5 Reflections from Working with Over 100 Fashion Startups

On Friday, we wrapped up the final day of the Factory45 2016 program. (A special shout-out and congratulations to this year’s entrepreneurs.)

Last week marked 2.5 years since Factory45 started and the ‘graduation’ of my fourth cohort of ‘Factory45’ers.’

As many of us do this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on the conclusion of this chapter. And today I want to share the five main takeaways that I’ve observed from working with over 100 entrepreneurs in the past 2 years:

1. You are capable of more than you think.

In the first month of Factory45 my entrepreneurs start by sourcing fabric and materials. It’s the part of the process that takes the longest, and it can often require the entire six months of the program to find the perfect fabric.

Anyone who has tried sourcing before knows that not only does it take time, but it can be very frustrating. Many of my entrepreneurs are hesitant to reach out to suppliers out of sheer fear of the unknown.

And then a light switches on.

By the middle of the program, they’re giving each other tips, sharing leads on materials they’ve found, and offering advice about how to connect with an extra busy supplier.

Like anything new, it takes practice to become a pro. But you’re capable of more than you think you are.

And if you give it a chance, it will happen quicker than you expect it to.


2. Attitude is the number one indication of success.

On the final day of Factory45 this year, I sent an email to my entrepreneurs that began as follows:

Yesterday I was watching a video, explaining a method of thinking for entrepreneurs called the ‘Ow’ or ‘Wow’ Brain.

The psychologist was sharing research that found that the success of an entrepreneur isn’t about talent or starting capital or socioeconomic background or looks or knowledge.

It’s about attitude.

The entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who look at their progress in terms of how far they’ve come rather than how far they have to go.

You could sum this up as the ‘half glass full’ philosophy.

I’ve done a lot of research about what makes some people ‘successful’ and what makes others stall out and falter. And it almost always comes down to attitude.

Successful entrepreneurs not only know they can do it, but they aren’t afraid of overcoming obstacles along the way.

3. Time can either be your friend or your foe.

We all start out with 24 hours in a day. It’s our job to decide what we’re going to do with those hours.

There’s a theory that a task will take you as much time as you allow it to. So if you say you’re going to launch in three months it will take you those entire three months. If you say you’ll launch in one year, then the study says you’ll stretch out that same launch to take you the full year.

It’s normal as an entrepreneur to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but it’s the levelest playing field we have with our competition. The entrepreneurs who are able to get time on their side, are the ones who set hard deadlines and stick to them.

4. Start before you’re ready.

I’ve shared before that this is my single best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to launch their own clothing brands.

While some of the entrepreneurs I worked with this year had already been pursuing their businesses before they joined Factory45, the vast majority came through the program with just an idea.

When you start before you’re ready you initiate forward momentum. The feeling of moving forward little by little is what protects ideas from vanishing into thin air.

If you have an idea that you truly believe in, then you can increase its chances of survival by simply making the commitment to start.

5. Entrepreneurship is a battle between the heart and the mind.

Your mind will come up with as many excuses as it can to stop you from pursuing something it perceives as ‘risky.’ If you let it, the rational mind can easily overthrow the aspirational heart.

Our hearts are what keep us moving forward on an idea that the mind tells us is nothing more than a pipedream. Knowing and expecting that, you are better prepared for an ongoing battle.

Instead of letting the mind inhibit you from taking risks, reframe the fear. Recognize that the mind is just trying to protect you, but the part of your brain that initiates ‘fear-based thinking’ doesn’t have the last say.

Allow your heart to say, “I hear you. Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”

The more you practice this back and forth dialogue, you’ll find that the fear-talk in the mind starts to weaken. You’ll hear it less frequently and then it simply becomes…

A matter of the heart.

 

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