I will start out by saying that opening any sort of business is not for the faint of heart. I have so much more appreciation and respect for small businesses after this experience and am dedicated to supporting local businesses as much as I can.
Many friends and family members ask what the process has been like. The best way I can describe it is an emotional rollercoaster with extreme highs and lows. For example, the same day we had our beautiful exterior sign installed, we also learned that our construction timeline had been pushed back an entire month. You also have to be prepared for everyone asking, “Are you open?” People have no idea what goes into the process – I certainly did not at the start of this journey.
I’ve always been a firm believer in using experts to do what they do best. I remember talking to my husband early in the project about how much I felt we needed a veterinary consultant to guide us through the process. The cost of a consultant is quite high, but I felt like it was worth it. My husband had faith that we could figure it out on our own while leaning on the support of friends in similar roles in the veterinary field. Upon exploring further, I started to realize that a lot of the consultants were older male veterinarians or business owners. As a young female entrepreneur, it begged the question: Could they really relate to me? We decided to forgo the consultant, and I think it was a great decision looking back.
Everyone always tells you, “It is all about who you know,” and in this situation, they are absolutely correct. I’ve found a strong network that has been truly valuable when making my way as a new small business founder/owner. After I decided not to hire a consultant, I reached out to practice owners in my area and across the country and picked their brains – “What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked for you?” I was shocked by how open everyone was and how willing they were to offer all types of invaluable advice. Each one of these connections was like a trail marker (or cairn for the hiking enthusiasts) leading me further along my path. One connection would lead me to another connection or potential vendor I needed to speak to. I slowly started to build a team of trusted individuals. When I was faced at a crossroads of which company or vendor to choose, I led with my gut: Who seems like a person that truly cares about me and the success of my company? Who do I vibe with? A practice owner recently told me to make a decision and move on, check it off the list. It has been great advice. I have made multiple decisions along the way and then have moved on to the next task at hand. Timely decision-making is a skill I’ve picked up and has been crucial to getting closer to opening doors for business.
One aspects that you cannot prepare for are the numerous “chicken or the egg” dilemmas. For example, to verify our google business account, we needed a phone number or to be able to accept mail. Well, we don’t have a phone number, and we can’t accept mail because we aren’t open- so how does that work? These situations ultimately put more pressure on the need to make timely decisions.
Lastly, I could have never imagined how much I’ve learned along the way during this process. Some examples include lease negotiations, zoning for veterinary hospitals in the city, vacuum pump options for medical gas waste, the difference between a timer and photocell for a sign, creating financial projections, and what trenching is (there’s an Instagram video for that one). We still have a ways to go, and I am sure I will continue to add to this list of new skills/information. I am eternally grateful to my support system of friends, family, and colleagues whose brains I have picked along the way and have leaned on for support. Thanks for following our journey; I can’t wait to see this vision come to life and welcome you and your pets to Love City Vet!