Do you like to learn?
No matter your answer to that question, rest assured that you are about to learn a lot.
Will I teach it to you, or even educate you? Not really. What I am going to do is guide you in the direction, or directions, that you should go in, in order to learn what you need to learn.
As you saw in my earlier columns on Business Steps, for these columns, I have laid out a list of things you should research. They are the following:
- Business Itself
- Local, State and Federal Laws and Taxes
- The Market
- The Comic Book Industry as a Whole
- The Indie Comic Book Industry
- The True Indie Comic Book Industry
- Marvel and DC
- Big Indies
- Everyone Else
- The End Game
During the course of your research you may discover things that aren’t on this list, and that’s fine. It means your research is working.
Your ultimate goal is to amass one of your most formidable weapons when going into business: knowledge.
You want to accumulate as much knowledge of business and the business end of comic book publishing as possible. It helps if you are a person who likes to learn new things and expand your horizons; it will make doing your research much more enjoyable.
Even though I stated in the opener to the last column that I hated school and homework, I love to learn, especially a subject I have an immense interest and love for: Comic Books.
The first thing to research is, what is business?
- Business Itself
Business can be defined by many terms and in many different ways. Each definition or term is as unique as each type of business is unique. However there is one simple ideal that fits all businesses in one way or another: Supply and Demand.
Supply is the goods or services you will provide, in this case comic books, graphic novels and associated goods.
Demand is the market’s desire, want or demand for your goods or services. In this case the comic book market: how many retailers want to order your comic books, graphic novels and associated goods, believing they can sell them. Also, how many fans want to buy your comic books, graphic novels and associated goods.
What you want to do is research business in general. On what business is. Before you can go into business for yourself, any type of business, you should have a grasp on what business is, the general idea behind business, structure of businesses, etc.
I can’t give you all of this info here, as it could be a never-ending task, but I will give a brief overview.
Business is usually a capitalistic endeavor, found predominantly in capitalist economies. The owners of a company typically gear their company toward a financial return against their expenses: for-profit. Most businesses operate with the idea of “acceptance of risk.” However they also operate under the belief that the potential to generate revenue outweighs the risk to lose money, or go out of business.
Businesses can also be non-profit (or not-for-profit), the legalities of which are a wholly different set of laws from regular for-profit companies. As a comic book publisher, the not-for-profit sector is not something you will be dealing with.
The term Business can have three usages, all of which you should become familiar with: it can mean a particular company or corporation (like Marvel Comics is a business); it can refer to a market (the Comic Book Industry is a business market); and potentially it can mean all activity by the community of suppliers of goods and services (what Comic Book Publishers in general are doing).
Business types are something very important to know. You have to learn what types of business are available for you to form, and then choose which one is best for you.
- Sole proprietorship: This is the most common type of business in the world. A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. The owner of the business has unlimited liability of the debts incurred by the business.
- Partnership: A Partnership is formed and owned by two or more partners. Partners can have an equal share, or an unequal share, of the company depending on the formation. However, in most cases, each partner has liability of the debts incurred by the business. Three typical classifications of partnerships: general partnerships, limited partnership, and limited liability partnerships.
- Corporation: A corporation is a limited liability company that is a separate legal entity from its member. It can be privately owned by individuals, or publicly traded.
Of these types, the most likely ones to choose are Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. Unless you become extremely successful and grow into a dynamo, a Corporation is not a good choice to begin with. It may protect you as a person from incurring company debts (that is not always true), but the cost and efforts to incorporate, even as privately owned, is unlikely to be cost effective to begin with.
You can also modify and switch your business type as your company begins to grow and deal with becoming a Corporation down the line.
This is a very simplistic breakdown of business and business types. It is only meant as a platform to make you think and give you a launching point for your own research.
What should you do from here? Simple! Get down to the library or the bookstore and look up books about business. Both places have tons of books on the subject. Browse through the books they have, then get the ones you feel are the best and check them out or purchase them.
Then read, read, read. All you need is to get a good grasp of the basic principles of business. Don’t worry about anything specific, because the world of comic books you are about to get into has nuances, twists and turns that no other business in the world has, and that no outsider can prepare you for.
I will leave you with this Burning Thought:
Do you have to pay certain type of taxes where you live? Do you have to have a business license in the state you live in? The answers could be surprising. You need to find out what you can and can’t do in your city and state. As the saying goes – forewarned is forearmed.