The Entrepreneur's Guide to the Vail Valley
At face value, it might seem like the Vail Valley is the perfect place to live. Most of us that migrate here would agree with that sentiment, but we'd also probably all agree that it can be difficult to live up here, too. The average "ski bum" salary doesn't go quite as far as it used to thanks to housing shortages and an economy that thrives on a seasonal basis, among other things—a problem that isn't exclusive to our little valley. In some ways, the economy really hasn't changed that much from when the first wave of locals came to the area in the 60s and 70s—you either had to adapt to the economy (and count on low rent, or at least a friend with a van down by Gore Creek), or figure out what you did well, and get paid to do it. That's the challenge in any economy, but it's a kind of hyped up dance in ski towns, where almost everyone knows someone (or is someone) who has at least two jobs to make it work up here. Luckily, whether it's making trucker hats in a West Vail garage or opening a wine bar in Vail Village, there's a thriving scene of entrepreneurs who are figuring it out, and leaving a network of resources in their wake. We've mapped out the sea of services available to small and would-be business owners in the Vail Valley so you can save up that energy for starting your company or your next job search (trust us, you're going to need it).
Finding the Right Job
There's nothing wrong with any job that pays the bills, but if you find the financial ebb and flow from season to season is a bit too hard on your pocket book (or your sanity), Vail Valley startup Mountain Careers is here to help. The idea is simple; connect employers and prospective employees from mountain towns together via one forum, and blast weekly job bulletins to subscribers that often have jobs thought nonexistent in ski communities (as of press time, a full-time, salaried position with Bravo! Vail, and an event manager with Golden Peak's Larkspur were among some of the top listings on the blog). Think of it as a kind of LinkedIn meets Craigslist for mountain professionals, with a weekly listing of jobs in ski towns around the country getting sent straight to your inbox.
The best way to plot your course in given career (or start planning your own business empire) is to surround yourself with others who have already begun the journey. Vail Valley Young Professionals puts together regular events with (you guessed it) young, local entrepreneurs that range from meet and greets with established Colorado business owners, to happy hours. Although if you'd prefer a more intimate setting to discuss your start-up, local business mogul Lexi Mossman's (of Edwards' MountainFit, a freelance athletic training venture) Dinner Conversations provide food for thought (and eating). Monthly 12-person dinners at local restaurants offer entrepreneurs and working professionals a forum to bounce ideas off one another and discuss their own struggles and successes—all over multiple courses of wining and dining. Vail Village's Root & Flower has also opened its doors every Thursday morning (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) for co-working space, where it's not unusual to see one of the bar's owners, Sam Biszantz, serving up lattes to freelancers, small business owners, and anyone else who happens to need some working space that day.
Still can't seem to navigate the ins and outs of taking your idea from concept to conglomerate? Schedule some face-time with a pro; the Colorado Small Business Development Center is a free state-wide consultation service with an Avon location that helps would-be business owners develop a plan, and grow your business. And once you're ready to sit down and work, the Vail Centre's Avon and Edwards co-working locations have everything you need—from working space and office supplies to other small business owners to bounce ideas off of—to make it all a reality.
Vail Valley Partnership — vailvalleypartnership.com
Mountain Careers — mountaincareers.com
Vail Valley Young Professionals — vvypa.com
Dinner Conversations — eventbrite.com
Root & Flower Co-Working — rootandflowervail.com
Colorado Small Business Development Center — coloradosbdc.org
Avon Centre Co-Working — vailcentre.org