One of the greatest curses of the travel business is also one of its greatest blessings: It’s easy to get in. This is a blessing for people with an undying passion for travel. It’s a great option. You can work from home. It costs very little to get started. You can do it part time or full time.
All of these things were a blessing for me, in fact. But on the flip side, these things become a curse to everyone in the business because there are a lot of people who get in, don’t take it quite seriously, and end up treating their business like a hobby, tarnishing the perception of a professional travel advisor.
If you want clients and potential clients to take you seriously, value your services, and willingly pay for them, then you must start with you. You must take your own self AND your business seriously.
Are you a hobby owner or a business owner? Here are 5 signs you are not taking your business seriously, treating it as a hobby and how to change them:
1. Your e-mail address ends in @gmail.com, @comcast.net or something that is not your business’ URL.
These few letters in your email address send a very strong message that you don’t take your business seriously. It’s not difficult or costly to purchase a URL and get an email account set up, so you have an official looking email addresses. There are many ways to do this, and one that I like is www.godaddy.com. Just search for a URL you like, purchase it, and then add e-mail hosting to your purchase.
2. You don’t have a website or blog.
It doesn’t matter if you own your agency or if you are an independent contractor or outside sales agent, you should have YOUR OWN website presence. Being listed as an agent on your host agency’s website doesn’t count. You are your own business and you have your own brand identity and message.A very simple 3-5 page website does not cost much to put together and speaks volumes for a potential client doing a little research to check you out. And if you want to work with affluent, luxury travelers, it must look good. At Hills of Africa, we redesigned our website a few years ago. There is no way we would have continued to attract the high caliber of clients we attracted in the last 3 years with our old website. And the best news is that with the developments in blogging, you no longer need BOTH a website and a blog. You can make do very easily with a simple blog on the WordPress platform. Just set it up with a few fixed pages so that it serves as both a blog and a website.
3. Your business is not incorporated.
You may have E&O insurance, but that’s not enough to separate your personal assets from your business assets. This is a critical step to making a statement that you take your business seriously. You can set up an S-corp or an LLC very easily. You don’t need an accountant or a lawyer. Just go to www.legalzoom.com to get started.
4. You don’t have a separate bank account for your business.
If you haven’t incorporated, then you probably don’t have a separate bank account. Do yourself a favor today….begin the process of incorporating and then get a bank account. Even though your clients may not know the difference, having a separate, business bank account affects you and how you think about your business, and thus how you demand respect from your clients.
5. You don’t have clear boundaries on your business hours.
When Sandy and I hired our first mentor, back in 2007, I had just had my third child. One of the questions our coach asked us was: “who’s looking after your children when you work?” We were both speechless. We had no answer for her because the answer was, “no one.” She told us that we weren’t business owners, we were hobby owners. We were instructed to find some kind of care for our children for at least 4 hours a day where we could be 100% focused on our business. We didn’t HAVE to do this, of course. But, if wanted to take our business seriously, so that our clients would take us seriously, we had to create clear boundaries around our work day.Ask yourself, are you creating clear boundaries around your work day? If not, it’s time to start doing it.
Go through this list and make changes to your business today if you are guilty of any items on this list.