I will never judge a person for attempting to business. That’s just not my style. What I will do, however, is break down your admittedly terrible business ideas and even some of my own. Don’t ever stop chasing your dreams, no matter how many times you’ve fallen on your face. This week, we’ve got three self-aware gentlemen who weren’t afraid to step up to the plate.
While this was an original idea, I’m sure dozens, if not hundreds, of other folks have thought of this: a bar dedicated to the late President Reagan.
This was circa 2010. My buddies and I lived in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Anybody will tell you every weekend the bars along Roswell Rd. here are filled with SEC/ACC greek folks (myself included) clinging to their college years of partying.
Over several late, drunken weekend nights, my buddies and I figured we had the knowhow to open a bar nearby all the dives in a space that had not been leased for some time. It would be called Reagan’s. The idea was to have it decorated in 80’s and 90’s TFM paraphernalia, with a giant portrait near the entrance of our 40th President and constantly playing “sweet” 80s and 90s music (and a healthy mix of country because we fancy ourselves as concrete cowboys). Next door, we conjured the idea of opening a place called Nancy’s (in honor of his now-late wife), and it would be a lunch and late-night food stop catering to the girls who maybe wanted 2 AM munchies without the non-girly stigma of Taco Bell, Krystal, etc.
Being the financial guy of the group, I was tabbed to be “CFO” of the business. That’s when reality immediately set in. I immediately realized, despite these guys being my good friends, they’re also degenerate fucks who would blow through our inventory and hand out free drinks, resulting in no profit and a likely lease default on expensive real estate that would have us owing money for some time.
I was fortunate enough to realize the shittiness of the idea before we executed on it. Others, I’m sure, have not been as fortunate.
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This is pure on so many levels. First, I love that they tapped you as the Chief Financial Officer for this hypothetical company. As a master of the legal arts, I’m no stranger to being assigned legal research and contract drafting duties for “Never Gonna Work, LLC.” Now, as for the merits of a bar called Reagan’s, that may actually work if it’s dripping with irony. Replace the fratty decor with a mix of historical artifacts from the War On Drugs, and you’d have vape pen wielding hipsters posted up there on the reg.
Nancy’s on the other hand? That may actually have legs. The late-great first lady is held in high regard by most, and trendy, affluent types that I assume inhabit Buckhead would be all over that.
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My brother is a hybrid pothead–the type of guy who smokes daily yet retains a healthy work ethic and makes a good amount of money–and he had what was, to me, one of the worst business ideas ever.
He feels that he can’t eat dinner until he’s smoked a bowl, which I guess makes sense. “I’m just going to be hungry after I smoke anyways, so why would I eat before and then not have any food once the munchies kick in?” Valid point, I suppose, but here’s where he is an idiot:
On his way home from work he’ll swing by Whataburger or Chick-fil-A or wherever. Once he gets home, he turns the oven onto a low setting, places his food on a baking sheet and puts it in there. Then he’ll change clothes, turn on the TV, screw around, whatever. Eventually he’ll get hungry, so he smokes. Afterwards he pulls his food out of the oven that has, at this point, been on for anywhere as long as thirty minutes to a few hours.
His genius idea is to create an At-Home model of those warmer lights restaurants use. He thinks people like him would use one of those almost daily, placing their food under the heat lamps and leaving it until they’re ready for dinner.
I asked, “Why don’t you just go get dinner when you’re ready to eat instead of picking it up on your way home from work?” Well, in true pothead fashion, his excuse was that once he’s home he doesn’t want to leave again. I get that, especially if you’re living in a city with shitty traffic. “Well you’re pretty fucking lazy then, but fair enough. Why not just put it in the fridge and then heat it up in a toaster oven or microwave when you’re ready to eat, then?” It’s not as fresh that way. Alright, fine, but it wasn’t exactly “fresh” in the first place.
I’ve argued the stupidity of his idea with him on several occasions, yet he is relentless in believing there’s some kind of market for such a product. “This isn’t normal, adult-like behavior, dude,” I tell him. But he doesn’t care.
Am I wrong? Is this the kind of thing others out there would actually use? I don’t smoke as frequently as he and others do, so maybe I’m just missing out on what that sort of lifestyle is like, but I’m really looking for some affirmation here that I’m right and he’s wrong.
Nah, dude. You’re not wrong. This is hilariously bad. First, you can already buy heating lamps that would do the trick, and they’re surprisingly not that expensive. Second, and more importantly, your brother is a madman. The thought of picking up a delicious Whataburger adorned with bacon, cheese, and jalapeños and then sticking it under a damn heat lamp just makes me shake my head. What kind of person makes a Chick-fil-a run and doesn’t slam it within three minutes of entering the door? Tell me that. Your waffle fries are gonna get mushy, dude. And heaven forbid he’s ordering nuggets. Those have almost zero staying power. We’ve all had our #coolboss order a trey of like 100 nuggets for a company party. You have approximately 15 minutes to enjoy your nugs before your fried batter turns to mush.
I’ll share two pretty horrible business ideas that almost became really bad legitimate businesses.
Starting small apparel companies were starting to become popular my senior year in the wake of Vineyard Vines, Southern Proper, etc. Despite watching small apparel companies follow me on Twitter and die off after 3 months of business, I thought that would be a pretty sweet job with the college-aged friends I had across the country. I did all the research, designed my own company name and logo, had 5 year sales forecasts, investors, college reps, and a couple wholesalers ready for production before I finally noticed how many of these little startups with the same vision as myself were plummeting. I scrapped the idea and took a job after graduation that was as equally exciting as being a self employed entrepreneur… an entry level accountant.
Second business was the same as your column. We wanted to start a bar, but focusing on Fantasy Sports. Basically a Buffalo Wild Wings for nerds. TVs everywhere, Fantasy Focus podcast playing on the speakers, and a NYSE-styled ticker showing player points and add/drop percentages live during the game. Despite sounding really cool in my mind still, there’s just one problem: what the hell do we do when the football season ends? That’s where the idea died. No one cares about fantasy baseball and I just learned fantasy hockey was a thing as I’m typing this.
1. This has to be really common, but props to you for doing the dirty work. Every other college dude from 2006-present has seen the success that your Southern Tides, V Vines, etc. have had, and immediately think they can ride that wave. I’d be willing to bet that very few of them would even know how to complete a five-year sales forecast. Right now there’s some dude in a dorm room trying to get “Southern South” off the ground. Love the hustle, though.
2. I love this. I’m picturing a bunch of smug analytics nerds hanging out and crushing locally sourced, farm to table, GMO free IPAs and arguing over Xander Bogaerts’ WAR. Then over on the other side you’ve got finance bros crushing Dewars and water and putting out the vibe, but the talent pool is subpar because it’s a hyper-niche sports bar. For the record, I’d post up at this bar.
If you’d like to share your terrible business ideas, hit me up. We may discuss it on the podcast, or I might dissect it on here. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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