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Zipmafia

My Career is in Jepordy!!

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I don't know if this is the right place to post something like this or if it is appropriate or not, I just don't know who else to turn to for advise. If I did something wrong please ignore/delete this thread.

I work at a world famous treehouse resort that also runs ziplines, I have been working there for 8 years and have no intention of leaving, I have a wonderful life raising my family from my wages working there. But recently the boss has had a falling out with the zipline manager and now ziplines might be over, unless the senior employees can come up with a business proposal to rent the ziplines from the boss to "See if WE could manage to make a profit". We all think that we can, but have absolutely no business training and have no idea where to start. Not only that, but none of us have any money to invest in a business of this size.

Anybody know of any Angel Investors/Business Consultants/Entrapanuers willing to help out some emplyees who want to run their own business?

zipmafia@yahoo.com

Edited by Zipmafia

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Talk to your bank, they might be able to help you draught a business plan.

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Thank you for the advice, I never thought of that. I'm not sure if my bank will do that but I'm going to look into it.

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I thought you meant you had something to do with this.

jeopardy.jpg

I guess talking to your bank would be the best things to do, as Seret said.

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Could you explain a little more about the conflict and what the fallout is? Because I am not sure I totally understand. Maybe that a couple of good talks can ease tempers and make for a bright future for all involved.

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I thought you meant you had something to do with this.

jeopardy.jpg

I thought that something like this would happen:D.

Could you explain a little more about the conflict and what the fallout is?

Our manager (and my mentor) has had an interesting relationship with the boss for quite some time. He was originally hired for construction. When the ziplines needed a new guide (we only had one at a time back then) he was put on ziplines. That was about 10 years ago. Since then he has installed over 12 new ziplines and hired and trained a force of about 20 (it varies on the season). I was his first employee and he taught me everything. Sometime before I was hired the boss had a heart attack and he held the company together while the boss got better. Several years back he quit because the boss put him back on construction, then treated him like crap. He was hired back on ziplines and continued to be THE MAN (in a good way). Well it happened again and for the last time. The boss sends us to a conference to catch up on all of the current trends and standards, then when we come home and try to implement them he gives us crap and stresses us out. Our manager doesn't have good health because of all of the stress he has shouldered over the years and he is over it for good. They have already gone through several talks that were both good and bad, he was hired back, then immediately quit for the same reasons.

Now the boss want's to wash his hands of the business one way or the other, and he is giving the safety committee the opportunity to become the new owners as long as they give him a small cut. This is extremely generous, and we all think that we can do it, but nobody has any training in running a business and we don't really have a lot of time to figure it out if we want to keep it going. I have raised my family on my wages for 8 years, and have done it all outside (rain or shine), smiling, and usually at least 20 feet off the ground. I don't want to lose my job, and I would love to own it. I just have no idea how, or where to start looking.

Also, if this is to be our business, we are going to foot all the bills. I don't know if you know how much it costs to run a zipine resort (but it's ALOT ALOT) but we don't have the funds for that sort of thing.

Thank you all for the interest in any case, the KSP community really is the best one!!!

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Ah, so there really is no conflict any more, just a decent proposal to take over the business? Like people said, if you need money for something like that, go to the bank. They are not too keen on giving out money nowadays, but if you present a good business plan (a description of how this business is making money) and you can prove it is profitable by showing the books of the past few years you have a very good chance. If you are planning to buy a business it is customary that you get to see the books, because you need to know what you are spending your money on. If this is all magic and mumbo jumbo to you, consider hiring expertise. Yes, that takes even more money, but that should be something that is affordable and then you have someone to help you. Making mistakes and spending a lot of time could be more expensive than just getting someone to do it together with you.

I think it is important to figure out what you want to do exactly. Do you want to buy out the old boss? Does he get any say in how the business is run? Do you want to take over/buy the company? Or just hire his stuff to make money? Do you do it personally or as a team? If you do not work this out really explicitly I am quite sure you will have trouble in no time. The boss changes his mind and everyone is stuck without a job and possibly a debt. I am quite sure the bank also requires this, as they will not loan money when these things are not secured and put on paper. Just make sure that you get rewarded for the risks you take, and that the old boss does not just keep on profiting while not running any risks. Be sure to make very clear who is and will be responsible for what, within the team of employees too.

