5 Important lessons I learned from my first business venture
Monday, 12 September 2011, 08:12:00 AM
I hope everyone enjoyed the last few weeks of summer! I recently had a coffee with a friend of mine who was thinking about opening up his own business. I told him about my first business venture and thought that the lessons I learned then were just as applicable to my real estate business today.
My first official foray into small business came at the ripe age of 13… when I sold hockey cards at a sports card convention. At the time, I got together with 3 of my buddies and we decided to rent a booth at a local community center for a 1 day convention. The cost to rent the booth was $40 and we agreed to split it 4 ways. It sounds strange to say this now, but back then the $10 investment to rent the booth seemed steep to each of us.
I remembered when we first arrived at the convention center to setup our display many of the other vendors came by to see what hockey cards “these kids” were selling. I distinctly remember this seasoned vendor came to our table and offering me ridiculously low prices on some of my cards. I politely said “no thanks, in no hurry to sell” and off he went mumbling some rude remark under his beard.
The doors opened to the public shortly thereafter and I made my first sale about 45 minutes later. Overall the day was a success and I had sold a couple of hundred dollars of inventory and easily covered the cost of the booth. I really enjoyed the experience and I knew that this wouldn’t be my last entrepreneurial venture.
So here are 5 lessons that I learned that day:
1. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks: The old saying rings true: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I remember doing a pros/cons list before signing up for the convention and after that I felt that a $10 investment was worth the risk. In hindsight, the experience I received from this 1-day venture was by far the most valuable asset I gained.
2. Know your market: As nerdy as this might sound, I made it a hobby of mine to memorize the “Beckett’s Hockey Card Price Guide Book” (it’s very similar to the stock tables found in newspapers today). At the end of the day, I knew the market value of my inventory inside out.
3. Be patient: If I accepted the first offer I got for any of my hockey cards that day, I probably would have made half of what I actually did. Being patient and knowing when to accept a good offer was key.
4. Be professional: That summer, my grandfather and I built a wooden display case for the purposes of this sports card show. It looked very professional and made it easy to prominently display my inventory to customers. I also think our potential customers might have taken us more seriously as well.
5. Love what you do: At the time, I loved hockey cards, so that was a great business for me to be involved in. Since that time I’ve been involved as an owner in a number of businesses, with my real estate brokerage being my latest which was opened almost 3 years ago (although I was a real estate salesperson for more than 3 years before that point). I really do love operating the real estate brokerage and without a doubt has been my favorite business to date. Probably because it is the most emotionally rewarding business I have ever been a part of.
It’s amazing… the lessons I learned that day are just as applicable today than they were back then. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post as much as I did writing it!