Any business cannot rest on its laurels. History has shown that companies who donít adapt are destined to fail. Take one recent example, Kodak. They were the king of the camera market for many years. They missed the boat with digital photography. The market moved; Kodak didnít. Kodak is no longer king of the hill.
In 2011, I set a goal to move away from damaged copies of inexpensive stamps. I want to focus on better quality. I am well on my way to doing that and Iíve seen the benefits. It will probably take me a few more years before I fully complete that transition. Now that Iím over the major hurdle and things are clicking more efficiently, I need to re-evaluate my business.
Iím doing well with retail sales of US stamps and I hope that never changes. Thatís a market I intend to stay in. I donít think Iíll ever be offering copies of Scott #C3a. I would like to gradually grow into some higher priced items like mint Columbians and such. I have a few already. Iíd like to gradually grow into more sales like that. However, I have no plans to abandon the moderately priced material which makes up the bulk of my sales and itís where the majority of the stamp market is at.
Iíve been thinking of other ways to grow my business.
One way is by also selling supplies. I get a few requests for supplies. The downside is the space needed to stock them. My wife, Lori, already scolds me about the space that the stamps take up. They are tiny pieces of paper. When more stamps show up through collections I buy, I get scolded more. If I started carrying supplies, she might divorce me. Or force me to add on to the house.
I could get into worldwide stamps. That involves buying more catalogs and identifying other stamps. Right now, I can look at any US stamp and recite the catalog number or point to a range or set of catalog numbers. I have a basic understanding of worldwide stamps and, in general, I can spot items that are valuable. It would take me a long time to master other catalog numbers for other countries.
I thought about narrowing the worldwide issues to a select country, or a few at the most. Canada is popular and it probably wouldnít be too difficult to master the stamps from there. Germany, Great Britain, France, and others are possibilities too.
Some of the large lots in my specials are very popular and sell well. I could try offering more large lots for sale. But if they donít move quickly, the boxes stack up and Lori starts filling out the divorce papers. For context, read my comments above about offering supplies. Maybe smaller packets are a compromise?
There are different sales channels. I donít want to do approvals. Nothing against the approval business, but they will not work for me. Auctions are interesting though. I understand auctions and Iíve run some club auctions in the past.
Iíve been working with another start up dealer and sending some items his way to get his business going. I could expand that part of my business. Taking other dealers in and helping them get going. Itís a great feeling to see others learn the stamp business and do well.
I thought about writing too. However, the pay is usually pretty nominal. Lots of customers say that they like my writings here. I also write a column ďBecoming a stamp dealerĒ for the American Stamp Dealer and Collector (ASD&C) magazine. I really like writing. I wish I had time to do more. (On a side note, if you are not subscribing to the ASD&C, youíre missing out on one of the best publications in philately).
I have many things to think about. Iím not jumping into any quick decisions. Good businesses evaluate situations and make sound decisions based on facts. They have a plan for what it is they want to do. Not having a plan is a recipe for disaster.