When the holiday season or weekend is approaching, there is always the question of where to go for a vacation. Our republic is rich in picturesque places where you can stop and enjoy the Yakut nature away from the bustle of the city. Tourist Centers are an excellent option for rest both for individuals and for families and friends. One of these wonderful centers is ‘Billekh’ in Vilyui ulus opened by Stepan Kharlampiev.
Stepan Romanovich, how did your entrepreneurial experience in the organization of recreation begin and how did it develop?
- To begin with, I was born and raised in the city of Vilyuisk. I finished school here, served in the Soviet army, I also worked in Vilyuisk. For 36 years I worked as a school bus driver. After retirement, I was engaged in hunting and fishing. In the allotted place in the forest, I built a hunting lodge for guests in the beautiful area of Billekh, located above the Vilyui River. Then it dawned on me - why not get engaged in a mass rest for population? I already had lodges and an ice-house. My family, my wife Margarita Nikolaevna always support me in all my undertakings. At the family council we settled on my idea. Initially, on January 18, 2010, a lease agreement of forest plot No. 81 until January 18, 2059 was signed with the Forest Relations Department of the Ministry of Nature Protection of the RS (Y). In 2014, a hotel hunting lodge was built, later the 'Vilyui Tourist Center' business project was considered because of the need of citizens and guests of the Vilyui district to relax in nature. I built an ice-house, a gazebo for 15 people, a garner, a barn for utensils, a viewing platform to expand the recreation center, built a second hotel house, a dining room, a second gazebo for recreation.
Do you remember your first serious salary, not as an employee, but as an entrepreneur?
- Yes, I do. The first serious salary was 15.000 rubles. The entire team of the Vostochny Express Bank came to rest at my Tourist Center.
What helped you in times of crisis?
- During crisis periods, my wife Margarita Nikolaevna, my children, close friends, relatives support me. The Administration of the Vilyui district helps a lot. Received subsidies for fuels and lubricants, household goods.
What services do you offer to guests of your recreation center?
- In the summer, we offer visitors a good rest in the form of fishing by spinning on the Vilyui River, boating, swimming, picking berries and mushrooms in the forest, walking around the surroundings of the Vilyui Camp. We organize sports games on the playground - volleyball, badminton, table tennis, small-caliber rifle shooting and other games. In the winter, we offer fishing houses, ice fishing, a skating rink, slides in the forest and above the Vilyui River, as well as riding snowmobiles.
What is necessary to organize a good holiday for customers at home?
- It is impossible to organize a good rest without equipment, in particular, without a good small size boat for transportation and skiing of holidaymakers. We need a minibus to transport passengers to the pier. A quadbike is required to bring customers to the place for picking berries and mushrooms, and for riding it at an additional cost. In the winter, a snowmobile is needed for towing fisherman's cottages on sleds.
How did you procure your start-up capital?
- We formed our start-up capital at the expense of pension and additional earnings. At the initial stage, 800.000 rubles of own funds had to be invested in the purchase of equipment, the construction of houses and outbuildings.
Have you used state support to scale up activities?
- In 2017 I received a grant for incurred expenses from the municipal budget of the Vilyui Ulus (District). The funds were spent on the 'Vilyui' Tourist Center.
What difficulties have you experienced in the process of establishing your business?
- When I registered as an Individual Entrepreneur, of course, there were some difficulties. Ignorance of tax legislation, preparation of tax reports - I studied and comprehended all this, everything was new to me. Thanks to the Business Incubator and its employees, Sergeeva L.V., Head of the Educational Institution in the Municipal Department of Vilyuisky Ulus (district) of the State Public Institution of the RS (Y), Center for Entrepreneurship Support of the RS (Y), Director and Manager of the Business Incubator A.Y. Akimov and I.N. Egorov, I received good consultations and issues were resolved quickly. In the process of business formation, we had difficulty due to lack of equipment for the transportation of passengers. We did not have enough money, since we are retired we are not given loans, so the process is slow, but we would like it to be faster.
How did you find customers and how do you attract new ones now?
- We attract customers through advertising on a local radio station, the local newspaper, through Instagram, Whatsapp and friends.
What would you change in your business if you go back with existing experience some time ago?
- First and foremost, we would have purchased all the equipment for the transport of passengers, starting with a small boat, minibus, quadbike and snowmobile.
Now you have where to grow and you need to develop the company. Can you voice at least some plans for the near future?
- In the near future, we have plans to grow and develop the 'Vilyui' Tourist Center. We plan to build a playground, summer and winter mountain slopes, we'll build a bath and breed a mini-farm.
What do you think, what is the role of the state in the development of small business today? How can it help entrepreneurs?
- The role of the state in the development of small business is that an entrepreneur can firmly and confidently conduct his business, generate income to the state through deductions and taxes, be patrons in his hometown and ulus. The state can help average entrepreneurs with subsidies, interest-free loans or loans with small interest.
Please share your opinion what should be the most important thing in any business?
- In business, the most important is the economically correct calculation. Support for close people and friends. And the most important thing is to work without giving up, when it is hard and it seems that it is impossible to fight to the finish. The result is bound to be at any rate.
What do you do parallel to the main activity?
- I fully work on the program of the ‘Vilyui’ Tourist Center. It takes a lot of time to organize work at the camp site.
Which checks need to be passed to get the right to receive guests at the recreation center?
- My business is controlled by the tax office in terms of taxation. Methodical assistance is provided by Business Incubator and its employees, Sergeeva L.V., Head of the Educational Institution in the Municipal Department of Vilyuisky Ulus (district) of the State Public Institution of the RS (Y), Center for Entrepreneurship Support of the RS (Y), Director and Manager of the Business Incubator A.Y. Akimov and manager I.N. Egorov, Administration of the Vilyuisk District, Department of Economy Pakhomova T.E. Also, the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels of the Vilyuisk District inspects the vessel for the safety of people on the water.
What can you recommend to those who only dream of working for themselves?
- I would advise to come up with a good project, draw up a business plan, calculate everything correctly. It is necessary to have a good team - a team of like-minded people, relatives, friends and work hard. And most importantly, to dream, a dream someday must come true.
Source: Predprinimatel' Yakutii (Entrepreneur of Yakutia)