Nguyen Thi Huong Lien is the founder and CEO of ‘I Love Hue Tour’ – a tour company that operates motorbike tours which are driven by the Hue Lady Riders, and introduces guests to Vietnamese life in Hue.
Human Asia eagerly spoke to Lien to find out more about her venture.
Tell us more about I Love Asia. Where did the idea for this project come from?
Lien: I Love Asia Tour is a big project of I Love Vietnam Tour. When I was a student at university I came up with the idea of “I Love Hue Tour – Exploring Hue On Motorbike Tour With Lady Bikers”.
I wanted to do something to help people especially young women. This is the first female motorbike tour in Hue. In 2014, I have started up the I Love Hue Tour. In 2017, we launched the business model to all over Vietnam in four cites – Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon. We employ over 70 female bikers to work with us now. I Love Asia Tour is continuing to bring the beautiful vision of empowering women and our community in servicing global tourism.
How do you build your client base?
Lien: My clients mainly are Europeans and westerners. The best way to build a successful customer base is through building your products and your team. When you have a wonderful product and team, the customer will come. You must believe in your product and what makes you and your product different from others.
What is your biggest differentiation factor?
Lien: My biggest differentiation factor is I never considered myself to be a CEO because I think it’s just a title. The most important thing is that I care about my responsibilities, and to lead people so they can work well together. I prefer to say that I am a leader because I love to create more leaders in the company.
How do you deal with unexpected problems such as first aid, changing tyres on the spot, and broken motorbikes?
Lien: Luckily, we have not encountered many problems like that in the past. We are always well prepared for the tour and that involved training our tour guides, checking and repairing motorbike monthly, buying insurance for the tourists and our female drivers.
What is the biggest challenge for you right now?
Lien: I have to set up a new core team and become more professional in order to become a global company.
Tell us more about your future goals by going global with I Love Asia.
Lien: In 2019, I Love Asia Tour will make the first step to launch global. The countries we would love to go into are Laos and Cambodia. In the future, I will keep launching around Asia. We believe in our vision and we will make it happen. My goal is that in five to ten years, we will launch I Love The World Tour.
Lien, please tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and what were you doing before starting your business?
Lien: I was studying as International Relations in my university. I didn’t like to study at my third- year and decided to start my own company at the age of 21. Before having my own company, I was working as a waitress, tour guide and the project-coordinator.
You started up your company with only 100 USD. How can you survive that amount of money? Tell us more about your story.
Lien: I did start the idea with 100$ by building website on my own, learning and build marketing online from Google. Time by time, I feel so interested in to be the tour guide as well as learning everything on computer. It has driven me to be smarter everyday. After a year, I Love Hue Tour has the first ranking on TripAdvisor – Internal World Travel website. After 2 years, I set up a team to work in the office everyday and develop it more and more. Seeing how many young women get inspire with their job and how they have changed make us so happy to work harder every single day. Everywhere we go, people give us big smile for a group of young females making change in tourism. Until 2017, listening to the tourists we decided to launched the business model to all over Vietnam and the company name to “I Love Vietnam Tour – Exploring Vietnam On Motorbike With Lady Bikers”. Proudly, we are developing well in four cities where we base. In the next few years, we are going to reach global. – Never too young to lead!
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If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
Lien: I never regret what I have done wrong in life because I believe everything happen for a reason. I currently don’t have advice to give myself 5 years ago.
What do you feel is the major difference between you and other entrepreneurs? Is there something that has guided you along the way?
Lien: I am a positive leader. I have simple life outside but in inside I am full of energy to work hard everyday with passion and believe in it. I think outside of the box and make things happen whenever I plan the thing to do. My strength is I never think money is a big thing in business because I believe more in the core value I build for people rather than earning so much money. I think for other people than myself and make sure everyone is happy to work with me. Business is helping others and I just think that I should create more opportunities for people from my company. I am always smiling and I think that one of my important strength to make other people feel comfortable to work with. I never show up that I am a boss because I like working, learning and sharing with everyone. I respect people and they respect me back twice.
When you have passion, you can drive the idea in many ways and that’s why I have not received any investment in the company yet even borrow money from the bank. My advice is building a team believe in your dream, they all will work hard with you. Nobody can go further alone so find a group of people who love taking responsibility and inspire them to be different.
In your opinion, what is the most significant barrier to women’s leadership in the business world?
Lien: The network of women leader should be larger in this world so we all can build an equal business world. Especially, women must be joining more in tech world.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Lien: If you have dreams, go for it. Don’t be afraid to fail since nobody success without failure. Finding a great mentor to lead you. Building higher goals everyday, it will make everyday of your life worth to live.
You can visit I Love Hue Tour at https://iloveasiatour.com/
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