Entrepreneur and Mum
By Jennifer Dugan
When I was 12 years old, I had surgery with complications. I was told there was a chance I would
not be able to have children. Growing up I could not imagine my life without children and worried about it often.
When I got married close to my 21st birthday, my husband and I hoped that we would be lucky enough to have
children. Luckily, I found out I was pregnant almost a year later. However, soon after the great news, I got very
sick. I was working full time at a corporate travel agency and I could not work. My doctor told me that I had to
take care of myself or I would be at risk to lose my baby. My employer got very nasty with me and was not
compassionate about my sickness. I almost lost my job, but my doctor was able to get me medical leave from the
family leave act. The experience was horrible. I vowed to never have to choose between my career and the health of
my baby. I began to look for ways to work from home. I tried Mary Kay Cosmetics but I was terrible at it. It didn’t
feel comfortable and I really had nothing to make me want to be successful.
When my son Dillon was born in February 1997, it was one of the best days of my life. I quit my job
and tried to stay home full time. I was able to stay home until Dillon was three months old. Then I went back part
time at a travel agency. I hated leaving him even for the few hours I had to. So I decided to start my own travel
agency from my home. I knew the travel business well enough to be on my own, but I did not know very much about
being a home business owner. For the next two years, I had to learn so much about running a home business. I got
help from other work at home moms. I met them online and it was so helpful.
I created a website and began actively advertising for business. I read anything I could on having
a home business. I learned as much as I could about the internet. I began brainstorming on how I could expand my
business. I decided to specialize in family vacations since I had a growing family. My second child, Travis was
born January 1999. I began to learn how to balance having a family and a business. I worked whenever I could. Many
nights I work late at night when my children are sleeping. My husband is very supportive.
I finally started becoming successful and was gaining more customers each day. I started taking on
independent agents and helping them start their own agencies. I let them work with my agency because I had already
paid what it took to start the agency. I trained them and began building my business by helping others get into the
industry. I took a small percentage of their commissions for running the agency. It slowly turned into a full
fledge training program with a handbook and a website dedicated to my agents. I also created a website for people
who wanted to join the agency. I marketed to find those who would be interested. The agency has continued to grow
as the word has spread. What I offer people interested in the travel industry is unique since I accept those
without prior experience and train them for free.
I have been interviewed by several magazines and featured in books on home businesses. Currently I
have over 200 independent agents working with my agency. Our sales have skyrocketed. In 2002, we did $20,000 in
sales for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. In 2003, we did $147,000 in sales. We are growing in so many ways. I am
still very active in the agency. I still answer my emails myself and strive to personally know all my agents. I do
not have anyone helping me at my home office. I do have my very first agent as well as many who have been with me
for years helping out. I handle all the bookkeeping, shipping, daily business issues, advertising, website
maintenance, and many other of the important operations needed to run this business. It has become a part of
My goal is to have 300 agents by the time I am 30. I hope to be able to get some help handling
day-to-day operations. I would also like to continue to grow to become more recognized in the travel industry. I
want to help as many people as I can who want to start their own home based travel agency. I want to continue
building my business and each year find something new that I can do to be more successful at this business.
I wrote my own ebook on starting a home travel agency. This offered information to those interested
and helped spread the word about my agency’s program. Each year we grow more and more. I have written two other
ebooks since my first one. One is on juggling a home business and family. The other is on marketing a home business
on a small amount of funds. I am just now beginning to have more money available for advertising. What I have done
to date has been still on a limited budget. I am just now beginning to spend more money on advertising.
My family has been very supportive. My boys are now 5 and 7 years old and they try to help me out
as much as possible. We go on family vacations and I can use it to help my business. I have been able to save on
childcare from not having to work outside the home. I was able to be with my children as they have been growing up.
I didn’t miss their first words or steps. I also have been teaching them that anything is possible. I want them to
know that if they have the drive to do something, they can do it. Every day that I got discouraged, I would think
of the fact that if I did not succeed, I would have to go back to work full time and put my children into
My 5 year old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last May. This was a hard adjustment for our
family. He needed me more than ever. I was able to be there and everyone involved in my agency understood. I was
able to take the time I needed to stay with him in the hospital and learn how to handle his diabetes. My agents
pulled together and helped me out. I can’t imagine how things would have been if I had a full time job outside the
home. I was able to take care of my child without worry.
I feel very fortunate. I had a dream and I was able to make it come true. I also have something I
can call my own. I love being a mom. I also love being an entrepreneur. It is very satisfying looking at what I
have accomplished in 6 years. I know the possibilities are endless. I know as long as I continue to work hard and
be creative in growing my business, I will continue to be successful. I am now able to help others who want to
start a home business. I wrote three e-books and I get to write articles to help others. 6 years ago I would have
never imagined this would be my life. It just proves that anything is possible if you really want it bad