Here’s to a not so glamorous topic -why we charge the rates we do and also why we decided not to position Rocky Mountain Women Outdoors (RMWO) as a non-profit company.

It’s not surprising that we have had many women reach out, interested in joining our community for an adventure, but not financially able to make the investment. For many of these women, we have offered trades, sponsorships, and discounts for sending us referrals.

But those situations are not what has inspired this article. Recently, several companies and women have reached out asking why:

(a) we are a not a non-profit organization

(b) we charge the prices we do for our adventures

As the owner and founder of RMWO, I would like to address these topics in hopes that we are able to bring awareness to these questions.

When I first started RMWO in January 2018, I charged $25/person for a day trip snowshoeing adventure. When 8 women signed up, the business net profited $200. After spending money on gas, food, permits, and advertising dollars, I broke about even.

The next few day trips and getaways were about the same scenario…

On some adventures, I even lost hundreds of dollars, but it was so important to me to keep growing the community despite losing money, because I was starting to build so many meaningful connections with like-minded women and those women were building strong friendships with each other as well.

For the first seven months of Rocky Mountain Women Outdoors, I worked full time as a coffee barista sometimes over 40 hours per week. I convinced my manager to schedule me for the 5am – 2pm shifts so that I could spend my afternoons organizing more adventures as the demand for more frequency and different locations arose.

As a one-woman-show, working nearly 80 hours per week (40 at a job, 40 on the business), I started to slowly feel the life sucked out of me.

My goal from the start was to provide affordable opportunities for women to get together and explore the outdoors but I knew that if I wanted to continue organizing these adventures, I needed more time. And in order to make more time, I need to take the business full-time.

This also meant I needed to be able to replace the income I was bringing in as a barista.

I would need to increase my prices (although not much) in order to build a sustainable business. So I did market research and also started comparing prices with other local guides and outfitters who provided similar experiences on a daily basis. If you do the same research, you’ll realize that the prices we are charging are often much less than what these services are asking.

After speaking with several mentors and business coaches, they helped me find ways to serve multiple audiences by providing different experiences and adding more value to each adventure.

Instead of only providing a community and an outdoor adventure, we would begin fostering guided discussions, inspirational speakers, mountain yoga, journaling exercises, courses and demonstrations, and home-cooked healthy meals on our adventures.

We would also offer options for day trips, weekend getaways, and multi-day retreats.

The women who didn’t have a lot of discretionary income could join us for a day trip. The women who wanted a longer experience could join us for a weekend getaway. And the women who wanted to truly dive into their inner-self and make lasting connections with other women over a period of several days could join us for a retreat.

And as these experiences started becoming more popular, we saw a demand for multiple chapters and so we started the process of building a team of adventure leaders across the state of Montana.

Rocky Mountain Women Outdoors is not a “side-gig”. We believe in order to deliver the greatest/most valuable experience possible, our team needs to be paid accordingly.

As many of you know, there are a lot of expenses that go into running and maintaining a business. For example: business licenses, branding/marketing/advertising, insurance, website maintenance, social media presence, permitting, investments, equipment, travel, qualifications, fronting money for accommodations, and more.

We are not here to earn a fortune and trust me when I say we don’t. We are here to deliver a really meaningful experience that you won’t be able to find elsewhere.

As far as why we are not a non-profit, I have to ask… does it really make what we are doing less impactful?

Our desire is to build something that lasts and in order to do that, it needs to be sustainable. If we were charging less than what we are currently charging, we probably wouldn’t still be around.

We also hope to continue to give back to our community, offer sponsorships for the less fortunate, and continue serving our mission to empower a community of women to pursue the outdoors experience together.

If you are just looking for people to join you for a hike or something similar, there are several meetup groups out there that may be a better fit for you.

But if you are looking for a community who genuinely cares about you, makes you feel like you belong, wants to help you grow into a better version of yourself, and has a heart for supporting public land conservation efforts; Rocky Mountain Women Outdoors is likely for you.

Taking a look at our reviews on Facebook or reaching out to a woman who has previously joined us could be a great place to start if you’re trying to determine if we are the right fit for you.

I truly hope this article helps you see the other side of the RMWO experience.

Please, if you have any additional questions or concerns, or you have some ideas/suggestions that might help us make our community even better, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at rmwoutdoors@gmail.com.

Happy Adventuring,

Maranda Ratcliff

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