Black Hills Woman Magazine | The Right Time

The Right Time
by Helen Usera

“Entrepreneur” is not a new word in the dictionary, but it has made a resurgence in recent years with startup companies. In 2015, there were roughly 27 million entrepreneurs in our country (Inc., 2015). The reasons for all the startups are as varied as the startups are themselves.

Every day, people who are considering starting a business ask themselves: When IS the right time to start a business? Is it rational and responsible?

Kim Rupp and her husband own Executive Lodging of the Black Hills. Visitors would repeatedly ask if there was a spa in the Hills. So in 2013, Kim and a friend decided to research the possibility of starting one. The research included experiencing other spas and attending the International Spa Conference. Once they had enough info, they hired a world-renowned spa consultant who was recommended at the conference to help do a market study.

The consultant was from Quebec and made the assumption that if Deadwood had many casinos, then it also had many spas which is typical in other areas around the world. When he arrived, he learned that Deadwood did not have any destination spas. The market was ripe. Soon after, another specialty consultant was hired to help with the layout, design, and operation of the spa.

In December 2014, Kim along with investors opened Akela Spa in Deadwood. The path to starting the business took research, learning how to operate a spa, finding the suppliers, and hiring the right staff and business team. Kim said her best advice for new entrepreneurs is to research the background of the market and know the competitors. “Know what competitors are selling; and where they acquire them,” Kim states.

Researching the market is a key component of the business plan. Helen Merriman, Director of the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (which provides training, education and assistance with business development), says the business plan “serves as a guide and dictates the time line.” There are approximately 84,000 small businesses in South Dakota, of which 30% are woman-owned.

“The best time to start a business depends on the preparation in advance,” Helen explains.

Kim had business experience from running her lodging business, but she continues to learn things she would have done differently from the beginning. She wishes she would have listened more to her marketing person and also would have been more hands on at the opening of the spa.

She also sees her business experience as a launching pad for her employees. She has had employees who have started their own businesses. Kim speaks with pride about these employees. She says business is about the right time and being blessed.

“Everything fell into place,” Kim said. Based on hearing the process she went through, her business success did not just happen – she made it happen.


Helen Usera, Ed.D., is the owner of Aspiring Business Consulting which provides organizational and leadership development support to nonprofits and for-profits.

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