A raw discussion about opening a business....
I've always wondered why it takes so long to start a business. It seems pretty straightforward... yes there's a lot to do, but I thought how quickly you got going is just a reflection of how hard you work. In the past, I've always been a little judgemental towards businesses that seem to take so long to get going and would wonder if they knew what they were doing.
I get it now. I'm learning first-hand what it takes to get started and am learning how many things are completely out of your hands: timing of financing, permitting, steps no one told you about and you had no knowledge of when you were planning the business.
It can take years of planning, in fact, the Velodrome concept had been in development for more than a year before we launched the website. It will be almost 2 full years from idea to retail shop opening. Yet, in all that planning you're not really committing to anything. I think the hardest part of starting a business is starting to commit to things. Signing legal documents, spending your own money to start things before financing comes in, contracting inventory... these are all commitments you have to make before you even open your doors. As a person who values a person's word above all, telling people I will work with them, or pay them later is incredibly binding and stressful for me.
So where are we at?
Currently we are lining up all the information and documentation we need to start applying for state licensing. This is a great example of having no idea what you are doing but just having to figure it out. We learned that since we are roasting coffee on site, we are treated more as a food manufacturing facility so we are licensed and inspected by the state Department of Agriculture rather than the local county health department. However, the county still manages a number of inspections pertaining to our building like lighting, plumbing, and mechanical. And then there's still the city, they govern city zones and also little things like sign permits and such.
We're also waiting for some funding to come through. We've learned that traditional banks are pretty difficult to work with when you're a start up and asking for a little amount of money. We don't like debt, however we are going to take a little on to get our space built out and pay it off as fast as possible. We've had banks actually tell us that the amount we want to borrow is too little, it's not worth their time to set up, and they wouldn't make enough from it, so they won't do it. So, we're learning some of those strange dichotomies as well, where sometimes being frugal and responsible isn't what some banks are looking for.
Once funding comes through, we just start raging! We're going to tackle cabinet installation first, followed by roaster installation, then electrical and plumbing. The final touches will include all equipment installation, building the bar, and furnishing the space.... we can't wait!
So... that's where we're at, what we're learning, and what we have yet to do!