May 12, 2010

So You Think You Can Start a Business?

I mentioned a few days ago that I had a new business idea. I haven't posted about it because I've been too busy actually working on that idea to write about the idea.

As long as I can remember--which, admittedly, is not long with this shoddy memory of mine--I have wanted to own a bookstore/coffeeshop. The only job I've ever loved was my college-aged stint at a bookstore. (I tried to find some fun pictures from this time, preferrably one of me dressed up in a storybook costume or painting childrens' faces, but no dice.)

Unfortunately, I had to leave that job because they pay you in stickers and pocket lint. I gave up a fun job for one higher-paying-yet-boring job after another. My goal was to go full-circle and eventually wind up back at the fun job. When I grew up, that was.

I waited and waited to grow up. Twenty-one came and went. Twenty-five came and went. I kept saying the words, "someday" and "goal". My best friend even jumped on board and together we daydreamed about our "five-year-plan".

But life happens, along with bills and debts and divorces and layoffs. Throughout all of this, I stayed committed to the idea of someday owning a business and working for myself. But I just didn't feel I was ready.

Until now.

I believe everything happens for a reason. Some people believe in a god. I believe in fate.

When my last employer suddenly decided to stop paying me, I took a comparable position doing exactly the same thing across town. That was good, but it was no longer enough. After working for one deadbeat boss after another, getting laid off over and over, I found myself unwilling to go through it all again.

Why should my livelihood depend on another person, namely, the boss?

Why do I need to pretend to work for eight hours, when there is only two hours' worth of work to be done?

Do I really want to spend my life hating half of each day?

While I was bored at my job, Kortney was down the road, bored at her own job too. Because of this shared career-focused apathy, we started brainstorming. We went on hour-long walks a couple times a week. We came up with small money-making ideas, always with the ultimate plan of working for ourselves.

(Here is a picture from one of these many walks. Because pictures always make posts more entertaining, right?)

We were nowhere near being in a position to open a bookstore. We had no expendable income, no collateral to offer a bank, no previous history of operating a business. Therefore, a $100,000 loan was out of the question.

Now, the reason I say everything happens for a reason is this: if we hadn't been working at soul-melting jobs, we wouldn't have started brainstorming. We would have kept on procrastinating and waiting for that sense of elusive adulthood to hit us, to tell us it was time. Instead, we were thrust into a situation in which we either created something for ourselves or died a slow, monotonous death.

Then one day, I saw the light.

I mean metaphorically. Although I was happy to see the light at the end of this creepy, urine-smelling tunnel too.

"This may sound weird," I asked Kort hesitantly, "but what about...a coffee cart?"

She stared at me, her mouth in an O, for a minute. "That's it!" she exclaimed. "That would work!"

Now, here's another reason why I believe fate led us to this idea. We spent much of Mysterious 2008 downtown, at all hours of the day and night, desperately wishing coffee shops stayed open past 9p.m. It turns out, that wasn't an out-of-control, alcohol-induced bender: it was market research all along! Huzzah! Because of our recent experiences, we distinctly knew where there was a need not being fulfilled and how we could sweep in and take advantage.

Our usual one-hour walk turned into 2.5 hours that day, as we came up with a very real and very grown-up plan.

At this point, we are about two weeks into the planning and have made tangible progress toward our goal. And since anything worth doing is worth blogging about, I will be writing about the process along the way.

Stay tuned for the next exciting edition: sales taxes, health department requirements, and financial projections...oh my!


Nexus said...

Exciting! Entrepreneurial spirit: activate.

Maryeah Kramer said...

OMG! This is so awesome! What a fantastic idea! I hope this is works awesomely, and then you can branch out and open a franchise near me - because I would totally come work for you.

Kelli said...

Nexus, you know I will be bugging you in the future for business advice!

Mab, I'd totally hire you to run our Southern branch. Or just pay to relocate you to Denver.

Stephanie said...


~*~Aryn~*~ said...

Awesome Kelli!