Building a Business Plan

Translate dreams onto paper with ink, and they seem less like a dream and more like a reality. Not only do you have to spell out all the details that the vague ideal leaves out, but also the pitfalls, downsides, and risks. This does not mean the dream is any less fantastic, it only maps the path up the mountain one must climb.
First thing I do when I don’t know what to do is google. There are many sites with example business plans and step by step guidance. John Diers at the CEDC (Cisco Economic Development Corporation http://www.ciscodc.com/ ) recommended I get in contact with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center http://www.ttusbdc.org/abilene/ ), a free small business consulting group through Texas Tech.

It was daunting at first, trying to figure the financial feasibility of the cost of living vs. the number of cups of coffee one would have to sell! It would be a lot of coffee. Luckily, Kasity’s heart is set on art, and with two degrees and experience teaching, she wants to offer various art lessons in the mess of a room that (once renovated) will be known as “The Upper Room.” The back part of the upstairs would be a perfect place for a bed and breakfast, and the coffee shop could serve as so much more.

Of the people we have met in Cisco, most have expressed a certain craft or skill. Put that together with the shelving space and our online know-how, and our store could be a front for commissioned art, woodwork, hand made jewelry, and other “Made in Cisco, TX” products. With the online front, we would not have to be a store begging the locals to spend their money, rather – we could help MAKE them money!

The numbers were still tough to crunch, as the high numbers put us at a comfortable place to continue improvements in the building and business, but the low estimates made me feel hungry as I thought about the possibility of resorting to the college diet of microwave burritos and Ramen.

We started this journey on our knees, and I have had to remember (especially when dealing with numbers and finances) to stay that way. I had a list of potential other sources of income which included preaching, writing, web development, and even the possibility of starting a side tutoring business. (As a side, since the time of developing the business plan, I have been hired as a part time preacher at the First Christian Church in Cisco, am designing an “Intro to the Old Testament” class for Lubbock Christian University that I will teach online, and have won an award and been published internationally with my poetry – not to brag, but to humbly give glory to God for the things that can happen while on our knees). As my brother-in-law recently said, “At first I had my concerns, but I think y’all are going to be okay.”

With much thought put toward our purpose and motivations, this is what Kasity and I came up with:

Waverly’s Coffee and Craft

Business Plan – 610 Conrad Hilton Blvd.

Sean and Kasity Grose

 

  1. I.                    Executive Summary
    1. As sole proprietors, my wife and I bring vision and enthusiasm to make our living making living in or visiting Cisco a more unique experience.
    2. Business concept: Our business concept is multi-faceted approch toward salesmanship, hospitality, and service that will benefit a diverse clientele.

i.      Refreshment is at the heart of the business, providing a place for locals and visitors to sit down and rest in a positive environment while they are out and about in the downtown area. Thursday-Saturday nights the shop will be appealing to surrounding high school and college students. Refreshments will include: coffees, teas, and other beverages, snacks, jarred homemade soup, chips and homemade salsa, etc.

ii.      The store itself will also provide a venue for locals to sell arts, crafts, and products they have made. This will give economic incentive for a skilled populace to explore their creativity and hone their craft. Other items for sale in the store include: gift Bibles and study materials, Texas art, locally inspired Tshirts, Christian gifts, hand made crosses, greeting cards, etc.

iii.      To further encourage local support and involvement, we will provide services such as arts and crafts lessons, tutoring, summer creative camps, as well as a place for Bible study meetings, poetry readings, live music, or other club meetings.

iv.      All arts, crafts, and other products will be also sold online, making use of e-commerce and the worldwide pool of buyers.

v.      Lodging: Upstairs, a two bedroom cabin style loft will be available for locals, travelers, and visitors (antique shoppers, hunters, etc.).

  1. c.       Community Benefit

i.       Employment – in the first year, we intend to utilize one part time employee in addition to the many who will benefit from selling their craft at our store and online. After the first year, we hope to be able to employ at least one full time employee or two part timers. After we are established, the vision is for two full time (or one full time, two part time) employees to run the shop, and we manage the online and service side of the business.  A cleaning service is also anticipated to be needed.

ii.      Locals have more opportunity to become out and involved in Cisco’s downtown.

iii.      College students have one more “thing to do” on the weekends.

iv.      Mutual benefit: Our business works in tandem with other downtown business (rather than in competition with). The more visitors they have, we will have; the more visitors we have, they will have. I have walked downtown Cisco many times, and have always wished there was a place to get a cool drink on a hot day. I would have shopped longer if I would have had a chance to cool down.

v.      With creativity and the arts watered, creativity and the arts grow.

  1. d.      Marketing Strategy:

i.      Our marketing will be traditional, integrative, and online.

