The other night I was out for Thai food with some friends and we started sharing our hopes for the new year.

My friend, Megan, was telling us about the morning she woke up on the first day of 2020.

She said she was lying in bed, mentally preparing to get out from under the covers, when she noticed birds chirping outside her window. 

So she laid there, listening to the birds for longer than she would have in 2019.

“I want to have more ‘bird moments’ this year,” she told us. “It’s more than just stopping to smell the roses — it’s taking the time to really be in that moment.”

For the week since then, I’ve tried to adopt Megan’s intention as my own — consciously stopping to appreciate little moments throughout the day.

The way a bright yellow tree contrasts against a clear blue sky.

The way my son’s chubby little hand rests on my knee.

The way it feels to wrap up in a blanket in front of a fireplace.

But throughout this week, I’ve noticed something else.

I haven’t had any bird moments while I’ve been working.

Maybe I’ve been focused on getting into a “flow state” instead (I’ve written about that before here.)

But really, I think the reason is this:

Even if you’re your own boss and you run your own business, we’re mostly programmed to focus on the negative associations of “work.”

The to-do list that doesn’t let up, the technology that isn’t working, the customer who isn’t happy, the ads that aren’t converting… 

“Doing the work” and “bird moments” don’t naturally go hand-in-hand… 

But I wonder, how much of our productivity and satisfaction would increase if they did?

If we looked up every once in a while and paused for longer than usual, what would it do for our mental state as entrepreneurs?

There’s a reason why the majority of big-time CEOs and successful business people take time to meditate every day.

There is science-backed evidence that meditation increases creativity, focus, memory, and emotional intelligence.

And taking the time for bird moments is an easy way to start implementing some of that mindfulness towards your own business.

A nice Instagram comment about your latest product launch → bird moment.

An enthusiastic email from one of your customers → bird moment.

The moment you finally connect your website to your email platform → bird moment.

Just the simple thought: “I’m running my own business…”

What an opportunity.

What an opportunity to truly appreciate how far you’ve come.

So, that’s my wish for all of us this year.

To stop and appreciate the moments that affirm why you’re here, what you’re doing and how truly monumental that is.

More moments of hearing the birds.

 

 


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

About this time of year, I traditionally write an annual review of how life and business went this year.

You may recall 2018 being a doozie with the health status of my mom, the arrival of Baby Lohr and the post-partum blues that came with it.

But this year I’m doing something a little differently, inspired by my own 2020 business planning.

At the beginning of December when I got out my notebook and wrote “2020 PLAN” at the top of the page, my immediate instinct was to write “Goals” just as I’ve done every year.

But I wrote this word instead:

FOCUS

In that moment, I realized it was never my past goals that were that important — it was the tangible steps that I focused on to achieve those goals.

And it’s this system of focused planning that I want to share with you as an exercise today.

First, I divided the year into two parts — Q1/Q2 and Q3/Q4 — but you can divide it into four parts (or more) if that works for you.

For Q1/Q2, I wrote down one singular focus: MARKETING
(i.e. spreading the word about the Factory45 2020 program)

Then for Q3/Q4, I wrote down one singular focus: FACTORY45 EXPERIENCE
(i.e. making sure the entrepreneurs in Factory45 2020 have the best possible experience)

Next, I made a list of all of the tangible action steps that would enhance each of these two focuses.

For MARKETING, I came up with a list of seven “buckets”. 

For FACTORY45 EXPERIENCE, I came up with a list of four “buckets.”

For example, one of my MARKETING buckets was “Email List & Blog,” so underneath that bucket I listed all of the things that go into my email list and blog as they relate to marketing. 

  • Repurposing “best of” blog posts 
  • Sending out a new YouTube video every month
  • Cross promoting other people in my industry 
  • Using paid ads to promote my best blog posts and videos
  • Driving new subscribers to my email list via lead magnets
  • Cultivating and fostering the existing relationship I have with my current readers

For each bucket, there was a list of actionable steps like the one above that would get me closer to my broader focus of Marketing.

