Blog Posted : 28th January 2022
Fat Squirrel Outdoor offers a woodland space where people can relax and have fun. After taking a quite dramatic career change to start running Fat Squirrel Outdoor I jumped at the opportunity to be the focus of a Big Gig session as I was still trying to build my own vision for the company. Fat Squirrel Outdoor had been a side project for its founders and it was my goal to turn the company into a viable long-term venture. Therefore, I asked the rather open question ‘Where are our best opportunities for growth?’
Having been a participant at the Big Gig for several years I already knew that we would gain some great insight. However, when it came to putting my presentation together, I admit I was more nervous than expected. We would gain a range of amazing ideas but equally I knew we might get some brutally honest feedback that could be a bit tough to hear.
Ahead of our Big Gig event I felt I was flipping between two very different ideas. Was Fat Squirrel Outdoor a specific woodland location or a broader outdoor concept? The feedback received helped me see that these may not be conflicting ideas at all and that it is possible to both develop the initial location as an outdoor destination, while building a wider business concept.
Overall, the Big Gig experience was reassuring. Our business was very positively received, and it became clear that we have potential to be more than a ‘forest school’, which I felt the business was being pigeonholed as.
Getting other viewpoints is always very helpful. Some of the ideas generated in the session we were already considering – so it gave us the motivation to crack on and deliver them. The feedback about how our services were presented online helped us very quickly clarify our offer, which resulted in an increase in bookings almost straight away. Some ideas were entirely new, and others needed a lot more thought, or could only be implemented through growth rather than enabling growth.
Taking over Fat Squirrel Outdoor at the start of a pandemic was in many ways advantageous as it demonstrated that playing outdoors isn’t just important for the kids. I think that was also reflected in the feedback given at the Big Gig. Campfires are now at the heart of everything we do, but more than that we are taking the ‘around a fire’ concept to a broader audience, creating a way for more people to have fun and relax outdoors. We get very positive feedback in the wood and we love it when people who tell us they didn’t think the ‘glamping’ thing was for them, but that Fat Squirrel is great, or they are not usually ‘outdoor people’, but they will be back soon. Others have told us that we have created the opportunity for them to feel like kids again.
I often feel we have created a world of convenience and comfort which isn’t giving us the sense of the peace and contentment we long for. I see Fat Squirrel Outdoor as a gateway, helping people gain confidence to get themselves and their families outdoors, to revisit some simpler joys in life without a large investment in equipment.
I am thankful to the lovely Big Gig people who gave their input and built our confidence to deliver better Fat Squirrel Outdoor experiences.
Carry on reading ……
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13th April 2023