My apologies go to Admiral David Farragut (Scott #311) for using his quote.
I spent the last 12 months thinking about where I go next with my stamp business. In the summer 2012 pricelist, I asked aloud ďWhatís next?Ē and I was thinking of expanding into supplies, worldwide stamps, and other things.
Some recent opportunities have come up that I have taken advantage of. Also, I have clarified my thoughts around what I think will work for me.
Part of what Iím changing is the way I do things. A fellow dealer, Jim Lee, recently exited the philatelic literature business. In Jimís words, the literature business was taking 80% of his time, but only contributing 20% of sales revenue. It was a hard decision for Jim to make because he has been a literature dealer for so long. It was consuming a lot of his time but not bringing in that much money. I too can think of things Iím doing that require a lot of time for very little reward.
I have reflected on things Iíve done poorly in the last 10 years since I became a dealer. For example, I used to spend many hours looking through eBay for older stamps. I was wasting a lot of time because there are too many questionable or damaged items out there. In another example, some of the stock I buy comes from auction houses. Iíve come to learn which kinds of bids do well at various auction houses. Bidding on large lots at one auction house usually doesnít pay off. Meanwhile, Iím much more successful at another auction house with their large lots. Therefore, why spend time looking at large lots from the first auction house if I know that my bids there are usually not successful?
I have a plan that Iím executing on that I hope will double my sales in the next 3 years. I donít want to reveal that plan for two reasons.
First of all, I donít want new dealers to think that all they have to do is follow my plan and theyíll be successful. This is a plan I developed for me. What works for me may not work for others. As many of you know, I write a column for the American Stamp Dealers & Collector magazine on how to become a stamp dealer. The main point is that in being a stamp dealer, there is no universal formula on how to be a dealer that will guarantee success. If that was the case, weíd have many more stamp dealers. And if I was the one to define how to guarantee success as a stamp dealer, Iíd be a millionaire by now.
Second, Iím keeping my plans private because I donít want to give my competition an unfair advantage. If they know my plans, there may be things that other dealers can do to try and offset my attempts. Donít get me wrong. Stamp dealers are a very friendly and cooperative bunch. But the bottom line is that this is a business which people make money at. If you see someone doing something that makes money, you may want to try it too and make it part of your success.
My current customers should see no changes from what they are used to now. I plan to offer the same kinds of material. I am going to expand in some areas where Iíve been lacking and I see the potential to increase sales. And I continue to get away from damaged copies of inexpensive stamps.
To me, the changes are large though. Iím making monetary investments to expand areas of my business. It takes money to make money. And more importantly, Iím refocusing my efforts. I need to stop doing certain things and concentrate on other more productive tasks. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! This is an aggressive plan that wonít be easy to implement.
Wish me luck. But remember, Iím always here to serve you, my faithful customers.