Ahead of the She's The Business event on 15 November - aimed at young women with great business ideas - we're speaking to some of our guest speakers about their entrepreneurial journey.
Serena Guen is CEO and founder of SUITCASE Magazine, a publication that crosses both print and online and aims to bring a fresh approach to the role of the travel magazine. Through a quarterly print magazine, a constantly updated website, apps and a series of pop-up shops and events, SUITCASE aims to get the reader, viewer and user the insider knowledge as well as offer a creative, eclectic look on cultures around the world.
Serena won a Woman of the Future Award for media in 2014 and was recently shortlisted for Young Travel Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
How did you get the idea to start your business?
I had the idea when I was living in Paris studying at university. It was my first time living abroad and I had to rely on travel sources heavily to navigate the city. I was finding it difficult to trust them and thought that a lot of their recommendations irrelevant. This inspired me to start making my own guides and quickly decided to go for it and make a magazine shortly after that.
What - or who - inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
What inspired me was the drive to create a travel source, solving what I thought was a big problem with a lot of travel media outlets. However I'd been instilled with a go-getting attitude from my family and from New York University. I'd been taught that it's always better to go and try something rather than be filled with regret later.
What has been the biggest challenge to date in running your business?
Learning everything from scratch. I studied liberal arts which provided me with a fantastic cultural foundation but I didn't have prior experience with publishing, the travel industry, media industry or business. Sometimes my brain feels like it's going to burst with the amount of information that I acquire every day.
What’s been the most exciting or interesting part of being an entrepreneur?
Learning to inspire people internally as well as externally. It's amazing when you've got everyone in your team in-sync, working towards a common goal and you have a leg up on a titan who's been around in the industry for years. Naturally when you start a business that's what you’re aiming for but when it actually happens, it's very exciting and surprising!
How important is location in setting up a business? Is starting a business in a big city like Manchester a benefit or hindrance for being unique and standing out?
It completely depends what kind of business you're trying to set up. Being in a city, it's often easier to build customer-facing businesses because you have a big pool of people to recruit from and a big customer base. However there are also drawbacks too like lots of competition.
Lastly, what advice would you give to any young women out there interested in starting their own business?
Do your research: Know the size of the market, know your competitors, ask your friends. Then be honest: is this really going to work? If so create the minimum viable product and go for it. You'll never know unless you try. (And you can always try while working somewhere else so you have that security if you need).
Thank you Serena for providing an insight into being an entrepreneur and founder.
Serena will be a key speaker at She’s The Business on 15 November 2017.