Vision to Success: An Entrepreneur's Story
By W. Don Turner Board Chair, California Lodging Industry Association | October 28, 2008
CLIA, The California Lodging Industry Association, is made up of many such entrepreneurs. Men and women that have started with a dream, something small, and turned it into a strong, independent, growing and thriving example of the "Great American Success Story"
Over the next few articles I will chronicle this process drawing from some of my own experiences as well as some of the stories and experiences that have been shared with me by great people that I have encountered in the Industry.
Before embarking on the purchasing or the building of a hotel with any chance of having it be successful, the architect of this dream must embark on a well-charted course that incorporates experience, expertise, the knowledge of others as well as sound business plan.
Expertise is acquired through experience. Many entrepreneurial hoteliers that are admired and respected by this author are people that have started in small family businesses or worked their way up through the ranks, learning the industry through their experiences as an employee. They begin their careers as owners after having had the invaluable benefit of learning the business from the ground up, having managed the front desk, changed the beds, supervised the maintenance, and worked with the community to build the image necessary to insure the hotel's success and position in the community.
It has been said about many great people in our industry and throughout the business world that it is not how smart you are or how much you know, but that the key to one's success is how you choose your counsel. The knowledge acquired by others is an indispensable tool. Each successful person that you encounter in our industry has information to share. That is why associating one self with an organization like CLIA can be such a vital asset. The opportunity to discuss your plans and the challenges that you are facing with a team of experienced, talented professionals can be indispensable.
The exercise of developing an effective business plan is crucial to the process of buying or building a hotel. A business plan, in effect, becomes the blue print for the project. It forces the entrepreneur to go through every aspect of the project step-by-step examining all of its phases and allowing for each contingency that may arise. A good business plan addresses acquisition costs, pre-opening costs, general and administrative costs as well as operational budgets and costs. In addition, it incorporates studies on staffing requirements, product analysis, market analysis and a strategic marketing plan under which the property will be presented to the community. It will have schedules for use of funds, capital requirements and repayment of borrowed funds.