*Important note here that you may find interesting: Social media did not come up in any of my buckets. Sure, I’ll still post on Instagram, FB, etc. but it isn’t a task that I’m putting emphasis on for my Marketing Focus. So, if you’re one of those people who is putting all of their eggs into the Instagram Stories basket, I encourage you to think outside the box!

Alright, still with me?

The final step was to list out January through December 2020, and allocate the most important steps in each bucket to a month or multiple months. 

It looked like this:

JANUARY

  • Paid ads
  • YouTube
  • Pitch podcasts
  • Outline new workshop
  • Activate free TCF webinar
  • Research video companies

The first three bullets span across every month of the year. But the other three bullets only exist in that month because they have a deadline.

Make sense?

The idea here is to have actionable steps each month, rather than general goals, that amplify what you’re focusing on for the first half (or first quarter) of the year.

The final step was to move this calendar out of my notebook and into Asana (the to-do list of my choice) so that I know exactly what I’m taking action on and when I’m taking action on it.

So in review, here’s how you can effectively plan for 2020 for your own business instead of creating general goals:

  1. Create 2-4 Focuses for each quarter of the year.
  2. List all of the “supporting actors” for each focus and divide them into Buckets.
  3. Under each bucket, list the sub-steps that go into each one.
  4. Allocate each bucket to certain month(s) of the year.
  5. Add the to-do list for each month into your task management platform, to-do list or digital calendar.

That’s all to say, I think I’m over “goal setting” in the traditional sense. 

Yes, it’s incredibly important to have a vision for your business.

But you know what’s more important? 

Taking action to achieve that vision.

 

 

This will be my last blog post and email of 2019 — I’m wishing all of you a very Happy New Year and will be back on Wednesday, January 8th : )


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

Last week marked the end of the Factory45 2019 program. One of this year’s graduates asked if she could write a guest post to share her experience with all of you. If you’re considering applying to Factory45 in 2020, you’ll want to read Amber’s post until the end.

Here she is:


Have you been wanting to create your own fashion collection, but you’re worried you don’t have any fashion experience? 

That was me.

Are you wanting to take the plunge into fashion entrepreneurship but have no idea what a “muslin” is?

That was me too.

Are you seeing white space in the market and you know the exact solution to a problem? 

That was also me.

I had no idea what a “pattern” even was.

But I developed a concept (that would later be Feel Good Swim) in the summer in 2018 when I realized I wanted to take my career a whole new direction – instead of working for someone else, I wanted to try becoming my own boss.

I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to pursue right away; just an inkling of the direction I needed to go.

And finally, the swimwear idea hit me – I was putting on my last swimsuit of the year and hating every minute of it.

I’ve always struggled finding swimsuits that fit my curvier top shape – there’s not much out there. 

So I decided that’s what I would build.

But I didn’t pursue the idea right away. I went back and forth with myself for a few months. I was plagued by my own limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.

“Who do you think you are?”

“You have ZERO experience in fashion, you can’t do this.”

“What would people think?”

“What if I fail?”

And finally, last December, I realized what I was doing to myself. I stopped thinking about the “what if,” ignored my lack of experience, and purchased a domain name. Mind you, I had never created a website before.

I researched like crazy. I googled every – little – thing.

And finally, I landed on the Factory45 website.

I read through all of the free content, saw that Shannon was focused on ethical and sustainable fashion, and knew it was the best thing for me.

It was a significant investment, but I had plenty of time to mull over the pros and cons (at that time, the program didn’t open up for a few more months). So I signed up for Shannon’s emails and continued my research.

In those months, I worked on my own — finishing my website, creating a social presence, blogging, trying to create a technical flat, more research…  

And I realized I needed help.

I didn’t find any other programs as thorough as Factory45 and knew I had to move forward. It didn’t make sense for me to spin my wheels on my own anymore.

