Have you ever looked at a successful business and wondered how they got there? Some people are fortunate enough to achieve a successful business on their first try. But other people have tried and failed, a few times before they found a business idea that actually worked for them. If you fail at one business it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are done for as an entrepreneur, it may be that you haven’t yet found the business that works for you. There is a reason why they tell you not to give up and to keep trying! I will share with you my personal story and let you know what I learned the hard way so you can apply it to your own entrepreneurial journey!
I currently run a business making and selling baby garments. It is going well and my sales jumped quickly in the beginning and are on a progressive upwards swing. Everything happened so fast and it was a big surprise to me because I have tried a few different ventures before that never quite worked out. The first business I started was a women’s wear line of jersey dresses. They were beautiful, hand painted and printed creations that a lot of people liked, but I had very low sales. I listened to people’s feedback and a lot of women were saying the dresses were so clingy they didn’t feel thin enough to wear them. Young slim 20 somethings is a small market without a lot of disposable income. They couldn’t afford my little dresses!
After a year of trying that out I moved on to another line of women’s wear with more forgiving silhouettes made out of bright African fabrics. Again I received a lot of attention and good feedback for my creations, but my business just didn’t quite take off. While I loved designing the pieces, I just didn’t love making them. I found it a nightmare, all the different sizing needed for the numerous body types, the countless fittings to make sure custom orders fit a woman perfectly. I lacked the passion for custom made women’s wear and I think that is why I didn’t succeed or reach the goals I set for my little company.
Once I stopped putting effort into keeping that company alive, I started accepting contracts for costumes here and there and working mainly as a freelance seamstress. Eventually I took on a big contract with a seamstress friend of mine making dance costumes for children aged 2-5. Making costumes for these adorable little kids was so much fun. Toddlers don’t fuss about how their derriere looks in their pants, they’re not nit picky about the way a dress shows their figure or tiny details of their clothing. Their needs are basic: comfortable, cute clothing. Making toddler clothing was easy and fun, and I loved it.
After this revelation I remembered something a marketing teacher had told me in my design program. She said the markets in most need of designers were ladies’ wear for older women, and baby wear. There is a phenomena called the “last chance baby”. Women are having babies when they are much older, and so they have more money to spend on said baby. Not only that, but people are having less babies, so the grandparents may only have a few grandchildren to spoil. Because of this, baby clothing is a very easy sell. Think of a baby shower, there are cousins, siblings, aunts, grandmothers and friends, all different age groups, buying things for one baby. That is a huge market! So of course this was a perfect opportunity, not only did I love creating for littles, there was a big need for what I wanted to make.
I started my company making baby and toddler wear, it worked out beautifully. I liked what I was doing so much more, and it was reflected in my work. I made a lot more effort to get my company’s name out there. The hours spent slaving away feeding my business and making it grow were much more rewarding. I am so thankful I didn’t give up and have finally found a business that works for me!
Here are the lessons I have learned during this journey:
Don’t give up if your first idea fails.
When my first ideas didn’t work out I’ll admit I was a bit depressed and very hard on myself. I felt like I had failed and I would never make it as an entrepreneur. I took it very personally. You should not let past failures hold you back, take them as learning opportunities. Not everyone succeeds the first time around, it may be your second or third attempt. If you are very passionate about what you are doing and don’t want to move on to a new business, try giving your current business a complete revamp. Reach out to other entrepreneurs and customers/audience for critiques and advice on how to improve upon and tweak your present business so that it stands out.
When you’re deciding to make a product or offer a service, make sure you’re choosing a market that needs what you are offering. There are certain markets that are over-saturated (women’s wear is one of them, jewelry is another example) try to find a niche or a market where there is a lot of demand but not enough supply. If you are absolutely determined to go ahead with your idea that is part of an over-saturated market, try to offer it with your own unique spin on it, make sure your business will stand out from the others and won’t be something that we see over and over again.
Use your skills and try out projects you have never done before! Brainstorm with a creative friend and come up with something you haven’t seen often. Be open to new ideas. When I was in fashion school children’s wear never appealed to me, it’s not as glamorous as making dresses for young women! But then when I tried it out I discovered something new I enjoyed doing that I hadn’t been open to before!
Do what you love.
Don’t go with a business just because it’s very popular. Make sure it’s something you truly enjoy doing. Trust me there will be something out there for you that is the perfect combination of what you love, and what people need and want. Your business will thrive so much more if you have a passion for it.
I hope this blog post was helpful to you! Feel free to ask any questions if you are starting a new business and are having trouble getting it off the ground! Also, please share if you have tried a few different businesses before you found the one that you succeeded in!