Here is one thing you should know before you even think about starting a t-shirt business: You can’t start a t-shirt business if your heart is not in it. You just can’t! You might roll your eyes and say “It’s just t-shirts, it’s not something like I’m gonna make automobiles or computers.” Sure. In that case, you’re right. T-shirt business is definitely easier compared to other businesses, but it is not something so easy that anyone can do it. Every month, there are hundreds of excited entrepreneurs who want to make t-shirts (because they think it’s easy money) but only one or two of those people actually do it.
Starting a t-shirt business looks so simple on the outside, but on the first day of your attempt at a t-shirt business, you will find out that it’s far from simple or easy. You must be absolutely, one-hundred-percently crazy about shirts if you want to be a successful t-shirt entrepreneur or else you’d be miserable and broke. Here are the reasons why entrepreneurs need a truckload of passion in order to succeed in the t-shirt business…
A note of warning: This article could make you feel gloomy. Please do not be discouraged. If you are passionate enough to succeed in t-shirt business, the challenges you’ll read below will ignite your fire, not put it off.
You’ll Be Making Works of Art
Whether you’re creating your own brand of shirts for your store or printing tees for clients, you have to deal with every shirt as if it is a work of art (as it should be treated!). Because of this, you will be dealing with art and design every day until you close your t-shirt business (let’s hope not!). And like all things art, you need passion and dedication for you to make really creative results. This means, you have to be observant of the current trends in t-shirt design and you also have to be aware of the lifestyle of your customers. The obsession for making the shirts that customers will really love should eventually come naturally for you. Even if you’re the business owner and you have art directors and graphic designers under you, you have to have that passion for good design. The desire to create really good-looking t-shirts should be burning inside you.
It Will Take up a Big Chunk of Your Time
Becoming a successful t-shirt entrepreneur is like any other business. It will require much of your attention and energy. If you’re just selling t-shirts just to earn more money, you’ll likely burn out. They say that we should choose what job we want because it will comprise more than half of our waking life. The case is the same with businesses. You should choose the businesses you’re really, really passionate about because it will take up a lot of your time from morning ‘til night. If it doesn’t take up a big chunk of your time, that means your new t-shirt business might not be going anywhere. If you’re lacking in passion, that means you will get really lazy with the whole t-shirt business thing. And once you get lazy, everything you’ve built will slowly crumble. Sure, you can designate tasks in the future, but for things to go from here to there, you need to burn bright with passion at first. This initial push will then hopefully give you all the energy you need to push your business in the right direction so that when the time comes that you want to do something else, you can just let your team handle your t-shirt business.
You’ll Be Investing More Than What You Expected
One of the possible reasons why we think having a t-shirt business is cheap and easy to do is because we see affordable shirts everywhere. We think that just because we can purchase shirts at $10 or less that we can also make shirts at much, much cheaper prices. Many new entrepreneurs don’t know that the reason those t-shirts are cheap is because they are ordered in bulk. If you only buy 50 shirts to test the waters, you have to pay at least $15 per shirt. Of course, you have to pay your designer for the t-shirt artwork plus fees for shipping, packaging, fulfillment, marketing, t-shirt label, and a lot more! When you add all of that, you get a pretty expensive t-shirt that your customers are probably not willing to pay for. You need to get your shirts for at least $8 and sell them for $15 for you to get profit and for the price to be somewhat attractive to customers. You can get this price if you order at least over a hundred t-shirts. But the thing is, there is no assurance that you will get good t-shirt sales because this price is still quite high for the regular customer. You might end up having so many unsold t-shirts. Nothing is worse than that!
To get a cheaper price per shirt, you need to take a bigger financial risk. So, we aim for what is safer. We look for a way to get shirts for $6 or less. Yes, that is still possible, folks! But the challenge is (and I know you know this already), the challenge is that you have to order in hundreds. The energy and research involved in figuring out how to come up with the cheapest t-shirt that’s still good-looking is not for the faint of heart. Just like any business, running a t-shirt business really needs persistence and smarts (a lot of it!). So you see, your heart should really be in the t-shirt business for you to handle all these challenges. Don’t be discouraged by all these gloomy things because the pay-off is good if you just persist!
Competition Is Reaaally Tough
Screen printing and digital printing has become so easy and accessible nowadays compared to a decade ago. The technology today has also become sophisticated and affordable that almost anyone can easily afford t-shirt printers. While this is definitely a good thing, especially if you want to DIY the shirts you’re going to sell, there are thousands of others just like you who are doing t-shirt printing business! What a bummer, right? If this fact dampens your energy, it makes you want to drop everything, drink latte, and just think of another business, here’s what you should do: drink latte, come back again and read depressing facts about becoming a successful t-shirt entrepreneur.
If after reading the bad things about t-shirt printing and you’re more challenged than disheartened, then the t-shirt printing business is for you! But if you think you don’t stand a chance to have a successful t-shirt printing business, then you don’t have enough drive and passion for this business. Get out! Don’t waste another neuron on something you don’t want to do. But here’s something you have to know, just in case you need a little encouragement: Almost everyone is quitting, too!
Those who didn’t have enough passion are affected by the smallest challenges of their t-shirt printing business. It’s as if they’re just waiting for an obstacle to arrive so they have a good excuse to quit. People like them, my friend, are just going through the motions. People like them lack passion for this business. Now, ask yourself (and you have to be completely honest), do you want to get in the t-shirt printing business despite fierce competition? I hope you hear a loud, resounding yes.
The T-Shirt Business Is Not Just About Making T-Shirts
Running a t-shirt business is 20% t-shirts and 80% other things. If you plan to have a shop for your tees, then you need so many things like setting up the actual shop, looking for sales people to run the store, creating your brand, marketing your brand, creating your systems (payment, inventory, etc). If you plan to sell your t-shirts online, then you need to design a website, create a Facebook page, hire an assistant, advertise, and a million other “simple” tasks. Add up all these little tasks and you’ll find out that they comprise around 80% of the business. This only means that your love for creating t-shirts should be enough to do all the hullabaloos of running a t-shirt business.
Once You Decide to Start, You Have to Do It All the Way
One thing you should know about creating a t-shirt business is that you can’t just dabble in it. You have to immerse in it and stay in there for a long time. Why so? Because of all the things mentioned above! Since you have to print t-shirts in bulk in order to find out if you’ll get enough profit, you just can’t use any design. It has to be a really good design. And since you already have a lot of tees ready for printing, that means you have no choice but to market full-force. And since you’re marketing, your brand should be well thought out. And since you’ll be operating soon, you have to have every system needed for your business to start running. So you see? You can’t just carelessly test the waters because you’ll be investing from day 1. Sure you can test your market first by using sites that do print-on-demand orders. However, somehow, you have to level up your business and turn it into something legit. And when that time arrives, you have to give it all you’ve got from the get-go!
After reading these challenges in creating a t-shirt business, do you still want to do it? Do you still believe that you have what it takes to become the next t-shirt business tycoon? Congratulations! You are one passionate person and you will definitely succeed in this business.