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You might know how to build a great product—and how to nurture customers. But do you know how to take your business to the next level?

As an independent travel advisor, it's important to go beyond the destination and product knowledge courses. Savvy up on the other skills that play a big role in your career: running a successful business.

Have a plan.
It's difficult to run a successful business if you don't have a clear definition or measure of success along the way. Have a detailed plan in place for your business—and get it in writing. Your plan should clearly state your mission, describe your target, establish measurable goals and set deadlines for milestones along the way.

Measure your success.
In other words: Do you have metrics in place for your business? A business metric is a quantifiable measure used to track and assess the status of a specific business process or goal. Each area of business—marketing, sales, customer loyalty and retention, financial and more—should have specific performance metrics that should be monitored.

Determine the right metrics. It helps to ask yourself what will most affect your business in the next year, what your specific revenue objectives are, and what criteria are essential for success.

Keep networking.
You've heard it before: It's not what you know, but who. Networking is a great way to tap into advice and expertise from industry professionals, and it could open new business opportunities, clients and partnerships. Join networking groups and attend industry-specific events and trade shows—and read up on perfecting your networking skills.

Have a reserve.
Yes: You must spend money to make money. But don't waste money or energy—and run as lean as you can. Mistakes happen, and luck isn't always on your side. Having a reserve will help get you through the tough times.

Know what's working for you.
In the business world, you're always on your toes. Constantly revisit your business plan, metrics and goals—and make any needed adjustments. If something isn't working for you, change it.


You need more than financial resources to run a successful business; you also need educational and human resources. Here are a few websites to help you stay on track.

  • SCORE offers free, confidential business advice. The nonprofit association's network of 11,000 working and retired business professionals volunteer to support small business owners. | www.score.org
  • Small Business Administration is a great resource for facts, information and education. | www.sba.gov
  • LivePlan could help you create a business plan to set your business on the right track, for a small monthly fee. | www.liveplan.com

Written by Cassie Westrate