Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Barnes, Owner of Escape the Crate: Subscription Box Adventure, located in Powell, OH, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Escape the Crate is a company that shrinks all of the fun of an escape room into a play-at-home game for game night. Each box takes a few hours to play and features an interactive website, props to use during the game, and 15-20 individual puzzles per box themed to a story. Our players are from all ages and walks of life. We have families who play together, and it is very popular for date nights. It can also be played solo, which is perfect for amateur sleuths.

Tell us about yourself

I never wanted to become a business owner at all. I was a teacher who wanted to come up with an efficient way to bring escape rooms into my classroom to be played in small groups. After trying a few methods, I realized that I had a product that could extend outside of the classroom. I did both jobs for a bit but now focus on Escape the Crate as my full-time job. The challenge of creating intricate boxes in time for a very tight deadline is quite difficult, but it tests my creative powers and drives me to always make each box better than the last.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The Covid-19 pandemic was quite a shocker for my business. We had seen steady growth before March 2020, but when quarantine started and everyone was forced inside... our game became very important to many families, and we had to adjust every aspect of our business to this new normal very quickly. We were able to handle exponential growth over a very short period of time, and we didn't miss any deadlines in the process, which is remarkable. I'm very proud of how we were able to manage that, but, in all honesty, meeting people who play our games is the biggest accomplishment of all. It is one thing creating a game, it is quite another seeing someone's reactions to the puzzles we have made.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The most difficult thing that I had to learn to face (and still face daily) is how to get the best work/life balance with the business. If I don't watch myself, I could work 12+ hours a day on the business easily (and I often do). Learning how to step back and prioritize my life OUTSIDE of the business is difficult... but absolutely crucial.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Listen to the advice from others but at the same time, remember that sometimes what you do might be different than everyone else. That is Ok. Trust yourself.
  2. Add some flexibility to your schedule. It is very important to plan out what you need to do, but remember that life won't always follow that plan. Adding some wiggle room relieves a lot of stress and gives you time to find surprises that you never anticipated.
  3. Have fun. If you don't enjoy doing what you are doing, it will show. You need to be your own biggest fan and harshest critic, but the minute you lose your passion, it is time to move on.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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