Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Heather Self, Owner of One Stop Anime, LLC., located in Norman, OK, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
One Stop Anime is a retail store that specializes in products related to Japanese animation, commonly referred to as anime. The store carries a variety of merchandise, including books, Blu-ray, trading card games, and novelties.
Customers include anime fans of all ages, trading card game players, and those shopping for others.
Tell us about yourself
I own and operate the One Stop Anime store. I have been an anime fan since the late 1990s. Before online commerce was commonly used, anime and related merchandise were difficult to find, so I decided to open a local store to make these products easier to obtain and more affordable.
The store has grown a lot since opening in 2010, increasing the amount of inventory on the shelves and adding new product types to cater to the interests of its customer base. I really enjoy helping people find the anime merchandise they love.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I spent most of the past 12 years running One Stop Anime by myself. I was able to hire my husband as the first employee for a time, but he ended up needing to seek employment elsewhere. Due to the store's incredible growth over the last few years, One Stop Anime employs 3 people, including me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The most difficult part of being a business owner is feeling overwhelmed. When the owner has responsibilities that cannot be delegated to others, the "things to do" list is ever-growing. Taking time away from the business during operating hours is quite a challenge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your market research before taking the first steps to open a business. Talk to people in your area. What are your potential customers looking for in a business of this type? Would you fulfill a need that hasn't already been met?
- Save enough money to cover 6 months or more of personal bills before opening. Businesses often don't make a profit during the first year, so it's important to have enough money to cover personal expenses without relying on the business's profits early on.
- Start small. Depending on the type of business, you may be able to start with a small investment and pour more money into it as the customer base grows. For example, instead of ordering a case of 100 units for a product, order 1 or 2 units until you can gauge demand more accurately. It's much easier to liquidate a small number of items if they don't sell.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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