Bronwyn Clinton has worked with the biggest and the best in the Tourism sector. She is one of Travel Massive’s 100 Inspiring Women Travel Founders. You can see Bronwyn in the article here
Bronwyn launched her Broader Minds tour business on 1st February, but the first fall out to Covid19 was a couple of weeks later. This might have been considered a disaster. However, 100% of clients refused to take any refund. Opting instead to stay with Bronwyn, someone they know and trust, until alternative tours can be arranged.
You can see the Broader Minds website here
In an interview we asked Bronwyn to give a description of her business Broader Minds.
A group tour company specialising in organising tours for groups – educational, sports, music, corporate groups etc. We aim to incorporate some level of getting back to nature in every tour with daily screen downtime on all tours. Contrary to most people’s beliefs this does not depend on having a high level of fitness at all, everyone can enjoy nature to some degree and we can arrange this to be included in all types of tours. We are by no means a bootcamp or retreat we just want clients to enjoy getting back to basics and completely unplugging from daily stresses. We can incorporate mindfulness instruction, yoga, hiking, motivational speakers, fun cooking lessons or anything that the group may deem appropriate for themselves.
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
I have worked in the group tour industry for almost 20 years. After experiencing significant burnout myself I saw a need to slow down and look after my own wellbeing so I thought it would be a good idea to incorporate that into the tours that I could offer. I am a huge advocate of responsible tourism and sending groups to more remote and off the beaten track locations in order to support local communities and the environment as a whole. There are so many beautiful places in the world to see and they are so much better enjoyed without crowds. We have break out areas where people are encouraged to switch off their phones and enjoy the company of others or peace and quiet such as reading a book or just relaxing. Every tour is different and comes with its own exciting challenges.
Give a brief account of your education background.
I studied a BA in UCD in Linguistics and Italian and lived in Verona for a year during this time. I then went on to complete my Masters in Tourism Management in DIT. Following that I undertook a Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2013 which further aided my career in the tourism industry.
Most recently I achieved a Distinction in Practical Entrepreneurship and Business Planning with the Entrepreneurs Academy which led me to being accepted on to Thrive Business Growth programme which I am currently undertaking.
Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?
I always had a dream to work for myself but for some reason never thought that it would be possible. I spent too long listening to the non-risk takers around me and feeling afraid that it wouldn’t be possible for too many reasons including the competition in the industry who make it very clear that they are unsupportive about paving the way for new arrivals such as myself.
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
Yes – my brother is self-employed and many of extended family members are also. All of my family are incredibly supportive of my work and always have been. They are currently my unpaid sales team.
Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?
Yes, I have worked for the major players in the market both abroad and in Ireland for nearly 20 years now. Even though we offer something a little different in Broader Minds there is nothing new about the concept of group tours but we aim to stand apart from the noise by of course offering a truly exceptional service for every client.
What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when setting up your business?
Absolutely, I have worked for some of the major players in the industry and it has been through this experience that I have learned how exactly I want to run my business and the ways in which I can improve on what is already being offered in the market for clients.
How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)
The business has been initially self-funded.
Looking back, would you have changed the method of funding you chose?
I’m happy that I could fund the business myself. However, I wouldn’t rule out funding from a bank or an investor as the business grows.
Did you encounter any financial difficulties in the first year of operation? If yes, what did you do to surpass them?
I officially launched my business on 1st February 2020 and Coronavirus hit Italy on February 12th 2020 (where 2020 tours are all booked so far) therefore it has put paid to any tours for April and May. We have to wait and see what will happen in the coming months with regard to running future tours either here in Ireland, locally or indeed abroad.
I am so thankful that due to my relationships with my clients and despite offering them 100% refund they have told me to keep deposits until we can re-book the dates and postpone the tours. My suppliers have agreed also to postpone the deposits for a later date or future tours. I am very grateful that all partners and suppliers work so well together that we can help each other in these times.
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
Strong work ethic, discipline, experience, wonderful network personally and professionally, belief in my abilities and confidence to thrive.
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
Confidence in my abilities and belief in what I do. The partners and suppliers I choose to work with are of the same belief and even through these difficult times we are collaborating and supporting each other as best we can
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
It is invaluable – all of my bookings have been through word of mouth therefore I rely heavily on getting to know my clients preferably face to face if possible and at the very least by phone or zoom to design the exact right tour for them.
Do you think entrepreneurship has changed in recent years?
Being new to the game I cannot say for certain but perhaps in terms of the community that I have found recently and events that take place regularly. People are so willing to help and that is something that I have found to be a true support in entrepreneurship.
Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?
Yes, I have future plans to do so it will be a social enterprise. When this one has become successful then I will start planning the next venture!
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Always believe in yourself no matter what anyone says, trust your gut it is there for a reason and only take advice from those who have your best interests at heart. They will be your biggest ambassadors and do not take any criticism personally they are looking out for you. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and take the risk! Human connection is more important now than ever don’t hide behind social media and emails – get to know your clients and the rest will fall into place.