I hear from a lot of young entrepreneurs starting their clothing companies and I can usually tell by the type of person they are if they are going to succeed or fail.
The people that want every answer before they start and need their hand held through the process usually don’t make it very far. Asking questions and planning everything out is crucial but actually taking the initiative and doing it teaches you so much more. The most important part is just getting the ball rolling. You might not have all the answers now but you will figure it all out down the road. This one characteristic is what I see all the time with successful clothing company owners.
The hardest time for me was in the very beginning when I wasn’t getting those first sales. Every problem was a set back and I could have quit at any time. Most of the people that are successful have just weathered the hard times and are stronger because of it. If you can be strong and think positively in the darkest hours everything will come together in time.
Define your niche
There is so much competition out there you can’t pick a broad demographic like males 20-40 and expect to succeed. You need to find your niche. Define who your customer is and give them exactly what they want.
No one wants to put up a ton of money to see find out if you will succeed or fail test everything. We live in a time where you can connect to people around the world through the internet. Go onto forums like mintees.com and see what people like. Find your market and ask them questions. Try and stay away from family and friends and take everything with a grain of salt. When you print shirts don’t print 1,000 because it’s cheaper per shirt. Print the minimum and see what sizes sell the best. Use your money wisely and test everything so you can make better decisions in the future.
One key characteristic that is the hardest to develop is being self aware. Do you have fears that are holding you back? Are you holding on to tightly to an idea that doesn’t work? You have to be self aware on how these things are affecting your business.
This goes along with the idea of testing everything. Once you see what works and what doesn’t you need to recalibrate. I have noticed in my personal life I don’t make very many decisions that are set in stone. I am constantly figuring out what is the best option at that time from the information I have.
Be a person not a business
I remember in the beginning with myspace friend adders I would go on and add tons of people (yeah dated reference but still applies to buying likes on facebook). Jeff Finely from Go Media wrote something about how having 100 devoted followers is more important to having thousands that don’t care about your company. At first I dismissed this idea. I just wanted to take the easy route. Looking back it was a big mistake, I wasted all this time adding friends on myspace, which took forever, and what I should have been doing is connecting with people on a more person level. You can do this on facebook, twitter, through email, your blog. Be the person people want to buy from.
Limit what you do to only the things you’re great at. If you’re a great designer but don’t know web design get someone to help. If you’re a marketing genius and have no clue about design get a designer to help you with some shirt designs. Your company will be a lot stronger in the end.
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- Says Jeffery Kalmikoff, Former CCO of Threadless.comStart your own clothing company and become the next Mark Ecko, Obey, or Johnny Cupcakes! Learn how to dominate the t-shirt business.