Join Date: Mar-2003
Location: Orillia, ON
Is that directed at me?
It just so happens I do know a thing or two.
Regarding business: I started my first business when I was 14. I stored fish huts and snowmobiles in the summer, since I grew up on a lake. Costs were virtually nil, it took a bit of time but not much, and I enjoyed the few hundred bucks I made each year.
I started my next business when I was 20, while in university; a summer day camp for kids. I got a $3000 loan through a gov't agency to do so. As it turned out, it took more than $3000 to get started and I made <$1000 that first summer. This wasn't particularly a problem, however, as it was meant to be a long term thing that my family would be involved with. I sold the business to my father for $1 at the end of the year and he wrote off the loss against his income. Subsequently, we incorporated and I became president and 1/3 owner, along with my siblings. Four years later, we were accredited by the provincial body that governs camps, had ~35 kids in program all summer long, a staff of 10 (not counting us) and finally, we were breaking even. Then a neighbour complained, we got in a year long, $14K zoning brawl with the municipality, and lost in a tie vote while the mayor was away in Florida (do I sound bitter?). We shut the camp down and that was the end of that.
Near the end of the camp, Jenny and I started Sciensational Sssnakes!! (1994). Still going strong today; even had our first full time employee last summer. 200+ programs annually covering virtually all of Ontario (our first ever shows in NW Ontario are already booked for next summer).
I built ponds and custom aquariums with another company from '96-'98. Started a new company doing the same in '99 with two partners. A whole new ballgame- construction contracts, etc. Made some money but had partner troubles and shut the company down when I moved north to Orillia. Still resolving partner issues (including fraud/theft by one) and will likely end up in court to resolve it.
Our new business, Scales Nature Park, is under development, and will hopefully open in a limited capacity in 2004. It will be a 4500 sq ft public educational facility dedicated to reptiles, amphibians and fish of Ontario, and related ecological issues.
So, like I said, I know a few things about being in business, and have covered quite a gamut- sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations. I've made money, and I've lost money. I think I'm fairly qualifed to give advice in this area, and actually get consulted by friends quite a bit.
Now I've had more businesses than rescued burms, but put me down for 3 of those. One from an animal control department and two from an owner who couldn't keep them. Nine boa constrictors, a couple of monitors, and various other things as well, but we're just talking burms here. We found a home for one burm. We still have 2, and we use them in our educational programs (i.e. please don't buy these in pet shops). I hope they never produce eggs but if they do, I won't hatch them- why contribute to the problem? Although they aren't too much work, they do take up a fair chunk of cage space, and I will soon be building them a 6'x8'x6' enclosure. Imagine if we took in lots more... and we have turned down quite a few, as well as retics, etc. Don't forget the staff you will require to manage the adults as well. If, by chance, you end up with an 18 footer (or bigger), you will need at least 3-5 people on hand to manage it safely. The costs involved in doing this are obvious- caging, heating, lighting, feeders, handling equipment, cleaning supplies, staff(!), insurance, advertising, etc. What is less obvious is where the income will come from. Will you charge money for people to come through and look at burmese pythons? Even in a stellar location, I doubt that enough people would come often enough, and pay enough, to cover your costs. You could supplement by selling T-shirts, etc. but still not a major money-maker. Oh yes, you could breed them and sell the babies. However, rescued burms tend not to be unsual pattern morphs, so you'll end up with lots of normal burms and maybe a few albinos. What do they wholesale for these days??? Not much. I can't see how you'd recoup the thousands of dollars you would need to spend to make it happen. But if you don't believe me, try writing an actual business plan, and I would be happy to review it for you.
Like I said, a fun way to throw away wads of cash, assuming that you're into big snakes:-)