You will wear many hats for a while. As a business owner, especially solo, you will wear a lot of hats for a while. It’s important that you fully understand the ins and outs of your business before you delegate roles and build a team. The more that you can understand not only how business works in general but also how you want your business ran in particular, the easier it will be to train new hires on your brand, core values, and expectations. Wearing many hats will be overwhelming because there always a lot to get done and manage but, this is one of the many challenges that you will face as an entrepreneur.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sahara Rose De Vore.
Sahara Rose De Vore is a Travel Coach and Consultant and Founder of The Travel Coach Network. She uses her decades of travel expertise to help people have meaningful and transformative travel experiences that improve their overall wellbeing, personal, and professional life. Sahara Rose is a published author, global speaker, and has been in more than 70 media outlets including Forbes, Business Insider, Thrive Global, and Authority Magazine for the mission to reshape how and why people travel. Visit her at https://thetravelcoachnetwork.com/
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I grew up as an only child to a single mom. We could hardly afford to keep food in the cabinets, let alone see the world. Therefore, travel seemed so far out of reach for someone like myself. Plus, no one in our family or community was a traveler. Our idea of traveling was family road trips from the north of the U.S to the south Texas to visit my grandmother’s family near Mexico but, I was so young that I only remember bits and pieces of those adventures. I had a wanderlust soul and no idea where it came from.
I have always had an artistic eye so every time that I would see beautiful photos of lush green rainforests and colorful tropical birds in Costa Rica and other incredible places around the world, I was simply in awe. I saw movies with sky-high waterfalls and the most stunning white sand beaches. I knew that there was a whole world out there that I needed to explore but, how could I ever make that happen?
Well, I was determined to and I did.
When I graduated over a decade ago from university with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, I was very underwhelmed by the lack of diversity in career options. At the age of 22 I was unsure of the life that I wanted to have and what my passions were. I was struggling with anxiety and bouts of depression and knew that whatever it was that I was going to do with my life, I wanted it to bring me happiness, purpose, and I wanted to make an impact on the lives of others and the world.
I decided to take a very unconventional route and ignore what pressures society and family were placing on me. I booked a one-way ticket to Europe, packed a suitcase, and set off to find the answers that I was looking for.
I wound up falling in love with how much travel was helping and healing me that I spent over a ten years traveling on and off to over 84 countries by the age of 31.
The first half of my worldly adventure was the most difficult. The amount of travel resources, tools, and technology was limited. I remember traveling with a flip phone, paying to use internet wherever I could find a computer, and using a paper map to navigate around new cities.
Throughout the years, I got hands on experience with shifts in the travel industry. Talking with other travelers and having my own experiences, I learned what travelers used, liked, desired, and didn’t like. I also learned what problems, voids, and shortages existed in the travel industry and for travelers. Being a millennial in the mist of the rise of social media, it shown a light on how and why people were traveling as well as the growing desire for more freedom-based jobs.
Despite having a degree in tourism and years of traveling under my belt, I struggled for many years trying to figure out what travel-related career I wanted. I was aware of what existed; travel agents, booking managers, working for a company that paid me to travel for business, becoming a blogger, or growing my social media to become an influencer just to get free trips.
I wanted to do and be some more. I believed that my travel experiences, skills, knowledge, and perspectives were far more valuable and impactful than what I was told I could use them for.
I knew that since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I had to create it myself.
That is when I decided to become a travel coach and specialize in helping business travelers and corporate employees have better and more meaningful travel experiences while bringing a fresh take on wellness travel
I am also pioneering the path for other ambitious and passionate travelers who desire to become certified travel coaches. I founded The Travel Coach Network™ because I wanted a place for travel coaches around the world to connect with other like-minded travel coaches and experts, list their business and niche, and for people and companies to find and hire a travel coach. I designed and accredited the very first travel coach certification program to make their journey easier and clearer as a travel coach and entrepreneur.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I began my businesses, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have experience starting a business and I had no clue how to create an online business. I spent months diving deep into educating myself on anything and everything having to do with starting and online business.
When I started my travel coaching business, which is a newer concept in the travel and coaching industries that is quickly picking up speed, I had a difficult time because I was pioneering that space. Most people hadn’t heard of travel coaching before so I had to do an even better job at clarifying and defining what travel coaching is, especially to The Travel Coach Network.
When I began paving my path as a Wellness Travel Coach in the corporate world, I had to do a lot of leg work on spreading my message and mission and networking with anyone and everyone that I could. I had such a unique concept and travel wellness approach that I knew that my task of introducing new ideas and being heard was going to be a tough one but with perseverance, hustle, connecting with people at conventions and events around the world, holding virtual calls with the companies that I had been studying and learning about, and marketing my business, it took off quite quickly.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I believe so much in what I do and am building. Through my travel experience, I gained a deep understanding of the value of transformative and purposeful travel that I know it was only a matter of time before the corporate world caught on. Also, as a travel coach, I knew that there was more to a travel job than blogging and bookings and that other travelers around the world were also seeking a more authentic and meaningful career path like I was.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are amazing! I can’t believe how much both of my businesses are taking off, especially when both are newer concepts. Last year, despite the travel industry taking an unprecedented hit by the pandemic, I was lucky that my businesses were unique models that actually thrived. I had many travel agents, tour operations, coaches, and experts turn to travel coaching. I also had many travel platforms, meetings and events companies, wellness treats, and travel companies reach out for consulting on reshaping their wellness initiatives.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the silliest things that I did when starting my business was when I launched a new group program and offered a payment plan, I accidently set it as a one-time payment which meant that I had to contact each client each month for that month’s payment until the three months were over. I learned to double check everything before making it available to my audience
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Both of my businesses are unlike any other travel or wellness-related business. Not only is The Travel Coach Network not a travel agency but it also doesn’t follow the business model of a travel agency which heavily depends on bringing in other agents to teams. The Travel Coach Network is a global network of travel coaches and experts who connect with and support one another while discovering and developing a business that is true to their niche, experiences, and expertise. It is also home to the world’s first ICF accredited certification program for travel coaches which helps passionate travelers figure out what kind of travel business they want to have by also focusing on the business aspect. It’s common to join an online community or program and be one in the masses but, not at The Travel Coach Network. It is part of my mission to make sure that my members feel cared for and supported throughout their business journey.
