Consistency is not my strong point, apparently. I haven’t been posting on a regular basis, and to be honest I probably won’t be for a while. I’m just going to pop in when I feel like it, okay?
Check-In Tuesdays are supposed to be about progress. It is a reminder to myself that I need to keep trying, no matter how far away the goal may be. And trust me, at this point it’s not happening for another 5 years or so. That’s 1825+ days, folks. Am I bummed? A little bit. Can I do anything to hurry it? Not really.
When I start to second guess myself, I try to talk myself out of it. Will I actually profit from building and running my own wedding venue? Do I have what it takes, the know-how? Should I really throw all of my energy and money into such a huge gamble? Of course, there’s the biggest doubt of all: fear of failure. How would I pick myself back up after? Maybe I should go for something smaller, like a bakery or a yoga studio or just be a real estate owner. What’s the fun in that though? My love for weddings stems from being in the center of all the energy and love brought out for the couple committing themselves to each other. How do I let go of the joy it brings me?
I just typed a lot of feelings, mushy, girly stuff. I’m not apologizing for how I feel. It’s been a tough road, and the road’s barely started. I hope you follow this tough cookie along for the ride.
My, oh my, it’s been a while. Let me explain and you’ll understand my absence. There are two reasons for the lack of posting.
One big reason is that we bought a house. A big ol’ foreclosed house that sat empty on the market for two years, had half its plumbing stolen from underneath the house and required two and half grueling months of manual labor. Needless to say, wedding planning was out the door and I obsessively (just ask the fiancé, he’ll tell you) thought about the property all day. Reason numbero uno is now done, finito, good-bye. We’ve got tenants in, and a big stack of Home Depot receipts (thanks for emptying out my bank accounts, HD!) to show for it.
This week, I’m afraid to admit that I hesitated. What if the venue isn’t a good idea and I wind up failing? I tried to think of alternative ideas, ideas to open a different shop that just so happened to double as a venue. A bakery that hosts events? You could get married and have a fresh cake right out of the oven! Or maybe I should just give up this capital-intensive dream, get married, have a kid and continue working in finance at a ho-hum job? At least I’ll have job security, a 401k and a steady paycheck. I could be a chicken and not be broke forever!! I know I’m being a dramatic chicken. Cluck cluck.
How do the successful entrepreneurs do it? Did they ever question what they were doing and getting themselves into? How many failures did they have before they reached success? What do they spread on their bagels?
So what happened? I started considering the job I have now. I definitely feel unappreciated. After being here for almost two years, I’ve only moved inches. I’m miserable, but this company I work for is awesome. I love the energy, the enthusiasm and I am so proud of the products created here. For the first time, I’m excited to tell people whom I work for. But seriously, the job sucks. What if I had a different position in the same company? I could request to be moved to a different function of finance, keep the great pay and benefits and work with people whom I can connect with. The work won’t necessarily be any more challenging than it is now, so I might get bored, but I’d be happy wouldn’t I? Yea, I don’t know either. The hours would be long, and I’d have to put off any progress I want to make with Project V for another 2 years.
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to stick with plan A. So now it’s time to focus on February 2011. Wish me luck, ya’ll! I’m so going to need it.
In continuing the “I’m quitting in February, please don’t try to stop me” conversation from last week’s post, let’s discuss the thereafter. In a nutshell, I really don’t know what will happen. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but the truth is, February is sort of the unknown. Yep, it’s a big, fat question mark. Make that ten.
Going back to last week’s post, the point of this break is to gain experience as a coordinator. I’ll try to get a gig as a venue coordinator, but I’m not placing any bets on this scenario. Instead, I’m going to look for ways to gain experience indirectly.
- Take a beginning photography class at a community college.
Class is held once a week, it will cost about $200 including books and I’ll learn about lighting needs for the venue. Plus, I’ll be getting some much-needed technical skills so I won’t need to hire a pro!
- Join Toastmasters for Women.
There is a local chapter specifically targeted to females, and I cannot wait to be a part of that community. I’m a terribly shy person, and I can’t think of a better cure for it than Toastmasters. The group meets once a month.
- Start picking up clients for my DOC services.
I’ve been a wedding day-of coordinator for a few years now; it’s how I was introduced into the industry and where I fell in love with it. Having a full-time job prevents me from taking more than three clients a year. Being a DOC is a great way for me to see different venues and get a behind-the-scenes look. The extra income during my unemployed days doesn’t hurt either!
- Volunteer at the Museum of Architecture.
