3 Lessons I Learned From My First Failed Business…

You may have heard me talk about how between the ages of 19 and 21…

I helped start a music business that ultimately failed. 🤷‍♂

The business had begun as a retail record store inside of a music venue…

Which was a decent idea – if you take away the fact that the industry was rapidly transitioning to digital music…

But it also included a Record Label

A screen-printing venture…

An event promotions division…

And later a recording studio.🎤

Music industry - 3 Lessons I Learned From My First Failed Business…

It’s been something like 13 years since the business closed down…

And my answer to why it didn’t succeed hasn’t changed…

It’s because we tried to do too many things at once…

Sans titre (12)

Instead of focusing on being really good at just one or two things. [Lesson #1] ✅

The retail concept probably could have worked…

Especially if we’d diversified away from selling CDs and most Vinyl…

And focused on clothing and merchandise that suited the emo and hipster-oriented clientele of our store.

Meanwhile the event promotions side was actually quite profitable…

But we did it infrequently and for some reason we ignored how much money could be made there.

The record label was “cool” and “sexy”…

But not very profitable…

And yet we spent probably 80% of our time on the record label…

When we would have been much better off just shuttering it entirely.  

Meanwhile when it comes to the recording studio…

I do have mixed feelings about that.  

The studio was by far our biggest investment…

We spent something like $150k to essentially “franchise” an existing recording studio business based in Riverside…

And they promised us that they would have our studio booked around the clock… 

But that turned out that was a huge exaggeration.

So, on the one hand…

We were lied to and taken advantage of by the Franchisors (who ended up being pretty messed-up people)…

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But the reason I have mixed feelings…

Is because ultimately…

I put the failure of the studio on me and my partner…

Not them. 

Why?

Because instead of taking matters into our own hands and aggressively marketing the studio…

We kept waiting for the franchisor to bring us customers…

And when the customers never came…

We basically just said “well shit” and gave up. 

I learned two important lessons from the failure of that recording studio…

Pointing fingers - 3 Lessons I Learned From My First Failed Business…

The first lesson is that even when a deal doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to…

If you sit around and just wait for other people to make it better…

You’re the one to blame when conditions never actually improve.

And the second lesson is that when it comes to physical stores, location is king. 

We built the recording studio adjacent to a warehouse in Otay Mesa, CA…

A literal stone’s throw from the border…

And while rent was cheap and we were able to attract some Mexican-American bands, and even a few Tijuana Death Metal Bands…

In general, this location cut us off from a large percentage of our potential clientele…

Because there were numerous other recording studio options available to them that weren’t nearly so far away.

Originally the subject line of this blog post was going to be:

“When I had a gun to my head (literally)”…

And I was going to tell you about the time I got robbed at gunpoint…

Which happened one night during my music business days. 

Then I started writing about the actual music business…

And I realized that while me getting robbed leads to exciting content…

The lessons I learned from my first failed business are really damn valuable too.

But don’t fret…

I’ll share the story of the robbery in my blog post tomorrow. 

It includes: 

Atmosphere (the rapper), skinny dipping in the ocean, an executioner style situation where I had my head buried in the sand, several guns, a carjacking, a commercial robbery spree, a cynical chain-smoking detective, and someone jumping off a highway overpass to their death. 

That’s a hell of an open loop isn’t it? 

So yeah – make sure to read tomorrow’s blog post to get the full details. 

 

 

– SPG

P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

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