Making the transition from a corporate career to entrepreneurship and small business ownership is a significant life change, and one that is made even more complex if this shift includes a move to a new and unfamiliar community. But that is the challenge that Shari Vick took on in 2016 when she came to Central Florida and opened her travel service company, MemorableTimes LLC. Wisely, she soon turned to the Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its Kissimmee/Osceola County satellite Office for assistance.
As the name suggests, MemorableTimes LLC is in the business of helping sophisticated travelers choose, plan, and book memorable travel experiences. Shari Vick creates individually conceived and specially customized travel adventures for discerning clients. These can include river cruises, solo and group trips, romance travel, bike tours, and wine country sojourns among many other possible journeys to exciting destinations.
When Vick first started her business, she had a clear vision of the top-end, best-in-class travel experiences she sought to create for upscale, travel-savvy clients. These were never going to be those “everyday travel packages you can pull off the internet,” she says. But to achieve her goal, she realized that she would need additional help and so she connected with the FSBDC at UCF.
“Working with my consultant, Rafael Pratts, has made all the difference for me,” Vick states today. “He has guided me, supported me, held my hand, and introduced me to the different services and systems that the FSBDC has to offer. I benefited from their no-cost, one-on-one consulting; business seminars on budgeting, marketing, banking; and did an evaluation of my website that made me more competitive with my local and national competitors.”
“My experience with the FSBDC has been wonderful,” continued Vick. “It has been very helpful, especially because I was new to the area, with introducing me to the small business community. It has helped me develop professionally and to make better decisions. I now know my numbers, can make projections, and track my results. I am a better communicator with clients and vendors, which has helped save bookings and turn COVID-19-related cancellations into travel postponements.”
“With the help of the FSBDC, I have learned a great deal about being an entrepreneur and a successful business owner,” Vick went on. “And I have seen significant growth in my business since I started with Rafael and the FSBDC because I have learned how to manage my business better. In 2019, I saw an increase of more than 20% in my revenues. And I was on track for a better year in 2020 until COVID-19 struck. Even then, because of what I’ve learned, I was able to figure out how to survive.”
“If a business owner or an entrepreneur came to me to ask about working with the FSBDC, I’d say ‘Do it.’ Take advantage of all they have to offer. The services are available without any fees. Why wouldn’t you do it?” Vick concluded. “It has been great for me. I see no reason not to get on board with them. There’s no downside, only upside.”
For more information about MemorableTimes LLC, please visit https://www.memorabletimesllc.com/ .