How to Start a T-shirt Business in the Next 24-Hours 

By  Cartess Ross

Starting a t-shirt business is fairly easy to do, but you must be willing to stop coming up with all types of excuses. In this post, I’m going to address some of the common reasons why people say they can’t get started in the business; and then I’ll provide my response for how you CAN get started within the next 24-hours.

The top 3 excuses I hear every day about why someone can’t start their own t shirt business

1) I don’t have enough money saved up to get started right now, or I’m broke!
Don’t let that stop you from getting started… It doesn’t cost any money to actually get started. Most of the equipment you need to get started in this business won’t be needed till the end. For example, the heat press machine we use to press tees is literally the last thing you need. What good is the heat press machine if you don’t already have your design ideas sketched out?

You see, most folks don’t even have designs made up yet…. In fact, most folks don’t even know what type of designs they’re going to make and they don’t even know who they plan to sell their tees too. So, here’s what I recommend.

Get started right now… Right where you’re at!!! It won’t cost you a dime to go find some paper and pencil and start writing out your plan.

In other words, start sketching out those ideas you have in your head. Put it on paper. Just the act of ‘getting started’ puts you in business.

Start drafting out a plan for who your audience is going to be… Who are you going to sell to? How do you plan to get your t-shirts out to the public? Do you plan to put them in local stores? Sell online? Sell to churches? What’s your plan? Write it out…

This is what being a business owner is all about… Planning is everything.

Start calculating all the costs so you’ll know how much money you’ll actually need to get started – you might be surprised you can get started with much less than you thought.

Take your ideas/sketches to a screen printer so you can get an actual t-shirt made — that’ll inspire you when you actually see your design printed on a t-shirt.

You don’t have to have a t-shirt heat press to get sample tees made. Yes, it’ll cost you a few dollars more to get a handful made by a local screenprinter, but it’s much cheaper than spending thousands on all the equipment needed to get started. Our goal here is to simply get your samples in hand so you can start showcasing them. It’s harder to get orders when you don’t have anything to show right???

Get some inventory on hand — have something to show. Have something to put online. Get some professional pictures of your tees so you can mail them out in the form of brochures to show potential vendors.

You won’t get far without anything to show…. One big order is all you need to get the money you need to purchase your equipment folks.

And if you really don’t have any money, don’t you think it’ll be easier to ask relatives and friends for a loan or investment in your business if you have an actual business and marketing plan written up? Wouldn’t it be easier to get someone to invest when you can actually show them 3-6 of your designs on an actual t-shirt?

I wouldn’t invest a dime in anyone’s dream if all I hear is a bunch of talk and no concrete plan.

Show them you’re serious.

One of our members did everything I just outlined here and someone ended up buying the rights to her designs and she didn’t have any equipment whatsoever. But if she just sat around complaining about why she couldn’t get started, she would have never been able to sell anybody anything.

As you can see, there is SOOOOO much you can do in terms of preparation before you ever buy that heat press machine or printer.

2) The other excuse I hear a lot of is… “I can’t draw”
In this business, you don’t have to know how to draw. In fact, I’d encourage you NOT to spend your time trying to learn how to draw. Don’t spend your time trying to learn how to use fancy graphic arts software like Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator. There are plenty of graphic designers out there who will take the t-shirt design ideas you have and turn them into reality for you — and for quite cheap.

It’ll take too long to learn how to use these expensive softwares and in business, time can be your friend or enemy. You must invest your time where it matters most and that’s in getting your tees out to the public. Your time is best spent marketing and growing your business. Not sitting cooped up in a room trying to learn graphic design. People go to school for years to learn how to do graphic design — and many have already been creatively designing most of their lives before even going to school.

I know — there is always someone out there who is going to respond to this post and tell me that learning the software isn’t difficult and then they’ll tell me that they learned how to use the software in just a matter of hours. I generally find people who say that have some of the worst looking designs. And quite frankly, they aren’t selling enough to make any type of decent profit. I’m just being straight up — they’re designs absolutely SUCK. I’m saying this is the case MOST of the time — not ALL of the time, there is always the exception.

You can hire cheap graphic designers for cheap at websites like FREELANCER. Freelancer works like eBay in a sense. You create a free account and then you can post a job outlining the type of design work you’re wanting.

Once you submit your job, it’s posted to the community and tens of thousands of graphic designers from around the world can look at your job request and place a bid for how much they’re willing to do the work for.

Before selecting a designer, you can view their portfolio to see if you like their style of work and you’re able to see the feedback other users have left.