Seriously, doesn’t that sound so cool? I love architecture. I brake for great design when I’m driving. I can’t get enough of it, and my future venue is going to benefit from my time spent volunteering at MAK. Plus, they host a lot of events and rent the spaces out. If they’re willing to take me, I’d love to devote a few hours a week in the amazing space.
- Focus on writing this blog.
There’s more that I want to talk about aside from Project V. For instance, I want to start posting about other places and design elements that inspire me. I want to talk about my own wedding planning experience. I feel that Honey and T needs to be developed, it’s still so young.
Again, it’s the big question mark! There are so many other things I want to do (e.g. take the California Food Safety Course), but I know I need to pace myself.
And then there’s that pesky thing called health insurance. Our wedding date is in June, so that would mean three months until I can get on my fiance’s policy. We considered eloping, but doesn’t health care take the romance out of a wedding? I’ve decided to just take the gamble. If I get sick, I have the choice of retroactively enrolling in COBRA. COBRA’s not cheap, so let’s all cross our fingers on a healthy me.
I talk a lot about Project V and my goals on this blog, but when am I actually going to do something about it? Why am I just sitting here twiddling my thumbs, working as a tax accountant?
That’s easy! I’ve got two words – cash and experience. I don’t have either of them, at least not enough.
So let’s talk about the second word (I’ll circle back to #1 later) and what I’m going to do to change the fact that I don’t have much experience in running a venue. Alright, let’s face it – I have no experience whatsoever, but who’s keeping tabs on this anyway? As much as I’d love to be hired as a venue coordinator at the moment (and if anyone knows somebody, speak up!), no one is going to hire an inexperienced CPA. I tried applying for UCLA’s event services and my resume was rejected. Twice. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for opportunities via Craigslist and the rest of the internet, but my confidence is pretty low.
Another obstacle to gaining experience is the fact that I have a full-time job wherein I put in over 40 hours a week. Last I checked, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of free time to do things like finding my dream job. When you factor in how much I loathe my current day job, I think the most obvious solution is to quit. I’m scared, you guys! I’ve been out of college five years and have always had a cushy cube job with a regular salary and health benefits. What happens now? Do I quit so I can focus on different ways to get my foot in the door?
Venues are expensive. They’re capital intensive, especially when it comes to the start-up costs. Since I don’t have a trust fund or wealthy inheritance, I’m pretty much working with what I’ve saved up in the past five years. I’m going to be upfront about money with you guys, because I think this will benefit those who may be in my same position now.
Image via Bed, Bath & Beyond
At the moment, I have $100,000 to invest, plus a cushion that will support me for 3-4 months. In Los Angeles, $100,000 doesn’t get you a lot of real estate, especially when you’re required to put at least 30% down for commercial property. And don’t forget closing costs of at least $10,000 and construction/renovations.
To review, I have no experience as a venue coordinator, would like to quit my current job so I can try to get experience, yet I do not have enough money to acquire and build a venue. Ideally, I would continue to work and save until I had enough money. Realistically, I hate my job and come home miserable every day. The solution is that I am going to quit in February. Quitting in February buys me enough time to save for future big-ticket items (e.g. birthday gifts and our honeymoon), add to my savings about another $5,000 and save up some money to support myself during my “unemployment.” This also buys me enough time to seek and close escrow on a residential rental property (lenders aren’t going to lend money to an unemployed bum like myself!). That’s right, folks. I am taking part of that $100,000 and putting it into real estate. My hope is that the appreciation will help out when it finally comes time to invest in the venue property.
If I am resigning in February, what will I do during my unemployment? How long will I stay jobless for? What about health benefits? Who’s paying for my living expenses? Will we finally get that pet dog? The answers will be revealed next week!
Here’s my big fat secret: no one knows I have one. Okay, a very small handful of people know about Project V. Most of those very few are colleagues in the wedding industry, and of course my incredibly supportive fiancé (loves you!). You’d think that I’d be dying to share this to those whom I hold nearest to my heart, and you’re right. I’ve wanted to tell them all so badly, but you know what? I felt like most of my big goals and dreams don’t really come true after I’d announced them to my family and friends. I couldn’t figure out why this pattern persisted. Finally, I’ve found the proof! Check out this video via TED.com for more details.
This secret’s between you and me now. So sshhh…
I’ve never been my own boss or even had my own office (just a lowly cubicle worker). Being a CPA, I’ve only been in a corporate environment and played along with a predetermined “ladder of success” – associate, senior associate, manager, senior manager and the ever-exclusive partner title. I could get an MBT or MBA, but we all know that additional education means more money. Money I don’t have to spare (venues don’t come cheap).
