Coast One Tours
Completing the $1,000 Start-Ups program enhanced,
complimented and ensured the success of our business.”
~ Avis Miller,
Co-founder Coast One Tours, LLC
Ron and Avis Miller, co-founders of Coast One Tours, LLC

This month we want to share a story of how a small business can benefit a whole community. Ronald and Avis Miller started Coast One Tours, LLC in October 2019 with a vision to ensure the Legacy of American Beach will continue. Ron spent much of his childhood on Amelia Island and American Beach and it was his knowledge and passion for the area that inspired the couple’s venture. After providing complimentary driving tours of the area to visitors for several years, his wife Avis saw an opportunity to start a business. With Ron’s passion and people skills and Avis’s business savvy (as well as her own dynamic personality), Coast One Tours was formed, offering a rich African American experience through interactive guided tours of American Beach and Amelia Island.

Avis met Leah Ward-Lee, Co-Founder and Executive Director of $1,000 Start-Ups at a local community fair. She was intrigued by the prospect of updating her knowledge and understanding of business, but she was still working full-time and was concerned about the commitment of time required to attend classes and complete assignments.  

As Avis continued to develop the business with branding, marketing, and financial administration, she realized she needed more support and guidance to keep up with current trends and practices. When she discovered the classes were being conducted on Zoom, she decided to enroll in the 2022 program.

As the oldest member of her Cohort Avis was able to share her experience and knowledge with the others, whose ideas and ideals in turn enhanced her own skill set and business practices. Even with an entirely different business model, they were able to exchange creative ideas that are useful in all types of business. 

Within the Cohort model, students have access to a resource base beyond the scope of the instructor and the curriculum.  When questions or challenges arise, the Cohort and the Consortium serve to broaden access to resources. 

“That networking is amazing to me and I have applied that to my business and other areas of my life.”

Avis found the environment to be welcoming of new ideas and always empowering.  She saw matters that might be difficult, such as burnout, negativity, or doubt are addressed compassionately and productively. She notes that Leah generously shares her success and her experience and encourages students to do the same.

This concept resonates with Avis. “God gave me gifts. I never want to feel I have information and not share it”

When asked about the most valuable takeaways from the $1,000 Start-Ups curriculum, she named 3 key lessons:

“If I had to put my finger on the one thing that is most important to me, it would be the ‘SWOT’ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) that is an integral part of the curriculum. I use this regularly to plan and to reflect on business decisions.”

“Creating an Avatar gave us an opportunity for practical application of what it is to be a business owner. From finances to family and the many logistics of life, we were able to put things into perspective.”

“Most people think a business plan is used for getting a loan. It is so much more than that. I learned that a well-written business plan is a strategic tool to help a business to be successful and to grow over time.”

After graduating from the program in 2022, Avis felt a void. She found ways to stay connected. She checks in with the current class each year and offers encouragement to current participants.  Coast One Tours is part of the $1,000 Consortium and is a regular participant in the $1,000 Start-Ups small business fairs. And in 2024 Avis became a member of the $1,000 Start-Ups Board of Directors.

2022 $1,000 Start-Ups Cohort Graduates

“I believe in the program and I want to help others attain the things they want to do and to realize their own gifts. This program makes dreams come true.  More people will reach success.”

Coast One Tours has met its annual goals each year, currently providing 3-4 private tours per week and 1-3 large group tours per year. This has enabled the business to financially maintain itself. Avis envisions 3% growth per year. This rate of growth will lead to establishing paid salaries and high-visibility marketing.

“We’d like to transfer our knowledge and teach others about this business model. We will pursue taking on interns from area colleges to teach other young people who have an interest in the tour hospitality business”

Consistent networking and marketing efforts, as well as excellent customer service, have increased awareness of the company. Coast One Tours has been featured local press and magazines and in USA Today in February 2022.  The quality of their services and resulting success have led to requests to expand to provide Black History tours throughout the southeast United States, as well as mergers with other tour companies.  For the time being at least, they remain focused locally.

“For me, $1,000 Start-Ups brushed off the dust and fine-tuned skills from my previous experience in business. If I had not participated in this program, I’d still be chugging along. But, the networking, understanding the community, and our customer base have been invaluable for our growth and sustainability.”
~ Avis Miller

Learn more about Coast One Tours, LLC on their Website, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Find reviews on Google and travel websites.

 This rich history of Historic American Beach could not have been given any better,
unless it was A.L. Lewis himself.

~ juniuss2024 on Trip Advisor


Tuition is never charged to participants in the $1,000 Start-Ups Program. Students are offered up to $1,000 in financial support. If you are interested in contributing toward a full or partial sponsorship of a student, please visit our donation page by clicking the button below.

Ways to support $1,000 Start-Ups