So the idea that you must know how to draw is no longer an excuse. And the cost is fairly cheap — you’d be surprised at how little you’ll need to pay for great quality work. I’d encourage you to go to Freelancer right NOW and post a job; at least you’ll have a working design you can start with. Start with just ONE — no one says you have to get 12 designs created at once. Start where you’re at!

3) The other excuse I hear… “I’ve always wanted to start a t-shirt business, but I don’t know how…”
Guess what… You’ll never know how until you actually make the decision to get started. Saying I want to start a t-shirt business and actually making a decision to get started are two totally different things. Until you actually make the decision, nothing happens. Make a declaration right now and say “I’m going to start my t-shirt business today — and the first thing I’m going to do as CEO is sit down and put my ideas and thoughts on paper”. Once you do that, you’re in business. See — I told you I’d get you started in the business within 24 hours.

It’s really that simple… You just simply need to get in the game. Go as far as you can go with what you have, and once you get as far as you can, you’ll see even more. It’s like walking down a street you’ve never been down. Once you get to the corner, you can see what’s to the left and right of you. Once there, you can decide which way to turn — but you’ll never see what’s around that corner until you make the decision to walk down the street. Get in the game NOW.

Find a mentor. Find a coach.

Experience is often the longest and most difficult way to learn… It can take a lifetime to learn from experience. And this is the main reason why I believe EVERYONE should have a coach or mentor in their life. I have 3 coaches and I pay them a lot of money. I just recently dropped $2,400.00 on an online course and then I’ll spend another $2,500 to fly out this summer to a 3 day event to get even more hands on training.

I pay this money because knowledge is very valuable and I can get to where I’m going faster from another person’s experience.

You can learn soooo much more, sooooo much faster from someone else who has already been down that road. If it took them 20 years to learn everything they’ve learned, you could possibly learn everything they know within 1-2 years time if you were under their guidance or mentorship.

You can save yourself thousands of dollars. You can save yourself many years by learning from someone whose already been there.

For example, you can easily pay a few thousand dollars on a heat press machine, and we sell them on our website. But because I have your BEST interest at hand, I’d suggest you find a used t-shirt heat press machine on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars and use those savings towards getting your designs made. I’m not interested in making a few bucks off a heat press machine I sell you. I want you to be successful. And if I sell you a $3,000.00 heat press machine and you can’t do anything because your funds are all tied up in a machine, then I’ve done you an injustice.  Especially when you can a used machine for as little as $300-$500.

That’s what a coach and mentor can do for you. They guide you along and get you to where you need to be much faster than you’d be able to on your own.

I got this from one of my members…

Cartess you are my chosen mentor…

My son has recent started a t shirt business and we love it, most of the credit goes to you. I woke up one night despondent, you were on YouTube, and the rest is history.

You saved our family. There is not enough words in the English dictionary to tell you THANK YOU. So, I humbly say Thank you.

I pray often for you and your family, God will give to you, what you gave to us.

We love you, Be Blessed forever.

Latrese, from Tyler Texas

I’m the first one to admit that you will have to work at this business. It’s not a get rich quick type of thing. But if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time — get in the game!

You can make a part-time living from this business. You can make a full-time living from this business.

Many of our TshirtRiches members have done both.

If you aren’t a member of my program, I’d encourage you to join our membership. I’ve made this program affordable for anyone wanting to get started in the tshirt business by giving you the option of making 4 monthly payments to get immediate access to the FULL program after making your first payment.

No more excuses… Let’s make a decision to move forward. Whether you invest in my course or not, I only want you to make a decision one way or the other that you’re going to get started in the business today. Start by following the steps I outlined above. That doesn’t cost you anything. Just get started and start planning and you’ll be amazed at what happens.

Take a look at what our T-shirt Startup Course can do for you – click here!


Cartess Ross

I will guide you through this process and provide you with proven strategies to help you build a t-shirt company. As one of the original pioneers to start selling t-shirts online 20 years ago, I've sold millions of dollars in t shirts to people all over the world. I founded TshirtRiches in 2007 to teach others how to turn their t-shirt ideas into a business. So if you're ready, hop onboard and let's make this money!

Cartess Ross

  • I have everything I need,my only question is if I was doing a t-shirt similar to a Nike shirt witch type of screen paper would I need?

  • I also came across your website video on youtube. I’m sort of semi-retired in between jobs or whatever you want to call it. Getting the heatpress would be no problem nor purchasing blank t shirts either. I have a little artistic ability and ideas I want to create the problem is finding the market. Our society is very confusing these days trying to figure out peoples thought process. I did a trial run on a website with multiple screen printed transfers I purchased. I know if it’s the website configurations or I selected the wrong type transfers. I wasn’t comfortable with the setup of the site but I thought I had created t shirts a variety of people would purchase. I’m gonna do my homework and try again later, atleast I can make tshirts for my family and friends for now.

