Kansas City

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mediocrity -- an entrepreneur's opportunity

I know a lot about comic books. I can tell you the exact issue number of the first appearance of Wolverine. I know the name of the guy that created Batman. I know the secret identities of characters you've likely never even heard of. But I don't know anything about running a comic book store. Oh snap.

Where to start? After a bit of brainstorming, I figured it would make sense to face my enemy head on. I've taken the last few days to do what I'm affectionately referring to as "field recon." It looked a little something like this:

Essentially I went into a buttload of local comic book stores, camo face paint intact, and evaluated what they do right, what they do wrong, where improvements could be implemented, and so forth. Have you ever been into a comic book store? Wow. They are so strange. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that has been into comics since he was 8 years old. I'm not drinking the hatorade. Just keeping it real here.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. The typical comic book store owner is a 40-50ish year old male. He is a nerd. He dresses poorly. He possesses an overtly obvious lack of social skills and speaks very little. He looks as though he may keep a Miracle Whip jar full of his victims' lips in his basement. It literally feels awkward from the moment you walk in the door. Not exactly the type of environment that is conducive to bringing in children, creating excitement about your products, engaging your customers, etc.

Looking around the comic book shop, things are poorly laid out. I can't tell which books are new issues and which are older. T-shirts are all crammed onto a rack, none of which are displayed to the customer. When I asked about his comic book subscription service, there is no incentive for the customer to join. (For the unintiated this is the same concept as having a magazine subscription only you would pick up your pre-selected comics at the store each week.) It's dark and uninviting and homeboy is creepy.

Having been in this guy's store for all of 10 minutes and having zero experience in retail or this industry, I can already list a half dozen things he could be doing to improve his business.

Wow is it easy to excel in this world. Mediocrity--an entrepreneur's opportunity. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness is finding your inner geek

Perusing over my "joy list," I'm feeling a bit stumped. I love helping others. I love kids (not in the same way Michael Jackson does). I love animals. I love lamp. So how do I turn these things into a source of income?

It's been a few days since I've updated my blog, partially due to a bodybuilding injury, and in part due to me spending some time brainstorming over my happy pad. I think I've narrowed it down at this point to my primary goal, at least to begin with. I want to open a comic book store.

Geeky, right? I know. But it makes me happy. Comics give me that same feeling you get when you're 8 years old and you run down the stairs on Christmas morning to rip into presents. Comics mean something to me. Plus I'll be able to help bring joy to kids, one of my other notations jotted down on my little happy pad.

I don't want to open any ol' comic book store. I want to do something different. Wow, even just writing about this is bringing my passion out (look out ladies). The market where I live in KC is already saturated with comic shops, so I need to do something creative in order to stand out from the crowd. That's where an entrepreneur (even the self-proclaimed type) excels above others in his field. Why not have local artists and writers work in my store, sharing some costs while helping them promote their books? Donate comics to local children's charities for a little PR? Aggressively go after the youth demographic which has gotten away from comics? Bring in local celebrities for promotions? My head is going to explode from all of the nerdality! (Yes, I made that word up.)

Okay, so throughout this process I've gone from 1) an initial drive to 2) a little self-exploration to 3) an idea. Progress!  *Cue the Rocky theme song.*

And, now...gobbledygook. ZWSVUN84DWBW. Ah, needed to get that out of my system.

Friday, January 8, 2010

If you aim for nothing, that's exactly what you'll hit. Either that, or your wife.

In an effort to find myself, I've been on a mission to discover what exactly brings me joy. Harder than it sounds. What causes me to feel the way I did when I was 8 years old and it was Christmas morning? What puts a smile on my face? What makes me wag my tail and slobber on the floor, other than alcohol?

I did what any solid OCD candidate would do and in true Monk-inspired style, made a list of "joys." Took me quite a while to come up with this happy list. That's no bueno. Methinks I'm spending too much of my time on pursuits that do not bring me happiness, hence my soul searching quest here.

Perusing over this list, I'm struggling with exactly how I could potentially turn some of these pursuits into a source of income. Argh. Roadblocks be damned. I am going to figure this out, one way or another.

Time for a little inspiration. Drumroll, please...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby steps are difficult...damn babies.

Creating something out of nothing seems like such a daunting task. Where to begin? I suppose...just start. Do something. Figure it out. Take the first step.

Dave Ramsey has his baby steps. (http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/) Even Confuscious was a fan. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." It's just that the first step seems to be the most difficult one. At this point I'm still trying to decide where to plant my foot and avoid stepping in a pile of poo in the process.

Okay, so I know what I don't like. I don't like working for someone else. I don't like not being the master of my own destiny. Money by itself is not making me happy, although I loves me some money. I don't like having limitations. I don't like doing something that is not contributing to the greater good. Oh, and I don't like broccoli. (That was a joke. I thoroughly enjoy steamed broccoli. You're welcome, Mom.)

Based on what I've read up to this point, it seems that the truly happy people are those who follow their passion. I'm always preaching to people to "go with your gut." Suppose I should follow my advice. It's no coincidence these folks tend to be the most successful people as well. If you're doing something you enjoy it won't feel like work. Your creativity and energy as a result will propel you to the top almost without even trying.

So now I need to figure out what makes me happy. Seems like an easy task, right? Oddly enough, it's not...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 1: You've got to start somewhere

I suppose I should start off by saying that I am a virgin blogger as well as a virgin entrepreneur. Allow me to apologize in advance if I do something e-tarded here.

Now that I've thrown that disclaimer out, why this blog you may ask? What led me here? Why share this journey with the world? To state it simply, I felt the need to. I'm hoping that by going through this exercise in self-exploration, I, as well as my readers, will learn something from the experience and hopefully have a little fun along the way. I'm going with my gut here. Let's hope that's not just indigestion.

Dictionary.com defines the term entrepreneur as "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." Wow. Sounds scary. Why in the world would anybody want to do that?

That's the first question I suppose I should tackle. Why? Why do I feel this yearning inside to take this leap? Given the state of our economy, I almost feel guilty in a sense. I have a very good job. I have a great boss. I make a lot of money. Yet I'm still unsatisfied. So what's wrong with me?

Going back to the gut reference, it just feels wrong. I don't care about what I currently do for a living. I have this drive inside me that screams, "do something positive! Change the world!" I have watched my father work at a job for the last 30+ years that he absolutely hates (and with good reason). That can't be me. I want to be able to look back on my life's legacy and know that the world is a better place in some way for my having been here.

So I suppose that's it. There's my starting point. Change the world.

No pressure, right?  :)