Starting the business Costa Rica. Our experience with building our expectations.
I remember talking up our business plan to anyone that would listen back in early 2010. “We are going to build our portfolio as we drive across the U.S.A. and then open a Bed and Breakfast that offers Photography Classes in Costa Rica.” The star-shine in my eyes must have been blinding. We didn’t have all the details figured out but we already had a farm and were on our way to gaining residency. It was simple in my mind, build the facility and get people to come. It wasn’t going to be big money but was surely enough to live on for the rest of our lives in a developing country (the Worlds Bank’s term not mine).
There were many things that, in hind sight, would have been helpful to know…
For example, having to build our business Costa Rica with the help of a horse is slower than say a truck.
or “there is no way to build a bridge here you are going to have to drive through your stream everyday and of course the fact of the prices for just about everything are going up in Costa Rica (just like everywhere else) and your cost analysis from back in 2009 is sooooo…well 2009.”
We find ourselves here in mid-2014 and we have taken our first baby steps. It’s a far cry from my previous plans of the early 2011 Grand Opening or Gran Apertura, but such is life! We have had a few photography jobs but mostly for trade of food products. I am currently building a website for Lecheria Las Lapas, a dairy that provides us with milk and cheese (see the promo video we created for them here), we have a restaurant credit from a pregnancy shoot, in June we will be trading a family session for two nights in an all inclusive resort in Matapalo Beach Guanacaste and you probably saw our Will work for Beer post! We did get get a payday from an advertiser in the UK just to be mentioned in on of our blog posts. The student loans will never be paid this way but I am proud to say that it’s a start.
Where We are Now
A lot of people reading this may already have heard the news from following us on our Facebook or Twitter accounts (10 Degrees Above and @10_degreesabove respectively). We SO appreciate you following us and showing us your support. Advertisers wouldn’t even consider doing business with us if we didn’t have some consistent reader numbers to flaunt in front of them. A lot of our friends and family help us with this and we have made new friends just through our social networking efforts. That is the real pay when it comes down to it. So TELL YOUR FRIENDS! ..please….
The Guest Rooms:
You can not invite people to take photography classes in the middle of the country and not have a place for them to stay, right? This was one of our biggest hurdles. We first had to build a place for us to live so that we didn’t have to pay rent somewhere else. We knew it would be used as the higher end rental after we built our house so we had to consider guests standards and not just our “I’m ok with peeing outside” standards that we acquired in Peace Corps. You can see pictures of the “Laurel” cabin on our accommodations page. As soon as our house is finished this will be available for rent long term or nightly.
After that we had to start work on the “Socalo” cabins. I at first just wanted a camping area with a sauna and bathroom. I wanted to keep hostel style pricing so people could budget travel with us and yet make it a place to relax. Barry helped me to realize that no one would pay us to ruin their five thousand dollar camera by making them keep it in a tent next to a sauna. Who knew?! So, after much deliberation we took extra time and built these cabins that I absolutely love. We sit down there at night, grill out and watch the birds when we don’t have visitors.
The Online Marketplace:
We also opened an online store via Cafepress. Every so often people would say something like “I love the face on that sloth” or “the colors on that frog would really match my bathroom” so I searched for a printing company that we could use to send out prints. I didn’t even think of cafepress even though I was happy customer previously. But then I thought what a wonderful idea! If you just sell prints you are limiting your business to just selling wall space fillers or art as Barry calls it : ). What if someone liked an image and they could get it as a drinking glass or a bib or on a cute purse, now that would be awesome! I could even buy shower curtains for our guest bathrooms with our own toucan images on them! I just love the idea and I hope that others do also. Barry has such a great talent for photography and to find a place to showcase it on products that people actually get some use out of makes me happy.
So please visit our online marketplace and see if there is anything you like. You can find us at Cafepress.com/10degreesabove or from the icon on our pages.