Research, Research, ResearchA column article by: Ace Masters
Do you like doing homework?
Did you like going to school?
If you answered yes to those two questions, then you are well on your way.
If, like me, you answered, "NO!," then it's time to sit down.
You might be done with school, but you're never done with homework.
Only now, homework goes by a different name in the business world: Research.
Though you won't be graded on an A to F scale, or indeed, on any scale, it's still important. Instead, you'll be 'graded' differently, based on the quality of your research and how you put it to use.
There is an old saying when it comes to real estate: The three most important things are location, Location, LOCATION! Other businesses have similar sayings, regardless of the type of business.
For us it is publishing comic books.
How does this relate to research? Well, when it comes to starting your own business the three most important things to do are: research, Research, RESEARCH!
But wait, you love comics! You know how to create comics, isn't that enough?
No. Research is the most important thing you can do when starting any business endeavor. The following is a list of the most important things to research before starting your own comic company:
- 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
Research won't be easy. It does encompass time and energy. But that doesn't necessarily mean it'll take a long time; plus, you'll be better off in the long run, because it shows you did your homework and are taking your art -- and your craft -- seriously.
For now I won't go into any of the above listed things. Instead, I want to touch upon something else: Why? Why do the research? The answer is quite simple, and it is not "Why not?"
You need to educate yourself as much as possible about what you need to know. This is your best chance for success.
Many companies, every year, fail because they fail to recognize, deal with or understand the business side of their company. You can't afford to do this.
Research will help you in many ways. First, it will help you form your company. Secondly, it will help you direct your company where it needs to go. Also, it will help you in making sure people know about your up-and-coming company and your comics.
These columns are a guide to help you start your research; they cannot do your research for you. In future columns, I will lay out the guidelines as to how to put your research to practical use.
In conclusion, I would like to dispel three myths. These are things I hear over and over again, and am told (not asked: told).
Myth One: The one thing many people who want to start their own comic company tell me is that publishing comics isn't a business.
Myth Two: I have also been told, many time, that one doesn't need a business license to publish. (Note: Publish, not specifically comics, but publishing in general.)
Myth Three: Lastly, I have often heard that you don't have to pay taxes on publishing, because publishing isn't a business.
Wow, and then they wonder why they fail.
One question regarding these myths – if publishing isn't a business, then how do publishers "go out of business?" And why did Marvel file for bankruptcy?
These three myths may seem stupid, and I am sure some will think they are made up, but I assure you they are real, told to me by real people who honestly believe them.
Let's dispel these now.
Myth One: Publishing comic books, novels, magazine, greeting cards or anything is a business. Do research, check local, state and federal laws. Once you produce an item with the intent to sell, you are doing business.
Check Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite; all of these are registered business in the business of publishing.
Myth Two: The truth: Nine out of ten times you do need a business license to publish anything. You're in business. (For example, in Arizona, I need to have license nine.)
However, there may be exceptions. Perhaps you live in a state that doesn't require a business license for publishing. Before assuming you don't need a license, check with your local and state government. Even if you live in a state that doesn't require a business license, you local city may require you to have a business license to operate you business in its boundaries.
Do your research.
Myth Three: This myth is tricky, the best way to answer it is this: Yes, you do have to deal with taxes. When it comes to any business, taxes are a way of life and can't be avoided. At a minimum you do have to file taxes for your business revenue; in many cases this is on a monthly basis.
What taxes you do and don't have to pay, with the exception of Federal Taxes, vary from state to state and locale to locale. The best things to do is check with your local and state government on the tax laws for your locale.
No matter what, taxes are something you do have to deal with.
Research plays a great deal into your business: how you set it up, how you market it, and how you deal with things down the road. Which is why I have dispelled these myths.
Next time, we'll dive straight into specific sorts of research. But for now, I leave you with this Burning Question:
Are you ready for the next step?