Passion is always important to have when starting a business. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Mash, owner of MJM Magic, and ask him all about his business. Enjoy the interview.
How did your company get its start?
I’ve always been fascinated by magic and illusions. As a kid, I used to perform magic tricks for my family, but after my younger brother destroyed all of my magic props by peeing on them during a sleepwalking incident (true story), it crushed me. I lost all desire to perform.
Fast forward to the year 2004. I was 29 years old, and unfulfilled with my current job as a Tech Support engineer. I decided to start a “side business” selling magic tricks. It seemed fun, and I figured, “If it works out, I can do it full time. If it doesn’t, well then I still have my current employment to fall back on.”
So in my spare time, I established a few relationships with magic wholesale suppliers, and began to purchase inventory to resell online. No one knew who MJM Magic was. Not to mention, our inventory was the same as some other magic companies who had been around forever. What could I do to differentiate MJM Magic from the competition? The answer: CUSTOMER SERVICE! I was going to make sure that I gave our customers the best service possible because I had nothing else to offer. If given the choice to purchase the same item between two stores, you always will go with the store that makes you feel like part of the family.
The first few years were tough. Trying to juggle two jobs was a challenge, and the credit card bills were piling up with magic inventory purchases. After the three year mark, we were turning a small profit which eventually grew larger and larger. I eventually quit my full time job in 2010, and MJM Magic became a corporation in 2011. We now are one of the world’s largest online retail magic stores, shipping packages all over the world on a daily basis. We have more than 16,000 customers and have shipped more than 34,000 packages to countries that I never knew existed!
What do you think is the most interesting part of your business?
I would say that getting to be amazed and fascinated by magic on a daily basis is the most interesting part of my job. Imagine every day, seeing a new trick come on the market that makes you say, “How in the WORLD did he just do that?!” We all like to be entertained and to some degree, fooled by magic. Our brains know that it can’t be real, but yet, our eyes are telling us differently! So learning how these effects are done, and making those tricks available to the public is what I love to do.
For example, do you want to see five $1 bills change into five $100 bills right before your eyes? Then just watch the quick video demo on this page and see some of the amazing things I am a part of every day.
What is your company’s biggest challenge you are struggling with?
Where do I begin! I would say a main challenge for MJM Magic is how to properly expand the business without moving too fast. For example, many magicians and suppliers will contact us now, and ask if we would like to be the ONLY STORE to carry their items. The catch? We would need to purchase thousands of dollars worth of the item. The challenge is knowing, “Will we be able to sell that much of this product? Is this product worth that kind of investment? If I pass on this offer, will a competitor grab it and hurt our business?” These are all decisions that I struggle with, but without challenges in business, there can be no significant improvements and growth.
What advice do you have for other future business owners?
Don’t give up. If you have a passion for what you are doing, it’s going to take a lot of sacrifice. Don’t overspend money which you don’t have. It is tempting to go out and put everything on credit, but pace yourself. I have seen a lot of businesses fail because people have rushed to spend on equipment, inventory, or advertising, and then fold because the ROI (return on investment) was slower than anticipated. This is why MJM Magic is successful, because I always kept a level head, and I EXPECTED the growth to be slow. So have realistic expectations and don’t try to speed up growth faster than your wallet will allow.
Another thing: don’t focus on the negative things. In business, there is always something that goes wrong. Sales may be slow. You may get an angry customer who can’t be pleased. Whenever that happens, remind yourself of all the GOOD THINGS that you’ve done. Think of all the HAPPY customers you have, or the advancements that you’ve made to get your business off the ground.
Finally, find something outside of your business to keep you grounded. You need something to focus on to help recharge your mental batteries. For me, this is family. I remind myself that if the worst happens and I didn’t have my business, I still have my family. A business will always go better if the owner is relaxed, unstressed, and ready to take on the challenge of serving others. So find that one thing that gives you strength, and use it to help ground you as you take steps forward with your business!
Anything else you would like to add?
Whether you are a professional magician, hobbyist, or just want to learn a trick to perform for your family or coworkers, we have a little something for everyone! Many of the items at MJM Magic have video demos which you can watch and check out before making a purchase. Click here to view our website. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@mjmmagic), or check out our YouTube video page to see a wide range of free magic demo videos.
For a limited time only, Jeff is offering customers a discount code to try out MJM Magic. Spend at least $25.00 in our online store, and use the coupon code: INTUIT. It will deduct an additional 10% off your entire order! Good for one use per customer.