blogs, books, etc. for ideas to help their business grow. Her research has been invaluable in creating our web presence.

Chris and his family have had their share of challenges as a startup.  An insurance carrier burned them. Chris had paid for insurance for the year, and later found out the company’s underwriter didn’t exist (they are currently under a fraud investigation). They have since filed bankruptcy, so that money was lost and Chris had to quickly find new coverage. “Thankfully, we didn’t have any claims, because it could have bankrupted us.  I guess the lesson there is to thoroughly investigate other companies with which you plan to do business.”

When I asked Chris what one tip he would share with others.   His answer was pretty simple.  “Research, research, research. Find a need that isn’t being addressed and fill the need.  Don’t worry about making the right decision; make a decision and make it the right one.”

I’m sure Chris would love to show you some fun in the sun.  Check him out online.