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READY, SET, GROW – Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur

Written By: Jackie Friedman, President, Nexion LLC



Independent travel professionals and travel agency owners alike wear multiple hats in running their businesses. In many cases, the one that often gets shoved in the closet is the entrepreneur “hat.” Being an effective entrepreneur takes time and discipline. It’s also a necessary component if you’re going to effectively manage and grow your travel business.


During my past 13 years with Nexion, I have watched many travel professionals take an idea and run with it. They have gone on to build very successful agencies. What’s their secret to success?


They all had similar attributes in common and thrived in unleashing their inner entrepreneur. Champion these entrepreneurial qualities, and you’re sure to attain success in your travel business!



Do you know what your why is, or your purpose? If you can’t easily answer this question, take a step back to reflect on the reasons you joined the travel industry and the importance to you, as this is the basis for your business. Ask yourself, “What do I want my impact to be?” This could be personal impact or professional impact – the beauty about the travel business is that it can be one and same!


Ensure you build your business around something you’re passionate about. Understand what motivates you and your vision behind being a travel professional. This passion will lead to a series of goals, which will then be more meaningful to you, because they are your foundation.



Being an independent travel professional or entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Find your personal advisory board or allies, such as people who have had success in other industries that can open new doors for you. Tap into their expertise to bring added strength to your business. Filter ideas that work for them, both in and outside of the travel industry.


Along with partnerships, comes people. Really good entrepreneurs have a way with putting themselves out in the world, which includes getting involved in their communities and capitalizing on networking opportunities. Successful travel professionals know that building long-term relationships with their clients – versus merely focusing on the booking transaction – will yield greater success.


Focusing on partnerships and people also means discovering creative ways to get your message across through active listening, and finding those connections and influencers who will help you make your business grow. Ask yourself, “What people do I know who can help open doors for me?” Write them down, and then have a strategy for reaching out to them.



One of things that makes you unique is that you are heavily involved in the execution of your travel business. You work with clients; you build relationships; and you deal with the here and now. Finding balance between the everyday tasks and the unforeseen emergencies that naturally occur in the travel arena is extremely important. You need to determine the right amount of time to focus on the growth and overall core of your business. Flexibility obviously comes into play, but don’t let the day-to-day running of your business get in the way of your overall strategy and execution.


From a productivity perspective, the key is to focus more about less instead of less about more. This is true for targeted marketing and targeted learning. By focusing on your passion and niche, you’ll stay productive instead of trying to be a catch-all in the travel arena. Of course, it takes more than a credential to be a travel professional. You’ll ensure confidence with your customers by keeping informed and your knowledge current, and by targeting your professional development in areas that will help you grow.


Taking productivity a step further, don’t be afraid to say no. Once you’ve defined your passion and have a plan to implement it, stay true to it. You’ll be tempted to help every potential client who crosses your path, as you envision dollar signs, but stick to the customers you’ll want to keep for life who match what you and your agency are all about. I know this will be difficult, especially when you’re getting started as an independent travel professional. You may also have to fire bookings and potentially even clients. Keeping your overall business strategy in reach will help you in your ultimate decision making. A basic rule of thumb is to say no when it makes sense and if it’s not aligned with the path you have chosen for yourself and your agency.



As an entrepreneur, you need to make money. It’s that simple. Good business owners understand the various ways to achieve profitability as well as recognizing the obstacles that can get in the way.


For example, understanding and articulating your value is part of being profitable. If you rebate your services, are you really gaining anything in the end? You should be comfortable with asking for and charging a service fee for the value you have provided to your clients.


Furthermore, as painful as it may seem, the truth is that successful entrepreneurs know that you have to spend money to earn money. Take a hard look at what investments in your business are necessary and what’s essential to be profitable. For example, what is the best way to reach the audience you’ve decided is a good fit for your business? Having and implementing a marketing plan is just one of the investments you’ll need to consider.



Finding your happy place and staying positive is probably the most important attribute an entrepreneur can possess. Remember that you are your personal brand – people do business with people they trust. For new customers, you have one opportunity to make a first impression. Remember, you’re in the travel business because it’s FUN!


In addition to being that person that people want to do business with – by being approachable, personable and available – actively listening to your clients is critical. Take the time to truly listen to your clients’ ideas and experiences. Ask those important qualifying questions, so you can match them to the ultimate travel experience that will keep them coming back to you as their travel counselor year after year.


And, remember, it’s not always going to be butterflies and roses. You will have really bad days. You are going to fail. When you do, fail fast. Try something, learn from it and move on. Be willing to be flexible. Find something out of the negative.


Entrepreneurs face challenges all the time, but how they deal with them defines how successful they will be. Those who are willing to take risks and then who modify results for better success are the ultimate achievers.



To sum it all up, know that unleashing your inner entrepreneur won’t happen overnight. You’ll want to inject just the right amount of PATIENCE into your business hat. It’s very different working for yourself versus with or for others.


There will be plenty of income hills and valleys, and it will take a lot of planning and discipline to stay on top. But having the knowledge and confidence that you can be the best business owner ever makes it so much easier! If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will!


Above all else, think BIG! In looking back at my career, some of the most successful entrepreneurs were not afraid to think big. They put a plan in place and then went after it. Our theme for Nexion’s 11th annual member conference, CoNexion, is Think Big in the Big Easy. I’m looking forward to seeing our members’ big ideas in progress!


And what about you? Are you ready to unleash your inner entrepreneur?