One of our TshirtRiches members had to do a college project where they had to interview someone that is currently in the field they eventually wanted to work in.
This individual reached out and sent me a series of questions for me to answer… There were some great questions and it really got me to thinking — are people really willing to do what’s necessary to become successful? Or are they just talking…
Would I be willing to go through everything I’ve gone through again to get to the point where I’m at now?
Check out the questions and answers below — the parts highlighted in red were added on by me AFTER they handed in their assignment.. I just wanted to add a little more emphasis after having more time to think on it.
What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business? To what do you most attribute your success?
- Belief in yourself. Many people are going to question your sanity when you start a business and you have to believe in yourself enough to make it through. Many of your friends and family will doubt you and they’ll make their thoughts and feelings known.
- Passion. It’s never about the money. I love what I do sooooo much, I’ll do it for free. I eat, sleep and think this stuff 24/7. People run from me because they know I’m going to talk their ears off about this stuff. It’s the passion that gives me the advantage over others. It makes me create better and better products/services. And it’s the passion that puts fear in my competitors.
- Goal Setting. Goals give you direction. They tell you what you should be working on. They set boundaries for your days, weeks, months and years. Yet, no one takes the time to write down their goals. Not just regular goals, but goals with specifics, timelines and deadlines.
- Marketing. Most people are good at their craft. But they suck at marketing/advertising. They think if they ‘build it’, the customers will come. But they don’t. If you’re not marketing/advertising, you’re dead before you even start. Master the art of marketing/advertising, and you’ll be light-years ahead of the competition.
- Connecting with a Mentor. Experience can take a lifetime to get. But you can latch on to someone else’s lifetime of experiences and learn everything they know in a tenth of the time. Find a mentor whose already been down the road you’re trying to go and see how fast you’ll move forward in your business. Why spend the next 5 years trying to start a business from scratch on your own when someone else can tell you what to do and what not to do??? What took them 20 years to do could be done by you in 2 years if you’re willing to open up and learn from a great mentor/teacher.
What is your favorite part about being self-employed?
The freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want. I get to stay home and watch my kids grow up. The financial rewards have been great as well. There’s no way I’d earn the type of money I’m earning now working for someone else. I enjoy teaching and coaching others to be independent and to start a business of their own based on their talents, skill-sets and hobbies.
What is the least favorite part of being self-employed?
It gets lonely most times. There aren’t many people in your personal life that you can talk to. Most of your friends aren’t entrepreneurs and they don’t understand you. You can’t talk to them about your troubles or successes because they don’t get it. Heck… It’s difficult trying to have business conversations with your spouse. They don’t get what’s happening and that can get very frustrating.
How does your company differ from its competitors?
I spend a lot more time teaching and educating my prospects and clients. Web video gives us an advantage because while most people just sell their products and services, we use the Internet and video to teach and educate. I believe the more informed a prospect/customer is, the more likely they’ll buy from you. That’s how we differ – 80% of our efforts are in educating the visitors/customers coming to our website.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Both good and bad. In the beginning, I put in a LOT of hours… It was hard for me to set business time and family time in the beginning. I missed out on a lot of things with my children when they were younger. We have 5 children – the first three are much older, but our last 2 younger ones have benefited more from me being home and spending more time since the business has improved in my latter years compared to the start-up phases. My marriage took a hit and we’re trying to mend that and make it better. So there was a price to pay – some of us entrepreneur types just can’t juggle the family and business life. I admit it’s challenging and if you have a spouse that doesn’t understand, it can make things even more difficult. Mine didn’t understand and even now, it’s still a struggle for her to ‘get it’. But it is what it is…
I wanted to add… Sacrifice is required if you wish to be successful. When you say YES to something, you say NO to something else. I made a lot of decisions in my effort to become a business-owner. Some of my decisions were good ones. Some were bad. Some… just needed to be done. I have no regrets. As I mentioned earlier — I missed out on a lot of things with my 3 older children. Even though I worked from home most of the time, I mentally was NOT there.
In retrospect, there were more things I could have done better — but hindsight is always 20-20. My advice moving forward… Schedule family time into the equation. Get the kids involved in the business with you. Set aside time outside of work to share time together — even if it’s only taking the kids to the park.
