If I had tried to launch my company a decade ago, I wouldn’t be in business.
That’s because my company, Unconventional Life, is a response to a demand that didn’t exist back then. For the most part, people weren’t looking for careers outside of the 9-to-5, and creating an income centered around your passion was a foreign concept.
“Millennials are the first generation to be exposed to a very fluid labor market, making their careers a transformation journey, where they need to reinvent themselves, try out new skills, and need continuous learning,” says the Khaleej Times.
Iconic brands like McDonald’s and Apple know reinvention is key. When the burger joint started offering a health-conscious menu last year, sales soared 5% worldwide. Likewise, Apple’s rapid innovation and “Think Different” attitude has helped it become the #1 Most Valuable Brand in the World, rolling out new products an average two years ahead of competitors.
Staying ahead of the curve can be challenging, especially as consumers’ demands fluctuate. But in an evolving market, adapting is essential to your business’ survival—you need to know when to pivot, or you will be left behind.
So how do you stay one step ahead? I asked one founder who is setting a powerful example in a competitive industry.
Meet Brady Hedlund, the founder of Life Before Work, an all-in-one travel and experience company for millennials with hundreds of tours in 15 different countries worldwide, including Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Panama, and Brazil. Just recently, Hedlund decided to expand Life Before Work’s core mission—in addition to having a good time, they’re now offering consumers a life-changing travel experience that empowers them to discover new interests and build a career and lifestyle they love through personal development and education-based workshops.
This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, Hedlund shares how he’s steering Life Before Work in a new direction to outperform the competition.
At age 18, the Edmonton, Canada native says he was sick of living inside of the hometown “bubble” that he had known his entire life. Instead of going to college, Hedlund went on a trip to Thailand that inspired him to launch Life Before Work as a way to make travel accessible to more millennials.
“Everyone thought I was crazy that I was this 19-year-old kid asking them to give him thousands of dollars to take them across the world. All my friends made fun of me, they called it ‘dreams before reality.’ I spent a year putting up posters and handing out fliers and didn’t get a single phone call or email so it took a really long time,” Hedlund says.
Ten years down the line, Hedlund has expanded Life Before Work to a 40-person team that has led hundreds of successful tours. But he’s not the same person he was when he was twenty—he’s changed, and now his company’s changing, too.
“One of our mantras is to inspire people to find their calling. If you can help people do that they’ll remember you forever. And it’s so much more rewarding for us to have someone go home and have a completely new life than to just have had a good time,” Hedlund says.
Below, Hedlund shares how you can reinvent your company to keep pace with an evolving market.
It Starts With Your Team.
“Today anyone with a website and a couple thousand dollars can create a tour company,” Hedlund says. “What’s different about us is our team. With other tour companies the tour guides think, ‘I’m only gonna be here for a year or two and then get a real job.’ With our company we focus on making sure everybody wants to stay long term and sees a future.”
When you invest in your team, your team will invest in you. A team that is motivated and committed performs better and creates a standout customer experience. Hedlund says he meets with each team member every six months to ensure their role in the company is aligned with their goals. “I ask them, what do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be in five years, and how do we play a part in that? We want to support our employees in living their dreams.”
The demand for sustainability and products that give back to the planet is steadily rising, and it’s a surefire way to upgrade your company. Hedlund says he’s given his tours a makeover—instead of leaving behind bottles and trash, he’s committed to leaving no trace. In addition, he’s encouraging everyone who attends his feature event, Island Life, to launch a community-benefiting crowdfunding campaign, and is offering prizes to the top five people who raise the most money.
Companies that give back recruit top talent and attract more customers. You can stand out by donating a percentage of sales to a cause you care about, or by educating and empowering your consumers to make meaningful contributions to the world.
With market demands ever-evolving, companies that can follow trends and stay ahead of the curve will always end up on top. Reinvent the wheel, challenge that status quo, and be willing to take risks. Apple’s Steve Jobs said, “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
With Life Before Work, Hedlund realized that people were seeking more from travel than just a holiday, they were seeking to discover themselves and figure out what they truly wanted in life. In adapting to the fluidity, Life Before Work is now emerging as a distinguished leader with a unique offering in its industry.
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This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.