I embarked on a journey to open a new hospitality business halfway through 2020 with the thought COVID-19 would be well and truly over (or recovering) by the middle of 2021.

I had extensive hospitality experience and worked on venues including The Grounds and The Grounds of the City, and this meant I had what is arguably the most dangerous weakness to any business: ego. My ego led me to believe I could open anything anywhere and make it a success.

Here are some of the things I have learned, even though they may seem obvious.

Be clear on who you are
I don’t mean business-wise; I mean who you want to be as a leader or a person in business. You must ask yourself if you you want to be a business operator or a business owner. There are some amazing businesses run by owners, and you can see the relationships they have with customers and staff. If you want the business to be run by staff and managers, it requires you to think, plan and strategise.

Understand your concept
Think about what you want to achieve out of your concept. If you want the business to be a breakfast venue, make it the best breakfast destination it can be. Sometimes you just need to have the conviction and the belief the concept will work. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Location, location, location
You’re thinking, ‘Of course location is important’. It’s essential to go beyond a suburb’s demographic and take the time to find out who the locals are and if there’s an appetite for your concept. Marrickville is not Pyrmont and Fitzroy is not Albert Park.

Media and marketing
Don’t wait too long to reach out to media after opening as the hype dies down. We didn’t have media during the first few months of operating as we needed time to get our systems and procedures together before any announcements. It really hurt us during lockdowns because we weren’t part of any pieces on new venues.

What worked before might not work now
This is potentially a case of too much too soon. An example is the implementation of QR code ordering. If a venue has high demand, you can probably implement a digital ordering platform, but guests did not enjoy this process at Goodlines and they felt it took away from the dining experience. The backlash is still being felt today.

Take accountability
We all make mistakes, sometimes inadvertently. The goal is to provide guests with the best service, food and beverage you can. However, during the times you don’t, reflect and take ownership. You also must shift and change things quickly or it will have lasting and permanently damaging effects on the business.