Cassie-Anne Laidlow, affectionately known as Cass, is a young woman currently pursuing her medical degree, with a longtime love for the ocean that has blossomed into a business.
Originally from the island of Canouan, Cass spent most of her years on mainland St. Vincent, and attended the Girl’s High School and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College before starting the pursuit of a career in medicine.
Siteseeing with Cass is an adventure and travel concierge, offering land and sea adventures. They do local and regional group trips. They do hikes, waterfall adventures, snorkelling and much more.
Siteseeing with Cass was launched in May 2019, with a focus on land adventures (waterfall visits, hikes, etc.) However, in 2020, they started offering sea adventures with their main product offered being the “SEE EVERYTHING” experience, featuring See-Through kayaks. These kayaks allow clients to view the marine life beneath the surface of the sea, while sitting comfortably in the kayak, and without getting wet.
In an interview with ANN, Cass shared with us how she turned a yearning to connect with others who have a similar love for water related adventures into a business.
‘My love for the ocean stems from my family being from the Grenadines. When I went to secondary school, I realized that many of my friends weren’t interested in my water-related hobbies. That is, visiting waterfalls, going to the beach, etc. I’ve always been a bit shy so after college, it became harder to find and connect with persons who enjoyed the same things I did and so, I decided to start Sightseeing with Cass. My business allows like minded, adventurous persons to join me on my adventures and I help persons to create their own. I also know what it is like to discard plans due to fear of trying something solo, so I wanted to encourage others to follow their interests and ultimately find their tribe.’
According to Cass, some of the things she has enjoyed most about running her own business has been being her own boss, the freedom that comes with being her own boss, and providing unique experiences to her clients.
‘Since starting my business, I have mostly enjoyed the freedom that comes with being my own boss. I’m able to decide my schedule, make appropriate changes and upgrade my service by using my own judgement and discernment. I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts and my decisions more. Most importantly, I enjoy providing unique experiences for my clients and I love that my returning clients often challenge me to improve on my best.’
Along the way, the young entrepreneur faced numerous challenges, one of those first challenges being the marketing of her new business. She explained to us how that hampered her business in its early stages.
‘In the beginning, my biggest challenge was marketing. I figured that persons who were interested would “magically” know about my services and gravitate towards my products. I did not spend enough time developing proper marketing strategies and trying to reach my target audience. Hence, my business suffered in the beginning and I thought that the market for my services didn’t exist. It was not until after taking a UWI short course in small business management, that I realised the error in my ways and started taking marketing seriously and putting in the work to advertise my business.’
Business growth was also an issue for Siteseeing with Cass, which stemmed from a lack of marketing in the early stages.
‘Another challenge I faced because of my marketing issues, was business growth. I had the capital and the equipment but because I wasn’t marketing the business properly, there were periods of stagnancy. As well as developing a proper marketing plan, I had to create new processes that focused on task delegation and insights from my team.’
Knowing what she does now, Cassie-Anne’s message to her earlier self would be to not beat herself up over mistakes, as she realised with time, that the time wasted worrying over these mistakes, would have been better spent developing to overcome them.
‘”Don’t cry over spilt milk.” When I had just started out, everything bothered me; no matter how insignificant it was. It took a while for me to develop an “It is what it is” and “Everything happens for a reason” mindset. Hence, I probably wasted a lot of time worrying about things that I had no control over, instead of looking at the bigger picture and allowing things to work themselves out.’
Cass shared with us some of the qualities that she believes are essential to anyone looking to become a good entrepreneur, two of the main qualities being bravery and honesty.
‘Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks and a good entrepreneur must be brave enough to do so when necessary. A good entrepreneur must also be determined and patient, as entrepreneurship often includes multiple trials, setbacks and failures, which only improve the value of your personal brand. Most importantly, a good entrepreneur must be honest. Honesty is a great attribute that will differentiate you from others and will be greatly appreciated by partners, clients and customers. Honesty helps to build your personal brand and will define you and ultimately, your business.’
In advising other young people thinking of starting businesses of their own, she urged them to believe in the business that they pursue, and that love for the field of business that they’re entering is a major asset.
‘My advice for young people getting into business would be to do what you love and believe in yourself. Passion is an important foundation of any successful business, as it would always motivate you to keep improving and to continue putting in the necessary work. Additionally, believing in yourself would cancel the self doubts and the critics who would try to discourage you because they aren’t as brave.’
Cass defines success as ‘accomplishing the goal of helping myself and others lead happier lives. I am successful in providing unique and enjoyable experiences and memories for my clients, which is my number one priority.’
Anyone interested in contacting Siteseeing with Cass for a booking can contact them via Whatsapp or telephone at 784-432-9950; Facebook and Instagram, @siteseeingwithcass; Email [email protected];
Or their booking site: forms.app/siteseeing/booking.