Stop trying to do it all and delegate

When I started mediocore about 2 years ago I wanted to do everything. I wanted to design the shirts and website, screen print everything, and do all the marketing myself. This is how a lot of self employed people think when they start a business. They don’t trust others and they want to do it all themselves. It’s also hard in the beginning when you aren’t making much money to pay someone else.

My first shirt I did wasn’t bad. It was just a one color shirt I did for my missing turtle shirt. Building my own screen press and learning how to screen print really made me appreciate all the work that a screen printer does. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do anything more complicated then 1 color prints so I went out to find a screen printer.

I started making some money on my first shirt so I decided to print my second shirt. It was a line from 30 rock that said “Live every week like it’s shark week”. I did my research and went with a company I thought was reputable. I printed 100 shirts which looking back was a bad decision. Any new shirt you want to print the minimums and use that information to know what sizes sell or even if that design is a good seller. I talk about it more in the article “How many shirts should I print”.

The shirts turned out terrible. The printer was nice enough to reprint the shirts for free but it was still hard for me to trust a printer. The next printer I chose was much better and I was 90% satisfied. I say 90% because they didn’t have the best communication with me and sometimes left me in the dark. Also sometimes the ink would turn out thicker then I wanted or the colors didn’t match up perfectly. He was a great printer but I knew things could be better.

The third printer I found when I was starting up Shred a year ago. They sent me digital proofs of the designs on a shirt and their service and quality has just been amazing. They were so awesome I decided to become a sales rep for them. They are called Storenvy and you can check them out online at Send me any questions or orders and I can walk you through the process (it just goes to my jon@doubledragonstudios account for now). Besides being on the ball with their service they also have printed some amazing shirts for my clothing companies. They were able to print some 9 color oversized prints and make them still feel soft. I am going to do some articles with the screen printer over there and get you guys some more information about storenvy and the printing process in general.

Back to starting out… I could have just given up after the first bad batch of shark week shirts and my story could have ended but I pushed through. After a couple month ordeal they reprinted the shirts just in time for Shark Week. I sold around 30 shirts that first weekend, it was awesome. Shark week is still my best selling design and this last Shark Week season I sold 150 of them during the week. I was pumped. It was very much like winning a big pot in poker, my adrenaline was rushing and I knew I could make a living out of this.

My next step of letting go and delegating work was hiring other artists. I am not a great artist, I did the Shark week, Missing Turtle, and Complimentary Colors shirts and as you can tell they are all very simple. I found great artists through and always pushed their work to be as great as it could be. This made a big difference in my company, the shirts that I was making were awesome and there wasn’t anything getting in the way anymore. Just because I couldn’t do something didn’t mean it was impossible it just meant I had to find someone that was great at it and hire them.

When I deal with artists or my partner Jordan Andree at double dragon studios I try my best to communicate the best that I can. With shirts I usually mark up the changes in photoshop with notes so the designer clearly know what I am talking about. The same goes for Jordan, when I need him to make changes in a site I pick my words very carefully so he knows what I am talking about and will sometimes include pictures. My girlfriend always says I am very direct and and can be overwhelming for some people. It is very true, but I need to be direct and tell people exactly what I if I expect them to do it. A few words of encouragment always goes a long way to.

The parts of the business that I have been focusing on are e-commerce development, internet marketing, and product development. What everyone should do is find what they are best at then hire out help to fill in everything else. You will have a lot more well rounded company and make more money that way. Also the goal with every business is to have be self sufficient. You want to hire creative directors in charge of designs, a marketing director, president, you want to get the best of everything and be able to walk away from your company for a year and see it making even more money when you return. It’s hard to think that I will ever be able to do that but for now I am taking steps towards that goal. These are my first businesses and they are all a huge learning experience for me.

Let me know what you think of this post. It was a lot less on point and had more of my personal story. Do you think this is better or worse then just writing down the facts.?

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  • Robbo

    I know what you mean about printing tons of shirts without knowing what sells. My brother bought a press. We printed 100 shirts. Different designs. Simple too. After 2 years, I still have most of the shirts. Great site.

  • Michael Hunter

    You make some really good points. I have made many of the mistakes you speak of. I have been going back and forth with my decision to use my press and make the shirts myself. I have ordered from Storenvy for a batch of my shirts, and yes, ordered way too many. Storenvy however was fantastic, had great service and was very fast. I have since decided to make smaller batches of my designs with my press, and delegating the majority of the design work to my partner… allowing me to focus on the screenprinting and web-side mojo. Your website has been a great help and an encouragement for me. Thanks a lot!

  • jonkruse

    There is also an article on this site written by Jimmy Heartcore about the reasons why it's better not to become a screen printer.