In addition, there was a ton of social proof from the members of the StartUp Fashion community (another amazingly helpful membership, by the way). There are quite a few Factory45 alums in the group that highly recommend Shannon’s program.

Here’s a taste of what Factory45 included:

  • Demystification of the fashion industry
  • Exact steps to create an actual garment and go into production
  • Extensive databases of ethical suppliers, samplemakers, and manufacturers
  • Email templates and tactics for outreach to ensure you’re sounding like an industry pro
  • Guidance on how to establish yourself in the content and e-commerce spaces as well as how to launch to an audience ready to buy your product
  • Strategy to fund your first production run
  • And media outreach 

I didn’t have any of this prior to the program. 

And without it, I’m not sure if I’d have found my supplier or samplemaker by now. Finding the right manufacturer may have been even harder, especially when ethical practices and small minimums can be so rare.

There’s no “woo-woo” or fluff here. Every lesson is action-packed with how-tos, videos, interviews, and supplemental information. And if you need more help, Shannon is just an email away with a rapid response time.

As a business owner, it’s hard to do everything on your own. And I know that without Factory45, I’d be still trying to figure out what a “muslin” is.

So, what are the two foremost tips I can give you from one founder to the next?

First, don’t listen to your limiting beliefs – they aren’t real.

Second, of course, join Factory45 as soon as you can – you won’t regret it.


This is a guest post from Factory45’er Amber Rankin, founder of Feel Good Swim, and all thoughts are her own. To keep up with Amber’s journey of starting a swimwear company, you can subscribe here or follow her on Instagram here.

sustainable fashion advice

I recently got an email from one of my current Factory45’ers asking if I had any tips and advice for life as an entrepreneur:

“You’ve done such an excellent job sharing all of your knowledge in building a fashion business which has been invaluable for me. Would it be possible for you to even share some tips & tricks in regards to more general topics…”

And then she went on to list some of her specific questions that I’m going to answer for you today — Q+A style.

Thanks to Franziska for asking the questions — I hope the answers are helpful to all of you!


BEST PRODUCTIVITY HACKS?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about productivity it’s that different systems work for different people. There is no “one size fits all,” so I can only tell you what works for me.

1.) Create triggers. Triggers are very small things you do to signify the start of a certain task. (Yes, this is what Pavlov did with his dogs and it works.) So for example, I light a candle before I sit down to write. Or I drink iced coffee instead of hot coffee to signify the start of a bigger task. Or I turn on classical piano when I need to outline a big-picture project.

2.) Choose a location where you can get “in flow.” I’ve written more about this here. I’m most productive when I’m working from the desk in my home office or at the library.

3.) Look for big chunks of time instead of small spurts of time. I know that I need at least 1.5 hours to really sit down and get something done. If I have less than 1.5 hours, then I designate that time for answering emails, writing Instagram captions or organizing my to-do list and calendar.


HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE YOUR WORK DAYS?

This is easier now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur and not working a side-job as I did when I was first starting out. 

To be honest, when I was bartending from 7pm to 2am and working on my business during the day, I don’t even remember how I organized my time… it was a blur. 

But this is what my week looks like now, once my son is off to daycare:

9:30-10:30AM | Go through my to-do list on Asana, answer any pressing emails, get organized, drink coffee, settle in.

10:30-12PM | Accomplish one medium-sized task before lunch. It could be something like writing an SEO brief for an upcoming YouTube episode, or creating an email for the Market45 newsletter, or outlining a new email automation series.

12-1PM | Break for lunch. And I mean, really break. I’ll usually read or watch a show or the news.

1PM-3PM | Accomplish one big task. This would be something like writing a blog post, writing a YouTube script, filming or recording a new project, or researching, brainstorming and outlining upcoming big projects.

3-3:30PM | Then I usually reserve the last half hour for any wrap-up admin that needs to be done before I leave to pick up my son.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve limited my daily to-do list to only trying to accomplish two significant tasks per day — no more than that. 

