Surviving the Peaks and Valleys of Seasonal Small Business in a Rural Ski Town

By dpoig Feb 7, 2024

Part of our Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration Nov 13-19, 2023. Guest post by Mike Humphrey, Japan Skiing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why my parents decided skiing would be our family sport. They were not avid skiers, and we didn’t live in a ski […]

Part of our Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration Nov 13-19, 2023.

Looking down from a ski lift chair during summer, you see the whole ski town and resorts spread out in the green valley between two mountain ridges.

Photo CC by Joanbrebo

Guest post by Mike Humphrey, Japan

Skiing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why my parents decided skiing would be our family sport. They were not avid skiers, and we didn’t live in a ski town. Whatever the reason, I was on skis at 3, and my love for the sport began. We would spend every weekend in the winter on the hill.

When I was 15, I became a ski instructor. Skiing is my passion. I love being out on the hill, and I love the mountains.

As I grew older, skiing was still part of my life, but it became a hobby. I went to university and got a job. I started a family, and things were going well. I would ski weekends at our small local hill, but it was slowly being relegated to an afterthought.

That all changed seven years ago when I left my corporate job. It was time for a life choice: continue with my career or make a change. With some savings in our account and dreams of powder turns, I leapt. I left my job and moved our family to a ski town in Japan.

It has been seven years since we moved to the mountains, and it has been filled with joys, challenges, and, of course, skiing. In that time, we have operated two hotels and a restaurant and weathered the storm of Covid. It has been a hell of a ride, and not without its difficulties. Despite the challenges, I would never return to working a corporate job.

Read on to discover the challenges we faced while building a business and our dream life in a small mountain town.

A group of skiers in colorful outfits on snowy slopes. Banners in Japanese script are in the foreground.

Photo CC by Cookie M

The Challenges of Ru

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