Wow. I am just back from moderating an amazing session on ‘Secrets of successful female tra-preneurs’ as part of the new Women in Travel Programme at WTM and I am still inspired and humbled by the warmth, passion and sheer determination of my four panel speakers, Jessica Bain (Latin Routes) Julia Feuell( Online Travel Training) Mandy Nickerson (Hexagon Travel) and Sarah Johnson (Lotus Communication). Not to mention the audience : a 100 or so mostly female entrepreneurs or aspiring business women from as far as Australia, South Africa and Butan.
Together we discussed, shared tips, offered advice, asked for suggestions about what it takes to be a successful woman business owner in the travel and tourism industry. And you know what? Not a winge in sight about men, nor a mention of glass ceiling or cliffs…not because we are so naive to think that they do not exist but because everyone there wanted to focus on the the positive outcomes of entrepreneurship, wanted to celebrate success and tap into the exceptional resources available in the room….and how powerful that room was albeit for a short hour!
So what were the key tips shared by the four speakers over that time? Here is a selection:
– Be confident, believe in yourself!
– Find what you are really passionate about and do it!
– Surround your self with clever, smart people who can support you and advise you when the going gets tough. They do need to be expensive…friends, former colleagues and non executives all come relatively cheap but will be interested and take what you do at heart.
-Hire good people and keep on engaging your staff so they too want to succeed and achieve. Let them take part in your decision making process, contribute ideas, share suggestions even if ultimately you do not follow those.
-Learn to speak finance. You will at some point need to raise funds and so seek support and understand the basic principles to enable you to talk to possible investors, bank managers or even family and friends acting as ‘business angels’.
-consider innovative ways to raise finance such as crowd-funding.
-Network, network, network! You need it in order to find the investors above!
– Cash is king! Watch what you are spending and make sure you are being sensible.
-Do not forget the impact you have on the people around you. You may be eating, sleeping and breathing your business, but your partner, children and extended family need to understand what you are trying to achieve or they will not support you.
-Examine where you need help and find a mentor (or maybe two or three) to support you. Alumni networks, professional bodies and other business associations were all mentioned as possible ‘mentoring circles’.
A pretty full on list, if you ask me. But then again it takes extraordinary travel women to launch extraordinary travel businesses. Who is next?