New Entrepreneurs: How to Blow $2500 and What It Can Teach You
Fact: New Entrepreneurs Will Fail
So you want to break away from the corporate world, and start your own business. The ultimate dream; to do work you love and be your own boss. For many young entrepreneurs starting out, they want to jump into something cool, something interesting, something that WONT MAKE MONEY.
When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I wanted the same thing. I wanted to do something cool, something interesting, something I would like. Little did I know, what I was going to start wasn’t going to make any money. I dished out a ton of money, put in countless hours of work, and haven’t seen a penny since. It was a major fail, but I learned from it, and that was worth everything I lost.
Clothing Company Sounds Cool: Think Again
This venture was a clothing line, “It’s Not Clothing”. I thought it would be something cool, my friends would enjoy it, and I could make some money from it. Boy was I wrong.
I first created a logo and the graphics and copy(words) that were going to be printed on the shirts. I was obsessed with how everything looked, where the positioning was, making sure the color was correct, etc. Put way too much effort into the details that were not needed.
I linked up with the printing company who I bought multiple shirt samples from. The shirts came at a premium because I was not buying in bulk. I examined the cut, the feel, the weight, the fit.. Everything that I thought I needed to do. Wrong again, I was just wasting money on this. Thankfully they credited my account for the shirts I did not use and gave back.
I developed a website with Shopify. Great service for people just starting an e-commerce site. Only problem was it came with a very high monthly fee, especially if you wanted to add features to your site(ones that I thought were necessary). Wrong again. A simple WordPress Woo-Commerce site would be enough. So I ended up paying almost $60 a month for a site that I didn’t even have a product for yet. Way to go Allen.
Finally, I got the shirts printed. Two different styles each with their own graphic, both male and female, in all sizes. This was NOT CHEAP. Now it comes time to sell this shit.
Got The Product: Time To… Sell?
So now I have all this inventory, but no pictures of them on people. I need to showcase the beautiful products I have to the world. I met with a few photographers in the local area and worked a deal with them. They would take pictures at the events(clubs and bars) they were already hired for, I would walk around with the photographer to have people put on the shirts, snap a pic, then take them off.
Now I have a few pictures of people wearing the clothes out that I can use on my website. But wait, the night that I walked around with the photographer was “Glow Night”. The black lights were on in the club and people were getting painted with Neon paint. So now 1/4 of my inventory has fucking green and orange paint all over it. I can’t sell that, who would buy it? On top of that, I gave the photographers each a shirt for their work, so there goes that inventory as well.
So at this point, I own a website, have a bunch of shirts sitting in boxes(1/4 of them with neon paint on them) I’m giving away shirts for payment, and I haven’t seen one dollar yet. I’m thinking to myself this might have been a bad idea.
When To Quit
So where do you go from here? Well, I will tell you, before things get too out of control you need to cut the dead ends. You need to weigh your options, decide if this is the route you want to continue on for the next year, two years, five years, etc. I thought to myself and made a decision. This is not the type of business I want or need to run. I need to cut the cord before things get out of control.
If I could do it again, this is what I would do. MARKET RESEARCH!!!! Determine if people actually want to buy your stupid shit before you make it. Create a digital sample(nothing tangible), pay $100-$200 in advertising, and get leads or even people to buy it before you make it. Just because you have money, does not meen you need to blow it all on something you think will sell. Do your homework, it will pay off in the end.
If you think something will be fun, most likely it wont make money. You need to create something people NEED. Not what you think they will want. Especially if your target market is 18-25 year old. They aren’t worried about buying new clothes, they are saving up their money to pay for beer.
What I Learned
This clothing venture taught me what is needed to be an entrepreneur; how to examine markets, determine what people need, and most importantly, how to make money on my own. A clothing company is not that way. Fortunately, I saw the future and decided to let it go before things got out of control. If you want to buy a shirt I still have 3 boxes sitting in my storage unit. Unfortunately I cut off the e-commerce store, so you can’t buy online. If you want the whole company (Name, Licenses, Inventory, Domain, Web 2.0 sites, etc.) I will be selling it soon, it will go to the highest bidder.
From now on, I am focusing my energy on products and services that are catering to peoples needs. It’s more rewarding knowing they actually want your product, and that you can make some money from it.