Editor’s Note: This panel was hosted by Drew and Robynn Schwab, who own the Seattle-based Anime Kat. The company, which opened in 2010, is the oldest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Drew Schwab currently holds degrees in economics and accounting.
Due to the nature of a business oriented panel, Seth’s opted to distill the event into the core concepts.
I’m going to distill this down to a few key points:
1. Stores aren’t hobbies, they’re businesses.
2. Most businesses fail.
3. You are going to want to produce a business plan. That plan is going to be living document that you are going to want to modify yearly as your business changes.
4. You are going to have to figure out how to fund your business. That will often involve asking the people you know for money. If you are uncomfortable with this, starting a business might not be a good idea.
5. You are going to want to form a company (most likely an LLC) before asking to borrow money from a bank. You are also going to want to have your highly detailed, well thought out business plan handy.
6. You are going to have numerous unforeseen expenses. Don’t forget to prepare for legal and accounting expenses.
7. Once you’ve successfully started your business, congratulations! Now be prepared to not make much money for a while while you try to grow your business.
8. That won’t be easy. You are going to need to market. Please note: Advertising takes months before potential customers start to ingrain the message. The time Drew quoted was eight weeks.
9. Do not rely on word of mouth. That’s helpful, but supplemental. You need to try and get your word out far and wide.
10. If your business survives its first year, congratulations! Now revisit your business plan and prepare to diversify. Your business will need to evolve as you discover new potential revenue streams. Please note, that when you try to develop a new revenue stream it is a bit like launching a new business. Some revenue streams fail, and even the successful ones will take time to become profitable.