Written by: Trevor Carss, Founder, Carss Clothing Co.
Our generation today has the greatest access to information we have ever seen, facilitating the process of starting a business like never before but some of the roadblocks to entering into the entrepreneurial space include taking action and focusing on just one key passion.
All throughout university I was in the same boat as countless other students, struggling to find one thing to dedicate my time on. With so many course choices in university, it is very easy to get pulled in multiple directions. Then I graduated and took matters into my own hands by starting a marketing consulting firm with a single-minded focus. Even then, you will have customers requesting a multitude of services, some of which will be outside your area of expertise. You will always have naysayers to suggest what can and cannot be done. Listen to them for one main reason—to fuel your desire to succeed and accomplish what you set out to do.
If you are having an ongoing internal debate with yourself as to whether you should start, start small. I had chosen small business marketing with a niche in branding to start, something I was well versed in. If you’re trying to come up with a clever name for your business but you’ve spent weeks brainstorming ideas, stop now. Get going by launching your minimum viable product, gathering feedback and convincing yourself that what you’re selling is valuable to others. Naming is not the critical piece when you’re pre-launch. Even consider holding off on registrations, business plans and paperwork that are preventing you from trying out your idea, and first focus on whether or not there is even a market for it.
You should have a few customers and some sales to show for before you even decide to spend on business set-up. I made the mistake of spending over $200 on fancy business cards before I even secured a customer. In reality, I was delaying the actual launch process. Stick to a shoestring budget to see what you can do with little spend. Here’s a test: what activities would you do with no marketing and advertising dollars in your budget? Getting creative, whether it be through public relations, social media or door-to-door, is the best way to start today.
Look at some of the activities you are currently doing. Are they propelling you forward or distracting you from your goals? What can you stop doing to get back on track? If you have a product idea, within 30 days you should have it tested for proof that you can make it work. I launched an eCommerce store within one week of conceiving the idea. Get your product launched today and starting won’t seem so burdensome.
Focusing on your venture is critical to your success. Journal your wild ideas for future projects and continue to remind yourself daily that you have one project to handle. With the proliferation of choice, having the discipline to keep on track and not get swayed by other ideas is critical. You will have plenty of ideas popping up in your head. Try to bucket them in a wish list for future review. If you are an idea-monkey like me, a spreadsheet works well for idea gathering.
You will also need to capture idea feedback from your customers to improve your product along the way, as long as the improvements are aligned with your objectives. For example, I’ve had prospects request specific clothing styles outside my niche focus. Instead of unfocused implementation I would refer that customer to a brand that carries exactly what they’re looking for, especially since I value exceptional customer service above everything. As a result I build the trust between myself and the potential customer, knowing that I specialize and have a focus.
Consider the comparison of doctors and medical specialists. An oral surgeon is a much more successful professional compared to a general practitioner because the oral surgeon decided to specialize. They will have fewer clients, but they have the capability of charging more for their high-demand services. Understanding the trade-offs through specialization will make you more attractive in the eyes of your core customer group.
Find others to support you on your journey. Your close friends and family should keep you accountable and on track with your endeavour. Ensure you are gathering honest feedback from them and interacting regularly. Entrepreneurship can be isolating, hence the power of your support network to keep you thinking positive when the going gets tough. My support network has been the most important piece to my focus, knowing that others believe in what I’m doing. Even finding one supporter can get you going. Vincent Van Gogh became one of the greatest artists of all time because of the support of his brother.
When I made the decision to leave my satisfying 9-5 corporate job to pursue my passions in design and eCommerce, a single-minded focus drove me to push along during the challenging early start-up stages. Life is too short to let your passion live inside your head. Try that one thing that wakes you up in the morning. Put everything you have into it. Do not let others sway your decision.
Consider this question: if I presented you with a mandatory ten year contract to start, launch and grow only one project of your choosing, which project would you choose? After all, becoming an entrepreneur is a long-term commitment—ideally the project you choose is the project you can start today and focus on tomorrow.
About Trevor Carss:
Trevor Carss is the Founder of Carss Clothing Co., a modern and fun apparel company on a mission to give back 10% of profits to global mental health initiatives. When he’s not hustling t-shirts and caps, he’s exercising, reading and spending time with his family, girlfriend and Snoopy doll.