It keeps me from getting overwhelmed or disappointed when I’m not able to do “all the things.” And as far as productivity goes, it’s worked out so far.

work/life


DO YOU HAVE A SELF-CARE ROUTINE?

I wouldn’t call it a routine, but I definitely prioritize my self-care. I’m very lucky to be married to another entrepreneur who equally co-parents. It makes all the difference in being able to take care of myself mentally, emotionally, intellectually, etc… 

  • I don’t check social media during the day (for the most part). This helps me avoid distraction, the comparison game and all of the other negatives that come from being sucked into an Instagram hole.
  • I’m an introvert so I need alone time to recharge. I’ll curl up with a book, go for a walk, listen to a podcast or lay down and close my eyes — even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
  • I have a hard “no work on weekends” rule. Even before I had a baby, I was pretty strict about not opening my computer on the weekends. This allowed me to truly reboot for Mondays. I know this isn’t always possible when you’re first starting out because weekends are your free time to actually work on your business. In that case, I would pick one or two other times during the week to designate as your “no work” zone — even if it’s just every Tuesday night or some other random time.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE BEING A FULL-TIME ENTREPRENEUR WITH HAVING A FAMILY?

Probably the same way as people who work full-time jobs! It’s not easy. I know I’m lucky to have the means to hire childcare and I wouldn’t be able to run my business without that help. 

One thing I like about having a business and having a kid is that there’s a finite beginning and end to my workday. I’ve been forced to consolidate my work schedule, and I’ve found that I’m more productive during that time because I know I have a deadline.

But I definitely look back on my time before parenthood and wonder what I did with all of that freedom! To those of you out there who are working a “real” job, while starting a business and raising kids, I truly applaud you. 

work/life


DID YOU WORK ANOTHER JOB WHILE BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?

Yes, and I do not subscribe to the common advice that you should just “Quit your job and follow your dreams!” 

One of the best decisions I made was to work a side job until I truly knew I had a business that could sustain my lifestyle, as well as some money saved for back-up.

As I mentioned, I was a bartender for a really long time before I took the leap to full-time entrepreneurship. I didn’t want to be stressed about money and by working for as long as I did, I didn’t have to strain my business to pay my rent.


HOW DID YOU FINANCE BEING AN EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEUR?

I saved up $5,000 working after college and I invested all of it into starting my first business, {r}evolution apparel. My then co-founder also invested $5,000 and that lasted until we opened sales a year later. 

When we launched with a Kickstarter campaign, we were able to pre-sell our product so our customers essentially paid for the cost of production. Our first production run was over $40K and we didn’t have to spend a dime of our own money.

I also used this pre-selling model when I launched Factory45. I opened applications in March 2014, participants paid for their first month of tuition in May and the program didn’t start until June. 

This gave me an influx of cash to create the first module and a little time to get things up and running. I invested all of the money from the 2014 cohort back into the business for 2015.


HOW DID YOU STAY MOTIVATED WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?

The main thing that kept me motivated and held me accountable when I was first starting out was blogging. It was so helpful to have a process to document the journey of creating a business and a clothing company and it was the audience that the blog attracted that pushed us to keep going.

On a more general scale, I’ve noticed something over the past nine years of entrepreneurship that’s been hugely impactful. And it’s the simple act of declaring something to the world.

Tell the world you’re going to do something and you’re that much closer to actually accomplishing it.

 

 


YouTube CTA

 

Twice a year my pal Nicole and I offer a free online class for fashion entrepreneurs.

We each have our separate companies — she’s the founder of StartUp Fashion and I run Factory45 — but we like to combine efforts every once in a while to help as many new designers as we can.

So for the last time this year, we’re going to host one more free class for all of you. 

And this one will focus on how to make a lasting impact on your brand that you can implement immediately.

