Small business story – Karen Lee


First and last name

Karen Lee

Company name

ConferenceDirect

Website address

www.conferencedirect.com

Please describe exactly what your business does and your target market (ideal customer)

My service is to help clients to find the perfect venue for their meetings and conferences of any size in any hotel in any city around the globe

My job is 100% commission base, very similar to real estate agent, you belong to an umbrella company but you are on your own. Sort of like franchise.

What makes your business different? What is that you do that makes your business unique

I provide complimentary services on site selection and contract negotiation. Many people might think this is too good to be true, but it is true, absolutely no cost to clients. NO catch at all.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I spent 15 years of my career life in the hotel industry. I had produced millions of sales for my employers but always receiving a flat rate salary. I have decided to be on my own because I know I am a good sales person; I do not wish anyone to cap my income. By being on my own, my return can be proportional to my efforts and dedication.

What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur allows me to maintain more control on my time and effort. I can be my own boss, I can help my clients the way they should be helped, I can really propose and advise them the best options for them, to be truly and genuinely customer focused rather than revenue focused

What’s the worst part of being and entrepreneur?

Without a steady income sometime is scary. No matter how much I like to help others, I still have a mortgage to pay

How long have you been in business?

In the hospitality business for 15 years; I have been on my own for approximately 2 years

How did you raise the start-up cash?

Life time savings, cashed out RRSP, loan from parents

Identify and discuss a few lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Need to be very self-disciplined. I must be at my work station by 8:30am every morning, no crouching, and no sleeping in. Every morning, although work from home office, still change into proper business casual attire, I never allow myself to be sloppy.

Must be very conscious in scheduling my time; planning ahead how to spend the day and be really disciplined to stick to the plan.

Again, be very discipline not to over spend. Need to save at least 25% of total income for year end to pay tax. I have learned to shop around looking for the best banking practice for my need and spending pattern.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

DISCIPLINE. Working from home needs double the effort because you are on your own. You only have yourself to fall back on when you are on your own. You must be far more careful.

Briefly, what are your goals and plans for the future?

In the next year, I must produce minimum 15 accounts with steady good potential. I need to produce a minimum of 500 room nights per month. If this can be fulfilled, I will be able to generate my desirable steady monthly income.

My mission statement: to be able to contribute to the well being of the community, to be customer service driven, always have clients’ best interest at heart and at the same time, I like to receive fair compensation for my efforts and dedication

Any other information or advice you’d like to share?

Before I quit my steady income corporate job, I have saved up a sum of money that would be enough to sustain my basic expenses for 6 months. Just in case things don’t work out as plan, I could have 6 months to look for a job. I put this sum of money in a high interest saving account which I must discipline myself do not touch unless it’s absolutely my last option.


 

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