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Old 03-12-2012, 04:10 PM
52 posts, read 106,330 times
Reputation: 129


One year out from graduation at Colorado State University (CSU) and I am seriously looking at returning to Summit County when I am done here. Having spent a year up in the Colorado High Country from June 2009-June 2010 (4 months at Winter Park, 8 months at Arapahoe Basin) to establish residency before coming to CSU, I saw first hand what life is like in the resort communities of Summit and Grand Counties.

During my time in Summit County I noticed that the socioeconomic environment comprised of 3 classes. The two largest where the transient population of seasonal workers (ski-bums) and the people that had already accumulated wealth elsewhere (trust-funders and wealthy business executives). The third class of people who lived up in Summit County year-round was a smattering of working-class professionals who had either gotten very lucky to secure year-round positions in their career fields or knew somebody that provided an "in" for them at one of the local businesses or resorts. Having seen the economic environment and having been a "ski bum" for a year, I would like to return as a working professional. However to achieve this I am becoming convinced that perhaps the best course of action will be to create my own employment by starting my own business.

While living in Summit County during the 2009-2010 ski season fortune smiled upon me when I met a venture capitalist through the Bible study that I was attending through Dillon Community Church. Since then he and I have been skiing numerous times and I have purposefully kept the relationship alive and well. I built a website for him during my time in Summit County. Looking back it wasn't the best website design I've ever seen, but a pretty good attempt for a first time website build. After that experience he said that when I was done with school he would like partner with me in a business venture. The idea that we are currently throwing around is to start a computer-service business targeting the property management companies and up keeping their client's computer-related needs. However looking at Yellow Pages I see that there are 15 computer repair or service related businesses scattered throughout Summit County. So my question to you Summit County locals is is this a saturated market for such a venture? Or is this the dream of a young naive, overeager college student who needs to cool his jets and get an IT job like everybody else down in Denver?
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:46 PM
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
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Unfortunately, most "entrepreneurs" in resort towns are using their small business to try to buy a lifestyle and the business more often than not is not viable over the long-term. I've referred to it over the years as the "Paradise Syndrome," where emotion overrules good business sense. Usually, within a few years, the businessperson has exhausted their capital, their credit line, and their cash--and they leave town with their tail between their legs. Some greater fool moves in and takes their place, and the cycle starts again. That alone makes the competition in most resort towns even more fierce because people are willing to operate a marginal or money-losing business for some period of time (until they go broke) just to live there. Meanwhile, they compete for what business there is.

Many people also don't understand the inverse relationship between easy entry (i.e. low capital or knowledge requirement) and long-term business success. Simply put, the easier is a business is to start, the more likely it is to suffer from savage competition and ultimate failure. There are exceptions, of course, but a few lucky souls win the Lottery each year, too. Look at most successful businesses and they share the traits of being technically challenging, often specialized, and usually relatively capital-intensive. My late father started a business in Colorado many years ago. He went against the advice of many and specialized his business into one with relatively few potential customers with very specific needs. While most of his competitors struggled to stay in business while competing for tens of thousands of customers, my Dad built a thriving business centered on probably less than 100 customers over three decades of existence (until he retired).

Small business today is probably trying to survive in about the most savage environment that it has seen in decades. All nature of government regulations weigh most heavily upon it, it is called upon to pay taxes that many large companies have the wherewithal to avoid, it often can ill-afford to pay (both in cash and benefits) salaries sufficient to attract the best-qualified and most talented employees. I have many friends that are small-business people in rural Colorado. Almost all of them say that their work is not much fun anymore and they often steer their children away from small business careers here. That is sad for Colorado, but I can't blame people for feeling that way--that's just the way the business environment is here these days.
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:51 PM
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
2,970 posts, read 6,605,182 times
Reputation: 5679
I'm not in Summit, but Eagle County is fairly saturated. In the past year I have seen a few IT jobs pop up in the area, applying for something in your field in the mountains may be a way to get back to living in the area.
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