Jim Kendall: There's something about being an entrepreneur
Maybe it's the challenge. Or the pride of being a business owner. Whatever, there's a hard-to-deny tug to be an entrepreneur, to manage your own business and be responsible for its success or, horrors, failure.
Hard work? Oh, yeah.
Your business could be a bakery, car wash or salon; you could take advantage of one of the many consulting options. Maybe your business is a car dealership. Perhaps it's a restaurant.
Whatever, it's your business and long hours almost always are part of the deal. So is the responsibility to make certain your guests enjoy themselves -- hopefully enough to come back. Reveal: This column is less about travel and more about the business of the lodging industry and the mix of pride and success when Angie Meacham, for example, talks about the Somerset Inn & Suites in Ephraim, Wis., one of the post card communities that make up the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. Some of those guests have returned for 30 years, long before Angie and her husband Matt purchased the Somerset seven years ago. Similarly, my wife and I have been regular guests at The Harbor Guest House in Fish Creek for more than a dozen years. -- where general manager Elizabeth McBride replies, "My job is simple," when asked what she actually does.
Well, "simple" needs a definition. "I make certain that each unit is perfect and that each guest is happy. I multi-task. I wear lots of hats. But when it's the end of the day and my guests are smiling, I'm happy," McBride says
Originally built in the 1900s as a carriage house for visitors to the estate next door (which today is Hidden Harbor condominiums) and remodeled in the '80s by Glenview-based real estate developer Edward James, the Harbor Guest House has seven units, either one or two bedroom apartments with a full kitchen (including a dishwasher), a large fieldstone fireplace and an appropriate number of antiques.
In contrast, the Meachams have 38 rooms and suites, some of which are appropriate for pets, and two pools -- one indoors and one out.
Owning almost any lodging facility is a 24/7 job; in the Meachams' case, that daily 24/7 runs for six straight months. Before you starting thinking about the six-month vacation the Meachams surely take as the weather turns, read what Angie has to say: "There's always work to be done.
Offseason, "We meet and plan with vendors. There's cleaning, especially as a new season approaches. And, of course, there are reservations from coming guests to be taken."
The Harbor Guest House is open year round, though aside from the traditional winter holidays where McBride has had some success attracting guests, most of the winter business is on weekends.
And each has a list of amenities that attract guests: Alibi Marina, something of a corporate cousin with seasonal and transient boat slips, is among the attractions at the Harbor Guest House; a foosball table, Country Cupboard ice cream store, and a free Door County and Tea Bar are among the extras at Somerset Inn & Suites.
But this isn't intended to be a travel come-on for either facility; instead this column is meant to create awareness among potential entrepreneurs in any business create that all those regular and extra services need attention -- which costs time and, ultimately, money.
Being an entrepreneur is fun; both a community and family role to be proud of; hard work; and a chance to leave a mark in the world. Think before taking the plunge. Then enjoy.