  1.  Traditional marketing includes fliers, postings, and word of mouth.
  2. Our integrative approach involves the customers in the sales, as we will be a platform for them to sell their own arts and crafts. They will also participate as performers, audience, or have room in the shop for their small group meetings.
  3. Online marketing embraces Facebook, Google, Etsy.com, eBay, Amazon, use of a webpage and blogging, as well as advertizing on other strategic webpages.

ii.      College and High School crowd

  1. Fliers and word of mouth.
  2. Involvement and support of the campuses.
  3. School spirit products will be available (if there is not another local store doing the same before we get there).
  4. Monthly events involving students (talent show, open mic, student artists, poetry nights).
  5. Getting them involved in the profit – making items to sell in the store and online.
  6. Facebook, online marketing.

iii.      Community

  1. Fliers and word of mouth.
  2. Community events.
  3. Special or seasonal sales.
  4. Space for small groups to meet (Bible studies, ladies groups, book clubs, etc.)
  5. Getting them involved in the profit – making items to sell in the store and online.
  6. Facebook, online marketing.

iv.      Visitors

  1. This will rely heavily on online advertizing and accessibility, and will tie in the numerous websites advocating lodging.
  2. We will emphasize the lodging for hunters in season, as well as the times when most travelers are likely to be visiting. With the lodging, we will include special rates for hunters, as well as teachers during the times school is not in session.
  3. e.      Competitive Edge

i.      Uniqueness of the store

  1. The multi-faceted nature of the store offers a lot to the various markets within the Cisco area, as well as an outlet for supplemental income for local artist and craftsmen/women.
  2. Our products and services are designed to complement the surrounding businesses rather than compete with them. (Craft instead of antiques, refreshments rather than restaurant, and services that will hone the skills and potentials of locals).
  3. Location, location, location. This store may not work two blocks south or north. What we have to offer is aimed at people who walk or drive right by this beautiful building anyway. As for the lodging, the Cisco area and miles surrounding does not compare with other areas equidistant from Abilene or DFW.
  4. TLC: We are not hoping to move to Cisco to strike it rich, but rather to use our skills and our hearts to reflect a little more of God’s love into a community that seems ready to re-energize their quaint downtown culture.

 

The Opening Road

Between our month in Cisco and school starting back up, I don’t think Kasity or I gave another thought to the coffee shop idea.  It was back in the mental filing cabinet, but still had a corner of the folder keeping the drawer from closing all the way – which made it easy to find when the real estate agent called. We had forgotten that we had put in an inquiry for a building that was much too tall and big for our britches, but wanted to dream about anyway.

We were going to be in Cisco over Labor Day anyway, and set up an appointment to tour the facility.

But. . . before the vacation, the realtor called and said someone bought the building. Bought it for $96k. Way out of our league.

Although nothing even could have developed with this building and the costs of buying AND renovating it, our file was back on the table.  Labor day weekend we still walked hand in hand down the boulevard, enjoying the quaintness of the town (despite the roadwork) and limitlessness of possibility. It was not but a block until we noticed an even more appealing and beautiful building. 610 Conrad Hilton Boulevard:

 

waverlystexas.com

  The side door happened to be open, and I carried Ilya up the stairs. Facing the road on the second story is a large room, and I automatically pictured Kasity’s art lessons and a creative workshop. In the back two rooms, I imagined a small bed and breakfast.  Hardwood floors, lofted ceilings, great view. . . I tried describing it to Kasity, but she was trying to tell me how much trouble I could have gotten in for going in there without permission and how she would bail Ilya out but not me! The seeds were planted. My mind started it’s natural economic feasibility app and kept whirring away the whole way home. After a week or so or whirring, I’m sure I would have set the file aside again, but John Diers happened to call at the right time.

“There’s a building right next to mine that I think your idea would be great in.”

It was the building I still haven’t told him I had already snuck into. I still didn’t believe we could afford it.

“Build a business plan, talk with SBDC (Small Business Development Center) about a feasibility plan, and make a proposal. The worst that could happen is that the board says no and you stay where you are.”

“True.” I thought to myself. We were happy (and still are) in Meadow, and enjoy teaching. But we are 31 and aging. If we are going to try something we’ve always wanted to do, this was the time.

We prayed. We had been on our knees after losing Waverly, and we were not going to stop now. We start the process on our knees, and we will continue that way – it’s the only way the devil can’t knock us down.

Next on the blog: building a business plan – like going through business school in two months!

