Walking Tours In Scotland
Founders: Liv Barber (Business Management and Psychology, MA, 2017) and Jenny Benson (French and Business Management, MA, 2017)
Business Launch: January 2017
Walking Tours in Scotland operate city walking tours in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, St Andrews & Inverness (soon expanding to Aberdeen & England!). We encourage visitors to discover our iconic towns and cities through a local's eyes, with all tours run by local, expert guides who are passionate about where they live. Tours range from standard city sightseeing tours, to more niche experiences such as pub tours, LGBTQ+ history, film locations and even street art tours.
Where did the idea come from?
We were both about to graduate, and jump into the sad void of unemployment so we thought we'd try our hand at starting our own business. We're both avid travellers and have been on loads of walking tours across Europe and beyond, and noticed that there was a gap in the market for walking tours in Glasgow. Armed with just a Facebook page with two likes (one from each of us) we got our first customers and the business grew from there!
What support or advice have you received?
After talking to family and friends, we got in touch with the Student Enterprise team at UofG. Marion was a great source of advice, support and encouragement when we first started! She put us forward for the Santander Summer Business Program, which forced us to create a business plan and really pinpoint what we wanted to do and how it would work. We were fortunate enough to win a grant, and this really boosted our marketing and got our business off the ground!
What is the best and worst thing about running your start-up?
Best - seeing what you've built in action and watching it grow! We occasionally bump into the tour groups when we're out and about in town and it's the best feeling to see all their smiling faces and know that they're having an incredible experience from something we've built.
Worst - the instability of the role can at times be demoralising and stressful, being solely in charge of your own income and not having a stable paycheck every month might not be for everyone! But the freedom and satisfaction it gives you is ultimately worth it.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Obviously, the covid-19 pandemic has been a huge challenge but besides that, imposter syndrome has been both of our biggest challenge so far. Starting the business whilst at university, aged just 21 we were young and naive about the industry, we often found that people weren't supportive of what we wanted to do and didn't see how it would be sustainable, but it was also a lack of confidence in ourselves and our abilities that we have overcome and it's only since then that we've seen our business really grow in strength.
What does success look like for Walking Tours in Scotland?
Success for us is the ability to expand, whether that's into new locations or new tours and knowing that we see a future for how to company can grow, which was very difficult when we first started. On a personal level, it's being able to come into your own office every day, with your best friend, and working on something that you've built together and love.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out on their own start-up journey?
To just go for it! If you don't start, then you've already failed. It's a nerve-wracking and stressful experience but if you don't take any action then nothing's going to happen. The highs and satisfaction it will give you are worth the stress and you can make anything work if you try.