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Changing with a market

Now forgive me if this little post sounds like I’m boasting. I assure you I’m not, it’s just I think that sometimes someone who is less involved or not so emotionally tied up in a business can see the obvious when the proprietor simply can’t.
A dear friend of mine is a Philatelist (stamp collector for most of us). A professional one too, who runs a stamp dealership from a variety of outlets including e-bay amongst others.
As probably most professional stamp dealers do, he had quite substantial stocks and a deal of valuable items. Some stamps had a retail value of £3,000/£4,000 although many valued less than £250, but there were simply thousands and thousands of stamps and collections – a veritable treasure trove.
5 years ago or probably more, to the horror of my friend the price of stamps collapsed. He was hugely concerned and completely convinced that this was the end of his business and the end of his world.
I was chatting to him and listening to his woes as one would, during which time I commented that surely there would still be a market for buying and selling stamps even if the values were down.
To his enormous credit, his stock was without debt and there were no loans on the books. Having been in business for some years though, it immediately struck me that if a person acknowledged and “faced the facts”, there may still be a credible business there, just operating at a different level. He would financially be able to hold onto his precious collections until the time was right and sell those of less value.
Of course the fact that the business had been grown organically without debt was a huge benefit and credit to him as a businessman, but it was really difficult for him to accept the loss in value.
My advise was simply to accept the facts and that there remained a good business, if only he could accept it and work at a different level – different sales prices, different purchase prices and probably different types of people buying stamps. Probably the only person who at the time couldn’t see the reality of it was my friend.
Jumping forward 5 or 6 years to today and the business is doing pretty well. Average sales price is considerably lower, but purchase prices are proportionately lower too, with a glut of cheap collections on the market. The average sales price is around £250 rather than £1,500, but margins are actually higher. He has changed his speciality also. When a market changes you can change with the market all it needs is for you to change with it.

If you can’t see the wood for the trees talk to a peer and they may be able to point you in the right direction.

avatar Name: Alexandra Eager
About: Alex has worked as a Financial Controller and Finance Director for many years for a variety of companies across a range of industries but more recently she has moved away from accounting working for an internet marketing agency as Finance and Operations director, primarily overseeing the finance functions and search engine optimisation (SEO) for clients. Follow Alex on G+ and on Twitter @Alex_BusDirUK
Alex runs her own company with two fellow owners developing a suite of e-commerce web sites and promoting them directly. “I found that SEO and finance were quite compatible both needing an eye for detail, research and analysis as well keeping up with new developments and changes.”

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