It was the Fall of 2008 amidst a growing recession, Al and I sat in front of the television staring at the news just before leaving for work. We were living in Aspen, Colorado working for a real estate conglomerate partially (a good partial) financed by Lehman Brothers. We were in trouble.
There were layoffs, and more layoffs and we began talking. Were we next? What would we do on one income or no income? Aspen is not a cheap town to live in and we would definitely need to relocate. But to where? We began formulating a plan to move to the west cost of Florida which we had become familiar with through his parents’ second home. On the subject of what to do, no idea.
Starting a business was our first option. Al was raised in an entrepreneurial family and I had always been too strong-minded to want to work for someone else. We jotted ideas down – there was a fitness website, website sales, financial firms, consulting firms. We looked at the brainstorming sheet and thought…we don’t want to do this. The idea generation really boiled down to one question – what do we really want to get out of life? Well, we want to eat, drink and travel. Those were the most basic activities we wanted out of life. After a few discussions with a friend that was a partial owner of a local wine shop in Aspen, we decided that a wine empire could provide just those activities.
We settled on a wine boutique and national sales website in January 2009 and named it Decanted. In February, we spent two weeks researching the market in Naples and started working our plan. We relocated in June, spent tireless hours working through the summer and opened on December 11, 2009.
Owning a business has been the single greatest and single most challenging decision of my life. I have yet to find something that changes your life as much as a business does (I’ve heard children do as well but I can’t attest to that yet). It’s a roller coaster ride with highs and lows, it’s stressful and liberating, it’s everything you want yet the hardest thing to do. There are so many emotions involved in owning a business it’s hard to wrap them into a single book, let alone a blog post.
But at the end of the day, I look around at what we have accomplished and I can’t help but be proud of us. The business enables us to do what we enjoy. Al and I spend more time together now than ever before, our relationship is stronger than ever, we not only appreciate each other for our personalities but our business knowledge and demeanor. We work when we want, we take time off when we need. If we need more money, we make it. We don’t rely on anyone but ourselves to control our lives. I love going to work everyday and I truly have everything I want out of life. And yes, I get to eat, drink and travel.