When I started FUBU, I didn’t have a lot of training or any special education to help me start a business. Basically, I had the drive and passion necessary to get things done, and I wasn’t afraid to fail while I was at it. And believe me, I definitely failed…more than once. You can learn from my mistakes and common mistakes new entrepreneurs make, though. If you keep these in mind, you can avoid them and hit the fast track for creating your brand and building your brand empire.
Falling in Love With Your Idea
Everyone tells you that you have to be passionate about your idea or project if you’re going to make it as an entrepreneur. That’s definitely true; I can’t imagine putting as much work as I did into FUBU if I hadn’t been making clothes that I loved for a culture I was a big part of.
That said, I worked hard to never fall in love with any one particular idea or project as I was building my brand. If a jersey design didn’t fly, I didn’t try to glue wings on it or force it on my target market. I moved on to the next project and the next design. If you’re so in love with your idea that you can’t see that there’s no real market niche for it, then you’re going to have major problems, even if you can get initial funding. So, instead of choosing one single idea that you’re completely in love with, pick an industry that excites you and a niche that makes you want to work.
DIY or Die
When you first start out, you might fabricate a prototype, put together a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and start researching your competition by yourself. As your business starts to grow, though, you’re going to learn very quickly that you can’t do everything on your own. If you try, you’re going to spread yourself too thin and start making mistakes and neglecting important tasks.
Delegation is absolutely key to being a successful entrepreneur. Even in the earliest days of FUBU, I had help from friends and my mom. While the idea to make clothes for hip-hop artists and fans was mine, I was never alone in the project, and you shouldn’t be, either. Sure, you’ll pay a little bit more to have other people do tasks that you think you could do yourself, but think about all the time it can free up for you and how much smoother your business is going to run.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Here’s another big one. You can say, “I want to make $5 million by the end of this fiscal year,” but it’s not going to happen if you don’t have the right idea, a concrete plan, and the structure to do it. If you approach investors with goals like, “I want to be the next Steve Jobs in the next five years,” you had better have some numbers to back that goal up.
You can dream of making millions and being the next Steve Jobs, but your goals should be concrete and attainable. And you should set both short-term and long-term milestones and goals to get you to your ultimate goal. Do this by really planning your business. By knowing where you can fail, who your competition is, how you’ll grow, and what it will cost to get you there, you’ll have a much better chance of building a successful business.
Revised: May 16, 2018