Preparing for the perfect life isn’t all fun and games, but it isn’t all tedious work, either. I’d rather be planning my life and business in paradise any day rather than spend another day in the concrete jungle. Here are eight steps toward creating a plan and building your business. These steps should help guarantee that the road to paradise isn’t too bumpy. We want to hear from you about your questions and experiences, so please join in on the discussion in the comments section.
1. What do you want to do? This may sound simple, but sometimes the resort town already has too many ski shops. Are you flexible on what you can do? Would another type of business suffice? Or, are you flexible on the town? Would another town be just as well? Regardless, make sure it is something that will hold your interest for years to come. Don’t sell your dream short. Make sure it is something you truly enjoy.
2. Choose your location. You’ve picked your dream location. Now, you have to choose where you will live and where your business will be. Do they have to be nearby? Are you the type of person that prefers to have a business that is completely separate from where you live? Or is convenience more important? Take a look at our Resort Area Buyers Checklist for some ideas. Then, start screening for locations.
3. Make sure your team is on board. Is your spouse’s passion for the business equal to yours? What about other family members? Do you plan to have a business partner? If so, does he or she have the same level of interest? In general, businesses in resort towns work better if managed by a couple. But they don’t have to be. If your spouse just isn’t into it, could something else interest him or her?
4. What will you need to get things started? Estimate your startup costs. How much will it cost to move and launch the business, acquire licenses, acquire facilities, remodel, and purchase equipment and supplies. How much inventory will you need to start? How much will utilities cost? Insurance? The list is long, but make sure you have considered everything. And when everything is written down, make sure you set aside a “rainy day fund” for those unexpected costs.
5. Write a business plan. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but the longer you spend putting together a business plan, the better chance it has of success. A basic business plan should have a title page, a plan summary and a table of contents. Mike McKeever, author of How to Write a Business Plan (Nolo), recommends you also have one or more of the following: a statement of the problem you are trying to solve; a description of the business; a short biography of you and your partners; a marketing plan; a sales revenue forecast for at least two years; a profit and loss forecast; a capital spending plan; a cash flow forecast; a statement of how future trends might affect the business; a statement of risks; a personnel plan; a statement of specific business goals; a personal financial statement, and an appendix with any supporting documents.
6. How will you finance the venture? If you already have money set aside, it’s possible you could finance the move and the business yourself. Most of us need help. That help usually comes from two sources: loans, which you or the business have to pay back, and equity, in which you sell off part of the business in exchange for taking on part of the upside, and part of the downside. Keep in mind that financing the startup requires much more than the business itself – it means financing the move and sustaining you and your family until the business is capable of supporting you. Too many people fail to take this into consideration. It’s best to have a financing plan in place.
7. Have a "Plan B". Overconfidence can be a crutch when starting out a business. Make sure you have a solid “Plan B” in place, whether that means a side business while you’re getting the primary business off the ground, or a fallback plan in case things don’t work out. Sometimes, that side business can become the primary business.
8. Leave your life behind. The best way to arrive at where you’re going is not to show up with a list of things that you didn’t do before you left. Whether it’s wrapping up your old business, taking care of your 401k, or moving out of your old house, put together a good list. And then move down the list, checking things off as you go and not leaving anything undone.