It's been a month since my last blog post and my new goal is to at least have some sort of blog post once a month. It's something I've said before though, so take it with a grain of salt. Although do feel free to call me on it. There's nothing quite like being asked where my monthly blog post is to get me moving. Shame is a powerful motivator.
I've been running BoardGameCo since 2012, starting as a hobby in my basement and then partnering with Dan in late 2014 to move to a warehouse with employees and the whole 9 yards. While I have no regrets about the move up, it hasn't been an easy journey. I went from running this by myself and taking up my entire basement with 1500+ games, to a warehouse with paid employees and over 6000 games. But with the size has come growing pains.
I'm now paying employees to do the work I used to pay myself to do. We now have to pay accountants for our regular bookkeeping and taxes. Whereas I previously used my basement "rent free", we now pay for our storage needs. I used to be able to be on top of prices and inventory nearly perfectly with those 1500 games, but with over 6000 that kind of on the spot knowledge is harder. Being a "real" business comes with a price tag, a price tag that has kept us just able to cover our costs, unable to put any profit into growing and improving our business. There's so much we want to do, so many ways we think we can be a better company, but they all take time and/or money.
We spent early 2017 building a trading app to make trades a more streamlined process. In many ways it's been a great success, but there are a lot of bugs and ways to improve it but that takes money. We've wanted to relaunch a new website, but that takes time. We want to be able to start stocking games from our distributors more consistently, but some of that takes money, and others require having a brick and mortar store to even buy, which takes even more money. We want to offer better pricing, some of that takes money in order to be able to sell for less, and some of it requires time to be better able to price our inventory and avoid having errors with clearly mispriced products. I can keep going but you get the idea. There is a lot we want to do, but time and money are both in short supply around here.
I'm only in this business because I love it. The hobbyist business is tough enough, but trying to run exclusively on board games without even the benefit of collectible card games makes it even harder. It means I'm choosing an industry that's known to be hard, and trying to grow a business in that industry despite the challenges. I have to imagine that anyone in this industry is only doing it out of a love of the game. At the same time, loving the business only takes you so far. As I already have an active day job this isn't essential to feeding my family, but I still need a paycheck to continue investing nearly all my free time into it and the past few years haven't seen the growth we hoped.
At over 5 years in, there's a point where you have to stop wondering when things will improve and rather at what point do you call it quits? For how much more time do we want to run this hamster wheel without the additional growth to pay for improvements and our time? So we set a date. We picked a firm date that if we haven't seen enough growth by that date, we'll say we gave it a fair shot and move on to other projects. It's not a fun prospect to walk away from years of effort, but neither is it a fun prospect to think about doing this for another 10 years with no forward movement.
Once that decision was made though, we also wanted to make sure we're giving it a real fair shot, and not just running things business as usual until the end, just hoping for a change. So we pulled out the stops on a few initiatives we had been pushing off. One of them is this new website, another one is our new partnership with BoardGameExchange. Next quarter we'll be working on improved pricing and perhaps expanding our selection of new game. We'll continuously work on different goals, with the effort of improving our company, so that if we very reluctantly ever have to close our doors, we'll do so with no regrets, with no wishes of the things we should have done.
So expect the next year to see continued improvement in what we do and how we do it. We love the hobby and we'd love to continue growing a business surrounded by games, people and ideas that excite us. Every person who has ever traded with us, every gamer who has ever bought a game from us, you are a part of how we got this far. This isn't a call to "support your local game store", I strongly believe that a business needs to earn your support, not ask for it. This is a declaration that we've always had a backlog of things we wanted to do in order to earn your support, and that 2018 is the year we make sure we execute on those ideas. It's been a fun journey so far, hopefully the best is yet to come.