Randy and I started our landscape business in 1978. We have always been business oriented. Together, we own 4 businesses. The latest venture is our wedding venue. Club Lake Plantation Wedding Venue was decided upon through our Fall Festival and guests taking hayrides on the property. CLP encompasses 43 acres and different businesses are on different area of the property. In the fall, we have a pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin chunkin’, hay rides and more. During the hayrides a few seasons back, I had several couples ask if they could get married on the property. We had always (over the course of 21 years) let family, friends and various groups have functions (to include weddings) at our place. This land is absolutely gorgeous with the Live Oak Trees, pastures, buildings and water. The buildings we have in the wedding venue area are ‘out of the normal’ too. By this statement, I mean what we have to show is very unique. In a month’s time, six or eight couples asked me about hosting their wedding here. I said no to begin with. A few weeks went by, my husband and I talked, and here we are now. At present, we have been in business as CLP Wedding Venue for just over 2 years.
I must tell you about my first couple. They came to see me, and I had to explain that by the time they got married I promised to have cars and tractors removed from the building that would essentially host their reception. The ceremonial area, I told them I would have a gazebo type of structure built but I couldn’t tell them exactly what it would look like at that very moment. Mind you…they were looking into a pasture and standing on a cattle gap. The groom to be looked at me and said ‘you promise’. I said ‘trust me’. They trusted me and we booked our first wedding. We provided what we promised. The couple and their parents came back out in four month to look at any changes that might have been made. They were overwhelmed by what they saw. I was extremely excited to see the looks on both faces and to hear what they had to say. This was the beginning.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
I had to do research to understand what I could and couldn’t do on my property. There are always restrictions. It was discovered and understood that our property is Agritourism. We are farm based and use all of our resources to conduct business.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I’m fortunate that my husband and I have always been in business. We raised our family and they (the kids) were just a part of things (in and out of the office) growing up. Our extended family and true friends have always supported us; our children now work for us. Our son works in the landscape business and our daughter works with me at the wedding venue. Randy and I talk about and discuss the pros and cons of business ventures. It may take us a few days, weeks or months to make a decision. We feel we have made right decisions. We are blessed and we thank God for all we have and are able to do.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Speaking for myself, watching and listening to my mother. My mother is amazing and has always worked for herself…and raised a family of 4 children. Having the inspiration from the start has made things a little easier. If I needed to vent, or words of wisdom, I could simply talk to my mom. I still can.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid to delegate. Randy and I are both individuals that like to be ‘in charge’. I’ve learned it’s ok to let others help you out. We each have a talent and it’s good to share the knowledge.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Check out your surroundings. What do you want to offer in a business? Who do you want to offer something to? Why do you want to offer this? Do you have the time that it’s going to take? Do you have the resources/funding? Is there money to be made? Make sure YOU are going to be happy…if you aren’t happy and don’t like what you are doing, you shouldn’t do it.