So you want to open a game store?
I think every gamer has had the dream at one point or another. You know exactly what I am talking about, too. It’s that deep, dark desire that you’ve had since you were a wee lad or lass. Your ambition grows until you finally swindle your way to the top and get your grubby mitts on a store of your own. Pass the cheesy poofs, because this is about to get hairy…
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we got all our buddies together and started, I don’t know, a gaming store? Then we could just kick back and play games all day and make money! We could show those clowns over at Game-N-Go how it’s REALLY done and get paid to do their job but better.
Hold on a second, hotshot. If you think pizza and positivity are the secrets to successfully starting a game store…you are about to be sorely disappointed and make a lot of mistakes.
These are the Top 5 reasons why you and your band of merry neckbeards probably failed spectacularly.
5. You ditched Nintendo products because “real gamers don’t play that”
Thousands of prepubescent children (and your grandmother) cried out in terror and then were suddenly silenced.
I know that you think that real gamers don’t like Nintendo consoles, but you’re dead wrong. Now you’ve made the mistake of alienating 40-something year old gamer parents and their children. Don’t worry, I hear Game-N-Go has a sale on Amiibos. You didn’t want that money anyway, right?
Lesson: That’s great if you want to sell a product you are personally enthusiastic about. It shows when you love your product. There is a danger however of under-capitalizing on the market and your audience. More than that, this is a business and you need to stock the products that your customers want to buy. Catering to your own niche interests ignores the most important part of selling anything – appealing to your customer. Forgetting about their interests means that you are missing out on revenue. Avoid this mistake at all costs.
4. You left the demo console running for so long that it caught fire
…and it promptly burned your store to the ground, along with the tanning salon next door. This was a dark, dark day indeed. In fact, this day is such a dark shade of mahogany that it puts George Hamilton to shame. Look, accidents happen. Sometimes computers overheat, cars forget how to brake, and the toilet overflows. You can’t always control that, but you can control whether or not your business is insured.
Lesson: The average small business owner cannot afford to replace their entire operation out of pocket. Even if you are extraordinarily careful, you cannot always account for the actions of others. This is particularly important if you lease a location in a complex surrounded by other businesses. All it takes is one mistake at the firework supply shop next door and you’ll be out of an investment and your livelihood.
3. You tried to enforce chain mail bikinis as part of the dress code
Here’s a sensitivity newsflash from your HR Rep: no one likes misogynistic jerks. Check your nerd privilege, neck beard. Gamer girls in 2016 are as savvy as they come. They’re strong and independent women who don’t need any of your sass.
This is also when you discovered that employees value things like meaningful experiences, equality, and great benefits. Do the research and don’t be sexist or racist.
Lesson: If you want your game store to be successful, you need to surround yourself with people who believe in you and what you are trying to accomplish. Whether or not you intended to be, you are a leader. The success of your business hinges upon your leadership and ability to inspire others. They need to buy into your vision, and if they don’t they will leave.
Part of this is creating an inclusive culture. Discriminating your way to the top is no way to succeed in the 21st century business world. Many entrepreneurs and business owners succeeded because they gave their people something to believe in. In short, people want to be inspired and feel like they are making a difference.
2. Your business plan could be the next Michael Bay movie
Your business plan doesn’t make any sense and there are too many random explosions. Yes, I am specifically referring to that time you tried to microwave Spaghetti-o’s without removing them from the can. Shame on you. Look, if you expect investors or banks to give you money, you need to prove you deserve it.
Lesson: The key takeaway about business plans is that you have to have one. This is particularly important if you plan on gaining any kind of funding. Starting a business requires careful consideration and developing a clear plan is the first step. Be clear with your priorities and do your homework. Know your market, the store location, the products, and most importantly your customers. Account for things like adequate product stock and the fixtures they are displayed on. Account for your payroll. Budget money to get a real sign (not written in crayon) on the front of your building. Plan for how you will manage your inventory. If you budget and plan poorly, you probably won’t get any funding in the first place.
1. You summoned a demon in your shop’s basement (…or so I heard)
Didn’t you pay attention to the news during the 80s? Dungeons & Dorks is a conduit to the netherrealm. Chances are that if Sam and Dean Winchester are knocking on your door, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, public opinion is a powerful thing. You want the community to be on your side instead of gathering the torches and pitchforks.
Lesson: Remember that you are the ambassador of your brand and hobby. Word travels fast if you have terrible business practices. Cultivate your reputation carefully.
Gaming as a hobby can get a bad shake from detractors, and it is in your best interest to steer clear from negative publicity and perceptions. The hobby is growing and becoming more inclusive than ever. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.