Work in Paradise

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paradiseTired of the daily bumper-to-bumper commute; tired of the nine to five grind; tired of a wretched boss not understanding your abilities and needs; tired of having a day off only to have rotten weather?

If the answer to any of those above is yes, consider relocating your career to paradise.  What is paradise?  Everyone has their own definition.  Discover your perspective and start a business plan for that life-altering move.

What is your career?  It might be the same as your current career or it might be, by choice or necessity, a totally different path.  It could be becoming a bartender or owning the bar.

Personally, I was tired of the commute, the rotten weather, the sixty plus hour work weeks and what I call “corporate chaos.”  The direct boss was okay, because that was me.  However, I worked for non-profits meaning the indirect bosses were many – boards and committees.  All were wonderful people one-on-one, but together different agendas could emerge.  I had the good fortune of growing each organization I was with.  The thought always crossed my mind – could I find a business for myself and similarly grow that?

For me paradise was three-fold:

Working for myself.  A 2009 Gallup-Heathways Well-Being Index, from a poll of 100,000 people, found that business owners scored highest as the happiest Americans.

Living and working where other people vacationed.  I dreamed of living  in a tropical area. Growing up in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 frozen lakes, made this a tantalizing prospect. I used to proudly announce that, while attending law school at the University of San Diego, I graduated in the top five percent of my class . . . in beach activities.

My required foot attire had to be nothing more formal than a pair of flip flops; As I was growing up, helping my father in his hardware store, I admired the professionals who dressed to the max. The suit, tie, and fancy, polished shoes represented success, and I wanted to be like them. But I reached that goal and discovered it wasn’t so special after all. I no longer wanted to be like them; I wanted to liberate my toes.

I preferred a warm breeze to a cold freeze. These thoughts were wildly invigorating and reminded me of something that Zig Ziglar once said: “Will you look back on life and say, ‘I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did’?”

One of our society’s most overrated beliefs is that a job involves no more than chasing a certain quality of life through toys, trinkets, and retirement savings. On the other hand, the most underrated truth is that we can find something we love to do and gain the important things in life without even realizing that we’re working. The rat race is a sure path to stress and potential misery, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We found a location – French St. Martin in the Caribbean.  Now what to do for work?  Being a licensed attorney, former lobbyist and an association executive meant nothing in this new world.  I chose to follow the chemistry passion of my youth.

However, I needed to determine how to break into the cosmetics business. Gift shops, restaurants, and beach bars were all possibilities. On the other hand, though these were fun jobs, they were labor intensive and, unless converted to a multiple-location, had limited upside potential.

Thus, the manufacturing part of the business was my preferred choice. Retail by itself was limited to the products and their cost and it was controlled by distributors. Conversely, few items for sale to tourists were actually made on the island. I considered that a big advantage for manufacturing.

I had been studying botany and chemistry for years, and decided to start focusing on the Caribbean’s abundance of natural resources available for fragrance and cosmetic creations. I drafted a business plan, not for a client, a bank, or a corporate boss, but for my wife and myself. Energy and enthusiasm flowed … as did the homemade tropical libations.

To minimize the prospect of failure, I envisioned sales of perfumes and related unique gift items originating on multiple, concurrent paths: sales to tourists at the manufacturing location; sales to distributors or other retail operators; sales worldwide via the Internet.

A necessary caveat to the dream and the planning was to insure there was sufficient time to do research—at the beach.  I know it’s a dirty job, but . . .

10 Tips for Succeeding in Any Business

  1. Dream, have a vision
  2. Save sufficient capital, then make sure you have more capital
  3. Create partners with your vendors
  4. Get along with your neighbors
  5. Provide customer service as you would want to be served
  6. Establish and distinguish your product line from others
  7. Create your brand, then market and sell it
  8. Employees: select, train, and treat as partners
  9. Count the cash to the penny
  10. Have fun, your attitude will show to your customers

By John Berglund