On Tuesday, 9/17 join us for:

4 Steps for Making Massive Progress in Your Fashion Business

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • Mindset – confidence, fear, perfectionism and how to manage the mental game of running your own business
  • Business Operations – how to avoid over-planning & over-analyzing, how to create systems, how to implement scheduling tools and how to cut down on procrastination
  • Goal Setting – we’re talking actionable tasks vs. big picture ideas
  •  Finding Community – accountability, emotional support, collaboration, referrals & feedback

Again, this conversation is happening on Tuesday, September 17th at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.

Spots are limited to just 100 attendees so claim your spot here.

We’ll also open the conversation to Q+A at the end so bring your questions!

Nicole and I are all about “walking the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.”

So if you truly want to improve your business (no matter what stage you’re in), then you have to take action to do it.

Free classes like this are one of the best ways to spend your time, so don’t miss this opportunity. 

(Anyone who has joined us before knows we make it worth your while.) 

Click here to RSVP to join us.

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

 

 

P.S. Know someone who would love to join us? Share this link with them!

 

 

Can you really launch a fashion line without going to fashion school?

YES.

Right around this time every year, I start to hear from many of you who want to apply to Factory45.

The biggest concern?

I don’t have a fashion background!
I didn’t go to fashion school!
I don’t know how to design or sew!

I ONLY have an idea!

And what do I have to say to that?

Great!

To be the right fit for the Factory45 program, you only need an idea in your head.

We’ll figure out the rest.

And today, to celebrate the launch of the Factory45 YOUTUBE channel — I’m sharing 3 reasons you can absolutely launch a fashion line without going to fashion school.

I’m going to use this channel to share tips and advice for every stage of running a sustainable fashion brand.

So, if you’re into video and want to see more of them, please click here and “Subscribe” to the Factory45 channel. You’ll simply get pinged when new videos go up (every Wednesday!)

And if you have suggestions or topics you’d like me to cover in a 3-5 minute video, then I’m ALL ears – simply email me at shannon@factory45.co.

More next week and in the meantime,

Check out the first two videos here >>

 


Last month, on a whim, I decided to start a YouTube channel.

I know, I sound like a 17-year-old beauty blogger.

The reasons for creating videos were obvious (which I won’t get into right now) but beyond filming the actual content, I had no idea where to start.

So, I bought an online course that teaches YouTube for entrepreneurs.

While I thought I could probably figure it out on my own, I didn’t want to.

I knew there was so much more that went into the strategy behind YouTube, and I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do step by step.

So, I got to work.

And as I started going through the course, researching content ideas, writing scripts, sifting through Google Keywords, I started to wonder:

What did I get myself into?

Because, to be honest, the whole process not only felt unnatural to me, but very uncomfortable.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars creating the highest-quality video content for the Factory45 program and now I was supposed to sit in front of my laptop webcam and not try to make it look perfect?

Every ounce of my being wanted to shoot and reshoot and have multiple camera angles and great lighting and a professional set.

But guess what? When you have zero YouTube subscribers and haven’t made one video yet, you don’t get a professional set.

You start where you are — with what you have.

As I filmed the first four videos, I had to remind myself over and over: Progress over perfection, progress over perfection, progress over perfection.

I could come up with every excuse to procrastinate:

“I shouldn’t shoot today because the ring light hasn’t arrived.”

“I shouldn’t shoot today because there’s construction noise outside.”

“I shouldn’t shoot today because I’m getting a haircut on Friday…”

Instead, I told myself: Just get the first four videos out there, see if they help your people and then see if they help other people discover Factory45.

Because here’s the thing:

If I spend months creating videos and never grow my viewership past my mom and my mother-in-law, then at least I’ll know it was a “failed” experiment that isn’t worth pursuing.

That’s the only way to know if an idea is truly worthwhile — by putting it out into the world and testing it.

The timing is never going to be perfect, you’re never going to feel ready and yes, it’s going to feel vulnerable and scary as hell.

But what’s the alternative?

The alternative is playing small, never taking a risk and being too afraid to put yourself out there.

So, secret #5 is this: To build a successful business, you have to be willing to start before you’re ready.

