Businesses across the globe are struggling to stay alive due to the effects of the coronavirus. Many are closing down while others are pivoting their business model to adapt to the economic changes. A new business in Cairns that has altered its service and rebuilt after suffering a number of serious setbacks before Covid provides encouragement and hope for all.
Fishing charter operator Ryan Moody, a born and bred North Queenslander who has been a leader in the industry for 30 years, faced so many knockdowns that it got to the point where he struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Fishing was all he’d ever known, but setback after setback was diminishing his livelihood.
Ryan was well established in the fishing charter industry with unparalleled fishing results, including catching over 2000 massive metre-plus barramundi (just catching one of those big Barras is on the bucket list for many fishermen!). But things changed when the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was rezoned in 2004, costing Ryan his most productive fishing areas. He moved his business from Townsville to Mission Beach, but Cyclone Larry caused another setback in 2006, and then Cyclone Yasi in 2011 further damaged his business.
“In the process, I lost my first marriage, access to my children and my house,” Ryan says. “Hell, at age 44 I was forced to move back in with my parents for six months. It was embarrassing. You go through the stage where you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. But you rebuild.”
Then things started to look up.
He married his current wife Karen, a marine biologist, and moved to Cardwell where she took a job with Marine Parks. But then, more trials and tribulations hit. Ryan lost his best mate to melanoma, and the Cardwell branch of Marine Parks closed in 2013, two weeks after they bought their house.
“I was really struggling fishing all day every day in the sun,” Ryan says. “Because I was getting so dehydrated, I repeatedly suffered from kidney stones, and it became obvious charters were no longer a long-term employment proposition for me.”
Karen, who also has a university economics degree and a science degree, was the brainchild behind a new never-tried-before idea. While doing a marketing course online at the time, she came up with the concept of online fishing courses.
“We had no idea if online fishing courses were even a viable proposition,” Ryan says. “Not too many people have succeeded in making a full-time career from fishing, and no-one in the world did online fishing courses. We didn’t know if this would work.”
They launched their first course ‘Barra Basics’ in 2014.
That first launch covered my entire yearly wage from Marine Parks in just one week. And we thought, wow, this is going to work!”
“We didn’t know how to make a course, how to make videos and how to make a website,” Karen says. “We didn’t want to pay someone to build a website because we just bought a house, but we managed to get it done.
“That first launch covered my entire yearly wage from Marine Parks in just one week. And we thought, wow, this is going to work!”
The couple, who have recently moved to Cairns, now have five online courses through their business Ryan Moody Fishing.
“For us, pivoting from charters to online courses was not a choice, it was a necessity,” says Ryan, who was in demand by clients across the globe before Corvid hit. “In fact, if it wasn’t for the hardship, we would not have a Covid-proof online business. I’d be seriously struggling to keep my head above water like other tourist operators at the moment.”
Ryan knows firsthand how difficult it can be to pick yourself up after being knocked down. He’s been there many times.
“None of us have a crystal ball, and we can’t know where this path called life is leading us,” he says. “Sometimes we get so set in negativity we can’t see the forest for the trees, and we focus on the knockdowns instead of looking for the things we can be grateful for.
“So, if you are struggling to cope with the changes happening in the world today, if you have lost your job, can’t imagine how you’ll ever pay your mortgage or even ever get a mortgage, just hang in there. Every human being on the planet has undergone hardship in one way or another in their lives, so put aside your pride and ask for help if you need it.
“And take it from an old fart who has lived through a lot. If you’re doing it tough, hang in there. This too shall pass.”