Interview with Sally Fedrizzi Owner of Vagabond Tour and Travel

Tell us about your business.
I operate a full service leisure travel agency.  One year ago, I also started sponsoring a travel club for women in my area called the Syracuse Women’s Travel Club.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
I worked in the travel industry for several years prior to branching out on my own.  At first, I tried partnering with my former company, but since our ideas on how to run a business and what direction to take a business were vastly different, we decided to form two companies on the surface and share resources in all of the “behind the scenes” aspects of the business.  This gives us greater purchasing power, but allows each business to stand with its own unique personality and set of clients.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Early on, I joined a local chamber whose main purpose was training business people and networking.  Listening to others and taking the bits and pieces of their success and applying them to my business model has been instrumental to building my business to where it is today.  Recently, in a slower economy, I find that my clients are my greatest influence.  Listening to them and what they have to say about why they are OR are not buying has helped me to make some important adjustments in my travel business to keep the clients coming back.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
I think that the creation of the travel club has been the most rewarding for me.  The women who join are so appreciative of the opportunity to get back into the world of travel and to be able to do so with a travel partner that is compatible and in some cases, becomes a lifelong friend.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Not everyone is your client.  Some business owners make the mistake of trying to please everyone and their business suffers as they change their model constantly to adapt to each new customers whim.  This undersells your knowledge and skill in your field and cheats your current clients who are loyal to your business model.

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
I am always marketing.  Whether it is by giving online advice to other business people through social media, attending chamber lunches, so people remember a face with a business, or setting myself up as an “expert” in my field by writing articles, giving lectures or just networking.  Face to face seems to work best in my business.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Always watch cash flow.  If you are not familiar with and prepared for your businesses cash flow cycles… you can be out of cash and out of business fast!

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Engage another business owner whose opinion you value and meet at least quarterly.  Or, create a panel of advisors for the same purpose.  Get together and bounce ideas and problems off of each other to improve your businesses functionality.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Volunteer with Rotary and especially, work with Youth Exchange.  I also enjoy walking, kayaking, reading and Scrabble.  And, of course, I travel quite a bit!

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
I would like to see my travel club expand into other regional markets and have plans for the second city in July 2009

In addition to your website, how else can our readers connect with you online?

I can be found on facebook at Vagabond Tour, or through my facebook group Women’s Travel Club .  I can also be found on Linkedin and the travel club web site