Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Conner Galway, Founder of eLearningU, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
eLearningU is North America's premier online learning platform for the tourism industry. We've brought together some of the brightest minds in tourism marketing to create a hub where people can come to develop their skills and stay on top of the latest developments in digital.
Tell us about yourself
I am incredibly fortunate to get to work at the intersection of two industries that I love: tourism and digital business. Back in 2009, I was working in a steady corporate job when I saw what was happening with the internet and knew that I had to be a part of it. After several side projects stoked that interest, three friends and I made the leap to leave our jobs and go all in building digital content for businesses, which was a tough sell back then. Fast forward six years, and I saw another major shift: The Internet was no longer a side project that businesses could simply outsource - it had become a foundational part of how we would all be doing business, and the organizations that were thriving were the ones that embraced digital from the inside out. So, I pivoted my business to become Junction Consulting, where 100% of our efforts were focused on the strategy, training, and advisory work that it would take for companies to embrace that shift.
All along, travel has been both a passion of mine and the projects that I enjoyed most. Our growing consultancy began to specialize in tourism in 2017 when Destination BC hired us to travel the province, working directly with operators to build their digital knowledge and capacity. We followed that natural fit right up to 2020, and when the economy shut down and we went all in on providing training and support to tourism, which of course, was one of the hardest-hit industries. We made all of the same workshops and training materials that we had been building for clients available to anyone who could use them, free of charge. Our idea was that if tourism operators couldn't welcome guests at that moment, then we could make it possible for them to embrace digital and apply their creativity in a new medium.
We were recognized by Marketing News Canada with their Leadership Award, and as businesses have re-opened their doors, it's become clear that those who embraced digital as a way to extend the guest experience are thriving. It's become our mission to empower every tourism business across North America with those same tools and abilities, which is why we've launched eLearningU. On our brand new learning platform, we are able to deliver the same quality of training, workshops, and resources to professionals everywhere that our enterprise clients pay thousands of dollars for at a fraction of the price.
For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing businesses that bring so much value to their communities be able to scale and succeed because of the resources that we've been able to make available to them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It's difficult for me to identify a single accomplishment because I feel like we're just getting started, but one that's got me really excited right now is the fact that we saw a need for a tourism learning hub, put in months of work to make it happen, and since launch, over 3,000 professionals have embraced what we've built and become eLearningU learners. It's just one step in our journey, but it is a big one and one that has given us a huge vote of confidence to keep building.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Every day there are 1,000 or more things you can do with your time and energy, and no matter how many books you read or how much experience you have, there's no way to know for sure which are the best uses of those scarce resources. There seems to be a perception of the brilliant business owner who has all the right answers, but if they exist, I haven't met them yet. Instead, we're all just making educated guesses based on the best information that we have available at the time and then committing everything that we have to make them work.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know what makes your business special. As entrepreneurs, we want to do everything and solve every problem, but there is so much power in knowing what the specific value is that we're offering to people.
- Ask for help. I struggle with this one constantly, but nearly every industry and every business have a community that exists to support us. Whether that's a chamber of commerce, small business association, or destination marketing organization, there are people out there whose whole job is to help make us more successful - let them do their jobs.
- Be relentless with what matters, and be flexible with what doesn't. It's tough to know which is which, but every business has a few things that really, truly matter and a lot of things that don't. Once you identify those core objectives or activities, then you can commit to them no matter what challenges or criticisms come up along the way. Similarly, we can try out non-core activities, test new things, and be open to as much feedback as possible.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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