Do You Have What it Takes to Start a T-shirt Business? 

By  Cartess Ross

Truth be told, many of us don’t have the guts to get out there and make things happen… Some would rather make excuses and blame their current circumstances on why they can’t get ahead.

A friend of mine started a business 5 years ago. She has thousands of dollars tied up in software and equipment. Problem is that she’s not making any money.

However, there are others with far less equipment and much less money and they’re making a pretty decent living — they’re at least able to afford to pay for their own business expenses and training.

This one is always borrowing money from the family budget saying…. “If I can just get this one thing, the business will take off…”

Yea right… I heard this one too!

I asked my friend the following questions — (I’ve paraphrased her answers below).

  1. Do you have any business cards?
    (she answered yes and indicated she purchased 500 of them). I asked her how many did she have left… (she still had most of the 500 she originally ordered). She purchased those cards almost 8-9 months ago — What the heck are those cards going to do for you sitting in a box??? She should probably be ordering a new box of 500 every 1-2 months at a minimum. There’s no way you should have almost 500 biz cards in your possession 8-9 months later. Just the act of giving out 500 should get you a few calls.
  2. Do you have a website?
    (she answered yes — but nobody visits the site). What the heck — do you think they’re going to magically show up on their own??? People spend thousands of dollars weekly/monthly marketing and advertising their website. Folks just don’t magically show up to their website — heck, you didn’t just magically show up to mine…Even I had to put some work, time, effort and money to get you to this website. Granted, I realize people don’t have lots of money to throw around and it is a process. But what’s keeping you from getting a 2nd job if necessary to launch your dream business. Others have done it and it may be required of you as well.

    So many people come to our country without speaking a lick of English…My aunt is Korean (married to my Uncle) and her brothers and sisters have made millions of dollars in the multiple businesses they’ve started. They didn’t speak English well, but they moved into a house together, worked 2 and 3 jobs, pooled their money together and opened up a restaurant… Which they later got into pagers and cell phones and the rest is history. They made a decision — something many of us won’t do, but the opportunity is the same if we’re willing to do the work.

    Watch this video below — Mia Love is awesome!

    We each have the ability to make decisions… And we get to either reap the benefits of those decisions, or suffer the consequences.I’ve made some great decisions in the past and I’ve been able to benefit from those great decisions. I’ve also made some poor decisions. And I’ve suffered the consequences. Each of us have to make decisions at some point.

    Even the act of choosing to do nothing is a decision — and you gotta deal with the consequences, good or bad.The decisions you’ve made so far have gotten you to where you’re at… If you want to change course, you gotta be willing to make the decision to do so. Each of us can wake up tomorrow morning and change our whole future with a thought and a action.

    I extended an invitation to one of my relatives to come stay with me. My promise was that I’d help him find a job and get him into college. As long as he was in college, he didn’t have to pay me any rent. He made the decision NOT to come. He later ended up on drugs. He’s suffering the consequences of HIS decision.I never said the decision you HAVE to make would be an easy one… It may require something drastic. Nonetheless, the decision is yours.

    Another lady I know has 5 kids, a full-time job and is launching her own marketing biz. She works during the day, gets home and cook, help the kids with their homework and get them ready for the next morning.She works on her business from 10 p.m. – 3:30 a.m. Monday thru Friday. Gets about 2-3 hours of sleep, get the kids up and off to school and starts all over again. She’ll have to make some sacrifices for a few years, but her decision to do so will allow her to reap the benefits later. It was not going to happen on it’s own.

    In the beginning, my own wife made excuses about why her photography business wasn’t getting off the ground… At the end of the day, when she really evaluated why things weren’t happening, it was because she was too darn lazy and didn’t put in the time, effort and energy required to get it going. It was only after she really put time into growing her business that it actually worked.

