After 30 years of working as a chef, Dolores Borza, a Martha’s Vineyard native, was hungry for a career with more human interaction. When she started driving a taxi, Borza learned two things from her customers: that people wanted island tours, and that much of the information given out by other taxi drivers was incorrect. Borza, a third-generation islander, knows the island’s history well – both from listening to her grandfather’s stories and from her own research. Therefore, she was disturbed to learn that tourists were walking away with false information. She says, “I decided that I could do tours, tell the facts and make a living at it.”
During her first year in business, she became aware of the difficulties faced by disabled travelers when she gave a tour to a man whose paralysis made too difficult for him to get out of the car to see the sites. Borza says that the experience “put a knife right through my heart.” She bought a bus with a wheelchair lift and refurbished it with her own hands. Now she offers wheelchair-accessible tours to all six towns on the island, showing tourists both the island’s past and its present.
In 2017, Borza was a state-level winner for SCORE’s American Small Business Championship, which included a trip to Dallas for workshops and networking. She now offers several customized tours, including Jaws, Lighthouses, and African-American History themes, along with daily bus tours.
Borza developed her business plan with SCORE mentor Mike Adell, who she calls “the mentor that got right down to business. [He] wanted to know what I knew and wanted to know my dreams and goals.” She worked on financials with SCORE mentor Clark Rattet, who she says always took time to go over details multiple times, gently pushed her in the right direction, and guided her to the next level.
“[Rattet] convinc[ed] me that I had what it takes,” says Borza. “My mentors are the reason I am a business professional.”