  • jonkruse

    I think it's always the goal of a screen printer to entice you to print more but I would never suggest such a thing to a clothing company starting out. It's just not a smart decision. I remember I was stuck with a ton of extra smalls for a year that never sold.

  • trnyc

    Good info here. There is a book called “E-myth” (Audio on Itunes) that specifically speaks about “Working on your business and not in it.” I think at first you have to work “in it” so you know how things should run, then you will know better how to fill in the gaps as you go!

  • JenoLo

    Article was great. I'm learning more and more from your posts Kruse, especially on how many shirts to print. Definitely feel as though this is important when starting your line out.

  • Peach

    Great read. Thanks for sharing all these great tips. I always tend to do everything myself as well, and finding it hard to manage time. This post really gave me an insight. I will first have to find my best field whether it's management or designing Tee.

  • Pingback: Do you make t-shirts? Don’t try to do it all yourself.()

  • Jordan Carter

    I can truely relate to the Story.Great minds think alike.Im going to implent the adive into my business Structure now.That the only way to grow to the next level Thanks

    Jordan Carter

  • MrJoshC

    Great Article. The format is very good for me personally as you talking about your own situation helps me relate, so yes. Keep doing what you are doing!

    What is really inspiring is how you are optimizing your skills in every way. So, you have two clothing companies. You then use your design skills and hire yourself out to other companies looking for similar work. You then write about all of this in a blog which you make money from. Wow. Oh and look in the 'My Sites' section, it seems i have only scratched the surface…

    I have just found this great blog and there are a ton of questions i have for you but maybe i should read the other entries so you don't have to repeat yourself.

    London, UK

  • Zack

    THis site is awesome for anyone trying to get into the clothing game. My buddy does t-shirts and he has every thing pre- ordered before he gets it printed. Thanks for the site tho, I'll link to you in our blog about unknown clothing companies.

  • monah

    -thnx for the info iht realli helped

  • tonygraystone

    Definatley need to 'do it all yourself' to a point,but to really grow, one must deligate to professionals in specific areas to 1) get professional results and 2) be able to work 'on' rather then 'in' your buisness.

    Im worried finding the right 'proffesionals' to help grow my brand will be a tricky task

  • jamie

    My question is if I hire a 3rd party to print my design…do they own the design? Also I am looking for 100% American made any suggestions?

  • jonkruse

    No they don't own your designs. I have had my printer print more of the design and use it as examples which is fine with me but no one owns your designs if they just print them.

    Also American Apparel is a great US company.

  • joe

    I'm in a process of starting a small sports apparel line I was wondering how much money would I need ?

  • jonkruse

    E-myth is a great book. I think everyone starting a business should read it.

  • jonkruse

    It's really all about who you want to work with artist wise, how many designs, and tons of other factors. I will try and write a post about it.

  • jonkruse

    Tony with that attitude it will be hard to find professionals to help grow your brand. I don't think it's as hard as many people think. I have found tons of great artists and a great printer. There were problems along the way and I have learned from all of them. I feel like many people would just give up when something goes wrong and try and do it all yourself. You just have to keep on going forward and trying to make the best decisions with who you work with,

  • Javaboi

    -Robert Kiyosaki model. Nice!

  • Ever

    I'm starting a line and this site has been so helpful you have no idea. Thanx :)

  • Shawn

    You're inspiring me Jon.Keep doing your do. Thanks

  • Purple & Chrome

    i really enjoy this personal approach!  its very inspirational seeing where u came from to where u are.  keep inspiring me and countless others and thank u for this website.  i cant tell u how much knowledge ive gotten.  a true gem of a resource.  thank you so much.

  • Dayna_tolbert

    Thank you for creating this website because all of your information has been extremely helpful! I am starting an apparel line and like you, I want to delegate some work to local designers.  However, I was wondering when I purchase designs from them, typically how does the pricing go?  Do I buy the design at a set price or give them a percentage for each sell?  In the end, I want to be the sole owner of the design created.

  • Janet

    Loved the article… I’ve been reading as much as I can and I’m so excited to get my company going.  I am so motivated it’s crazy and your articles just fuel my fire.  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and was always held up by not knowing how to get started and thinking that I had to do everything on my own.  I realized that I could outsource and then started researching and found you…  Thanks!!

  • Kruolclothing

    I think the personal aspect is great. Learning from others small mistakes is beneficial. Thanks for this article. Im aspiring to launch my own brand soon…

  • 1_LIPHE

    I fear that if you delegate the design duties, the designers do exactly what they want and your clothing line ends up simply following industry trends.

  • Michelle Lowe

    I think it’s really great all the information you have shared. I was just wondering if you know any websites for finding designers that would benefit my online boutique clothing company that I want to start? Thanks x