Instead, I’ve chosen to replace it with good old fashioned, elbow-greased research. I read Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio. True to my eco-friendly and money-saving mantras, I borrowed the book from the local library.
Unfortunately, I felt that the advice given in the book was too broad; what I was reading seemed to be common sense solutions, stuff I already knew. However, in my opinion, here are a the most helpful takeaways from the book:
a) When searching for a commercial property, check with the city and/or county first for “incubator” properties. Some jurisdictions will give you subsidies for developing in certain areas.
b) Be sure to consider the security of the property and its surrounding areas (especially important for females)
c) If you’re renting a property, consider the common areas you may have to share with other tenants and who is paying for the upkeep of it (e.g. entryways, restrooms, toilet paper/towels, etc.)
d) Again for renters, you have to consider a landlord’s flexibility regarding decorating the place. Are you allowed to paint the walls?
e) Inquire about tenant improvement budgets (i.e. how much is the landlord willing to spend to build out what you want)
f) Annual rent increases
g) If you decide to raise capital for your business through loans, make sure you have a plan for how that money will be spent once you acquire it.
h) Register your website so that it will show up in web searches through websites such as www.addme.com
i) Check with the city/county ordinance to see if health permits are required for your line of business
j) If a property is open to the public, then a fire department permit is required
k) Some cities require sign permits for putting up signs, so again, check with the local authorities on this one
All-in-all the book was not a terrible read. I got some information out of it, and the introduction was definitely empowering. Sometimes we just need a healthy reminder that goals are worth fighting for.
Here starts “Check-In Tuesdays” for what I have dubbed Project V (aka I want a venue, pretty please?). So what have I accomplished in the year and a half since realizing my dream? Well, to an outsider, it doesn’t seem like much. To me, at least I know I’m trying. This is what I’ve got:
I study up venues on wedding blogs. It doesn’t matter where in the world the venue is located for this assignment. This allows me to see what’s out there, what couples are looking for, logistically what features of a venue (e.g. bridal room with a private washroom), square footage versus capacity and so forth.
I keep my eyes peeled for real estate in Los Angeles County, Riverside County and Ventura County. I’ve gone back and forth on where I wanted the location to be many, many, many times. It’s hard. I live in Los Angeles proper, but this city is flooded with competition. Everything and anything is a potential wedding location, can I really keep up? I’m not familiar with Ventura County, but locations in the vicinity of beaches won’t cost a fortune like it would in L.A. And Riverside County? It’s cheap. There’s a reason it’s cheap, of course. You’re far removed from the metropolis and any chance of mild weather, and it’s a desert. Palm Springs has experienced a revival of sorts thanks to trendy hotels like the Ace popping up.
I am a wedding day-of coordinator. This is the quickest way I could immerse myself in the industry. I am my own boss, I choose my clients and it doesn’t require that I have prior experience. I tried to apply for jobs, but no one’s willing to hire someone without experience (now how am I supposed to get experience if you won’t hire me?). I have met incredible people and learned so much on the job. I’m not perfect, but I take with me every lesson that comes my way.
I am blogging about my experience, because opening myself up has a two-fold benefit: keeping myself in check and hopefully, attracting followers.
I am planning a wedding. The reason for it isn’t related at all to my dream, just that I get to marry my dream man! Luckily, the process allows me to put myself in a potential client’s shoes and network with others in my industry.
There you have it, my Tuesday check-in is complete.
Hello dear reader. I’ll preface this to say that this is a journey – for you and for me, especially. Where this ultimately leads to is success or the forfeiture of a dream. To be frank, I want a wedding and special events venue. I want to own a gorgeous space that is always evolving to its surroundings. I want a place that is green, and not just because it’s conveniently green so I can advertise the fact, but chosen with thought and intention to be that way. I want to be a resource to those on the road to matrimony, and for it to be a part of someone’s big day.
The reality of it is that I am 26 years old, and I haven’t the capital or proper experience to build and run a venue yet. I’m just a regular Joe[sephine] Schmoe. I’ve been training myself for a couple years as a wedding day-of coordinator, except back when I started, I had no idea this was my ultimate dream. Believe me, though, this is it. There are days I doubt my ability, but deep down I know that before this dream came along, my life felt so ordinary. I am not ordinary.
So today begins the journey on record. This journey is something I’m sharing with you. There will be ups and there will be many downs (mostly downs thus far). I hope you’ll follow along with me.