The TGV that is called ‘Business woman’

My name is Elske Doets and I have been CEO for Jan Doets reizen for 17 years.

CEO, because I like playing the final boss?

No, because it stands for “Creative Enthusiastic Entrepreneur” (Creatief, Enthousiast Ondernemer)

That is who I am, that is what radiates off of me.

I want to take you with me into the dynamics of my entrepreneurship during the past eight months.

Since I was given the title ‘Business Woman of the Year’ on the 20th of March 2017.

Before I became ‘Business Woman of the Year’ I was up in the dynamics of my traveling agency Jan Doets, never a dull moment. I have taken many hurdles since I became the owner when I was 28. Because of a positive mindset I have transformed my company and made it future proof. I have also given it a boost in growth, up to a turn-over of 30 million this year. Actually, Heerhugowaard, where my company is situated, was some sort of ‘safe haven’. We are almost solely focused on B2C. I have been pulled out of this by the title ‘Business Woman of the Year’. It has opened the world of B2B in the Netherlands for me.

This prestigious price has put me and my company in rapid development. I have been put into a TGV, so to speak. In one I do not know the speed or destination of.

Very exciting, seeing that as an entrepreneur you are also not always sure how something you start will turn out. In the beginning I had a small part of me that was amazed, being VIP who had just boarded, but in no time I wanted to become the machinist of the TGV. My thoughts were: ‘I want to utilize this title completely’. Not only for me, but also to enthuse other women for entrepreneurship.

How did I do that? A price with a mission.

As figurehead for successful women you should present yourself and inspire others. You do so by means of interviews in the media, keynote speeches, to appear in media, etcetera. Personally, I felt like that was not enough.

Given that I am a practical person I wanted to give this mission hands and feet. Which is why I set-up the Young Lady Business Academy last April. This academy focusses on ‘Young Ladies’ between 15 and 24 years of age, all educational levels are welcome and they should have a dream to become a successful entrepreneur.

The first two classes have already taken place. I have had the pleasure to have 50 highly motivated and talented ‘Young Ladies’ as my guests at my company for a week. The ‘Young Ladies’ apply via a motivational letter, a video message and a pitch. Once accepted, the ‘Young Ladies’ will have a weeklong crash course about business. They will have masterclasses, taught by 13 ‘Power Women’. They work on cases and their own business plans. Some of the ‘Power Women’ who spoke last week were: Neelie Kroes and Annemarie Jorritsma. The ‘Young Ladies’ learn from me how I sculpt marketing and leadership. They also learn: how to present themselves, how to network, and last but not least, how do I make money? Which frame of reference is right for my future company, what is the target group and product or service, and what are my core values. Invaluable life lessons. During the week there will be two hours filled with sports, coached by personal trainers, in order to trigger courage within the girls. During the last day of the Academy all ‘Young Ladies’ present their business plans in front of a jury. The best ‘Young Lady’ with the most business potential may accompany me on a business trip to Canada or the USA. I went to Canada together with winner of the first Academy. Freddie Prins, the first winner, saw how I do business and presented herself and asked Canada’s ‘Power Women’ questions. It was an unforgettable experience for her. I was amazed by the different conversations with relations I have been doing business with for the past 25 years. Entirely different dynamics.

The free Academy has been a grand success and will be continuing in the future. The ‘Young Lady Business Academy’ 3.0 will be taking place in July 2018.

It is my way of empowering and giving back. I already had a giving back strategy for my company Jan Doets, in which local programs considering exercising in a fun way for children were mostly helped. The second way is the support we give to nature conservation in Canada, one of our travelling destinations. It is a positive note for our travellers and for preservation of nature for the future. The ‘Young Lady Business Academy’ is a grand and special third addition to this list. It makes my company accessible and visible for younger people. Even though they do not have the ambition to immediately start working for Jan Doets, I let them be my guests at my company for a week. My team members do an introductory pitch for the Young Ladies. Which is good for them as well as for me. It is a way of noticing talent within the Doets Team and it provides as a source of information for the ‘Young Ladies’. My team members are host families for the ‘Young Ladies’ who come from afar. This also adds an extra dimension to their work at Jan Doets. It adds commitment and something vibrant.

It is as is I have tapped into a golden formula with this Academy, which only knows winners. The ‘Young Ladies’ learn a lot, and gather much inspiration. Today I borrow the CEO title Merel Poppeliers, the second Academy’s winner, created. She found it within herself to call herself Creative, Enthusiastic Entrepreneur.

I am Elske Doets, Jan Doets reizen’s CEO for 17 years, business woman of the year and founder of the Young Lady Business Academy.