When my good pal and I decided to start our own online business side-hustle, we exuded the naive optimism of a young Lindsay Lohan.
It can become so easy to get caught up in the excitement of having your very own brand and the possibility of it becoming massive, that you overlook the finer details.
While our voyage as a budding clothing brand didn’t go the way we had envisioned, it was well worth it when considering the knowledge we gained through the experience.
If I were to prance in the fields of entrepreneurial joy again, there are a lot of things I would do differently. Learn from me.
Know your competition
Research your competition closely. Where do they source their stock? What sets them apart from others in the market? Do they have the delicate, yet firm poise of a hard-hitting business tycoon?
Know as much about the key players as possible and work out how your idea is better than theirs. After all, business is just a big game of one-upmanship.
We relied too heavily on a brand name that no one recognised. In hindsight, we should have spent more time building a culture behind the name, rather than asking people to take our word for it.
And our word was about as good your parents when it came to being cool.
Cover every single detail of your operation before you commence. And I mean every detail. The last thing you wanna do is dish out money for a web page and designs only to find out that the name you wanted is taken.
Our idea of donating a portion of each sale to charity was nice and something that we felt strongly about, but we leant on it too hard and neglected other areas because of it.
So don’t be a bad parent to your business. Nurture it’s growth so that one day you can be a proud, hopefully less racist Donald Trump.
Don’t rely on organic reach
When we started this little venture, we put as much thought into our marketing as Kanye West did with his $3,334 derelict sweaters.
Sell a few shirts to your friends, get them to wear them around and share it on Facebook. It sounds reasonable right? Not quite.
I’m not saying that it couldn’t work, but for something to grow organically like that, it’s got to be pretty damn great, especially when you’re competing against Yeezy and his eccentric styles.
Really think about how you’re going to market your brand and make sure you follow through with it.
Know your limits
If things don’t work out the way you plan, that’s ok. The tricky part is knowing when to move on.
Whilst the business we set up had great potential, my business partner and I simply didn’t have the time in our lives to give it the attention it deserved.
If that’s the case, it’s time to plan your exit, whether that’s selling the business, closing it down or burning it in a fit of rage.
We were lucky enough to find a buyer that was happy to be the loving father that it needed and I wish him all the best with his adopted son.
Knowing what I know now, would I still have done it? Of course! We ended up breaking even and learning more than I could have imagined from the experience.
If I were to do it again, I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice and hopefully be a better father to a baby business.