What Is Your Road Map to Success? A Business Plan, of Course!

Successful businesses typically are well planned. A key question to consider is whether there is a market for what you have to offer. Let’s suppose you have determined you have the skills and personality to work on your own, and there is a market for your services. What’s next? It’s time for a business plan.

A business plan is a summary of what is expected from a commercial effort, including the level of income, benefits, and investment, along with a statement of mid- and long-term goals. It’s important to invest time in developing such a plan. Unfortunately, many small business owners choose to skip this important step.

The following are some basic elements of a business plan:

  • Your expectations. For example, how long do you expect to take to generate income? Do you expect to work part-time or full-time? Do you expect eventually to obtain all your income from this business?
  • Your business concept or profile. What is its niche? What is the competition? You may want to specialize in two or three niches to cushion your business for seasonality and unpredicted marketplace changes.
  • A mission statement. It should clearly and succinctly communicate your company’s purpose.
  • Specific goals and objectives. Based on your expectations, you can identify specific goals that will direct your efforts and help you set priorities for your activities. Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time sensitive. Create a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan of action and identify specific tasks that flow directly from those goals.
  • Projections for the business. What income do you project for the first year? For the first three years? What expenses do you project? Do you need outside funding?
  • Your name. Choose a name that is descriptive of your business’s focus. For example, “World Diving Cruises and Tours” is much more descriptive than “Suzy’s Travel Shoppe.”
  • Legal and accounting requirements. Turn to the experts to help you set up your business properly. It’s critical to find an attorney and an accountant who specialize in small businesses or travel agencies. Attorney Jeff Miller has written an informative article, Travel Law Insider: The Legal Issues of Travel Agency Business Plans, for Insider Travel Report.
  • Your office. Setting up your office—particularly if that office is in your home—requires time, effort, planning, and money. The investment is worthwhile for a space that gives you a professional atmosphere and convenient access to the required tools of the trade.
  • Your website. A website is especially important for home-based travel agencies because they lack a physical storefront. You may want to develop a site on your own, but many companies specialize in creating, hosting and maintaining websites for travel agencies. Richard D’Ambrosio, of Travel Market Report, recently published a three-part series of articles on this topic, starting with What to Consider When Launching Your Website.
  • A possible host agency. If you are an independent contractor, selecting a host agency partner that is a good fit with your business is a key decision. For some helpful tips on this topic, register for the webinar How to Choose the Right Host Agency for You (2019), presented by Joanie Ogg, CTC, this Wednesday, October 23, at 1:00 pm EDT.

All of these tips and many others are covered more in depth in the TRIPKitSM course, designed to educate new agents, as well as travel counselors seeking greater knowledge of industry basics. During this month, you can benefit from a 40% savings on the TRIPKit tuition, which includes multiple books, online material, and automatic enrollment in the Travel Agent Proficiency, or TAP®, exam.

You also may purchase The Travel Institute’s Business Planning Module for more knowledge specifically on this topic. Finally, another helpful resource we found was published by Host Agency ReviewsTravel Agency Business Plan Article that includes a detailed template.