Monday, 25 February 2019
Most people go on holiday to take some time off from work, but not Sarah Guy! It was a holiday that gave her the idea that would result in starting her own business - Isle of Wight Campervan Holidays. She shares her story and her top business tips with us.
Originally from my own experience; I flew into Cairns in Australia with my family and we went to collect a campervan, and found there was nothing in it. I thought how simple an idea it would be if we kitted them out and hired them to holidaymakers travelling on the Isle of Wight. I started to research the business in 2006, and by 2007 we had our first hire. Initially we had one campervan which I used to test the market.
It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done but was very rewarding. There are many elements involved, many of which were new to me, so I got my head down and took each step at a time. As the motor trade is historically a male-dominated industry I found the attitude towards me starting and running the business often challenging!
After buying the first campervan, marketing and building a website were the next steps. I put together information about my business and contacted every magazine and newspaper, local and national, and kept updating the information monthly. Eventually magazine editors and journalists started taking an interest and we had some great press coverage which of course helped enormously. I was even asked by GMTV to make the Victoria Sandwich cake (which accompanies every campervan hire) on the show.
Looking back to the first three years, the main struggle I had was doing too much myself. I knew I had to learn to delegate, which was my biggest challenge because I knew how I wanted things executed so the business would work.
Initially, as with any business, it has to be created by you with your vision, so you get it right, but after that you need to learn to let go and delegate so you can move into different areas and move the business forward.
Trying to do it all did take its toll on me, but it was a learning process and wouldn’t happen again. A lot of entrepreneurs on the everywomanNetwork say they often find this to be hardest part in their businesses, which is reassuring. Nowadays I love delegating, and I have learned I am quite good at it.
Seeing all of the campervans in a row, all lined up, ready for arrivals and having people come back, knowing they have had a great holiday are the greatest highlights. Another great personal moment was when my bank manager phoned me to say he wanted to nominate me for an everywoman Award (Sarah won the 2011 NatWest everywoman Hestia Award).
I try and stay motivated all the time; I read motivational books and stay active, so I stay positive. The main thing is that I try and stay away from negative sources and opinions – in fact I have learnt to block them out. If there is something that is draining you, it really can be quite damaging. Confidence naturally grows with experience, and knowing you are getting it right.
I have led many teams in the past and I am very central to the day to day running of the business. I will do anything I ask anyone else to do. I always try and keep the team motivated by arranging fun staff activities. Keeping things fun encourages people to work well together.
I always have business goals. As I reach them I go onto the next one. I write down everything I want to achieve; I am a visualizer, so I see what I want and how I want to achieve it. I work in a very niche business so there aren’t that many competitors, but that doesn’t stop me from aiming high and moving into new areas.
My business ideas come from everyday life and experiences. I see great business opportunities every day, everywhere I go – it can be a pain, but an exciting pain nonetheless!
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