If you had told me 2 years ago that in a year I would have a blossoming startup with investment, funding and a goal to change the fashion industry for the better. I would have laughed. I know it sounds cliché and what everyone who ever started a business has said. But it's true. I would never have imagined this is where my life would lead me. Especially as I had no idea how to do it, absolutely no knowledge of how to achieve what we have done, so far and with a now every realistic goal to reach even higher heights. To be very honest I still have no idea what exactly I should be doing. But as one novice to another, I thought it might be helpful and a little funny to get some tips and tricks from someone who also had and still has so much learning to do. This leads me to my first of 5 tips.
1. You're going to have to learn on the job!
No course, no accelerator can fully prepare you with everything you need to know. Coming from a creative background my university courses didn't teach the "business" side of the industry. I understood next to nothing about the world of investment, logistics, pitching, and financials. It was all very new to me. Sitting in meetings or events googling jargon under the table and saying the phrase "we'll need some time to think about that" very often (and don't be afraid to say it ) The reality is that learning on the job is often the best way to learn, to face scenarios head-on, and gaining operational experience is a great way of learning relevant information for YOUR business. It's also important to self-motivate and set time aside to study a topic you know you are lacking so it doesn't phase you the next time you face it. Allow your inexperience to help you identify the gaps in knowledge you have, and take the initiative to fill them
2. Get A Business Partner!
Two heads are better than one.
Running a business from scratch is hard there are no two ways about it. You're suddenly, an accountant, marketing exec, HR manager, a pr relations agent, and lawyer. Your point of call for everything and it can be incredibly overwhelming. I can't express enough how helpful and important for your success it is to have a partner in crime, a team or a robust and active support system. Being able to spilt the workload suddenly means you can achieve double the work. It also means you have someone to hold you accountable, push you, and keep you motivated where you otherwise might have given up alone. It's also a whole extra set of skills, experience, and points of view brought to the table which helps a business be adaptable.
3. Attend All The Events!
I know I know... no one really enjoys networking, strangers are scary and those moments of silence... terrifying. But it's so very important. 2 years into this venture and I can 100% say it's those conversations with someone that you don't know at that event that seemed either boring or unimportant that lead to the most game-changing opportunities. Follow every lead, accept the invites, and take all the introduction meetings. The start of your business is one of the only times in its journey you have time to entertain every lead and avenue so take advantage of it
4. IP IP IP IP!
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names, and images used in commerce. Creating it and protecting it should be the bread and butter of any new startup. It's a large part of what will make your business valuable to investors. If you have an innovative idea, technology, design or branding; protect it. Because no matter how many hours you spent building it and refining it if you can cant stop someone bigger and less well-meaning than you from doing it too it was never yours in the first place. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. I highly recommend every founder study these three protections and learn how best to implement them into the structure of their business as early as they can.
5. You Don't Have To Take Every Deal!
It's hard when you start, not grab at every helping hand and outwardly good-looking deal you see. Or even to take the hands that look a little slimy or the deals that don't seem quite fair because you are worried you won't get another offer. We once had an offer on the table that looked very much unfair. Still, we were so eager to make steps forward and worried that we wouldn't be able to achieve the same elsewhere that we almost took a deal that would have crippled our ability to function as a business. Until someone told us it was OK TO SAY NO. Yes, saying no delayed our plans, and yes it meant we had to start from scratch looking for a suitable partner to work with. But ultimately it landed us in a place where we more than cut our costs in half while getting to partner with a far more trustworthy and respected institution. Say no, 50% of something isn't better than 50% of nothing when you would be rightly entitled to 100%