Talk me out of starting a business! Or not?

I have this hairbrained idea.
I have this unsatiable urge to start a business.
Ive had ideas in the past, installing home security systems controlled by your PC, electrical contractor, pool hall, etc.. The latest - I would like to open a store that sells high quality color printers and digital cameras. Preferebly as package deals. Ive noticed that the quality of the printers and the cameras are on par with the results you get from the photo labs. New higher end printers print very good quality prints (albeit slow) for a relatively low cost. The newer camers are becoming affordable and with higher resolutions. Right now the stand alone 4 by 6 borderless printers are becoming popular.
I have a feeling that very soon the technology will become affordable for most people. The quality of the product is also getting better all the time.
Heres what I think will happen. Most people have PCs
Most people dont have the quality of digital camera that you can use for printing photos, but the prices are coming down. Most people have decent printers, but not the ones you would be happy printing long life high quality prints with. I foresee the media (image storage), the cameras and the printers sort of converging into an affordable market that will compete with the print labs for their business. I would like to get in on that. I was thinking of a small shop for starters with good tech support. I would be knowledgeable about all the stuff I sold so the costomer could ask any question and have it answered by me. Not like the lamo support you get from the bigger stores. I dont see any stores in my neck of the woods that are set up like this.
What do you guys and gals think??

I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods, but around here the “traditional” camera stores have gone heavily into digital cameras, printers, lessons and support.

Do you have that kind of potential competition?

Problem with technology based business is that:
a. equipment changes rapidly.
b. prices change drastically (ie. DVD’s, VCR’s, cordless phones).
c. profit margin is usually not all that great to begin with.

Not only that, but you wind up being the nice schmuck who teaches the customer everything he needs to know - and then the customer will walk out and buy everything on the Internet for 1/3 off your price.

Plus, “Big Good Guy Buys” down the street will underprice you 10% on any ad you run.

Another problem is that many people just don’t get it. I remember showing educated teachers how to use video cameras in the classroom and after my demo, one teacher said, “how long does it take to get the film developed.” Sadly, only a couple of people in the room found that to be a stupid question.

While I think you have the right idea that this technology will soon break out big time - I just don’t know if it is wise to go the route you have planned. Maybe on a small scale - open a photo studio/equipment shop…take wedding/school/child photos and sell the equipment on the side. I donno. All I can tell you is that there have been a lot of small mom and pop electronics shops that have folded in the last 20 years, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Wish I could be more supportive…

If you can combine it with a liquor store, you should do very well. :slight_smile:

Seriously, if that is your dream or passion, you should work on a business plan and have someone with experience look at it.

Not from what I have seen. But I will look into it the more I get the itch.

You will be competing with the big box retailers. They sell things at very slim margins. There are also a lot of Internet-based retailers for those kind of items.

First off all, regardless of what you are selling, running your own store means 16 hour days. At least 6 days a week. Don’t do this unless this is really, really, something you like doing. If “Hey, I want to work my tail off as close to 24/7 as possible.” hasn’t been your motto for years, think again.

Secondly, as everybody mentioned, of all the the things to sell, tech stuff of this type is the worst. Around here there are many little computer shops that sell “White Box” systems, parts, etc. They sell a lot of stuff. Most don’t sell printers or cameras at all. If These shops don’t think there is any money in these, you shouldn’t either. Also, these little stores don’t do customer service. If you can’t compete on volume, you have to compete on low overhead. Again, think about that.

DMark also mentioned the biggest reason: your inventory is losing value sitting on the shelf. The little hole-in-the-wall computer stores maintain very little inventory. I have actually had to wait at times while they ran off to the wholesaler to get at most 2 of something. One for me, and maybe one for the next guy. All of DMark’s other reasons are very important as well, but this one is the first financial headache you will run into.

You may also run into trouble with rebate competition. Sometimes, rebate deals are exclusive to a retailer chain and manufacturers won’t want to deal with just one store.

What are you going to do when you bought 5 printers for $100 each, and they’re now selling for $100 down the street or $80 after rebate?

Speaking from experience, I agree.

I would recommend trying to provide a service- when business is lean you definately don’t want recurring rent, utilities, inventory, insurance, advertising, etc.

Don’t get me wrong- having your own business is great but you will work like a dog every day and you probably won’t make near the money you though you would.

Good Luck!!!