Vail Daily column: Exercising the entrepreneurial spirit
Dane is my younger brother chronologically, but I often look up to him as one would an older brother. He is also my best friend and a fellow seeker — we have shared adventures on six continents. Awed by his acumen for business and his penchant for entrepreneurial endeavors, I nonetheless always pictured myself in more of a traditional career in the law. Yet his influence and inspiration must have seeped into my consciousness through osmosis because now I find myself at the co-helm of a law firm wholly steeped in entrepreneurial values and outlook.
Genealogically, I suppose this outcome makes sense. My paternal grandfather brought the thirst for new modes of business with him to our shores. Indeed, it was his entrepreneurial bent that allowed him to escape the hazards of wartime Czechoslovakia and make his way to Brussels, where he met my grandmother and ingratiated himself with an industrialist that gave him a shot to ply the steel trade in America. My father, a role model ne plus ultra, inherited the zeal for running his own show and is still at it, always there to lend me advice on all the vagaries of running a business. Marriage linked me to another entrepreneur: my father-in-law parlayed his otherworldly skill as a craftsman into a general contracting business under the banner of which he has almost singlehandedly built some of the most stunning homes in central Virginia.
Once a profession characterized by small solo offices comprised of intrepid attorneys, the legal market since shifted to a model based on leveraging the “slave labor” of associates and dominated by megalithic law firms of a thousand attorneys or more. Our venture at RKV Law is at once modern but also a return to the enterprising ways of our legal forebears and a continuation of the individualist streaks of our respective families. It is also congruent with the entrepreneurial essence of the Vail Valley.
Built From Scratch
It is no surprise that the businesses of which the Valley are most proud are homegrown and built from scratch. Regionally and national renowned construction companies, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, dog treat producers, surgery/medical research facilities, real estate brokerages, ski manufacturers, nonprofits and more all had their start right here in our community. Vail Resorts, now an empire of considerable size, was itself once a startup.
While on the surface it may seem difficult to launch a company here, our Valley is fertile ground for the next wave of business ventures. With a highly educated populace, there is a surfeit of intellectual capital available to found and run successful companies. Our denizens are also innate risk takers and the consequences and rewards of entrepreneurship dwarf those of dropping a 40-footer or sending a gap jump. Even the decision made by each of us to make a go of it here shows the fortitude and willingness to sacrifice that is at the heart of business innovation.
Nurture the Spark
Abundant human and physical resources do not themselves a business make. The spark of an idea must be nurtured by its creator, but the nascent entrepreneur in turn needs to be incubated as well. A welcoming, supportive environment will increase the chances for success. Whether through informal mentoring relationships or more formal entities like 8150 High Altitude Entrepreneurs (see http://www.8150.co), it is important for a venture to have a “team” of cheerleaders, advisors and, yes, critics. It is much better for a business to be picked apart at the planning stages than to step into the marketplace unprepared and learn the lesson when the money is really on the line.
Getting Past Legal Obstacles
Among the challenges to overcome to get a fledgling business off the ground, legal obstacles can be disastrous. Robust understanding of the potential legal pitfalls is essential to a sound business plan. As an extension of my own recently-uncovered zeal for entrepreneurship, it is rewarding to humbly offer legal advice to those companies finding their way in the local and larger economy. Understanding the joys and terror of putting everything on the line to follow dreams allows me to more effectively convey the tidbits of information that I hope prove useful.
One of my most frequent “clients” is Dane, who has a number of excellent ideas in various stages of development. To be able to work alongside my brother in these endeavors is all the payment that I need. That said, if/when he strikes it big with one of his projects, I wonder if it is too much to ask for him to buy me an island … or a heli-ski operation.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril, LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, please contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, tj@ rkvlaw.com or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.