When I first became a business owner in Telluride, Colorado in 2002 there was so much I just did not know--I was simply excited by the prospect of being able to choose my own priorities, control my own financial destiny, and pick my own ski days. I was fortunate to become a partner in a great, small property management business that I had been working at for 4 years already, the first few years were very exciting--just after 9/11 and years before the "Great Recession." However, I did not make a solid plan for my future life as a business owner and how I and the business would necessarily change over time.
If I only knew then what I know now...
That's why I have started Telluride Business Resources, as a way to share my knowledge and experiences, the good and the bad, with other entrepreneurs in Telluride & Mountain Village, especially those who have decided to contribute their sweat equity toward making the transition from ski bum to community stakeholder. This transition is harder today than it was 15 or 20 years ago--and it has never been easy. Any long term Telluride resident can likely name 10 or more friends who have moved away for every one who found a way to make it as a local!
As an employee and later co-founder of Elevation Vacations and Telluride Property Services --respectively, the premiere Vacation Rental and Estate Management services in the Colorado mountain towns of Telluride and Mountain Village--from 1998 to 2013, I was witness to the transformation of an entire industry. "Vacation Rentals" was not even the term used by property managers in 2002, our competition were hotels so "Lodging" was the primary term we optimized for the search engines. It is my opinion that the fact that AirBnB is being valued at $20 Billion andHomeaway may be acquired by Priceline has much to do with the efforts of the local property manager businesses (mostly owner operated) in resort destinations who improved the quality of services, marketing & revenues, and used the internet to build an awareness of vacation rentals as a suitable alternative to fine hotels in their destinations.
Along the way, I faced the usual challenges of business ownership--growth, tax planning, staffing challenges, legal matters, regulatory changes, partnership decisions, etc. all while chasing the rapid developments in the way vacation rentals were marketed. Websites like VRBO and later Homeaway and AirBnB at first seemed like a major threat, but ultimately became key partners in our marketing strategies.
As my property management businesses grew we were fortunate to earn the loyalty of a great core of customers--both homeowners and repeat visitors (who comprised 40% of our $2 million annual sales). I was also able to anticipate the next trend in the vacation rental industry-- consistent service and ease of booking from branded providers serving multiple destinations. Inspirato, Wyndham, InvitedHome, Vacasa, Natural Retreats, and others are the vanguard of this trend offering a consistent, "branded" level of service across a variety of resort locales as well as streamlined booking processes similar to that of hotels--a much needed innovation as anyone who has had to research and choose a vacation rental for their clients or family is well aware. Boulder, Colorado based InvitedHome purchased my businesses in 2013 and I spent 2014 managing the transition into their network and had an excellent, ground floor opportunity to see this next phase in the vacation rental industry take shape.
The lifestyle of an entrepreneur in great resort destinations like Telluride is something certainly coveted by others, this is both an opportunity and a threat. The character of great destinations like Telluride is based upon the community of those who have chosen a different sort of career path--hard work here is rewarded with time spent skiing, hiking, and accessing exceptional opportunities for our kids. It is for those people that Telluride Business Resources has been founded to serve. To help assure your success, I ask entrepreneurs the questions I wish I had better considered in 2002.
Whether you are starting out in business, in the middle of growing your business, or thinking about selling your business--we provide the support services entrepreneurs here need so that you can do what you do best--we share hard work, skills & experience, contacts, and advice from a 17 year career of doing business and making a life among these fabulous mountains.