You might think that starting a t-shirt business is so easy it won’t give you wrinkles. It can’t be so hard, right? They’re just tees. Wrong! It will take over your life, invade your thoughts and infect everything you touch. Like any business, it takes hard work and plenty of time and love from you. Starting and running a t-shirt business is not easy…that is if you want a really successful t-shirt business (and I assume you do!). If you’re passionate about this and you’re exploring the possibilities, here are some things you need to do when starting a t-shirt business.
Ask yourself: Are you really into shirts?
If you’re planning to make a big name in the t-shirt industry, then that means you have to be a t-shirt freak! There’s no other way. You can’t be faking it or be distant from it and just rake all the money. It will show in how you handle your business. If you don’t have enough love for t-shirts, then don’t get into the t-shirt business because being in the t-shirt business means breathing and eating t-shirts from morning til night. That’s no joke. You should be effortlessly obsessing about tees from conceptualizing t-shirt designs to marketing them. If you only decided to have a t-shirt business because it’s “easy”, here’s news for you: it’s not as easy as you think.
As cliche as it may sound: Find your niche!
You can’t sell your products to everybody and not everybody will like your products. Imagine you enter a room full of people. If you don’t have a niche, you’re just talking to random people, but if you have a niche, you go straight to “your people” and they’re the ones who really pay attention. Even if you’re selling blank tees, there are certain types of people you want to sell it to because not everybody will find blank tees special or useful. So who are you trying to impress? “Teenagers” is not yet a niche. There are so many types of teenagers so it’s still not focused. “Teenage boys aged 15-18 who love to skate” is a niche. Once you’ve identified your target market, you can now have more focused marketing
Research your niche like a mad scientist.
Get to know your niche like you’d get to know a lover during the honeymoon phase. Inspect everything from where they hang out, what they want to do, who they idolize, what events they’re looking forward to, and every nitty gritty detail you can get. You can get info by interacting with them, conducting surveys, having polls, etc. If you know the next event they’re going to, set up a booth there or make custom tees for that event. If you know what other brands they like, you can approach those businesses and talk about a potential partnership may it be through coupons/ discount cards or events or simply cross-promotion.
Study your competitors.
If you want a shortcut, do not start from scratch. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and investigate their every move from how they design and manage their shops to their websites, to how they manage social media, how they process orders…every single thing. Of course, you have to put a twist so you are still authentic. Do not imitate t-shirt designs! Just learn from them by observing how they do things. Also, by knowing your competitors, you should be able to identify your “edge” or what makes you unique from other t-shirt companies.
Find a supplier of good quality tees.
You might think that you can just find the cheapest shirt and slap a really good design on it and your customers would be happy. Wrong. The quality of the shirt is still a big factor for customers says statistics. Do not assume that your customers can’t tell if a shirt is good or not because, like you, they have been buying and wearing shirts their whole life! Look for the cheapest suppliers but still make sure that the tees you choose spell good quality all over it.
Prepare a decent amount of capital.
We constantly get inquiries almost everyday from curious and passionate entrepreneurs asking us for quotes on printing 20 tees. When we give them the quote, they get dismayed because they can’t sell the shirts at the price they wanted to. That’s because printing, especially silk screen printing, in small numbers is way more expensive than printing over 100 or 1,000. Ordering shirts in bulk is the only way to get cheaper shirts by the piece. Aside from that, you would also need good money for marketing. You have to have at least a good social media presence and promotion and that can’t be achieved with zero capital. You cannot go hot and cold with your t-shirt business endeavor or you’d just be throwing away money! Be serious about your t-shirt business, plan everything well, and use your capital to achieve great heights.
Are you ready to do the hustle? If after reading this article, your passion for making tees is not fazed, then that is a sign that the t-shirt business is for you!
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