What Not To Worry About When Starting a T-Shirt Company

Starting any business is a labor of love, sweat, tears and passion. Fortunately, we live in a time where it’s never been easier to start a business. Leveraging existing tech tools, the ability to start and scale a business online is now accessible to anyone with a little knowledge, a computer and an internet connection, and a minimal level of startup capital. This applies to anything but is also product specific, as it is now easier to start one business in particular that many people have shied away from for years: T-shirts.

Print on demand services like Printaura. make it so that you don’t have to produce, inventory, or ship your own shirts. This can all be done on demand, in an automated fashion, which leaves you free to focus on other aspects of the business, such as continuing to create great products and market and sell those creations.

So now that technology platforms for business are widely available and accessible, product specific technologies to produce and sell t-shirts effortlessly are available, what’s stopping you or anyone from doing it? The answer is often in the mirror. It’s our own reasons, rationalizations, our own ‘logic’ around why we can’t have what we want to have, why we can’t ‘really’ live our passions and dreams. These are all reasons and excuses, and I’m about to debunk for you many of the most prevalent things that come up for people when trying to start a t-shirt company.

“What if it’s not perfect?”

Ah, perfectionism, the age old foe of action. Ironically enough, this may often be present in designers, who clearly have the ability to design and create t-shirts, as perfection and detail orientation are critical for proper execution of a concept. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Nothing in life really is. If you spend your time making sure you get it 100% right, often times someone else will beat you to the punch. A mantra at Facebook HQ is that “done is better than perfect.” It seems to have served them well.

You get the idea. If you are more concerned with the representation of your idea being absolutely perfect, then you have an artistic concept to share and not a business idea. But if you want to create a business, if you want to share your ideas in a way that creates value for others and that people pay you to use, the most important thing is using what’s available to get your ideas and products out there, now.

What is great about Print on Demand services is that you don't need to purchase inventory so you don't have to invest money to get started. What is the worst that can happen if you post your products for sale online? You may just find you may get sales easier than you think.

“I’m not ready for the orders”

Yes you are. You just don’t know it. Fulfillment services like Printaura make it so that you don’t have to be. Print on demand services print and ship under the auspices of your brand, as a result your logos and branding are on the custom packing, on the tags, logos on return label. All ordering is handled through your existing website, as print on demand services such as Printaura offer robust integration with your online store through providing apps for all major e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, and Storenvy, as well as offering an API for integration if you have a custom website. A customer orders from your site as they normally would, the order is processed automatically and seamlessly through Printaura on the backend, and Printaura produces and ships your goods on demand (usually within 3-5 business days), retaining the level of quality that you and more importantly your customers trust you to provide. Your customers are happy, and as everything is branded as your company, your customers will never be given any indication that the order was fulfilled by a third party.

Whatever your needs are, whether it’s 10 shirts or 10,000 shirts, print on demand services like Printaura can handle your needs, which means you are ready for any orders that could be thrown your way. Now you just need ideas, which leads me to…

“I’m not a designer/ don’t have a designer on my team so how do I get designs made?”

You don’t need to be or have a designer on your team necessarily anymore either.  Whatever your budget, there are numerous options available; again it is just about leveraging the capabilities that are already out there.

On the low end, you can use readily available stock art and stock photo sites to get images you can then manipulate into new designs. You can leverage a site like Fiverr.com, where you could get someone to design a shirt for you for $5, easily choosing amongst a multitude of options and potential designers that are competing for your business. You can also purchase pre-designed t-shirts from sites like T-Shirt Factory or Designous. Simply purchase a t-shirt design for as little as $10 and you are ready to go.

If you have a little more to spend, you can leverage a crowdsourced design site like 99designs, where multiple designers compete on your project and you pick the design that suits you the best. And if you are looking for a more custom job, you can also leverage the numerous freelancer sites available, such as Freelancer.com, oDesk, Guru, Elance, and others and get a custom design created to spec. So now if you have the technology and can get a design made, what’s stopping you? Oh right…

“I don’t know what to call it/ Am not sure if I have the ideas?”

But you do. And in fact, what you call it is really not that important. Again, treat it like a business, not an art project. The art of business is giving people what they want, in this case a product you create. But those two ends have to meet in the middle, no one wants to deal with someone who is shoving something they don’t want down their throat. Don’t have ideas? Do keyword research and see what people are searching for and what’s trending. Use Google trends/ insights to see what’s popular in a particular area.

Ideas are not made in a vacuum. Ideas are made through synthesizing available elements and information into something novel. It’s not necessarily about what you think will work, it’s about what people want. Find that out however you can, do research, informally interview potential customers, and most importantly, test that hypothesis by putting it to the test and see who is willing to put money where their mouth is, this is called validating your idea. And by the way, the testing part is infinitely easier now, because with Printaura you can test numerous designs and see what people actually buy (and only what people actually buy gets produced, saving you from potential inventory loss).

