secret weapon

The (Not-So) Secret Weapon for Every Startup Fashion Brand

“Which did you prefer….

Having a business partner or not having one?”

This question often comes up when I’m working with new entrepreneurs, because I’m in the uncommon position of having experienced both.

My first company, a sustainable clothing line, was my first taste of entrepreneurship and I worked with a co-founder for two years.

My current company, Factory45, is a business I started on my own as a “solopreneur.”

Of course there are pros and cons to both scenarios. (And for the record, I loved having a business partner.)

When you have a partner you only have half the workload.

When you’re solo you have all of the control.

When you have a partner you have someone to celebrate the wins and falls with.

When you’re solo you aren’t responsible to anyone else.

I could probably list out 50 other reasons to advocate for both, but there is one pro of having a business partner that takes the cake above all else.

And it’s this:

Accountability.

When you start a business with another person it’s a lot harder to give up.

For all the ways that having autonomy as a solopreneur is great, there is an intangible X factor that comes from having someone in the trenches with you.

Having said that, working with a business partner isn’t a natural fit for everyone. It takes a very special partnership to be able to work through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship together.

If you don’t have a business partner or if you don’t see one in your future, then my suggestion is to surround yourself with some sort of community.

Ever since I decided four years ago to start a business on my own, I’ve hired coaches, taken online programs and joined “mastermind” groups, knowing that I needed other people around to cheer me on.

It wasn’t enough to simply say, “I’m starting a business. See you in three years when I pull myself out of the hole in my home office.”

The entrepreneurs who have come through Factory45 will be the first to tell you how invaluable their peers have been in the infancy of their businesses.

Community is, quite simply, everything.

So, how do you go about finding it? Here are a few options:

  • My top recommendation is the online community at Startup FASHION. I’ve introduced you before to my friend Nicole (you may recall the interview I did with her here) — and she has created a global network of startup designers.

As I tell my Factory45’ers, joining Startup FASHION is the next natural step after graduating from Factory45, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is beyond “idea or early stage” of starting their line. Enrollment is opened for this week here and is super affordable for budget-conscious entrepreneurs. (Update: enrollment is now closed.)

  • Check out your local incubator, accelerator or co-working hub. The fashion hotspots like LA and NYC will have multiple options but you’ll be surprised by what you can find in cities like Boston, San Francisco, Austin and Raleigh. If you’re the type of person who craves personal connections in a physical space, then simply co-working with a few fellow entrepreneurs can do the trick.
  • Join an online program that offers personal mentorship and a community component. While there are many online programs out there, not all are created equal. Identify whether having a community is important to you and seek out the programs and courses that include that personal connection. (On that note: we have set an official open applications date for the 2017 program of Factory45: mark your calendars for May 17th.)

And if you’re the type of person who can work by themselves for hours on end, then more power to you. Keep doing what you’re doing — just remember to come out of the hole every once in awhile ; )