Thanks for reading. Click on “Waverly’s Home” at the top of the blog, or bookmark us at www.waverlystexas.com

Waverly Virginia

A year and a half ago, Kasity went to her women’s Bible study. I enjoyed tucking in our daughter and working on the computer on our fine couch. When Kasity came home, I routinely asked how the lesson was and how it affected her. It was over Joshua 10, about the Israelites being called to make an all night march uphill to do battle with an enemy much larger and stronger. God tells them, “Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you.” In other words, “Do your part, I’ll take care of the rest.” They faithfully trudged through the night, albeit begrudgingly. When they met their enemy, God lived up to his word and defeated the enemy with hail.

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That night, it seemed like a neat story with a vague application to our lives. We kissed goodnight and I went to sleep with my hand resting on the womb that was lovingly home to our second little girl.

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The next night, I was reading the same passage to Kasity in the hospital, with newfound and clear meaning. We were in for a long uphill march through the night, giving premature birth to our second daughter, Waverly Virginia. It was a week before school started.

The hardest year of our life followed the hardest night.

    “Do your part, I will take care of the rest.” 

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Despite wearing black for forty days, we had no time to process and mourn. The school year flew by, and our family, friends, and co-workers were good to us. It is eye-opening to find out how many people have experienced the same thing. It’s just not something easy to talk about; it is a subject that just doesn’t come up.

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Months before school was out, we decided to take 30 days away when summer was to come – our personal sabbatical. We stayed at Kasity’s grandparents’ place a few miles into the country near Cisco.

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We prayed. We played, swam, ate, prayed, created, wrote, worked on the house, prayed, and loved.

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We spent our last morning there swimming at the lake, and found a way through the construction into the Conrad Hilton Museum (also Cisco Chamber of Commerce). It is a beautiful museum, not only capturing the story of Conrad Hilton’s first hotel, but also enveloping the vibrancy of the story of Cisco. Darrell Crofts of “Seals and Crofts” was born there, there was a Santa Claus bank robbery in 1927, Hilton’s first hotel, the largest swimming pool west of the Mississippi, and even a tornado that wiped out the downtown in 1892.

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While Kasity and Ilya traipsed about, I found myself sitting and talking to a bright eyed man named James. He shared his grand ideas of a gravitational energy powered electric generator, and I shared our far fetched dreams of a small town coffee shop.
The phone rang, and James said, “I’ll have to call you back, I’ve almost convinced this young man and his family to move here.” Before we left, he made me promise to at least go down and talk with a man named John Diers down the street. My girls went to pick up lunch while I walked a few blocks to share my ideas with the director of the Cisco Economic Development Corporation.

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“Sounds great,” John told me as he printed out some paperwork I wouldn’t think about for another month or so.

 

www.waverlystexas.com

Together

Finally, a picture of us together!
Family Portrait

As with any parents of a two year old, most of our pictures are of our kid, much less each other – and especially not ALL together!

 

This photo is to remind us that we are a family. Despite what one sided documentary our photo folder may evidence, Mr. Coffeebean cares deeply and passionately for Mrs. Coffeebean. And she steeps long and strong for him.

 

How does Peaberry see God?
In the interactions of her mother and father.

 

Look through your most recent photos. . . Does it represent your priorities?

 

 

 

Next post:

We have been teachers for 8 years, and have some distinct comforts where we are; what made us want to change direction and start a coffee shop?

The Crew

Mrs. Coffeebean: Kasity
Kasity

Mrs. Coffeebean is a lovely character. Art is at the core of her soul. Graduating from South Plains College and Southern Methodist University with degrees in art – combined with the passion for others – led her quite naturally into the classroom. Oh, how I wish she was my art teacher.

kasity

 

Coffee preference: Toffee nut latte with a dash of cinnamon.

Greatest fear: Sharks.

What Mr. Coffeebean loves most about her: A mountain moving smile.

Mr. Coffeebean: Sean Grose

seanMr. Coffeebean loves the idea of the renaissance man. He has degrees in English, History, Bible and Ministry, has taught elementary through high school in math, social studies, and science – and enjoys getting hit by wet sponges hiding behind monkeys. Being 6’6″, it’s always been hard for him to be shy, even when he wants to be.

coffee pot


Coffee preference: Black. Unadulterated.
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Greatest Fear: Random meteorites.
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What Mrs. Coffeebean loves most about him: His dastardly good looks. . . and geekiness.
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Which brings us to the littlest bean in our bag . . .
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Peaberry: Ilya Grose
ilyaMr. Coffeebean wanted to name this cute bean “Doctor,” but was persuaded that ILYA was more appropraite (I Love You Always) considering we live amongst people. Peaberry is the life of the party, and makes her parents thankful for pollination. 2 years old, terribly wonderful.
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ilyaCoffee preference: Milk, hold the coffee.
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Greatest fear: Wind.
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Thing Peaberry loves most about her parents: “Up, UP!”
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Thing they love most about her: God is teaching them, through a child.
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This post was brought to you by:
Two squares talking in a circle.