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What I Learned From My First Business

strategy Jun 30, 2020

My first business? Yeah, it failed. Here's what happened.

It was New York, it was the early '80s, and there I was: a fresh 20-something, son of immigrants. I didn't run with the most optimistic crowd--but I had a dream of becoming a comic book artist. And I wasn't too shabby, I even enrolled in art school!

But it didn't take long for me to realize I was a long way from becoming Stan Lee.

That's when I got the idea for my first business: a comic book delivery service for serious comic book collectors.

A Business Was Born

The business idea was solid: "Get your comics for less AND in mint condition!” After all, nothing was worse than getting a ratty, beat-up comic book in the mail.  

So, I designed brochures and ran ads in the comic books themselves.

It was a huge hit.

To my surprise, I got a massive list of subscribers. Really fast. To keep up with orders and inventory, I taught myself how to do accounting and software engineering (on an original IBM PC, mind you...)

The business was BOOMING. And then, it all caught up with me.

Hard Lessons

Delivering mint-condition comics was expensive...and my prices were not.

I was good at getting customers. Not so good at making money from them. Before long, I was in the red. Ka-pow. Gut punch. Game over.

But I learned something so, so important from that experience. Something that seems obvious in the 20/20 rearview mirror:

Business strategy is everything. 

Fast forward 30 years, and this is what I've dedicated my life to: helping B2B business owners get clarity on their overall strategy, so they can grow their businesses with purpose and on purpose.

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