    • I understand… It can be confusing at times. And it’s during these confusing times people will give up. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The key here is to continue to tweak and test and you’ll be surprised with the results. It works — just keep at it and I imagine you’ll find something that sticks.

      Keep us posted on your success.

  • Hi Cartess, I was just watched your heat pressing 40 t-shirts video and was wondering what you do when you have a size small t-shirt or youth t-shirt and someone orders the Killed In “The Line of Duty” logo.

    Do you print it on the back of the shirt.

    Only because I noticed that all the logos where going on the front of the shirts and some of them were really big layouts.

    Or do you only offer the bigger layouts in adult sizes.



    • This is a stock transfer design — meaning it’s not mine, but I purchased the print from a transfer company. Sometimes, they’ll have a smaller youth size print and a standard adult size print. In many cases, I only offer youth medium and youth large — but that design wouldn’t fit on a youth sized tee. In this case, I wouldn’t offer it for sale (although I do have youth sized options on my own personal site — which I’ll get someone to remove soon). But I usually wouldn’t have that option available.

      I don’t print on the back unless specified by the customer.

  • I look forward to your emails Mr Ross! I have been in and out of different multi level marketing businesses over the years with little success. I have always had the dream of entrepreneurship but was looking in the wrong places. One day my wife flipped my switch and told me I need to put my artistic talents to use and stop trying things that weren’t in me. I first started designing tshirts for her natural hair events and was spending a fortune to get them printed until I found your presentation online. I now have my biz 3LittleRobinsTees going and a shop on etsy which has being doing well. Thanks for all the encouragement and I too look at you as one if my mentors in the tshirt world

    • Thanks for the kind words Mike. You should read the story, Acres of Diamonds. It’s a really good story about all of the talents/gifts we already have within us — if we’re only willing to look within ourselves. Keep us posted on your SUCCESS!!!

  • Got two contradicting emails,kindly let me know how long I got to wait.cant wait to start my biz.

  • Hello i have took a few steps to do my tshirts. Have heat press done a fee designs. Few sells not to much have not had luck with getting a website. Light close are going pretty good. I have my niche want to stick with religion and inspirational tshirts because thats the era i grew up in. Just running across a few issues. Been getting some request for darks but the paper is bad. Just need help with what is best to do for custom work on darks. Been trying to get it out there not having alot of luck. Are you able to assist me.

  • Katrice Johnson says:

    Hi Cartess, did the member who sold the rights to her designs have them trademarked? And do you know how much that would cost?

    Thanks in Advance.

  • Sarah Passmore says:

    Greeting Mr. Ross,

    I have been receiving e-mails from you about starting my own t-shirt business. I purchased a heat press last November from ebay. The machine didn’t work, I had to send it back. I very skeptical about buying another heat press machine. I don’t have much money and I would love to get started. I need your expertise what would be a good heat press to buy? I noticed you had Heat Press Nation posted on your page. However, you didn’t mention their name in your video. I did look at their heat presses, the Swing Away High Press HPN 16x 20 for about $565.00. I want to know is this a good buy? Please get back with me ASAP. I really need to get started. I am looking forward to start my website and purchasing your cousre to get more information very soon. I need your HELP! Ms. Passmore

    • Sounds like u had a bad experience with eBay… I generally don’t endorse any one particular brand other than Hotronix, which in my opinion is the Best machine on the planet… Gecko is a good starter brand if you’re just getting into the biz and you’re strapped for cash. Heat Press Nation has a good return policy I believe — double check it though. I’d imagine that machine will be fine since you’re just getting started and for the price, sounds like a good deal.

      Take a look at my heat press resource page:

  • Dante Farrar says:

    Good evening Mr. Ross. I wanted to get you input or recommendations for the processes and procedures for custom collar tags and labels? Thanks.

    • Hi Dante,

      Those particular subjects are covered in the Tshirt Riches membership. 🙂

  • Brandon Morris says:

    Hi Ross, my MAIN problem is leads or customers.How do I find them I know they’re out there.???

    • Hi Brandon,

      That would be called marketing and advertising. First, you’ll need to find out who exactly is your target market. Once you have narrowed that down; you’ll need to find out where they hang out, learn they’re buying habits, etc.

      The course we do offer will provide you with the information and tools to get going with your tshirt business.

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