What has one year of self-employment taught travel agent Craig Goodridge?

Craig Goodridge first launched his solo endeavour, Craig Goodridge Travel, in April 2017: last year, he made the choice to go full-time. In our recent Agent Insight column, Craig explained what he has learned since then about developing a network, staying motivated and just how quickly time flies.

"As of May 1st, 2024, I have officially completed 12 months as a full-time, self-employed agent, with the added bonus (and stress) of a physical store.

"The journey over the past year has been full of ups and downs, but overall, it has been a positive experience.

"The ups have been the increase in customer numbers, sales, and profits, which obviously keep us going and ensure we can keep a roof over our heads. Another positive aspect has been all the time spent with customers face-to-face, which I didn’t get as a homeworker and something I really enjoy. A nice little cup of tea, a gossip, and booking them a nice coach holiday off to Torquay – wonderful.

"Being able to attend more events with business partners and fellow travel friends has also been great. Not being tied down to a 9-5 job has allowed me to go on some lovely fam trips and attend conferences, making lots of new friends along the way.

"Some highlights for me were attending the TTNG Conference in Munich, Cunard and Disney cruises to the Fjords, and the recent ITE Conference on the MSC Euribia.

"Some of the downsides have been not having the regular income I was used to with a salaried role. However, not having that regular income lights a fire under you to go out and find those sales, chase up those enquiries, and spend more time offering extras such as ancillaries. I was probably a bit lazy on this in the past, but every penny counts now.

"Overall, if I could go back a year and give myself some advice, it would probably be:

  1. Budget better and make sure you are only spending money on marketing and things that will benefit your business.
  2. Attend as many events as you can because it can be lonely being on your own, and having these interactions and making new friends really does pay off. I've made lots of new friends now, and no one cares who you work for; you are all in it together and support each other's success.
  3. Don’t give up. Some months will be quiet and some will be busy. But at the end of the day, it's your business and it's all your hard work, which is really rewarding when you see the positive feedback from customers and also see all those repeat bookings and people coming back to you.

"A final lesson for me has been how quickly time goes by! One minute I'm preparing for peaks and then it's nearly June. I'd say this is probably due to the old saying: when you are having fun, time flies by."

Craig Goodridge is an independent travel agent based at Sheffield's Moor Market.