Entrepreneur stories: Wendy Shand of Tots to Travel

wendy-shand“Being a successful entrepreneur is a bit like being an alchemist,” says Wendy Shand, founder of highly successful family-friendly holiday villa company Tots to Travel, which is based in Lincolnshire in the east of England.

“It’s all about finding exactly the right product that offers the right solution to a problem your target market is experiencing, all wrapped up in a brand that resonates with that target market, with products or services offered at the right price.”

“It’s all about finding the right product that offers the right solution to a problem your target market is experiencing” – Wendy Shand

Wendy set up her business up in 2006 following a near disastrous holiday to France with her husband, son and baby daughter (she has since had another child). “My son, Barnaby, was two-and-a-half and fell into an unenclosed swimming pool. We rushed to get him out and mercifully he was unhurt, if shocked by what had happened. That’s where my business idea was born – to create a website parents could visit to find nice holiday properties that were suitable and equipped for babies and young children.”

When you think you have the right product, price and brand, Wendy says you then need to put your “carefully formulated business idea in front of your target market at just the right point in their buying cycle for the magic chemistry to happen.  Timing and focus are everything!” she stresses.

“You must understand your customers want and know what they need – perhaps even better than they do” – Wendy Shand

“Running a business is much like a scientific experiment – you try something; measure the results; tweak things where necessary, and keep going until you end up with the ‘perfect potion’. Something magical begins to happen when there is a snug fit between your product and market. You must understand your customers want and know what they need – perhaps even better than they do.”

Wendy believes that if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, timing is key. “That’s partly why my business has succeeded in the family friendly villa market. When I launched in 2006, few other businesses were offering holidays catering specifically for families with babies and young children.”

“We’ve continued to focus on serving the needs of our niche, rather than diluting our core value proposition by diversifying. Trying to be all things to all customers is unwise” – Wendy Shand

She says it’s important to know your niche and do all you can to become the best supplier in your market. “We’ve continued to focus on serving the needs of our niche, rather than diluting our core value proposition by diversifying. Trying to be all things to all customers is unwise.”

So, what qualities does she think people need if they are to succeed in business? “The most successful entrepreneurs are curious and demanding – obsessive and relentless, too. They ask the right questions – of themselves and others – at the right time and then involve the right people in finding answers – people with the necessary levels of energy, enthusiasm and commitment. If you can do all of the above, you’re so much more likely to achieve great things in business.”

• This profile/case study was published by Hibu (Yell) in the USA and commissioned by Atom Content Marketing.