Women do not lack ability or ambition. Yet only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female: a gender gap equivalent to ~1.1 million missing businesses.
We know that female entrepreneurship —working without a boss, be it in a small, medium, or large enterprise—is an important vehicle for women’s empowerment, that’s why for #InternationalWomensDay2021 we wanted to share Suzy’s inspiring story.
A woman of courage and resilience, who made 2021 the year she became her own boss and started a travel business. A dream she’s had for many years.
Suzy, age 48, lives in the beautiful Lake District with her son. Suzy completed our online training and launched her travel business in January of this year.
After being widowed 10 years ago, Suzy’s life turned upside down.
For the last 5 years, Suzy played with the idea of joining The Travel Franchise, before she finally took the decision to pursue her dream.
Last year was already tough enough for Suzy after being furloughed in April due to the pandemic. On top of this, Suzy’s father and brother-in-law were both diagnosed with cancer, which also marked the 10th anniversary of her husband Gavin passing away.
“I know better than anyone how short life is and how precious time is.
I thought to myself ‘What am I doing?’
My son’s name is Carter, it means ‘man of maps’. His father chose the name for him. His father loved to travel.
I’ve got about 6 years left before my son leaves home and go to college. I want to see the world with him like his dad would have wanted. Travel gives us hope and I know it always inspires me.”
How has the experience been since joining?
“The experience since joining has been incredible, the support has been out of this world. It’s been phenomenal in a word.
I’ve run a business before and it’s quite lonely. It‘s not like that here.
You have weekly team meetings, a personal travel coach who is always by your side, there is no boss barking in your ear, but you have all the support of a great community.
If more businesses were run this way, there would probably be more successful start-ups out there.
I’m disappointed that I saw a few negative reviews many years ago which made me reconsider my next step at the time. My experience has been anything but.
Since joining I’ve loved working with holiday suppliers like Classic collection and Canadian affairs, which you’ll get access to when you join.
Not Just Travel is hugely respected in the industry and this is so obvious when you speak to the suppliers in the trade. To anyone who is doubting whether to join, my advice is to speak to the suppliers like the ones above.”
What’s your ‘why’, what gets you up in the morning?
“My dream and what I’m working every day towards is the picture-perfect terracotta house in sunny Tenerife.
I was on the TV program ‘A Place in the Sun’, which is due to air soon, where I was looking for that perfect house.
I therefore needed a business that would enable me to work from anywhere. The great thing with a travel business from The Travel Franchise is that you just need a laptop, a phone, and a WIFI connection, that’s it! They’ll give you everything else you need to be a success.
My husband and I had always had this Tenerife dream and I’m not giving up on it.”
What does the future look like from where you’re standing?
“It looks bright and full of opportunity. I’m so glad that I have the chance to work with my sister again.
We haven’t worked together for over 20 years, but this will be an opportunity to come together.
My dad was a travel agent a long time ago and he’s even happy to get involved. It will be a real family affair.
I would like my business to be a chance to make a difference and give back. To help other women and men who have been widowed.
When my husband first passed away, I had a number of holidays booked. When the time came to board the flight, I fell to pieces, I just couldn’t do it.
I’d like to work towards becoming the go-to travel agent who can support and offer advice to those who have experienced what I did.”
Can you tell us about the latest booking you’ve made?
“The other day I got a new enquiry, it was through a friend of a friend.
The enquiry was for a flight to France. We got talking on the phone and he shared about how much he wanted to visit Canada one day.
I said to him, ‘You do realise for the budget you’re spending for France, you could go to Canada’. As a travel agent it’s a great feeling to be able to help someone realise you can make one of their dreams come true. You have all these trade deals at your finger tips.
The latest booking I did was for this gentleman and his daughter. They are are booked in to visit Whistler, in Canada. They couldn’t be more excited. 9 nights in whistler and all ski passes included.
I’m also helping a lesbian couple with their honeymoon for Italy. I know Italy very well.”
With the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day in mind, what would you #choosetochallenge?
“There’s a saying that says, ‘Behind every successful woman, there is a community of other successful women who have her back.’
I #choosetochallenge women supporting women. From my own experiences, I’ve often found women are less supportive than men.
Since joining to start my own travel business, I’ve joined a peer-to-peer business group for women where we exchange tips, believe in each other and respect one another. It’s great!”