Every start up business aims to be the most innovative, the most successful, the fastest growing - to be the best. I personally don't believe that a start up can do any of the above without running a business in an area you are passionate about. I believe that there are 3 reasons for this:
Firstly, you need to know the layout of the market - you need to know what the customers want, why they want it and when they want it. There are very few industries that won't have a big incumbent, which will have a lower cost base, established trust and a (much) bigger marketing budget. The biggest weapon that you have is the ability to create better products and services.
The company which has the best understanding of the customers, and what drives them, will have the ability to create the best products and services. When starting up, this will be your job. And if you don't know the customer better than your competitors, you will have trouble creating the best products.
Secondly, you need to love what you do. As a start up entrepreneur, you are going to be working ridiculous hours, day in, day out. Trust me in saying that money will not drive you - you need to love what you are doing, you need to have a higher goal. For us, this is the drive to create unbeatable holiday experiences. This will differ for everyone.
And finally, growth and planning is so much easier when you know the market! Market research can only tell you a certain amount, but when it is an area that you know intrinsically, your gut feeling will be the main thing that drives the business. We bring statistics and comparisons in to any assessment of a new business area, but the biggest determinant is whether we think it is good or not. Whether it is a t shirt design for one of our festivals or a proposal for a new style of holiday, we are able to make value judgements on a daily basis on the back of our understanding of the market. You simply cannot do this if you aren't doing what you love.
I love travelling. My philosophy has always been to work hard, and then have a big holiday or adventure to make it all worthwhile. We saw around us that holidays for young people were very limited - there were no credible alternatives to the major, outdated tour operators, and any small companies trying to compete were not getting it right. We were convinced that we had a better knowledge of what customers wanted than the large and small
incumbents, and that we could do it better. Two years later, we are the fastest growing youth tour operator, taking thousands upon thousands of guests to the clubbing islands in the summer under our Takeover brand, and to our ski festival Snowboxx in the winter. Without knowing what the customers really wanted, we would have had no chance.
And it's all great fun. I get to create better holidays for my job, and I get to experience loads of new places. I work ridiculous hours and have a lot of stressful situations to deal with - but I don't care, because I am doing what I love. 12 hours a day at work is horrible - but 12 hours working on what is both your job and your hobby is the dream!