Andrew passed on this link to me the other day, primarily because he knew I’d like Chuck’s email newsletter – rather than because he knows I’m a comics fan (I’m not).
I never really got into comics when I was a kid – except for the satire of Mad Magazine, which I still appreciate.
Others are fanatical about comic books. Dan Kennedy is, for example. Would you expect that from “Mr Serious Business and sometimes Grumpy”? Not likely. But he is an expert on them, particularly about the super hero series’ that go back decades.
In addition to the personal pleasure of reading them, Dan relishes the story writing skills that they build in you. Who else can keep a story about someone going for 40 years – yet not require that you know the character’s entire history in order to enjoy the book? (Think about that – it’s valuable to you experts out there as well.)
But I digress:)
It’s Chuck’s 7 questions post that I find most interesting. He talks about the 7 things that you need to ask yourself before becoming a comics retailer. In fact, it’s really 7 questions to ask before going into just about any retail or service business.
So let’s examine Chuck’s 7 questions:
1) Do I have the ability to self-motivate myself?
No question, this is a monster. If you don’t and you can’t, please stay in that day job. It’s a yes or no answer.
2) Am I willing to forego all other activities in my life to be a comics dealer?
I disagree with this one, even though it’s pretty common among retailers. If you are going to truly going to give up all other activities, why in the heck are you doing this? You might love selling health food, coffee, physical therapy or donuts, but is that really worth giving up hobbies, friends, family, etc. Dude, if so, you’re nuts.
But more importantly, you need a copy of the E-Myth, just for starters. Systems, systems, systems. You don’t need to be the one running the waffle iron 24 x 7. You can’t be. If you’re doing “employee work”, when will you have the time and energy for “employER work”, much less coming up with the next best thing.
3) Can I make it my foremost goal to serve other comics fans?
This is a good one. It isn’t just about the Green Lantern, Spiderman and Lois Lane, at least in the comics business. Zig Zigla says “To get what you want, help others to get what they want.” More often than not, that’s what a lot of retail is about.
Do you sell them the “How to build a deck” book, or do you spend 10 minutes helping them decide which deck to build, and another 10 helping them to decide between treated wood and the new permanent decking materials made from recycled materials? Home Depot (don’t get me started) can sell them a book. Amazon can sell them a book. What are YOU going to do that they wont, or cant?
4) Do I have the ability to ignore my own personal tastes?
This is a major league big deal. Just last week, I discussed your need to discard your “customers’ bad taste”. Even if you are the (or at least an) expert on your market’s products and services, you simply cannot assume that everyone likes what you do. And you’ve got to get past it, yesterday.
5) Do I have the desire and intellectual curiosity to endlessly educate myself about new areas of collecting?
We talked about this last week so I won’t drone on about it. Be the Google in your industry. You don’t have to know it all, but it’ll sure help if you know where it is.
6) Do I have the mental toughness that will enable me to persevere, even when the odds seem hopelessly stacked against me?
Winston Churchill said it best, even though he was talking about war, not business. Sure, you have to know when to cut your losses, but that aside, there will be days when it seems like the world decided to take a dump on your business. Get up, dust yourself off and come back with something better.
7) Do I communicate well with others?
Can you convince without selling?
Can you make your case without getting mad?
Can you write and talk intelligently?
You don’t have to sound like you were born and raised at Harvard, but being able to communicate, to tell a story, to teach, and to show empathy is critical.
Thanks Chuck – your list was good food for thought, and discussion.
If you’re thinking about opening a business (or buying one), I suggest you read the entire “How to open your own comics retail store” series. You’ll find “next” links to get to the next piece in the series at the bottom of his pages.