A while back, I wrote an article on starting your own BJJ apparel line. Now that I’ve been running my own for a little while now, I have a few more tips for you to keep yourself going.
- Grow at a Manageable Rate
It goes back to the idea of keeping it simple. When I first started Old School Grappling Gear, I had a few designs and a desire to share them. Since that time, I’ve only added a little bit here and there.
The reason why is because my sales, while not terrible, haven’t exactly got me rolling in the dough either. I need to cover printing expenses, website maintenance, designers, shipping, etc. There is always something to cover. If you’re pouring more and more money into your business, but not taking any in, you’re not growing at a manageable rate.
- Be Good to People, and They’ll be Good to You
Obviously, this isn’t just a business idea; this is a life idea. However, it will make or break your business as well. Forgive my language for a moment, but if you’re an ******* to people, you’re not going to succeed in starting your own business. It doesn’t mean you can’t be shrewd, but you can’t be an ******* either.
A good example of being good to people would be the guys over at Strych9. These guys are always willing to help people out. Personally, I’ve been able to collaborate with them on a few things. I’ve helped them out, they’ve helped me out. When you’re good to people, they’re good back to you.
- Know What to Charge
Seems easy, right? But this is actually where people tend to fall short. People either overcharge, or undercharge. Either one will suck the life out of your business.
In a sit-down restaurant, the simple formula for the owners in knowing what to charge is this: they calculate how much the food costs them to buy for a dish, then they multiply it by 3. That ends up covering the food expenses, servers wages, etc., etc.
With shirt printing, it really isn’t too much different. I’ve found that for my business model, it’s most effective to take the price of a printed shirt (when you print in bulk, each shirt runs around $10-12) and multiply it by 2. That’s why most BJJ/MMA shirts might cost around $20-25 (I know some are way more, but they’re generally bigger names and can get away with it). To be able to mass produce such shirts, efficient printing services are necessary.
- Your Most Unique Idea May or May Not be Your Best Idea
For me, my most unique idea was for a rashguard. The Cosmic Cat rashguard. Is it unique? Yes. Is it awesome? Hell yes. Is it my best selling item? Nope. Not even. Now, it sells. And it does fairly well. But it isn’t what I sell the most of either. I had lots of help in getting it going. I was thrilled about it. But it isn’t the #1 seller I thought it would be.
I still tend to sell more of my Mechanic shirts. Does that mean my most unique idea was a letdown? No. But at times we build up what we feel are our best ideas to unrealistic expectations. Just be sure to keep your head up if your unique ideas aren’t the best ones.
- If You Screw Up, Own it
I’d been planning on having my first order ship out on a specific date. I used social media to announce that date. It didn’t happen.
I had a batch of shirts from my printer that I wasn’t happy with. There were some quality issues that needed to be hammered out. I announced a delay, and the reason why. No one seemed upset.
A mistake that I also made was sending the wrong shirt to someone. I did a free shirt giveaway, and ended up sending the wrong shirt to the winner. Obviously, that’s a bad thing. I contacted him and we worked it out. But I admitted my mistake, and we corrected it.
If you screw up, don’t try to hide it. Make sure you correct it in the future.