Name: Josh Wegert Type of Project: Creative endeavor
My project consisted of going to minor league baseball games and getting players’ autographs and other memorabilia to sell online. I did this so I could test a business model and to test if marketing on Twitter and YouTube have any impact on my eBay sales of the items.
I was transformed during this project and learned that sometimes, even when you have carefully planned, things might not go the way you expected. I assumed that online twitter marketing was fairly easy to do and all you would need would be popular hashtags. I found that this is not the case. This experience has humbled me and shown me I do not know as much as I thought I knew. This has changed my outlook on the world. Previously I routinely looked at jobs or occupations and thought that they looked easy or that anyone could do them. But after this experience, I will now be slower to think that way.
I have also gained a greater respect for people who start their own business. As a finance major, I am interested in big companies with lots of revenue and lots of profit potential for shareholders. Small businesses that made only $250,000 did not seem important to me. They still probably will not interest me as a future investor. But, in this experience, I got a little taste of what it is like to have your own business and it his hard work and can sometimes be frustrating. I have learned that it is very difficult to run your own business and I will now not gloss over or underappreciate small business owners.
During this experience I did not achieve the level of success that I had anticipated in the business area of the project. This is most likely partially my own fault and partially the fault of circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes I did not get the autograph I was hoping for. I considered myself a very good autograph getter but sometimes it did not work out as I had planned. This humbled me. One example of this was on July 5th when I had planned to get the autograph of two Yankees prospects ranked in the top fifty in all of baseball. I had everything planned out and then one of them got promoted to the next level of the minors. This meant I would not be able to get his autograph. That was a bummer but it was okay because there was still a really good prospect there. A few days before the game, the other really good player was also promoted. This was heartbreaking because now there were only a few Yankees top ten prospects that were going to be at the game. So when the day of the game finally came around none of the top ten Yankees prospects were willing to sign and I was only able to get one autograph from an unranked player. His autograph is worth next to nothing. This turn of events showed me that even when you plan, things might not go the way you thought they would and not to be over confident and think that everything will always fall into place.
On the marketing side of this project I saw that it definitely harder than it looks to build a marketing empire for your business. I thought that if I tweeted a lot and had good hashtags I would accumulate a strong following but this did not come to fruition. I tweeted 122 times and uploaded 27 photos. I was only able to amass 11 followers. However, I was able to get some followers in my target audience. A bobblehead collector from Japan and an owner of a minor league baseball time followed me. This indicates that I was doing something right because I was attracting some attention from my target audience. I was unable to drive massive traffic to my eBay listings based on my twitter account. But my YouTube campaign was more successful. My eBay listings that were featured on Twitter averaged 27.25 views, but my listings featured on YouTube averaged 35.70 views.
My experience selling the memorabilia online changed me and made me appreciate and admire all the work small business owners do. I was only able to sell 29.73% of the items that I listed. This fact alone shows that my current business model is not a sustainable one. With ticket, gas, and autograph material expenses, it is hard to make money. I now think that a better model would be to wait to sell the autographs until the player reaches the majors because then there will be a greater market for them. I also learned that running a business takes a lot of time and dedication. When I went to the games I would often arrive early and stay after the game to try to get more autographs. When you add driving time to the equation, the whole process could take seven hours. I was unable to recoup enough money to make those seven hours worth my time. Small business owners have to weigh a lot of options and decide if the revenue that they will receive will be worth the work it takes to earn it. Successful small businesses owners are amazing and are nothing to be looked down upon even though they usually cannot be invested in.
In this experience I had a small sample of what it is like to run a business. This is valuable for my life because while some people find success in running a business, I have learned that I do not want to do run a business and would rather invest in them. When a person runs a business everything is on them. They do not really have a safety net or internal support system. It is basically them against the world. I would rather work in a team environment and not have the pressure of knowing that if the business fails, then I lose everything. Also, the amount of work and risk that is necessary to make such a small amount of profit does not seem worth it to me. I would rather have a salary with a commission as a bonus so that I would have some security and not be so reliant on if the business succeeds or fails.
On the marketing side of this project I am excited to learn more because I learned that I do not know as much as I thought I knew. I am always inquisitive and want to know more about things that are unknown to me. This is impactful and this fall semester I will be taking marketing research. If that class goes well, I also plan on adding a marketing major to my existing finance major. This is valuable to me because I will become more attractive to potential future employers and will have more knowledge to offer their company. Also, having a marketing major can allow me to potentially get a marketing job if I am unable to land a job in the financial industry.