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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Start Small

Joan Keller says that she and her husband did what most of us do; they started their business with what they could scrape together.

Key Question:


Scrape together cash.  You may have some savings, a home you can sell and family members who might make a donation or loan.

In 1975 Bill and Joan came up with $6,000 which was a decent amount! Even in the 21st Century, most businesses are started with less than $10,000. Joan kept her day job and helped Bill at night and in just eight weeks they had proven that they could make a profit selling plane tickets to Europe. They were so successful, they either needed Joan to quit her job to work for Le Travel full time or they needed to hire an employee.

Q: Why did Bill and Joan feel so successful so quickly?
A: They set a small goal and they kept their overhead low. Joan also confessed that they are, "investors not consumers." This is key to success at any level. Unbridled optimism and a need to impress too many people too quickly has taken many businesses owners into bankruptcy and out of business.

Think about it

Do you have a good idea for starting your own business? How much money do you really need to obtain and deliver that first sale? What are you waiting for?

Clip from: Le Travel Store in the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego:  Joan and Bill Keller, founders of Le Travel Store,  have traveled so much,  you ask, "Where haven't you been?"  One answer was "The Antarctica." But, they got close -- Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego - Patagonia down on the tip of Argentina, the most southern city on earth and on a clear day ... of course, Joan and Bill Keller have the Antarctica on their list, but compared to most people, their list is rather short.

Become an independent traveler, but do it with panache. Take some of your customers, your investors, CPA and banker, and of course, your family with you. Source the world. 

Also, this team is well-grounded in their community. They lead the "return to authenticity" movement that champions Main Street. The National Trust for Historic Preservation led us to them and this historic Gaslamp Quarter!

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Le Travel Store (JK)

Joan Keller, Founder

745 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Visit our web site:

Office: 6195440005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Start Small

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Joan and Bill started the business with $6,000. Three thousand came as wedding gifts, and another $3,000 was borrowed.

BILL: (Voiceover) Family support was the key. We couldn't have gotten going without family support.

JOAN: We've always been investors rather than consumers. We live moderately, and we like to take what we earn and reinvest it in growing.

BILL: When we started our business, she was working at a bank here, and I started selling flights.

JOAN: When I was working at Home Federal Savings and Loan, a bank, I would work during the day, take the bus to the store we had opened, and work in the evening doing the accounting part.

HATTIE: And part of that was a cash flow situation, too, right?

JOAN: It was, yeah. I had to keep working with my regular income to support us.
BILL: She ended up joining us after a couple of months, but our specific goal was to sell 300 flights to Europe in the first year. And we sold 328. So we survived the first year. And our goal was to go for a couple of years, sell the business for $10,000 and travel around the world.

JOAN: We were successful enough that either I had to come in full time or we had to hire someone.

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