Sunday, November 21, 2010

they say life's about the process

I thought it was about time for an update on the status of Violet Hills (see blog tab labeled: Violet Hills? for more info, if needed).  It has been quite the journey so far, trying to navigate our way through realizing this dream.  I knew it was going to be hard, a good challenge, but I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.  Let me give you just a surface-level idea of the process so far, and the multiple roadblocks I hadn’t a clue would even exist:

1.) One of my first steps was to talk to the County Planning department regarding zoning regulations, and I was met with unwavering resistance.  I don’t know if I caught this gentleman on a particularly bad day, or if he just doesn’t generally label himself as a helpful person.  He told me our plan wasn’t possible – that anybody in the Green Bluff area or any country location that host weddings, do so illegally.  Whaaaa?  Not possible, right?  People all over the country run this type of business, successfully, and they market that they do so as well, it’s no secret!!  I decided I’d have to tackle this with a different approach, since Mr. Mean wasn’t going to give me any helpful information.  See #2.

2.) My method from that point forward was asking questions to other people, anybody I could think of, that might know any sort of information on how to bring to life this kind of business.  I called other wedding hosting businesses on Green Bluff, and in other outskirt areas of Spokane, and in Oregon, to see how they did it.  Some of them were willing to talk to me, others were not.  Ryan and I went and talked to a candy shop that runs their business out of their home on Green Bluff, to hopefully gain some insight from them as well.  We, of course, purchased some of their delicious candy not only as a “thanks” for sharing, but also in hopes of building a relationship there.  And, duh, we love chocolate, so we have since gone back for more!  From talking to all of these people, I have gained a crucial piece of information – it’s called a conditional use permit.  In a nut shell, a conditional use permit would require us to write a proposal to the county planning department explaining what we want to do, where, and why our business won’t change the environment of the area.  The proposal would go before a county judge, be reviewed, be opened for people to oppose (scary!!), and be either accepted or denied.  From the research we’ve done, we have decided Green Bluff (as opposed to another area out in the country) is probably our only shot, because it’s already hopping with business and busy with cars throughout the year, so Violet Hills wouldn’t necessarily change the environment.  We will continue to research that avenue.

3.) We hired a realtor to keep us in the loop with new properties that go for sale in the Green Bluff area.  We found 2 raw land properties that would be ideal, now if we could just find a few hundred thousand dollars to buy them!  No big deal.

4.) I have met with a certified business planner a few times to get some guidance and expertise on how to approach our plan.  He has been very helpful, has a lot of resources, knows a lot of people in the Spokane area, and I believe will prove to be a crucial piece of the puzzle when we are ready to move forward with making Violet Hills happen.

5.) I have attended a few networking events for work that have also translated into connections on a personal level for Violet Hills.  I have connected with a few photographers, a chocolatier, a wine shop, and an SBA financial specialist at a local credit union.

6.) A few weeks ago, I met with the aforementioned SBA financial specialist to see what our financing options look like for this type of business.  What makes it complicated is Violet Hills wouldn’t only be our place of business, but also our home, so the financing options are tricky; I knew they would be.  Basically, we scored very low on the threshold of “this is possible”, which wasn’t necessarily a surprise to me, but still discouraging.  The fact that we would be a start-up company puts us in the negative from the get-go.  I still don’t have a clear vision of how this piece of the puzzle is going to work out, but I did come away from that meeting with a single goal: SAVE SAVE SAVE money!  That has been, and will continue to be for quite awhile, our main focus.  We’ve shaved down our bills as much as we can, will buy a few Starbucks soy vanilla lattes, run into a few large vet bills I’m sure, will need oil changes and little house repairs, and I’m fairly positive there will be the few shopping splurges for fancy jeans or a new pair of those fabulous, must-have shoes when I’m feeling a weakness there, but for the most part, it’s going into our savings account, to build up and hopefully, eventually, be spent on building our future, bringing to life Violet Hills, Weddings + Events.