  3. Are you doing any advertising or marketing?Of course, the answer was no. Many businesses fail because they don’t market or advertise. Their excuse is often that they don’t have the money to advertise (and that was her excuse — considering she’s home 7 days a week and not working, getting a part time job ain’t asking to much — if u really believe in your biz).NFL athletes don’t make to the NFL by thinking about it… They train. They workout. They spend LOTS of money working with different coaches. And so on… The same effort and energy should be focused on growing your biz. If you’re launching a new surfing clothing line, no one is going to know you exist unless you’re willing to get out their and let them know and that will require you to spend money on marketing and advertising. It’s a necessary evil!
  4. Have you attended local business networking meetings (NOPE)
  5. Have you been to trade shows (NOPE)
  6. Have you sponsored any type of local events (NOPE)
  7. Have you passed out any flyers (500 of them over the course of a year) Are you kidding me right now…. A year!!!
  8. Have you tried to partner with local businesses that have your customers (NOPE)
  9. Do you have any signs/wraps on your car (NOPE)
  10. Have you placed signs in your area/city (NOPE)
  11. Have you done any direct mailings? (NOPE)

Ironically... Over the various conversations we’ve had over the months, she’s told me she’s watch several seasons of Mob Wives, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries and the Secret Circle. She happily bragged about how she watched 2 entire seasons over the course of a few days…

Are you kidding me right now (that’s’ a phrase I picked up from a friend of mine when I was in the Air Force)…How do you sit down and watch all those shows and complain that your business isn’t growing? If she worked a job for the same amount of hours she spent watching all those shows, I’d imagine she’d have enough money to do some advertising. She’d have enough money to attend trade shows or sponsor local events.

I personally think it was irresponsible of her to take money from her family’s budget, and to just throw it away on thousands of dollars worth of equipment and to do nothing but make excuses as to why it hasn’t worked out.

At the end of the day, she has nothing but EXCUSES.

Somewhere, someone did more with far less than she had…

In my next post, I have an amazing story to tell you about sacrifice… This woman sold her jewelry and worked extra shifts to make make things happen… I didn’t say it was going to be easy… Nothing in life really is!

 Do you have what it takes to Start and Build a Successful T-shirt Business?

People are doing it everyday. Using a t-shirt heat press machine and custom transfers is the easiest and most affordable way to get started. As you grow, you can expand into other types of printing methods if you choose too…

But if start-up capital is an issue, this by far will be the most cost effective way to get going…

I’ve put together a course that’ll walk you through the process of starting and building a successful t-shirt business.

Make Money With T-shirts

Register for Our T-Shirt Business Startup Course
Payment Plans Available – Click Here to Join

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

  • This is great stuff. Nobody is going to bang on your door while you are watching football games and stuff $$$ in your pockets.
    Cartess you are inspiring !

  • cartess i have seen heat press machine on ebay for $66 and up the company name is sublimation they have all sizes and is digital what do you think i cant even afford $200 for one but i am going to order your coarse on your payment plan

    • Hi Monica,
      I’m not sure of an heatpress selling for $66 bucks. I would be sure read all the fine print and ask as many questions prior to placing the bid, sale, etc.
      If that’s all you can afford, by all means do what you can. What’s important…is that you reach your goals and work towards building a successful business. 🙂

  • Sorry for the delay in getting back with you sooner… There are screen printers who’ll gladly print your designs onto t-shirts. And that is an option — If you only have one or two designs, that is a way to go because you can get a fairly decent price when ordering in quantity (assuming you don’t have a lot of colors).

    You can also do it yourself with the heat press –my preferred method.

    Local graphic designers will be much more costly. If you don’t mind the added expense, just do a search for a graphic designer in your local area.

  • I am laughing so much from this article, but actually you are absolutely right!!! I appreciate your effort to teach those who are blessed to reach you and I love your tough words of encouragement. I know I need it because I have had too many excuses over the last two years.


  • Art Gonzalez says:

    Hi Cartess Ross hope everything is good, I was wanting to know if you could talk more about the SRDS i want to start the T-bizz but my concern is marketing i dont want to get a website up and runing buy all kinds of equipment then have no leads. You talked about the SRDS in one of your videos that i watched but was not enough information, I was wanting to know if you could make a video on that specific area and show us how exactly to use the SRDS to make sales and how to obtain a direct respond list. I would really appreciate it and i know everyone else that reads your post and watch your videos will really appreciated.

    Thank You and God Bless You

    Sincerely, Art Gonzalez

    • The best way to get familiar with the SRDS would be to either buy one or visit a large library to use theirs (you can’t check it out, but can use while you’re there).

      It’s a great resource to find people who’ve purchased similar type products in the past…

      Your concerns and fears are legitimate ones, but at the same time, without any product, it’ll be hard to sell.

      Have you put together a business/marketing plan? I’d suggest you start there. At least having a general idea on where your potential customers are and calculating how much it may cost to get in front of them will give you a better understanding as to whether this is something worth venturing into.

