Here’s my take on 3 common beliefs.
1) Do what you love and the money will come
Uh, yeah, well, NOT. If you have your own business and love to design and that’s what you do all day, the money will definitely NOT come. Not unless you happen to have an angel partner who does every single other thing necessary to run an actual business.
Not too many of those floating around.
You need to be a businessperson too.
And for that you need skills. Skills in sales, marketing, completion, production, shipping, taking orders correctly, time management, cash flow management, hiring employees, managing people, and on.
You can learn these skills on your own while you run your business. Or you can get a mentor, work for another company for a while, take classes and learn best-practices for fashion businesses, or find that dream angel partner – good luck with that.
2) What you need to succeed is a FANTASTIC creative idea.
This is an interesting one because it certainly HELPS to have a great creative idea. But it only helps, it’s no guarantee. Great ideas in and of themselves go nowhere. You need a plan and a way to implement the plan.
Take facebook, for instance. As the story goes, the original idea came from some other Harvard students that Mark Zuckerberg knew in college. These other kids came up with an idea and they even made a business called ConnectU – ever heard of it? Probably not, because the way they did it just didn’t work too well.
Zuckerberg took an idea and MADE IT BETTER. He made it his own and he DID IT. He actually did the work to take the product to market in a big, big way. No dorm room chat for him, he did what it took.
“Get your butt in here and give me a NOT-new idea – or you’re fired!”
I’d just love to hear that some day. But it’s exactly what seems to work in our society right now. Depressing? Maybe. But so true.
Fantasy Island was Love Boat on ground with a little person. Two And A Half Men is a rather pathetic copy of The Odd Couple. The Apprentice is Survivor without the jungle.
The entertainment industry recognizes the huge risk of leadership, and prefers the less scary tactic of riding a trend rather than creating one.
The point is, you never need to invent or create completely from scratch. It’s enough to take an idea and make it better. Make it your own. Just do it better, faster, cheaper, make it more unique, something different.
3) Being an entrepreneur is a lonely pursuit
To be fair, this one CAN be true, but needn’t be. It’s true that you can get really isolated with your head down at work cranking out designs.
It’s also true that owning a small business means there’s no water cooler where you can hang out near like-minded folks and shoot the breeze.
It can be hard to stay motivated when you work so hard and the reward may be months or years away – or perhaps never to come at all. You often work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 as an employee.
I get it. I have done it and still do it. But the VISION is yours. You’re in charge of where your business goes. And know this: If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not like most regular folks.
We need to seek out others who “get us, and get our dream”. I have found a few people like this and it makes a HUGE difference for me.
Where did I find them? Industry events, seminars, a master-mind group I was in, through my business coach (yes, I practice what I preach). To be fair, it wasn’t easy to find them but I put myself out there – out of my comfort zone – and made some real connections and business friendships that I cherish. And it really helps!
No man (or designer) is an island. Peers will enrich your life. I’m sure of it and I highly recommend it.