With more than 300 million people living in the United States, over 27 million of them are entrepreneurs. While I despise that word nearly as much as many women despise the word “moist,” for the sake of this column, it is probably most fitting. The travel agency segment of the travel industry is generally run by entrepreneurs. From Ted Arison to Thomas Cook to Curt Carlson to Arthur Tauck to you and me. And while my agency is different from yours; and we are certainly vastly different than a Carnival Corporation or a CWT, there are three concepts we hold in common that will go a long way to assuring our success. And they are surprisingly simple.
Get It Right
It all starts with an idea. You are working to provide a solution. Your main objective is to make people’s lives easier or more enjoyable in some way. And that is true if you are selling travel or Clorox wipes to feed the Coronavirus panic.
Your business doesn’t need to be something new. After all, we all (in a very basic sense) are doing the same thing. A new concept is great. You will own the market. But if you can look to improve on an existing product or service, you can own that as well. Amazon took shopping and brought it online. Picking on Amazon again, they are taking next day delivery and bringing goods to you in hours. Can you do something different? Remember how everyone has harped on niche travel for decades? Find yours.
But coming up with the idea is only the start.
Work Your Butt Off
Hanging an “open” shingle or launching a website might put you in business, but it does not make you a success. You’ve talked the talk; now it is time to walk the walk. Owning a business is not all fun and games and you will need to pay your “dues” from a physical and financial standpoint.
My last 9-5 day was in 1995. As an entrepreneur, those days are gone! Expect interrupted holidays. And remember, at the end of the day, you are the one responsible for it all. That includes salaries of employees, insurance, rent, trash, vacuuming, and even that missed deposit for your client’s cruise. Walk the walk—do exactly what you said you were going to do!
Figure It Out
The idea is hatched and the plan executed, now all that is left is to ride it to success! Not so fast. Easier said than done. Expect challenge after challenge!
If determination and launch were all that was required, no business would never fail. The reality is that 70% of all small businesses fail within ten years! Don’t rest on those laurels! Think of your agency as a three-piece puzzle. The two are already laid out (idea and launch) and you need to bring the third piece to the table…your expertise…your niche…whatever it is that makes you stand out.
Only with that third piece are you ready to potentially succeed. Why potentially? There are no guarantees in life. Never!
But if you do beat the odds (and you can); here’s a final tip. Don’t let it get to your head. Evaluate and re-develop your business consistently.
Remember, nothing is forever. As soon as you think you have it made, something will come along to knock you off that pedestal. Keep on your toes and keep growing and thinking and scheming.
And if you think Amazon is too big to fail? You’re wrong—and Jeff Bezos agrees!