Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeni Martinez, Founder of Jeni's Global Yoga Trips, LLC., located in Tacoma, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Jeni's Global Yoga Trips' mission statement:
To host unique, high-quality yoga and travel adventures that inspire hope, create lifelong memories and expand your understanding of the world.
Jeni's Global Yoga Trips feature:
• Fully immersive cultural experiences highlighting the best of the area we are visiting.
• Sampling the yummiest regional delicacies and specialty drinks.
• The opportunity to browse local villages and visit historical sites.
• Exploration of spectacular natural beauty by hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or biking.
• Daily yoga & meditation classes to help you stay grounded and integrate the excitement of international travel.
• A commitment to support local businesses to ensure a sustainable and respectful travel exchange.
• A well-planned schedule that includes a variety of fun activities as well as ample free time. Everything is always optional.
• Group size is limited to encourage deep and meaningful connections with your fellow travelers.
My customers include women traveling solo, couples, friends traveling together, and even mothers and daughters. Many of my clients practiced yoga with me originally at Three Trees Yoga in Federal Way, WA, a business I co-owned with two partners until 2020. We welcome experienced yogis as well as those brand new to yoga.
Tell us about yourself
I got my first passport when I was nine months old. My parents were missionaries in Japan for my first ten years. Growing up in another culture fueled my love of adventure and inspired me to want to learn more about the world. During a meditation in college, I caught a vision of my future self in front of a group of people with my arms up in the air. I thought it meant that I should become a flight attendant and point out the emergency exits. Soon after, I landed a job with American Trans Air, a charter airline out of Indianapolis, IN. Because I spoke Spanish, I was assigned to many South American destinations. While the travel opportunities were fantastic, the job of flight attendant itself was not quite a perfect fit for me.
What then was my dharma, my purpose in life? Eventually, I realized I was supposed to be a yoga teacher! My arms were still up in the air in front of a group of people, but now I missed the travel. In 2005 my business partners, Suzy Green and Karen Schwisow, and I opened a yoga studio in Federal Way, WA, called Three Trees Yoga & Healing Arts Center.
The following year, I hosted my first international yoga retreat, and my dharma was finally fulfilled. I'd discovered the power of combining my two loves: yoga and travel. The two were definitely better together. Since then, I've hosted international retreats to the Yucatan, the Galapagos in Ecuador, Northern Spain, Bordeaux, France, and Chamonix in the French alps. Next year I have retreats in Italy, Greece, and Portugal as well.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I sold my portion of the yoga studio to my business partners in 2020 and launched Jeni's Global Yoga Trips so that I could focus on the aspects of the job I loved most: travel and yoga. We went to the Galapagos in January of 2020, and when we returned, the world shut down due to COVID. While I didn't get to lead any more trips in 2020, I was able to pivot and roll the trips I had planned over to 2021 and 2022. My clients waited patiently to be able to travel again. In 2021 I was able to offer two retreats at the end of the year, and in 2022 we are doing 4. Launching a travel-related business during COVID and finding a way to keep my clients motivated for future travel was a challenge. We now have a wonderful momentum, and all of us feel even more grateful each time we get to reunite on a retreat. COVID taught us to take precautions to travel safely and to appreciate each opportunity for adventure.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
My clients are mostly from the United States and pay in US dollars. The retreat centers, guides, and local businesses that we support on a trip usually require pre-payment in pounds or euros. Anticipating the fluctuations in the value of the dollar versus the euro or pound is tricky and can make a huge difference in the profitability of each trip. Currently, the euro and dollar are closer in value than they have been in a long time. That makes my job so much easier, and I am thrilled about that!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be involved in every aspect of the business, even if you have to hire experts to help you. For instance, working hand in hand with my accountant has taught me so much about my own business that I would not have understood if I had simply relied on her to do everything for me. The same goes for my website support person. Instead of me paying her to do everything, I hired her to teach me so that my husband and I could do more of the updates and maintenance of the website on our own in the future.
- Stay involved with your clients by sending a monthly ezine or by posting business-related blogs. I love to write about travel and yoga and find that much of my business comes as a result of regularly connecting with my clients. Instead of sending advertisements or impersonal requests for their business, I write about topics I think they might want to know about or about trips we've taken that might interest them in the future.
- As a small business owner, I can't emphasize enough the importance of going above and beyond what is expected of your clients. Personal service does not have to be expensive. Pay attention to your client's needs and deliver more than they expect, and you will have clients who want to do business with you again and again. Treat them each like a valued friend, and they will help you grow your business with positive word of mouth and great testimonials.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Mistakes happen. When they do, apologize to your clients and then get busy fixing the mistake. How you handle a complaint and how you fix problems can be just as important as getting it right the first time. Get creative to overcome a setback, and your clients will appreciate you even more.
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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