Being an entrepreneur nowadays is about taking advantage of all the opportunities that you have in front of you. To help shortcut your path to success in today’s dynamic apparel landscape, here are five lessons that I wish someone had told me when I started.
Listen to your customers
Who are the people you and your business will serve? Who exactly is your product for? If you can’t imagine who your ideal customers are, that’s a sign that perhaps starting a business isn’t the best path for you right now. Many aspiring entrepreneurs make this mistake. They spend a lot of time designing and developing the “perfect” product they think the marketplace needs, without real concrete evidence and solid market research. Only to be disappointed to find there’s no real need for their product. Take the time to dig deep by really understanding who your business will serve.
Find your passion
My entrepreneurial journey wasn’t always a smooth ride. There were many bumps and blocks along the way. It’s really important that you are passionate about what you’re doing because things get hard and that passion is what will carry you through. Even if it doesn’t feel like your job right now is directly related to what you want to be doing, focus on excelling at it and look for opportunities within your current role.
One of the hardest things as a founder and entrepreneur is learning how to let go. As your team grows, you’re not going to be able to be hands on every project, so hiring people that you trust is really important. Take the time to hire the right people that share your vision and passion.
Do your homework
As a small business owner, time and money are your most precious resources. As the saying goes: haste makes waste, sometimes you can’t afford making costly mistakes. Take the time to properly understand the facts and do the research. Just like the analogy my sewing instructor used to say: measure twice, cut once.
It’s also important when starting off your new business is to spend as little money as possible. I purchased only what I needed, in terms of inventory I made the minimal amount that I knew I could sell even though I wouldn’t get the big cost savings that came with buying larger amounts. But I knew I could control my cash flow and not get into a crunch until I was able to build up my sales to be able to purchase the volume. I always erred on the side of caution and was conservative when it came to cash flow and making purchases.
Build your network
When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur it can feel lonely, especially if you work from home. It’s important to surround yourself with the right people who will support you and uplift you when times are tough. Learning from experts such as mentors and coaches are critical to helping you move along when you get stuck. A coach can be someone to hold you accountable to get things done and give you guidance to help you get back on track. Having an expert who’s been through it can help you avoid some of the pitfalls when first starting out and that can save you from costly and time-consuming mistakes.
Keep asking questions
Getting your product into market is a process which involves continuous refinement. Rarely does anyone get it right the first time. Therefore, ask questions that give you insight into how customers use the product. What is their pain point? What problems do they need solved? What do they believe in and value? How can you improve existing products?
Always be asking why. Knowing why you’re doing every single thing that you do gives your team and business a purpose. Whether it’s big things like launching a new product, or little day-to-day things like taking a meeting, make sure you know why you’re doing it. It will help guide your decisions and make sure everyone is on the same page.
If you are interested in learning brand funding and development, launch strategies, growth management and product innovation from Glynis Tao, click here to sign up for Apparel Business Summit.