Starting a T-shirt business isn’t a matter of slapping some designs on some fabric and selling them. If it was that easy, everyone would do it. There are plenty of places one can – and often does – go wrong.
I’m not talking about a lack of hard work or a failure to understand the legal pitfalls of entrepreneurship, either. That’s all basic stuff. I’m referring to the mistakes you can make even after you’ve gotten your business off the ground.
And make no mistake – doing any of the things on this list can and will tank your profits.
Failure To Find Your Niche
In a perfect world, you could target every single demographic on the market. Everyone young and old would love your designs and spring to purchase them. We don’t live in a perfect world, though.
What resonates with one customer might well repulse another. By that vein, if you design a line of t-shirts for men that are sized for children, you’re going to alienate what should be your target demographic. Do a bit of research – figure out who enjoys your style, and go from there.
Ignoring Shipping and Material Costs
It’s always a bit shocking to me how many T-shirt entrepreneurs seem to forget that you can’t simply beam fabric through the Internet. There are a ton of logistical concerns around getting the right materials, printing your shirts, and making sure they’re shipped to the right address. And all of those things require both time and money.
They also require expertise you might not necessarily have – which means you’ll need to bring in a third-party to help you out. There’s no shame in that, trust me. Better to have an external agency take care of warehousing, shipping, and handling, especially in the early stages of your business.
Over-Promising and Under-Delivering
One of the first rules every entrepreneur learns is not to cash checks they can’t handle. Over-promising – such as guaranteeing a delivery time that’s impossible – reflects poorly on you as an entrepreneur. It makes you look careless and unprofessional.
Be realistic about your capabilities. People will appreciate the transparency a lot more than they would someone who makes big promises and keeps none of them.
Shooting Too High At The Start
When you’re first starting up, it’s easy to get overexcited. It’s easy to think that your business will explode overnight, and that you’ll instantly become one of the greats. It’s easy…and also incredibly harmful.
Even if you think you’re equipped to make it in the big leagues, start small. Trying to bite off more than you can chew is a sure recipe for burnout, and maybe even bankruptcy. You can always expand your business later – it’s much harder to downsize.
Running a business is only partially about your brand and your products. It’s about establishing relationships with customers, suppliers, and business partners. It’s about making yourself a joy to work with, and a joy to buy from.
Promote yourself. Endeavor to always be professional when working with both customers and vendors. Thank people for their purchases, and treat them as friends rather than clients.
You’d be surprised how well it can pay off.
Build A Better Business
Everyone makes mistakes. The most successful people learn from them – both theirs and others. Follow the advice on this list, and pay attention to anything else you might be doing wrong, and you’ll do just fine.