One of the banes of owning your own business are the bad decisions you will make. Notice I did not say “may make”–you WILL make them, We all do. And these mistakes, if handled properly they serve to nurture us as business professionals, and grow our agencies.
Our business is not getting any easier. We are competing for a scarce dollar; and companies that used to be partners, are now competing directly with us for that same dollar. As you forge your way through establishing and growing your travel business—be it home based, online, or brick and mortar—there really are only two hard and fast rules you need to remember.
- Learn from your mistakes
- Learn from the mistakes other people have made
12 little words–none more than two syllables long. But as a business owner, it is very easy to rely on the phrases “that’s how it has always been done” and “well, this is how I do it.” You need to get beyond that and remember to learn from the mistakes. Once you are comfortable with that concept, there are five critical areas in your business that will derail it quicker than I can come up with an appropriate metaphor to end this sentence.
- Neglecting Your Business And Marketing Plans
You may have a great idea of how to generate business. It is natural to want to begin right away and dive on into the deep end. I made this mistake once when I bought my first agency. I simply winged it and it took a good two years to fully recover. Neglecting the business and marketing plans (and they should be in writing) is a huge mistake. It is easy to understand why a structure built on a shaky foundation will not last.
- Not Having The Right Priorities
There are a million and one things you need to do to effectively run your business. But that doesn’t mean that each and every one deserves all of your attention—not by a long shot. There are only 24 hours in a day so you must be selective with your tasks. Have your priorities in a line (write them down) and act on them accordingly. The alternative is to focus on some less-than-worthy time consuming tasks that are not worth it—and you will suffer down the road.
- Not Having an Open Mind
Many times it is easy to fall into a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality when something is working well. Maybe you are advertising with a particular periodical, or sending a newsletter by email once a month. Do not be lulled into the trap of not looking at other options. Eventually it will indeed break; and the reality check you will have when it does, might be devastating.
- Not Delegating
You can’t do it all. You really can’t. And if you do, at one point, things will pile up to the point where you will not be able to handle anything. Can you say breakdown? Learn to delegate effectively. It does not need to be your travel work, maybe it is your housework, your copying (Fedex Kinkos is my lifeline), your brochure reorders, etc. Get your kids or your spouse to help. Enlist the aid of a virtual assistant–they are not as expensive as you might think. If you stay on top of everything and delegate properly, your business will reap the benefits.
- Not Tracking Results
Are you tracking and measuring your results? Today it is imperative! With margins so slim, no one can afford to waste marketing money on a losing platform. If you use Facebook or Twitter ads, make sure they are working for you-change them or stop them if they are not. Make sure you always ask how a new client found you. Running a business on trial and error never works. When tracking results, remember the word “investment.” It may be an investment of time, money or resources, but in order to see if it is paying off, you need to track it!
As we all work to succeed in this crazy, lovable industry, it is easy to become complacent or simply ignorant of the pitfalls that are out there looking to derail us. Keep these five big ones in mind and your chances of success and prosperity will increase. That is something you can take to the bank! Agree? Lets talk in the comments!