Ukrainian online magazine about Kyiv Friendly Tours
Year ago I couldn't imagine hundreds of people from all over the world would attend my tours. Today I have friends in every continent, in 19 countries due to my job. India and New Zealand, Britain and Sweden, Turkey and USA. Im blessed to meet interesting personalities, share my culture and traditions and get gratitude for that.
Ukrainian online source HOCHU shared my interview about how it all started, how Kyiv Friendly was born and what makes me happy person.
You can read it in Russian here or English version below.
"Everything starts with a dream. And mine is millions of tourists from around the world walking in Kiev with cameras. Arrived not for girls, but to dip in our traditions and culture." - admits Sviatoslava Maksimchuk, the heroine of today's edition heading "Own Business". Sviatoslava dared to make guide profession a profitable hobby. How did it happen? Read first-person business story of the founder of the travel agency organizing tours for foreigners in Ukraine - Kiev friendly.
When I was 20 years old I lived in New York and wanted to work in the fashion-industry. I went to the preparatory courses in the New York Fashion Institute and wanted to live the life of Carrie Bradshaw.
I think I've had commercial vein since childhood. At 6 years old, I have brought toys from Kinder Surprise to the kinder garden, appointed value of each item and began to sell to other children.
When I realized that employment is not attracted I went to the entrepreneurial course of Anne Petrova. If you find it difficult to start - just surround yourself with the same startups. I was very lucky, we had a close-knit group and we helped each other. I take this opportunity to convey greetings to my beloved 15th group Startup Ukraine ;)
My resources for the beginning of business were the car, fluent English and knowledge of the history of Kiev ( in school years I loved the subject and took first places in the city historical competitions) . I’ve made a website myself using a free platform, bought a domain for 12$, spent 350 UAH (12$) on a logo design. I’ve printed advertising brochures, business cards and gathered a team of volunteers to conducted free tours about Maidan. Main investment were pretty much brain, time and patience.
The most difficult was to begin. When no one knows about your business. When there's no bookings for the tours. When you stand in the rain with the flag of free guided tours in the Main square.
The first official round held on 1 November 2015. Recently, Kyiv Friendly turned 6 months. I would like to celebrate a year with like-minded team and stable turnover.
Business began to pay off in the first month.
Personal motto and slogan of the business is "Create with love ".
The most important thing in my business is to win the trust. But this is impossible without a smile and a sincere love for your work. Yet it is important to love your client. In my case, success of the tour depends on my things: museums who dislike personal guides, unorganized visit Honky Mezhyhiria , weather, children's mood during the walk . Fuckups happend. But if the customer sees that you have done the maximum and his interest is your priority - he tends to forgive.
In the very beginning I was supportive by my colleague Brett Herriman. We've met in Kiev and he visited one of my first tours. Brett himself carries American groups during Oktoberfest and even published a travel guide to Germany and Austria. He is very successful in his business and I'm watching what he is doing with admiration. I believe when situation in the Donbass calms down we will collaborate.
I am inspired by my guests. The diversity of cultures, attitudes and characters . With each tour I experience an adventure. For example, recent guests from Jaipur. They even smell of spices. And I dipped in my memories of trip to India. Without the help of aircraft and teleport :)
To relieve stress I take warm shower, watch good movie or read a book and hug my beloved.
My day starts with a glass of fresh water, walk with my dog and cappuccino.
I am happy to have a flexible schedule. More often my first tour starts at 10 am. Sometimes I can afford sleeping up to 9, but mostly I wake up without an alarm clock at 7.
Bad habit from which it is impossible to get rid of is to reply to messages on the phone while driving (I hope parents do not read that:)
In moments of despair, I read reviews of my guests about Kyiv Friendly tours. Its like a balm for the soul at the moment when something does not work.
To find time for the family, I take them on my tours. Last weekend I combined business with pleasure. Parents went to SPA complex Admiral in Irpen and I offered guest Kyiv Friendly's signature SPA tour. It worked out great, everybody enjoyed that day. I differ a lot from guides with an umbrella :).