British History Tours: Philippa Brewell

The start-up founder talks to us about how her hobby turned into a business venture and why getting a proper marketing plan in place is essential

Name: Philippa Brewell
Company name: British History Tours
Location: West Midlands 
Date launched: 04/01/2015 
Number of Employees: 1
Website: www.britishhistorytours.com

Tell us what your business does:

We run luxury, conducted history tours of sites across Britain.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

History has been a hobby of mine for the past 15 years. I was watching a period drama and thinking about how it’d be great to hear these stories whilst visiting the visiting the sites. That’s where the idea came from to conduct short tours where we tell the story in the places it happened.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Market research from Visit Britain shows a strong, and now growing, tourist market who are interested in British history and culture.
Furthermore whilst conducting market research I became aware of other successful operators in this sector showing that there is demand.

What were you doing before starting up?

I worked for Severn Trent Water as a project manager and process improvement specialist before launching the business.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, I have always been interested in becoming an entrepreneur and I’ve looked into a number of ideas over the past 15 years; from wedding planner, to make-up artist, to online retailer, but this is the one that has really turned something I love into something I do!

How did you raise the money?

Bootstrapped as I have completely self-funded the business from personal savings. This isn’t easy but it does mean the business is 100% my own.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We package tours to include all attractions, travel, hotels, breakfast and daytime meals. Our itineraries are carefully thought out to provide the best experience possible for our customers.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Getting my first paying customers! We are on a very steep learning curve with advertising and marketing but we’re getting there, the website has just gone live and we began a targeted advertisement campaign the day after. We also have a presence across multiple social media channels, which helps use to get in contact directly with people who would be interested in what we have to offer.

What was your first big breakthrough

The first paying customer, we’ve got a lot of promotion still to do and it’s very early days but so far it has been an enjoyable ride.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do your research to make sure your idea is viable, of course, but most of all believe in yourself and your idea! A positive attitude goes a long way and an enthusiastic person is an engaging one.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We want to be running a much larger range of tours, providing employment for at least three more people and be known as a quality, friendly and trustworthy tour operator.

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