closed for business

Lessons I Learned from Running a Business That Failed

Yesterday will have been 8 years since the Garage Venue first opened its doors. I must say, I really miss running the joint.

But since we closed our doors, I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on my life and my business and wrap my head around everything that’s happened. There are many reasons why businesses fail. Though it was hard for me to examine ours from the inside out and admit my failures, doing so has grown me in a big way. So I just wanted to take some time to share some of the lessons I’ve learned since running an entertainment venue that wasn’t successful.

Lesson #1: Location is more important than you realize.

While I don’t blame our failure on our location, I definitely believe it played a part. There are certain cities in the U.S. that are known for their arts and entertainment scene, and unfortunately, my city just ain’t one of ’em.

Do some serious market research if you’re planning to open up a business in a certain city. Make sure the market is headed toward whatever trend you’re feeding. In some cases, competition can be a good thing. It indicates that the market is healthy. If you open up shop in a location that has no competition, just because it has no competition, you may wind up twiddling your thumbs every day while you wonder why you have no customers.

Lesson #2: Beware of overhead, and budget accordingly.

This is especially true if you’re running an entertainment venue like we were! If you’re going to pay your artists (and you should), then you need to be compensated to cover that cost. Whether that means charging a cover at the door, serving food or alcohol and marking up costs to cover entertainment, or paying your artists according to how many guests they bring in, it’s important to budget effectively.

I’ve had a few good friends who have struggled in that area. We all want to support good artists. But if you don’t have the budget worked in to do so, then you’ll have to get creative, or put the burden on the artists themselves, as hard as that may be.

Lesson #3: Diversify your investments.

A lot of businesses fail. That’s just the nature of the game, especially in a world where everyone thinks they have a good idea and wants to be an entrepreneur. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket like I did. If I had started this blog before the venue failed, and found a way to monetize it before we had to close our doors, then I would have been in a much better place when it happened. If you’re already investing in yourself, you’re doing great. Just make sure your diversify your portfolio.