If this is something you like, it might be a great chance of making a career move and maybe even owning a company, instead of 'just' being an employee. Just be sure of what you want and be doubly sure of coming to agreeable terms with each other and then putting them on paper in detail. Prepare as if you are going to court and document everything. If nothing happens, which usually is the case, everything is fine. If things go awry, you will have a strong position if you have a nasty legal fight.

Edited by Camacha

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If this is all magic and mumbo jumbo to you, consider hiring expertise.
I think it is important to figure out what you want to do exactly. Do you want to buy out the old boss? Does he get any say in how the business is run? Do you want to take over/buy the company? Or just hire his stuff to make money?

First of all, thank you again for taking an interest and helping me figure it out.

Where would I go to hire expertise? Are there businesses that would help me out or do I just put out a "Help Wanted" ad that states I need business advice?

I have no idea how we should run it, but I know that there are a lot of options. That's what is confusing me. Can I buy out the boss? What would that take? I think we will probably either have a partnership with 5 people, or make it employee owned and operated business. But that is just speculation, I really have no idea.

We are having a meeting tomorrow to figure some stuff out and see if it is feasible.

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Where would I go to hire expertise? Are there businesses that would help me out or do I just put out a "Help Wanted" ad that states I need business advice?

For checking over the company's books you want an accountant. Some small business owners do their books themselves and may or may not have it all tied up with a bow, but if you're talking about a business with 20-odd employees you're starting to get out of small business territory and they should have been filing proper annual accounts.

If you do get an accountant to take a look and they raise any red flags about the business, be prepared to walk away. It's possible there are reasons the previous owner is trying to jump ship that you aren't privy to, although the fact that they want to retain a stake makes that seem unlikely. Either way, don't make a bad financial decision based on not wanting to disturb the status quo.

Definitely push your partners to agree to a governance structure for both the transition phase and the new business though. That's really, really important. Make sure everybody knows what their job is, and who is responsible for what. Don't just wing it on that one, it'll come back to bite you at the worst time.

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Sorry if I am getting repetitive, but this community rocks!! I didn't expect to get much help here but was desperate for help, and that is exactly what I am getting. Thank you so much!!

For checking over the company's books you want an accountant.

But where do I get an accountant? Do I have to train my own? Can I just send somebody to a class? Is there a business that distributes accountants? Or do I just have to put out a classifieds add?

Definitely push your partners to agree to a governance structure for both the transition phase and the new business though.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this. Are you talking about an ownership structure like partnership, sole proprietor, or employee owned and operated? If so I think we are on the right track to figure that out. But if that is not what you are talking about could you clarify please? I think I understand what you mean about getting it done now so that we don't have issues later, but I don't understand the term "governance structure".

Going to the meeting today, will have more information later.

Edited by Zipmafia

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So it seems that we are all in agreement that we are going to either go full tilt or give up cold turkey, and that if we do go for it we would be an employee owned company to one degree or another. We are having another meeting on wednesday to discuss it further. It turns out that some of the team have very limited experience with business management, but the experience they had was all pretty solid confirmation of stuff we all already kinda knew.

It turns out that the major fear that everybody has that is keeping them from going full tilt is the ramifications of the boss's disicions for his other departments (sorry for the run on). let me explain a little more about what I am talking about.

I don't know if anybody has googled my business yet, but I work at a world renown treehouse resort in southern Oregon called Out 'N' About Treehouse Treesort. About 15 years ago they decided to add ziplines to the activities that they offer to guests. It stayed pretty small until our manager came on board. For the last several years we have been trying to seperate from the treesort to become Out 'N' About Treehouse Ziplines, we even have our own domain name http://www.treehouseziplines.com (it just links you to http://www.treehouses.com but it was a start), but all we were able to do was become our own department. There is one last department, which is debatable for the most profitable. Out 'N' About Treehouse Construction (http://www.treehouses.com/treehouse/construction/home.html).

