This post is part of Project Eve’s Startup Stories series. Our first profile is Nancy Schumacher, Founder of Global Adrenaline.
In hindsight, February 2001 wasn’t the best time to start a luxury adventure travel company. But as with all of the challenges that Nancy Schumacher has faced since starting Global Adrenaline, she kept her business thriving by remaining flexible and adjusting.
“After the travel business changed following the September 11 attacks, I learned a lot from what I saw happening with more established travel businesses. Being the new guy in the business, I was able to quickly adapt,” said Schumacher, of Chicago. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Princeton and then went on to earn her MBA from Harvard University. After working in the fast-paced field of investment banking, she decided she wanted to be her own boss and decided to start Global Adrenaline. Her desire for success was so great that she even moved in with her parents to save money while the business got off the ground.
One of the things that has made the long hours and hard work worth it to Schumacher is her love and passion for her business. She always tells people who are thinking of being an entrepreneur or starting their own company is to pick something that they love. “You are going to spend many hours and many days working to make it successful. Any business owner is going to have challenging times and if you love the job, it makes it that much easier,” said Schumacher.
When she first started the company, she handled all of the day-to-day decisions and enjoyed running the business without anyone challenging her. But as Global Adrenaline grew she realized that she needed other smart people for her to rely on and also to challenge ger. She said that hiring a Chief Operating Officer to run the company with her has been a great decision both personally and professionally. “I know that my company will live on even if I get hit by a bus. It’s not only an entity because I make it one, but because it’s a good company that will continue to be successful,” said Schumacher.
When Schumacher and her husband became parents, they quickly realized that their habit of working 14 hour days and most weekends was not feasible. Or even more importantly, the life that they wanted for their family. “Being a mom has forced me to prioritize and realize that my children are only little once and are my top priority. Family comes first and my business comes second, but a close second,” said Schumacher. “My company is like my baby also, and I don’t want to neglect that either.”
When asked how she mastered balancing work and raising her two small children, Schumacher simply laughed. “I’m not sure that I have mastered it. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has mastered it. All I try to do is cut myself some slack and realize that I can’t do everything for my business and my children,” said Schumacher. Being her own boss has helped tremendously because it has given her the flexibility to take time during the day if the kids need her and she can finish up work late at night. She also credits a very involved husband and a wonderful nanny who has been with the family for years.
“Many people start their own business thinking that everything will be easy and great, but that isn’t the case with 95 percent of new business owners. It will be a long road. It will be challenging. But ultimately it is so rewarding to have a business that you have built,” said Schumacher.