This is the second in a series of columns about home-based travel agents by Stephanie Lee of Host Agency Reviews.
Most people start a travel agency because they love to sell travel – not because they get giddy with excitement about bookkeeping, marketing or trying to fix a computer virus.
Unbeknownst to you, you didn’t just create a travel agent position when you opened the doors of your home-based agency, you created multiple jobs. Hot diggity! You’ve got your own little economic stimulus plan going on over there.
Sounds great – until you realize that, like most sole proprietors, your resources are limited, and you’re going to have fill all those positions … yourself.
As unappealing as all those jobs may be, they are as essential to running a successful home-based agency as selling travel. I’ve narrowed the list to the seven main jobs you’ll be doing.
1. Travel Agent
Job description: The is the person responsible for researching, booking and following through with clients’ travel plans. (Hint: It does not bode well for the future of your agency if you forget this one.)
2. Sales & Marketing
Job description: This person brings in new clients and leads through direct sales and marketing. Organizes advertising campaigns to build brand awareness and strengthen ties within the target demographic.
3. Public Relations
Job description: This person is the face of your company in good times and bad. He or she understands the values of your company and projects those values across multiple forms of communication. Must be available to respond to media requests.
4. Web Designer / Content Writer
Job description: This is two positions squeezed into one. The web designer constructs your website. The content writer creates content for your website – as well as for online and traditional marketing pieces.
5. Graphic Designer
Job description: This person is responsible for making things look pretty. Ensures brand consistency and recognition across all advertising mediums. And, they’d better make you a darn good logo to start.
Job description: This is the person who fixes dead or malfunctioning office technology – also, the one you call when you think your computer is dead, but it turns out you just forgot to plug it in.
Job description: This person makes sure keeps track of the amount of money going in and out of your agency. Records all business expenses and profits.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Do you notice we have a problem? All of these jobs are essential to growing and sustaining your home-based business. But seven jobs is a lot for one person to handle!
Don’t worry. With proper planning, it is manageable. Here’s my advice.
First, come to terms with the fact that owning a business involves responsibilities that you may not like – but have to do anyway. You can only deny or ignore the tasks that lie outside the realm of actually selling and arranging travel for so long before the work implodes.
Schedule it in
When you dislike certain tasks, it’s too easy to forget about them, so make sure you don’t.
Hold yourself accountable for the jobs that need to be done, so you take care of them before the piles come crashing down.
Set up reminders on your calendar to ensure you do a monthly email blast. Set aside the last Friday of every month to enter all your receipts and check your accounts receivable and payable. Scour the web for logo ideas if you don’t have one.
Know your limits
Lastly, if you find you aren’t taking the time for certain jobs or if one particular job is making your life miserable, ask yourself – is it time to outsource this job? It may be.
If you decide to outsource it, go ahead and cross that job off the above list.
Then, grab a pencil and add “human resources” to your list, because you’ve just created a new job for yourself. The work of an entrepreneur is never done!
Next month I’ll look at how to decide when to outsource and when to keep the job in-house.
Former host agency director Stephanie Lee recently launched Host Agency Reviews, which features agent reviews of host agencies and tips for starting and growing a travel agency. As a new home-based business owner, she understands the challenges of self-employment. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.