If you’re married — set aside time with your spouse as well… Even if it’s going out to dinner and a movie once a month. If they don’t want to participate in the business, don’t make them feel bad for not doing so. Each of us have our own goals and dreams… In fact, go out of your way to help them achieve theirs if you can.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Trying to do everything on my own. That has been my biggest failure. It’s impossible to do everything. And it’s impossible for the business to grow if you’re doing everything. There’s only so much you can do as an individual. At some point, you must set systems in place so the business runs with or without you. It took me many years before I finally submitted to this concept.
I’ll also add that I’ve had many FAILURES… Yes… MANY!!! I’ve been evicted out of my apartment. I had cars repossessed. I was thrown out of my offices because I didn’t have the money — and the very first employee I hired had to be laid off after only working for me for only a few months — I was paying her out of my pocket even though the business wasn’t bringing in enough funds. It was embarrassing and I felt bad about that for many, many months. This young lady had quit her job to come work for me — and I let her down!
You WILL have some failures in your life — but it’s how you handle the failures and obstacles that’ll determine whether or not you’ll make it. Each failure was a lesson for me. I learned from them.
If I’m ever on a ship that’s sailing through some treacherous waters — I want a captain whose been through some rough seas navigating that ship. I don’t want anybody whose never had to deal with the rough winds and high seas manning that boat — NO… I need somebody whose been through it all — they have the experience to navigate us to the other side.
What is the best way to organize your products and customer information?
Our products/services are sold online via a website. We use software to manage inventory and we use software to manage our customers. We’re able to send out regular promotions via online newsletters and we also send out promos via postcards as well. Keeping in touch with our customers is a priority and periodically sending out special offers and promos to existing customers is what makes us successful. You’d be surprised at how many businesses won’t send out regular promos and special offers. Once they make that first sale, most business owners never market back to those customers – that’s completely absurd.
How long after you started your business did you turn a profit?
I actually made a profit my first year. Building my business around the Internet kept our start-up costs low and gave us access to a worldwide network of potential customers. Making a profit happened very quickly and we were able to reinvest those profits back into the business – although in the beginning, we spent the profits and had some difficult times ahead – but we learned the hard way not to do that again.
How does the company make use of technology for internal communication and outside marketing? (Use of e-mail, Internet, intranets, social media, Web page, etc.)
E-mail marketing is a big thing for us. A big part of our marketing efforts consist of building a list of interested prospects. We use web video to educate those prospects by sending videos via e-mail and social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Once we educate them, we send additional offers for them to learn more by purchasing our courses that go more in-depth.
Do you have any special words of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?
Don’t do it for the money. Make sure you have a passion for what you’re doing. You’ll need this passion to get you through the tough times. And there will be many ups and downs. Get yourself around some like-minded folks. Form a mastermind where you all can learn from each other and build each other up. Keep listening to motivational CDs/MP3s and continue to learn and improve. I don’t mind spending a ton of money on education. I believe it’s one of the main reasons I’m successful now – I’m always learning.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
If you were conducting this interview, would there be another question you would ask that I missed?
Knowing what you know now about being an entrepreneur – would you do it all again, with all of the positives and negatives you discussed.
I absolutely would… I don’t think I could live any other way!
Fear keeps most of us from taking any sort of action. And for most stuff I get myself into, I jump in head-first and ask questions later… For me, the FASTER I fail, the FASTER I’ll see success. That’s literally how I look at life. That formula has served me well over the years. Yes — some of the projects and ventures I jumped into was an outright failure. But I’ve had many more successes than failure.
I didn’t want to wait till I was 65 to enjoy living life — I wanted to live life TODAY and on my own terms. I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me when I can take time off work. I didn’t like the fact of having very little money and not being able to travel when I wanted — that was more scarier for me than starting a business.
I knew if I did nothing — I’d make no progress and will have to live like that the rest of my life.
My advice to you — if you’re passionate about something — do it! If you don’t, you’re going to be miserable doing what you’re doing for the rest of your life.
If starting a t-shirt business is your thing, take a look at our t-shirt startup course… It’s AWESOME!
If you need help and guidance, our t-shirt course will show you how to do the research and come up with a plan to start and grow your business…
Don’t try and figure this thing out on your own — you’ll waste so much time, effort and money trying to do this on your own. Let us help you.
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