I spent several months working as an unpaid part-time employee for another travel agent to gain experience while also building my English skills. In 1998, I felt ready to take the plunge. Drawing on my personal savings and the part-time assistance of my husband, Orlando, I launched Consuelo's Travel! We soon found that customers were asking for help for other things such as money transfers, translations, tax returns and immigration counseling. My husband and I quickly learned as much as we could about them so we could add those services. I soon found it necessary to hire another part-time employee, and to seek financial assistance for new equipment and leasehold improvements because we had so many clients!
We were able to purchase a three-story building in 2002. We're on the ground floor and lease the space above to tenants that include a lawyer, an employment agency, and a newspaper.
I know a few things about long-distance travel. Like many other Latin Americans who have come to the United States, I experienced the difficulties of making travel arrangements and dealing with immigration issues while also trying to overcome a language barrier when I immigrated from Peru. With the Hispanic population in and around my new home in Lakewood, NJ, growing steadily, I set my sights on starting a travel agency that specialized in serving Spanish-speaking customers.
While researching information at the local library, I saw a notice for a SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups. That led to one-on-one mentoring with Bob Miesemer, the former president/CEO of a business machines company who I am still in contact with today!
When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own. With my mentor Bob’s encouragement, I am working on becoming a SCORE volunteer so that other Hispanic entrepreneurs will benefit from my experience! I tell them that if I can succeed after being in the United States for only seven years, anybody can. You just need to be sure of what you want to do, and where to go to get help.
We needed help developing business plan, our marketing strategy, and legal requirements. Bob took us through each one step by step, showing us what elements were needed and why they were important.
With Bob’s help, I received my loan and continued to grow my business. With my fully bilingual staff, which includes my husband Orlando, we're enjoying steady growth in both revenue and customer base. Bob Miesemer continues to drops by to check on our progress and answer questions. I really appreciate his counseling and support!
When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.