I was looking at my Facebook feed the other day and I noticed a friend had updated her job status. Like many of us, she is an entrepreneur, and is always thinking of was to make business hum. What stuck me is that in the brief time I have known her, she has owned 5 businesses, none of which are still around. I will never fault anyone for taking a shot—we all have. But I wonder if she really gave each of those businesses her “all?” Can you really get the pulse of five businesses and five markets all within a three-year period? As I pondered that, I saw many similarities to the travel industry. While I am 100% sold on the travel agency community and the vibrancy of it, I am also convinced that many of our so-called colleagues are not as serious.
Despite what companies like WorldVentures and YTB profess, the odds are against you becoming a millionaire overnight—especially in the travel business. Business does not simply roll in the door (or into your website) simply because you exist. Business rolls in the door because of your knowledge of your product and your ability to convey your enthusiasm of the product to your prospects. Remember, the product of a MLM is recruiting new member—not what you might think it is. This, of course, explains why so many fade away so quickly—much poorer for the experience.
Taking a shot and jumping into the deep end does not mean you should do it blindly. Before you dive, make sure there is water. Make sure you can swim to shore if needed or tread water until someone comes to save you. This is where developing a written business plan, even a casual one, is so important. You would not venture on a trip across the country without a map or a GPS; why would you with your business. The end route will likely not be the same as the planned one, but with proper planning and guidance, you know the starting and ending points as well as the waypoints to guide you along the way. As you undertake any major initiative in your agency, investigate, investigate, investigate.
The old adage is true—you have to spend money to make money. Many ventures fall short (especially starting a new business) because of a lack of funding. Do you really believe that $500 and $50 a month is all that it takes to own a profitable business? Do the math. The welfare payment for a family of three is $600 a month. Does anyone care to venture a guess as to how many families these MLM agencies took off the welfare rolls. Make sure you have the money to advertise, travel, pay the rent, fuel for your vehicle, a salary for you, and a cushion for contingencies. You never know what might pop up unexpectedly!
Put in the time
My mother was full of “mom-isms” and one of her favorites was, “good things come to those who wait.” And it is true. Even if you did everything by the book, it takes time to build your success. It does not happen overnight. It does not happen because you just hung your shingle. It takes time, hard work, and setbacks. At some point, your growth will come organically, but until you reach that point, you need to tend to the garden. You need to water it. You need to weed it. If the sun is too harsh, you need to put up something to shade it. If you developed a niche catering to overweight polka dancers who play the accordion while eating expensive Russian caviar and it is not working out—you are going to have to refine it and try again.
The key is not necessarily to see excesses of success, but to at least see movement. Is your web traffic increasing on a quarterly measurement? Have you completed more transactions this year than last? Have you reduced you payables over a prior period? These are the types of measurements that you need to analyze. Give it time. Rome was not built in a day (another mom-ism) and it is still standing in 2013—and making a lot of money for many of us!
As to my friend, I think she failed in all of points. One of her ventures was a MLM company promising BMWs and riches previously unimaginable. Another was a baby photography business, which is a highly competitive market. There were a few others as well, but the root of her lack of success is not for wont of trying. She is capable, personable, and a great person. She deserves success. But she just needs to be a bit more realistic as to what it takes to achieve—be skeptical, investigate, fund it, and give it time to grow!