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Mail-order copycats


“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
—Martin Vanbee

In his book Getting Into the Mail-order Business, Julian L. Simon reveals some insights that might be valuable in other businesses as well. Simon explains that, after he got a fine college education, he worked for major advertising agencies in New York and eventually went on to become an advertising consultant. Thinking that he would make it big in mail order, he started his own business and promptly found out how easily he could fail. After recovering from the shock, a humbled Simon decided to find out where he had gone wrong. He took the direct approach and visited successful mail-order dealers, asking them for their secrets. Ignoring much of his textbook learning, Simon listened to the voices of experience and studied their techniques until he found the reason for their success.

The answer was almost too simple to be true. As unlikely as it sounded, Simon found that the best way to achieve success was to be a copycat. He discovered that the mail-order business didn’t require creativity, it just required that he sell items that were already making a profit. That is the approach Simon recommends for all beginners. It is true that larger companies in almost any line of business often experiment with new items in catalogs. Larger companies can afford to take such risks, but most newcomers need to get a profitable line established before trying anything innovative. The beginner can avoid many start-up risks by duplicating a currently successful plan.

CONSIDER THIS: Being innovative is risky. It is often wiser to establish a foundation of solid products and to experiment with innovation on a small scale rather than risking the whole business on a lark.

Submitted by Richard

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