Now when I said that the boss wanted to wash his hands of the business, what I really meant was that the boss wanted to wash his hands of every department BUT Treehouse Construction. The only problem is that the Treesort brings in 3/4 of our business, and they are going to either cut the amount of rentals in half or go out of business. Pretty much everybody but me is convinced that even if we have a great marketing plan we will not make enough money to stay in business. And that even with personal or 3rd party investors we won't make it.

I would also like to add that we barely advertize at all, we have a flyer, a website, and occasionally make it in the paper or on TV. So any marketing will be better than what we have, I personally think that we could pull in enough people with free social media advertizing alone.

What do you think? Do you think that a sufficient marketing campaign will be enough to replace a loss of 3/4 of our clientele? If not, I'm out of a career. If so, I'm going to be a partial owner and you all get free rides!!

Edited by Zipmafia

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I dont think so. Sorry, but it is VERY unlikely that it would work. I may be able to find you a job somewhere in South East NE.

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I may be able to find you a job somewhere in South East NE

Thank you so much for the generous offer, but I would rather pump gas and stay here than to move anywhere. It's nothing against everywhere else, it's just that this is my home. Now if somebody was to offer me some sort of at home job, I would probably be all over it. I just doubt such a job exists, but if it does I am really good with people.

But back to the subject at hand, I think I need to rephrase my question. Do you think an aggressive advertizing plan (among other things) would bring in enough people to keep us in business after loosing most of our clientele?

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I skimmed over most of this and have a good idea of what is going on...

Finding specialized talent: Accountants and HR personnel can be expensive. There are some companies that will provide these services to you at a cost. Since your profile says Oregon (family hails from across the border in Eureka, woot!) you have HR Block as a widespread company that can help with this. There are other smaller firms. Get out the yellow pages and go to "accountant" and find someone with an appropriate accounting degree. Even one man shops are neat because they have to compete with the bigger firms, and you're paying for their time. Being small, you likely don't want to hire an in house accountant.

Advertising: Can you maintain that relationship with the hotel? That will be a huge driver of your business. Aside from that you have to think like a tourist. I know I found all the locations and activities for my last vacation through TripAdvisor and Google. Mainly Trip Advisor because I like to read reviews of activities so I can find out if you're going to grope anyone in my party or rob us. if I don't find things through the internet, I generally find them through word of mouth at hotels and restaurants.

You have to generate that word of mouth by making sure locals know who you are and giving them a reason to recommend you. Maybe meet some folks and invite them out on a zip line trip if they will keep a display of business cards at their front desk.

I don't generally pull brochures from the displays at hotels, but know many people who do. Ask a hotel employee how people get their brochures in those displays. Generally it will be the result of a business association, I'm sure, or the chain gathers the information. They should be able to tell you.

But above all, register your business with Google. Make a website or hire someone to make a website (which I see you have done, but could be better). Make sure you have a presence on Trip Advisor and make a dedicated effort to respond personally to bad reviews there. If you make good with a bad review, its something at least I take personal notice of.

Edited by air805ronin

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Since your profile says Oregon (family hails from across the border in Eureka, woot!)

I have extended family in Eureka, I love the lagoon there!

Can you maintain that relationship with the hotel? That will be a huge driver of your business.

If the Treesort stays open we will definitely keep the relationship, we still have a good relationship with the owner.

And as for the advertising, I think that we have a steady grasp on how to do it well (although I liked your online suggestions), we just don't know if it will be enough for us to keep our jobs (or career for some like me). We don't really need to make a bunch of money, we just want to stay in business so that we have a place to work, and we continue to bring money into the valley.

If we go through with this we are going to blow it up with with free and paid advertising, and additional services (guided tree climbing, youth camps, day/month/annual passes, equipment rental and retail, etc.)

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