      You don’t want to go in blind, and planning is your best defense against making poor and un-calculated decisions on how to best move your startup forward.

      If you haven’t purchased our course, I’d start there:

  • I’m a rooki in the business but I am so driven…I want to know where do I find affordable custom heat transfers because tge transfers for dark tees sucks..n by constantly buying ink and transfer sheets I might as well buy custom transfers please reply thx!!

  • Mr. Ross I stumpled upon your videos on youtube and have been watching for the last two weeks and also have been receiving your emails too. Today was the best one for me so far with the examples of the different types of people and their passion to making their business happen. Reading about the mother having a full day and only getting a few hours of sleep and watching the video about Mia Love is more than enough to inspire some action.
    Thank you Sir for being such a giving person.

    • Hi Mack,

      We really appreciate your feed back and extremely excited to know you were inspired!

  • Hi Cartess,
    Your website and tutorials have helped me get up and running in two weeks, thanks for all the good information. I have an hp deskjet f4440 printer, can i use this as a starter printer. I had a very small budget to start with, I have already purchased a heat press machine I just need to know about the printer.
    Thanks for your help.

    Brandon Scott

    • Hi Brandon,
      Thank you so much for taking the time out to contact us! It just makes up jump for joy when we receive emails, comments, etc. like this! We’re so glad you’re using the material and applying the information towards your business! Please continue to push forward and please keep up updated as your business progresses even more! 🙂

      Yes, you may use what you have, but as soon as you can afford to purchase another printer (Epson) please do! 🙂

  • I wrote down all the questions Cartess asked his wife so i can not only ask myself the same ones but to come up with an action plan on how to turn all of my “NOPES” into real answers. I didnt think of doing flyers before and only 500 per year isnt a lot, its less than 2 per day. also, pairing up with a local business is a good idea too, i sorta have my foot in the door at one place but i need to go the next step and get an arm or two in there.

  • oh, what is direct mailing? is it picking a company or person and just randomly mailing my product to them? if it is ive thought about doing that to people on youtube and instagram

    • hi Liam,

      I would just say it’s randomly mailing your products because with direct targeted mailing, you’re choosing who you’re mailing too. For example, if your t-shirts were for teachers, you can buy mailing lists in groups of 10,000 where all 10,000 people on the list are teachers. You can even specify whether the teacher is a kindergarten teacher, elementary, middle or high school teacher. You can even choose a list of only college professors. That’s the beauty of direct mail — you can laser focus who you’re mailing to…. You can even go further and say I only want a list of teachers who have been teaching for the last 10 years and specify you only want females ages 35-45, and who owns their own home. Direct mail gets DEEP!!!

  • Hi Cartess, quick question! what’s the best weight t-shirts for the transfers to be printed on. thanks


    • Hi Gilwin,

      We recommend ordering samples of different shirts to determine the shirts you like best. Our preference and your preference may not be the same. Once you order different samples of shirts you’ll be able to compare each shirt and compare the quality as well.

  • Hi Cartess, I wanted to say this… i watched your videos on youtube and i was truly moved by what you said so much that i started on my T-Shirt business that night. Now i dont have everything I need right now and money is tight but I have the support of my fiance’ and we are jumping in this head first. I think its a blessing that you are doing this, giving people a road map to success. Ive endured personal struggles in my life like suffering a spinal cord injury from a broken neck a few years back and becoming a partial parapalegic GOD brought me through that, and by Faith GOD is going to make my business successful. I encourage you to keep doing what you are commissioned to do and I will see you at the TOP. Thank you and GOD Bless

    • HI Calvin,

      I think you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Your words are extremely inspiring and so glad to hear you’re moving forward physically and in your business. Please keep us posted. If you can get through your personal struggles you can certainly reach the top! 🙂

  • Virgil Norris says:

    The transfers that you use in your videos you refer to as stock transfers. Do you sell these transfers also or are they from different suppliers?

    • HI Virgil,
      I apologize we do not sell the transfers.

      We have a source list available for purchase. The source list includes various companies to purchase custom, and pre-made transfers from a list of transfer vendors as well as vendors to purchase blank shirts.

      The price for custom transfers will be determined by the amount of colors you have in your design. If you are on a tight budget then I would recommend no more than 2 colors in the design. The more colors in the design the more it will cost to have the designs screen printed onto the release paper.

      If you would, please click the link below to purchase the source list.

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