The most part of this is to not fall into the classic entrepreneur’s dilemma, which is falling in love with idea or a concept. To many, our businesses and ideas are our babies, and become highly personal. But you have to always remember that if something isn’t working, if people aren’t willing to give you money for what it is you’re offering because they perceive the value of what you’re offering to be greater than the value of the currency they’re giving you, then something has to change. Passion, drive and resoluteness do an entrepreneur make, but the most important thing at the end of the day when you’re starting a business is sales, not necessarily being right about what you’ve created being the best thing since sliced bread (especially if no one is buying it!).

“I don’t know if I’m ready to take the plunge?”

And you’ll know when? If you’re waiting for the heavens to part and the stars to line up in the perfect moment where the universe is directing you to start your t-shirt business, I’ve got news for you: You’re going to be waiting a long time (I also have a bridge I want to sell you). Action gets taken in the world because we declare it to be so. What are you waiting for? You don’t need to quit your job, you don’t need a ton of startup capital, the technology, printing, shipping, and inventory fulfillment tools are there. Explain to me what really needs to be different...? Right. Unless you’re on a deserted island with no internet, computer, and absolutely no money, there’s not a lot tangibly holding you back. And if you were, well, you’d have bigger problems to worry about.

The point is, nothing and no one is going to tell you you are ready. Only you can tell you you’re ready, only you can make that powerful declaration and say that from this moment forward, “I am going to create something of value from nothing.” When will you ever be ready, if you don’t just say so? You have to make that choice, consciously and intentionally. It’s powerful stuff, try it. Better yet, do like an unnamed large apparel company says and just do it.

“I don’t have a t-shirt printer.”

See above. You don’t need a t-shirt printer, nor do you need to store inventory, nor do you need to make countless trips to the post office (considering that’s why we all got in business in the first place, right?). All of what used to be necessary in this business is now gone, as fulfillment solutions like Printaura take care of all of that for you. All you need to do is create the ideas, get a site together, and make sales. Which leads me to…

“I’m not sure how to market it/ get sales.”

Guess what? Many people who start business don’t, so you certainly wouldn’t be the first (besides, if you did, you would have been doing it a long time ago). The point is that you’re making a commitment to do something, and the how is actually less important. How finds a way. One of the paths of least resistance of that how though, is certainly free publicity via social media and online marketing, whether that is Facebook, Twitter, SEO, Reddit, blogs and bloggers, free online press release sites, or other numerous free online resources to get your name out there. The beauty of this is that it works hand in hand with the extremely low impact of the financial considerations going into creating this business in the first place, both the product creation and marketing can be done very inexpensively now. But you can’t be shy, you have to get out there and network with other people online. If you’re scared of what other people might say, you might want to stop reading now. But if you’re truly committed to creating a sustainable business and bringing your vision into the world, you have to be willing to seek out, integrate, and adapt to new feedback on a constant basis. In a world that is constantly moving, standing still means getting left behind.

“I’m not sure if I can devote the time/energy/money to make it work.”

What time/ energy/ money? Starting a business, especially starting a t-shirt business leveraging the tools available from Printaura, does not anymore mean quitting your job, mortgaging your house, shutting yourself out from your friends, and selling your possessions so you can live in the office and live off ramen noodles. In fact, given the ease with which these tools operate, the time and energy you put into it is entirely up to you, and doing what I previously mentioned would actually work against you. You can still have your life.

The beauty of the way things are now is that you can take action incrementally, step by step. By using print on demand services, your organic growth can happen exactly as it needs to. No more having to worry about sitting on inventory, how you’re going to pay for your next purchase order, how you’re going to get all these items shipped by the end of the day (oh wait, you didn’t have to worry about that to begin with). Since everything from production, shipping, and billing works on demand and in an automated fashion, you don’t have to invest the physical and mental energy into the legwork and logistics that used to be involved with a business like this. You could easily run the whole business from a laptop.

So now that I have covered all the real, tangible objections that anyone wanting to start a business like this could raise, let’s get to the real underlying issue for many people starting any business, which is…

“I’m scared of what I could become/ of actually being successful, and that being successful would mean getting out of my comfort zone.”

This is a deeply personal question and the only one here that I can’t answer for you. It has to come from within. You have to really ask yourself what you want, whether you are willing to do what it takes, whether you are willing to stretch and challenge yourself. Whether you are content with the status quo or want to create more for yourself. Whether you are ok with the world not seeing what you have to offer and are ok with not seeing people wear the ideas that have come from your mind and heart. Do you want to sit in the stands or be on the court? Do you want to fade into oblivion as a whisper or do you want to be heard loud and clear? Regardless of the answer, the point is that this is often the true issue, the true thing that holds many back from going after their dreams: We can be scared of our own potential success. Have faith in yourself, work smart and hard, use the tools available, and the rest is yet to be written.

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