Caroline has a marketing, events and incentive travel consultancy. When she started her business she was purely focussed on the travel aspects and soon realised that she was turning her back on what she knew and what she was good at. In her first year, she won an award for runner-up best new business for the Global Travel Group.
Caroline Sumners // Fifty One Degrees // Marketing // Costa Rica // 40s
What motivated & inspired you to start your business?
I had a great job as a marketing manager working for a large corporation. I was well paid, worked with nice people, etc. but something was missing. I always knew that I wanted to start a business and I knew that if I didn’t do it and give it a try, I would always regret it and live with “What if?” So I quit my job and then thought, “Now what I am going to do?!”
What steps did you take to get things going in the beginning?
To be honest, I didn’t do anywhere near enough research when I started out. I knew what I was good at and wanted to do, so I made a list and set to it. Obviously, I had to get all the legal stuff in place but from there it was just getting the website in place and then word of mouth. I’d recommend when starting out to do a little more research, but at the same time it’s easy to procrastinate – so do what is best for you.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
At the moment the best way has been through word of mouth and personal networks and this has worked well, but it’snot sustainable, I think. An online model definitely needs to be implemented. I still work on network and personal recommendations, but now I’m focussing more on detailed plans and working on funnels. etc.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
My biggest struggle has been with myself and self-confidence. I’m constantly comparing myself to others, which is crazy as everyone is different. Imposter syndrome is definitely a thing and I have it. It’s always a battle, but I think that finding your tribe and your support and supporting each other is so important. The other big battle has been figuring stuff out on my own and second guessing myself, which is why I think that finding your tribe, seeking out groups where you feel comfortable (whether in person or virtual) and asking for help is so vital. Most people are more than happy to offer support. I’ve learned more about myself in the last 2 and half years and what I can do than I think I did in all the previous work experience.
Can you tell us about any habits you have/things you do, which set up success every day?
I’ve learned that I need to plan my days, weeks, and months, so now I do a 30-day sprint and then I work out all the things I want to achieve that month and I map them out on the calendar. I block out time on the calendar and I try to stick to it – it doesn’t always work but it’s a lot better than not doing it.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Go for it – life is short so if you have the financial means to survive whilst in start-up mode, then just go for it!
When I face a big challenge, I…
talk it through with trusted advisers. Normally your gut is right and you know what you need to do. You just sometimes need reassurance.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done as an entrepreneur is…
quit my job and go for it. That is one of the scariest things ever.
If I could go back in time to when I started my business I would tell myself…
You can do this, just believe in yourself.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…
believe in yourself.
My favorite business tool/resource/book/podcast is…
Grit and Hustle podcast by Todd Herman. I’ve done his coaching program and it is amazing.
My favorite quote is…
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain