Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Megan Lower, Director of Wanderlust Voyages, located in Malden, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hello! We are Wanderlust Voyages, a Moroccan travel company! We help people discover the wonders of one of the most beautiful countries in the world, from the sparkling blue Mediterranean coast to the towering red dunes of the Sahara Desert, and so much in between!
We provide fully customized, private trips to Morocco for groups of all sizes, and we are passionate about continuing to scour the country for new and unique offerings, from an off-the-beaten-path city few foreigners visit to thrilling activities like paragliding. We combine the knowledge of a local with an understanding of what American travelers are looking for, removing language barriers and time zone barriers for the planning stages while providing on-the-ground staff support during travel.
Tell us about yourself
Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to be an attorney and never wanted to own my own business. However, sometimes life has different plans! After becoming an attorney, I met my husband, who is from Morocco. From my first trip to the Sahara Desert with him, I fell in love with the country and wanted to bring my friends, family, and everyone to experience the beauty of Morocco. And so, the idea for Wanderlust Voyages was born.
I dove head first into learning about the travel industry as well as more about Morocco. While my husband manages our work on the ground in Morocco, I manage the US portion, giving us the perfect blend of local expertise on both ends. While I started out wearing all the hats - management, customer service, advertising, accounting, etc. - as we have grown and been able to hire help, I'm able to spend my time focusing on what I love and what got me started in the beginning - sharing Morocco with others. The culture, the natural beauty, the food, and, above all, the people are all so incredible, and I truly think everyone should experience Morocco.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This is a tough question. I have been lucky enough to have a lot of accomplishments - hiring employees, purchasing vehicles and land for future projects, gaining national recognition, having the ardent support of influential people in my field, and creating multiple sister companies to expand our offerings. However, I think the biggest accomplishment is one that is unique to this point in history - we have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic still standing.
With the utter devastation wrought upon the travel industry when the pandemic brought travel, especially international travel, to a screeching halt, it was a very scary time. We were set to have our best year yet in 2020, and it was all turned on its head. However, through careful moves and strong partnerships, we were able to secure enough projects to keep us holding on, and that has allowed us to bounce back stronger as travel resumed. The past two years have brought down many businesses that were far more established than we were, so I count it as a very big accomplishment to come through this intact.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The thing that I find the hardest about being a business owner is work/life balance. With the flexibility of working remotely and having access to everything in the cloud from my smartphone, I find that I'm working at all hours and anywhere. It's often said that owning your own business means you're working more hours than traditional employment, and it's very true! However, when it is working to build your own business, and you can see how your hard work pays off, it makes it worth it!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Network, network, network. I struggled a lot with this, but attending numerous networking events was crucial to the start of my business. It helped me learn to promote myself and develop my "elevator pitch." It also taught me a great deal about being an entrepreneur, even from people in entirely different fields. Finally, you never know who you will meet. I credit our success to a string of introductions that came through networking. You'll be amazed at how willing others are to help you out!
- Put together a professional website and establish your online presence early. The first thing people do these days is turn to Google when they are curious about something, so you want to have something for people to find. There are so many plug-and-go website options that are super affordable that you no longer need to hire an expert to get started. While many traditional print versions of marketing go by the wayside, and social media trends can be fickle, the necessity for an internet presence is not going to go away, so begin building it early!
- Be adaptable. When I started the business, I thought we would be offering set group trips that people would join. However, at our first big event, I realized people wanted private trips, custom trips, and bits and pieces of trips. So we adapted and shifted our focus to better provide what people are looking for. And we have continued to adapt, even stumbling into niches we never intended to because we are willing to learn and adapt. At its core, we are still offering what we set out to, but in a very different way than we envisioned. Being willing to adjust our offerings and set aside personal preferences to provide what our customers want has allowed us to flourish. While you should never feel like you have to compromise the core of what you are passionate about, you need to adapt to the demands of your client base. Had we decided that we were going to move forward with what WE thought was the best offering, we would have failed long ago.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
As we continue to grow, I'm able to start branching out into additional ways to share Morocco, including making YouTube videos about travel to Morocco and some basic Moroccan recipes, as well as a cookbook! We have also started a non-profit to help people and animals in Morocco and have some big things in store for that!
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.