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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Mudge | Mudge Media | Writer

The Ten Essentials

Throughout my childhood my dad was an avid hiker. He and my brother likely hiked literally 1000+ miles over the years of weekend ventures. Dad impressed upon us the importance of always carrying the “ten essentials” – which he taped as a check-list in our camping gear room. These included a compass, sun protection (glasses/sunscreen), extra clothing, flashlight, basic first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife, and extra food.

Since then, REI has updated this list into groups which now includes an emergency shelter. The groups makes sense:

  1. Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger

  2. Headlamp: plus extra batteries

  3. Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen

  4. First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)

  5. Knife: plus a gear repair kit

  6. Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove

  7. Shelter: carried at all times (can be a light emergency bivy)

  8. Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation

  9. Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation

  10. Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation

Entrepreneurs, small business owners, non-profits and artists can learn some lessons from this list and create their own ten essentials for their mental well-being and business survival.

Navigation: Know where you are going and have alternate routes for getting there. This is in the form of a company or personal vision, mission, and business plan. These are tools meant to keep you on course and should be reviewed and revised as needed.

Illumination: The REI list includes a flashlight or headlamp as part of the ten essentials. For business, you need illumination about yourself, your brand, your product/services. This comes in the form of reviews, audits, and advice from consultants or peers to make sure you see your business fully and holistically. Entrepreneurs need to be open to critique and to always be looking at your progress through fresh eyes.

Protection: Make sure you are protected from the vibrancy of success as well as the potential for failure. This includes pro-actively creating a reserve fund, securing insurance, and securing appropriate licenses and training as required for your business.

Self-care: This is the first-aid portion. Take good care of your health, build in room for mental and physical breaks, and yes – invest in good footcare! Or hand care if you are a writer or artist.

Tools of the trade: While a knife is a great tool for hiking, an entrepreneur’s tools include a computer, cell-phone, and whatever skill-tools that are needed for a particular craft or service. Make sure you have what you need to get things done.

Fire: As an entrepreneur, fire represents the passion you have for what you do. You need passion to thrive. Passion will help push you through the hard-times and proper self-care can help when the fire dims or confidence falters.

Shelter: This is your work-space. Whether it is a 10’ x 10’ vending tent, portable food cart, a retail shop, a home office, studio or shop. Make sure your shelter is cared for and appropriate for what you are doing. Have back-up plans – especially if your work requires setting up temporary store fronts at festivals or other outdoor markets and work-spaces.

Food: As an entrepreneur this is not only food in the traditional sense of nutrition and taking care of yourself, but also as in food for thought. Take time to refresh or learn new skills, techniques or expose yourself to new ideas through professional associations, classes, and joining of local chambers.

Water: It’s just good for you. Stay hydrated.

Clothes: This is your branding. Dress to be recognized and make sure it fits with who you are. Create a uniform, if you will, that not only shows off your style and establishes your personal branding, but also sets you apart and inspires confidence in others. Many top-earning art/craft vendors I know often have a particular look that complements what they sell or can allows them to be easily recognized. In some cases it is a particular hat and in other cases the entire outfit that becomes a canvas for showcasing their product.


The Ten Essentials. REI. Retrieved from

Mudge Media: Mission Possible.

Image Credits

Photo 166625858 © Artur Szczybylo |

Navigating Waves image: SiberianArt


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