I've mentioned that starting a business is difficult, right?
For me, it's not the paperwork or organization or multi-tasking. It's the parts that I can't do myself. It's the need for patience and trust and all those things you don't want to keep learning over and over again in life. Remember all the reasons group projects sucked so bad in school? I haven't escaped that in this venture. Don't get me wrong, I love working with different people, and that's a major asset for me here. I just have a really hard time not doing everything myself. Even for the things I WANT other people to handle. I just want to bulldoze through everything toward the finish.
The most frustrating question I hear is "when is the opening date?" It's an appropriate, common question for any new business, and one I assume most business owners are excited to answer. My original plan was April 1st (yes, I know that is April Fool's Day), but I know it can be sooner than that.
3 months? 2 months? I'm not sure when or why I became so eager. Maybe because the opening is the goal right now and since the end is in sight, I'm fearful of everything exploding into flames before it happens.
I have all the elements in place, except for the actual store. And I'm not going to wait until warmer weather to finish the construction of it. That means I am building in the middle of (an unusually high snowfall?) winter. Anyone who has ever started a business or worked in construction or hired someone to remodel their house is nodding their head right now (and probably rolling their eyes). I feel it would be incredibly naive to give a solid number on my opening date. Yes, I should come up with a (better) rough estimate, but to be honest I'm afraid of being way off or unrealistic and having to eat crow later. I'll work on it and get back to you.
I'm super anxious to open this store and sometimes forget to savor what I really signed up for, the process of starting it from scratch. Even with total decision-making control over a project, I still have to work with what I got. I still have to stay within my budget, rely on other people's time frames, and deal with all that construction in the dead of winter entails. This store will open and we will be chugging along, selling groceries and other items to lots of grateful folks, and this part will become a distant memory . So I will try to relax and enjoy the ride a little bit more in the meantime.
Happy holiday season to everyone!
It was so nice to take a long vacation, get out of town, and laze around with my family the last two weeks. I knew our open date would have to work around a much-deserved December break, but now I'm anxious to get things moving again!
I'm crunching more numbers. Coordinating how to dig my trailer out of the mountain of snow it's under, so we can get it in our location. Working with the electrical engineer to nail down our power needs, finalizing health department paperwork, recruiting employees, and trying to figure out how to maintain this state of gratitude for the remainder of my kids' winter break :)
It still sounds so strange to say out loud.
I'm sure I've said before, it's not exactly what I always envisioned myself doing. But the more I learn about myself, the more I realize this venture is a great playground for many aspects of my personality. And despite how unreal this all seems, it is definitely real.
This month was crazy hectic with 3 different family visits, holidays, extra-curricular activities, big changes at my other full-time job AND working for a friend's business, my non-profit board responsibilities, hunting season, and so on. Regardless, many important Ridge Run details got nailed down and I'm feeling it come together. I can easily see us opening sooner than I expected.
I have our inventory and vendors figured out! (for now). This is THE most important detail of the store. We aren't as big as chain grocers, so we can't meet minimum requirements for many retail suppliers.
But being small is our key to success. Since our customer is shopping for one or two last-minute items, we don't need the costly overhead of a traditional storefront. We can focus on offering quality food at competitive prices.
Most people are aware they will pay more for convenience, but I want to offer our customers quality and pricing that resembles their grocery store more than their gas station. I did a LOT of shopping around for different wholesalers and subjobbers (one of many new terms I know now) to guarantee the best prices on the items we need.
Everyone continues to be surprising helpful. The card processing folks, the food and beverage vendors, the people designing my sign, the employees at the Health Department and the Department of Revenue, my friends, my contractor, my accountant, and strangers reaching out to offer support.
Sometimes it's hard to see the forest through the trees, especially when there are so many... trees, but I can see it! Like any other big project, once you jump in and get working, things just... come together and turn into a grocery store.
Last week news of Ridge Run got out (much more than anticipated!) and we got 2,187 views on this website. People reached out out to say they were thankful, excited, had requests, or had services to offer. I panicked. I'm still months away from opening! What would normally be considered awesome free press made me doubt myself even more.
My retail experience is 20 years old. My knowledge of everything else related to opening this store: sales projections, product distributors, market trends, payroll and work comp, food regulations, licensing requirements, startup funding, military trailer renovation, POS systems, potable water transport services, marketing and design, grocery sales, land use permits, electrical wiring, and so on... is pretty much non-existent. At least it was a month ago. With the help of many supportive people, I'm quickly becoming educated.
I was waiting for someone else to do this first. Someone more knowledgeable, who could complete this concept with success. But it hasn't happened, so now I'm doing it. The challenge itself is a big motivator. Fear that I'm too inexperienced keeps me focused on mastering all these new areas of information. And despite my lack of grocery/convenience/retail experience, I'm doing it and it's happening and it's going to be awesome.
It started as a wish, changed into an idea, and is quickly becoming a reality.
As a busy mom, I said many times that Bozeman could use a drive-thru grocery store. A place we could go to get essential items, without getting the kids out of the car and hauling them through a store (one of them inevitably falls asleep before we get there). Everyone agreed. Not just moms, but commuters and anyone else who would rather spend time doing things they love than running errands.
While my husband was commercial fishing in Alaska, I started to plan what the store would look like. When he returned I let the idea rest until I found the perfect location. And now I have it!
I'm so excited to open this store on our busiest road, miles away from any other grocery store, and close to so many neighborhoods that need this service!
Everything has started falling into place quickly. Things are happening fast and there are a lot of details to consider. My head is spinning!
I know Ridge Run is going to be an amazing asset to our community. I also know I can't do everything I want at once. I hope to have an online ordering system and mobile app in the future. There are also lots of fun customer appreciation incentives and promotions that I have in mind. But for now, we are just going to focus on getting this store up and running and providing the best customer service we can. Thank you for your support; I'll keep you posted!