As for my Wellness Travel Coaching and Consulting business, I aim to redefine travel wellbeing. Unlike other companies which focus solely on spas, gyms, healthy meal options, comfy beds in hotels, yoga sessions, and meditation apps, I educate on the proven wellness benefits of travel and experiences to improve overall wellbeing and work performance.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I recommend that everyone gets in tune with their inner self and bring to light what it is that they truly need to thrive in their wellbeing, personal life, and work life. Does that look like more personal time doing things that make you happy? Does that look like spending quality and effective time with your partner or children? Does that look like learning how to disconnect from your workload or delegate some of it to others? Or does that look like taking care of your mental or physical health?
Once you can identify what it is that you want and need, then you can start making a plan to achieve those goals. You cannot make effective changes in your life or thrive if you don’t recognize what it is that you need. Putting your personal wellbeing and goals on the backburner can put you on the fast track to burnout.
Putting vacation time on the back burner or integrating purposeful and transformative travel into your life can also lead to burnout.
Travel is healing. It is something that we all turn to at some point in our life to feel better and do better. Travel has proven help people feel refreshed, fulfilled, rejuvenated, and inspired. To thrive in our personal and professional life, it’s important to incorporate some sort of travel, whether that is local or international. It can be as simple as taking a weekend road trip or spending more time in nature. Travel is a key ingredient to improving your overall wellbeing and boosting your work performance.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
One of my mentors, Minna Whitman, the Global Knowledge and Collaboration Lead at American Express Global Business Travel, is someone who has helped me tremendously in my business. I connected with Minna through the Global Business Travel Association’s Women in Travel organization because I was seeking someone to help and guide me through my own business journey. My favorite thing about having Minna as a mentor is how open she is to hearing my ideas and helping me break through my mental blocks. She made such an impact on me because she made me feel like my vision mattered and that I mattered. It’s important as a solopreneur to have adequate and genuine support and guidance. I also love hearing about her beautiful location of Nova Scotia, a place that I have always wanted to travel to.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
It is part of my mission to inspire, guide, and educate other entrepreneurs, especially women in the travel industry. Within The Travel Coach Network I do what I can to bring opportunities to my members, to give them a space to share their stories and experiences, to encourage understanding and acceptance of others, and to connect such amazing human beings. An example of this is my Cultural Exchange Days within my membership club. The world would be a much better place if we all understand and accepted that we are all different in culture, belief systems, traditions, appearances, and ways of life.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You will wear many hats for a while. As a business owner, especially solo, you will wear a lot of hats for a while. It’s important that you fully understand the ins and outs of your business before you delegate roles and build a team. The more that you can understand not only how business works in general but also how you want your business ran in particular, the easier it will be to train new hires on your brand, core values, and expectations. Wearing many hats will be overwhelming because there always a lot to get done and manage but, this is one of the many challenges that you will face as an entrepreneur.
- You will need to find a balance. Running a business is hard. You have to learn how to find a balance and define that balance for yourself because it looks different for everyone. There is a lot to think about and juggle when you have a business and then, you also have a personal and family life to factor in as well. I didn’t really think about the mental aspect when starting my business but I soon learned that it wasn’t going to be easy.
- Staying organized from the very beginning is essential. Whether for tax purposes, personal reasons, or for onboarding team members, it’s important to stay as organized as you can with your documents, folders, information, and finances from the beginning. I say this because you may scale fast than you think or you may need to transfer computers or platforms and before you know it, you realize that your stuff is all over the place. It makes things much easier if you can stay organized because it will do you service mentally and strategically in your business.
- Prioritizing is key. You may find yourself receiving many opportunities or you may have new ideas for your business but don’t overwhelm yourself or fill your plate too much. If you try to do too many things at once, you’ll end up not accomplishing anything to the level that it needs to be to succeed. Instead, learn to prioritize. Figure out what can be done one year from now, one month from now, one week from now, and today. Find a system, whether it’s a list or a spreadsheet, that keeps your to-do list organized. Stay focused on your money-making tasks and evaluate what’s most important.
- You will need a thick skin. Who knew that you needed to think about your emotional stability when becoming an entrepreneur? This was never something that I thought about before starting my business. Like I said, having a business is not easy, especially when it’s an online business. You are opening your business and yourself up to the opinions and critiques of others. It’s inevitable. You need to have a thick skin and learn how to take other’s opinions and either ignore them or use them to help you grow. This can be really hard for people. It’s not fun having friends, family, or the whole world tell you that your idea isn’t great or that you won’t succeed. This can make you doubt yourself and what you’re doing. You also can’t compare yourself to others. That will eat at your ability to thrive and do the work that needs to get done. All that matters is that you believe enough in yourself and your mission. Then, enjoy your journey and know that you are right where you are supposed to be at each step of the way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A part of my mission is to grow a movement in my Thrive Through Travel Initiative. This movement is about the acknowledgment that travel has a powerful impact to improve the mind, body, soul, and work-life. My goal for this movement is to inspire people to share how travel has impacted their lives and why they turn to travel for their own unique reasons as well as encourage companies to take travel off of the back burner and move it to the forefront for thriving in wellness and in the workplace.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!