Starting up a new venture is like walking on a mine field whilst blindfolded. There are so many pitfalls that can stop you in your tracks, but with the right information, knowledge and plenty of hard work there is nothing stopping you becoming the next Superdry.
We know it sounds ridiculous, but this is where many start up brands fail. You may have the greatest, innovative idea that has never been seen before, but ask your self why it has never been seen? Chances are that the idea just won’t be viable, there wont be the custom for it, or just maybe its not possible. You may want to put a jet engine onto a custom snapback, but we can tell you NOW, it won’t work end of.
So the best way to start off your brand is to look at your competition, see what they are offering and starting developing the identity of your brand. Don’t go and copy their designs, be unique. By being unique you give potential customers a reason to buy your products as opposed to being a sheep and offering what is already available from an established brand.
Look at starting your brand with a simple range of T-shirts, Caps and Beanies. Be creative with your logos, but make sure your first design represents the brand well, as this will be your key selling feature and free advertising thereafter.
Do you have a hobby or a passion? This is the best way to start any business – if you have a love for something you will automatically be wanting to put 100% into it. Once you have your ideas in place its a case of investigating your market and who your are trying to target your brand too.
With Social Media being so prolific, this is a very easy process. Facebook for example can and will give you a huge list of similar pages of your chosen interests. Take a look at some of the pages and investigate what these people are offering.
Check out your friends interests pages, investigate what makes them tick, and the styles and fashion that goes hand in hand with their interests. BMX, Skateboarding have a very different style to the Hipster look. Getting the right style for the right audience will make a massive difference to your sales. Keep it broad, don’t try to target a group of people who have interests in Skydiving for Cats, it just won’t have the number of fans to make your brand viable.
If you are already part of the crowed you will already have a very good idea of the style that goes with the hobby/interest, so stick with what you know best and run with it.
Do you have a Twitter/Facebook/Instagram account? Were not talking about your own personal account here, we are talking about a brand account. Its a simple process that starts with getting a business email address. This can be done using the likes of Google Mail. Set up a new account, like it to your mobile and give it an obvious address (BRANDNAME@googlemail.com).
With your email set up you can now start setting up a new profile on Twitter, using your brands name. Again link it to your mobile and that way you can keep in touch with your fans. Invite all your friends to join you and off you go.
The same is true about Facebook, but hold on…….. Don’t just set up a new profile. Log on to your personal profile on a desktop PC or Tablet, take a look at the left side column and you will see a CREATE PAGE option. Follow the step by step instructions and your will now have a Company Profile page linked to your personal account, and ready to start posting and linking people to. (It is also a good way to stop the FB police shutting down a standard account due to their strict business policy).
There are a number of ways to increase your following, BUT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t go buying likes and fans, IT DOES NOT WORK, 90% of the fans you get are from FAKE accounts and will not help with finding new fans.
Word of mouth – tell one person about your brand and they go and tell 10 more. Get your friends to contribute to the posts on your brand page. Tell people you meet out and about about your brand. All of the options will cost you NOTHING, and should help you increase your fan base very easily. Don’t feel that you have to have 1000’s of fans to be successful, 100 true followers with the same interests as you are more valuable than 10000 fans with little interest in your brand.
Advertising – is it worth it? NO! its a simple as that. For a start up brand we would suggest not falling into FB advertising, your return on investment will be tiny and it will be a case of chucking your hard earned investment into something that offers very little or no benefit. Once you have a good fan base then thats a whole new story and something for another blog all on its own.
Once you have all your Social Media set up its a case of posting. Make sure you post at least 3/4 times a week. Keep it relevant, post your ideas up, designs, logo etc. Ask for feedback, basically get people talking about your brand and interacting with you. It takes time but its worth it in the long run.
Most of all stay professional, find the language that works for your fans, and don’t alienate them.
So you have a fan base, what’s the next step? Well with anything you have to have a plan, be it a short term plan or a 5 year plan. We all have them and to not have one will become a problem.
It needn’t be a comprehensive plan, it just needs to outline what you want to do and what needs to be done to get there. How much money you have to spend for the initial start up, and what you intend to do in the future. No one is asking you to right a full blown proposal to take to the bank manager, its just a point of reference for you to look back at work with.
Constantly review and tweak your plan, if you have a new idea write it down, investigate it’s potential and weigh up the pro’s and con’s. If it didn’t work, don’t worry, see what went wrong and learn from your mistakes.
Yes is the simple answer. It doesn’t need to be fancy, and in fact it needn’t cost you anything. SL Black Label was started on a simple platform that allowed us to design and create a simple website, that we could manage in house – WIX is a great platform, with very easy, intuitive features that over time can be upgraded to include online shopping, blogs and much more for a small yearly cost. The great thing about WIX is everything is SEO compatible so straight away your site should start getting picked up through the search engines. (It’s not perfect but it does work, take it from us, we went from hardly any people viewing our website to over 8000 people in a very short time scale).
Don’t forget that you can sell your products on the likes of Ebay for very little cost, or by using PAYPAL, so there is no need to spend massive amounts of money to get you website up and running.
To make money you have to spend money, it’s a well known fact. Another thing we we have learnt over many years of business is buy what you can afford and DON’T skimp to save a few quid.
Set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it, if you have £500 spare then great, there is so much you can do with that. You may feel that you won’t get far with such a small amount, but trust us when we say £500 will get you started and in a position to start investing more into the brand very quickly.
Take this example as a starting point.
50 Off the shelf snapbacks, embroidered to the front with a 3D logo, packed and delivered in 3 weeks.
What price would you put on something like this?
What if we told you could have the above for £504 all in and inclusive of VAT.
What would you say if we then told you that you could easily sell those hats for a minimum of £20/pc
By selling all of the caps your would essentially be looking at total sales of £1000 making a profit of just under £500. Not only that but you would only need to sell 25 caps to break even. Your 26th cap will be pure profit.
Hopefully you have sold all you initial stock or at least enough to start making a profit. You have got your brand out there on Social Media, comments are flowing through, your on a high. Whatever you do, don’t take you foot of the gas. Start thinking about what your next step is, ask your customer what they want from the brand, do they want a different product, colour, style or branding. Use their feedback to push the brand further. These are the people buying your products and their opinion matters.
Look to increase your product range, if you currently only have T’s for sale, look to add a range of caps or beanies. Add a new design, increase the colour options, or go for a truly unique looking product or a limited edition product.
Essential keep the momentum going, build on your initial success. Don’t get disheartened if things don’t go to plan, take a step back and look at what went wrong. No one said it would be easy, but when it works it makes all the hard work and effort worth it.