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All Economies Can Make or Break You

  1. Location: Downtown Honolulu, like many downtown areas, was more economically depressed and transient. Plus, Hawaii’s poor economy was in its seventh year of decline, and the coffeehouse was suffering the repercussions.
  2. Targeted Consumers: Centaur Zone Café was heavily targeting wealthy Asian students from nearby Hawaii Pacific University. Typically, students are not known for their disposable income, nor are they particularly loyal to products or geographic locations. Additionally, the Asian crisis was in full swing, so focusing on nonresident Asian students was an error in judgment.
  3. Hawaii’s Killer Taxes: The owner underestimated Hawaii’s legendary “worst-in-the-nation” business and tax climate that has sealed the fate and shattered the dreams of both big and small businesses.

Lesson: Know your consumers inside and out, and never underestimate the effect the general economy — be it good or bad, local or federal — can have on your business.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine, August 1998.