How to Open Your Own Comics Retail Store Part III

If, after reading my last two columns, you still have any ambitions to open a comics shop at some point in your future, I would like you to go through some self examination to see if you're a fit candidate. The questions about your personality that I'm going to be asking you to contemplate are not specific to comics retailing, and actually have significant applicability to life in general, so I believe that even those of you who harbor no ambitions to someday participate in the world of comics retailing might find them enlightening.

First, are you scrupulously honest? This is a critical question, as we all live or die in our public lives based on the perception that others have as to whether they can trust us. I have an aquaintance who is a fantastic hustler, he can sell anything to anybody. But only just once, or maybe twice. This guy's failing is that he invariably tries to cheat people on the deals they make with him, if only a little bit. For him, it's like a game. He is constantly testing people to see if they remember the terms they agreed to, or if they bothered to examine what they received from him, to see if all items were there, and in undamaged condition. Not surprisingly, when folks figure out he can't be relied upon to keep his word, they never go back to him again. He's now approaching retirement age, and coming to realize that he's achieved no where near what he could during his life. He'll be living on Social Security in a few years, as the value of his business has been severely constrained by his predisposition to cheat others. The irony is that even his Social Security check will be severely below what it should have been, as he has consistantly under-reported his earnings to the government...

On the same lines as honesty is the question of fairness. Can you work every day to genuinely try to be of service to all of those with whom you interact? It never ceases to amaze me how many people enter into the business world with the thought that their business exists to serve them. Nothing could be futher from the truth. When you open a business you immediately become responsible to a huge constituancy. You suddenly have a responsibility to serve your customers and your suppliers, and to hopefully make a contribution not only to your local community, but also to the world at large. While it is your capital that is employed in operating the business, your job becomes a tricky tightrope walk of trying to please everyone. If you hire some staff to help you, these questions become even more difficult, as you now need to fairly allocate operating earnings you might be generating between yourself (as the provider of capital) and your staff (the providers of labor).

Assuming that you are both honest and fair, do you have the ability to communicate with others? It doesn't do a darn bit of good to treat people fairly, if they somehow gain the misconception that you've wronged them, and you don't have the ability to dissuade them from their erroneous position. I was a Finance major at the University of Colorado during my school days, and I certainly learned a great deal in the Business School. The most valuable tools of my trade, however, came from the Communications Department. Taking all those classes in interpersonal communications made it much easier for me to place myself in the position of those with whom I'm communicating. That is an invaluable skill to have when trying to build a business. You not only have to make sure that you're fair and honest with people, but also that they know it.

My final question for this week is whether you can create a dichotomy in your mind between your personal life, and that of your business. As I stated earlier, it is critical to realize that your business is an entity which is alive. It needs care and nourishment, and periodic infusions of working capital. Ideally, this new working capital will be derived from a reinvestment of the operating earnings you've been generating on a daily basis. Where many folks go wrong is that they see the earnings of the business as "their" money. Well, if you're planing to go nowhere fast, that's certainly true. If you plan for your business to grow, however, you'll need to put yourself on a strict payment plan. You will need to draw a fixed salary, just like everyone else. The only difference being that if hard times come, your salary is the first to be cut. While this may sound harsh, it is a critical methodology for gradually building up the capital base of your company. You have to always keep foremost in your mind that if you take care of your business, that it will hopefully grow, and ultimately repay your investments many fold. This can only occur, however, if you have the ability to always differentiate between your personal needs, and that of your business.

Next week, I'll cover some specific operating skills that are necessary for running a comics shop.

Please send your e-mails to, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221

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