December was our best month yet. Revenue was up 28% over the previous month. Visitors were up 32% over the previous month. Until December our previous weekly high for visitors was 165, The last week of the year we had 217 visitors. That’s over 30% higher. It would have been more if not for us having to cancel a lot of bookings due to Southwest Airlines stranding our customers in various parts of the country.
The landlord is up for extending the lease in the 6 month range. However we’re getting to be maxed out at some popular times during the week, so I’ve been looking around at other spaces. If I knew we could hit 200 visitors per week, moving to a new location at a higher rate would probably make the most sense.
The eMyth Revisited, Revisited
But on a more personal level, I want to stop working so much on the business side and get back to the creative side. I’ve read the book “The eMyth Revisited” at least a couple times and I’m in that trap now. If you haven’t read the book, it’s an allegory involving a woman who loves baking so much that she opens a bakery. But then she finds all her time goes toward running the business and ends up hiring other people to do the baking. She’s miserable. At the end of the story I think a truck hits her or something.
Ok, maybe that’s not how it ended, but the point of the book is to think about what you actually want to DO. Because running a business is a full-time job most often.
I knew this going in but I didn’t see a lot of good options to do the work I wanted to do for someone else. First, it wasn’t clear what was going to come out of the primordial ooze I was working with, so it would be hard to get others on board. Second, despite having a great network of friends and acquaintances, I couldn’t think of anyone that might be interested in taking on the business side of it. And I didn’t have the money to hire someone to take on the business side of it. (Feel free to say these were excuses, because I’m not fully convinced myself).
But maybe most importantly, I wasn’t sure what business aspects were going to matter to the creative side of it, so I wanted to see how the business and creative parts interplayed. For example, the whole marketing messaging is mysterious by design, it’s adults only despite being totally “g-rated”, and there’s the decision I made to actively discourage most people from visiting.
I’m sure there are some business people out there who would embrace my unconventional approach but I think most would feel hamstrung. If you look at other immersive experiences’ (or most attractions’) most are often trying to get as many warm bodies with cash through the door as possible. They use language like “Great for kids, families, work groups, bring your dog and houseplants. Maybe even your stamp collection! We’ve got something for everyone and everything!!” Not only does this seem desperate, but if you’re making something for everyone how good could it possibly be?
Things that are awesome are not awesome for everyone.
My marketing is for my tribe. As a seeker of unique and under-the-radar experiences, I know the messaging I want to see. I think that will get the right people and the strongest fans. Because those will help me get to where it needs to go, rather than some tangential direction I’ve chased because the dollars were easier to grab.
Ok, that was a little off-topic and maybe overly defensive… Let’s get back to the update.
I’ve shown it will work. I’ve maxed out many of the popular time slots. The Room has great reviews. Now I feel more confident that I can take this slightly-more-than-an-MVP to potential funders. They can now see exactly what it is, how it works, and its personality. Oh, and they can also see that it is making money and growing quickly. I’m sure that will help.
So my main focus is reaching out through my network (and cold calling) to find people who “get it” and want to be involved in growing it to the next level.
Related to that, I’m starting an IRLXD professional group (if you’re interested contact me!)
Finally I’ll be doing just incremental improvements to the experience. Both because I want to and because I want to keep the habit of constantly adding bits of value for the Room’s customers. And probably because I want to fool myself that I’m not living the eMyth.