Whether it’s launching a first-time fashion business, a brand new collection or a YouTube channel of all things, there is never going to be a better time than now.

Because whether you wait another month, or another year or another five years, you’re going to wish you had started today.

There is always a small step you can take now to set you up for bigger steps tomorrow — especially since everything takes longer than you think it will,

So, the most important thing I’ve learned in the past five years is this: Success comes from experimenting with new ideas and not being afraid to feel uncomfortable.

When you push the limits and stop waiting for perfection or permission, then that’s when incredible things happen.

 


This is a multi-part series, celebrating the five-year business anniversary of Factory45. If you missed it, the other four posts are here:

Secret #1 on starting niche is here.

Secret #2 on dealing with competition is here.

Secret #3 on the myth of “following your passion” is here.

Secret #4 on spending money is here.

 

So, here’s an unpopular (secretly popular) topic:

Money.

More specifically, how to start a business when you don’t have a lot of money.

If you scour the internet, you can find enough stories of multi-millionaires who started from zero, eating chickpeas out of the can while sleeping on their friend’s futon.

But there’s a less extreme version of this, and it’s far more common.

It’s the story of the woman craving a creative outlet. She’s managed to save a small “safety net” of cash and even has some disposable income at the end of the month.

She sees acquaintances on Facebook breaking out on their own.

And she wonders to herself, how did they do it?

What do they know that I don’t?

So she starts to research.

“How to start a clothing line,” she types into Google.

From Marie Claire to WikiHow to “Startup Bros,” she faces 938,000,000 search results.

Overwhelm begins to set in, but she makes one conscious choice:

To take the first step.


This was my reality in 2010.

I was just starting out, trying to launch a sustainable fashion brand, and I had no idea what was what or who was who.

The entire industry was a mystery to me with limited access.

Nevertheless, I committed to putting $5,000 into a business bank account as an investment in a company I didn’t yet have.

I’ll never forget transferring that hard-earned cash as one lump sum, knowing that it was all of my savings and probably money that I would never see again.

It was a calculated risk, and there were no guarantees.

When I look back on that first bank transfer I remember it as the first of many times I took a risk for my business without knowing how it would turn out.

Nine years later, I now know it’s the name of the entrepreneurial game.

Whether it was investing money into a Kickstarter campaign I wasn’t sure would be successful or hiring a business coach or buying the numerous online courses I’ve enrolled in, what I’ve learned is this:

You have to be willing to invest in your business before you know it’s a sure thing.

I don’t mean that you should take out a second mortgage or drain your 401K, but you have to be willing to spend money to start or grow a business.

There is no way around it.

So, how do you do this without succumbing to the fear of bankruptcy and homelessness?

Create a “worst case scenario” plan.

Over the years, I’ve always told myself that if I lost all of my savings I could jump behind a bar and start pouring drinks again. As much as I hoped my bartending days were over, I knew that I could make cash quickly if I had to.

For you, it might be nannying or waitressing or admin or cleaning houses or freelancing.

Depending on how dire your “worst case scenario” plan is, having one can do two things:

  1. Be an indication that you’re not ready to take action on your business.
  2. Or liberate you.

It’s the litmus test you need to make a big financial decision.

So, secret #4 is this: To start a successful business, you must be willing to invest in uncertainty.

Because there is not an entrepreneur I know who got their company off the ground for free.

 


This is a multi-part series, celebrating the five-year business anniversary of Factory45. If you missed “secret #1” you can read it here, if you missed “secret #2” it’s here and “secret #3” is here.

There is a lie being told in the entrepreneurial world.

It’s a false narrative that’s being targeted at people who are unhappy with their current work life and are looking for a change.

Maybe you’re one of those people.

The lie is this:

Follow your passion.
Quit your job and chase your dreams.
Do work you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

We see it every day: the Facebook and Instagram ads promising your “dream life” by people who look like they’re living their dream life.

It’s all palm trees and perfectly-foamed lattes and bright, white lighting. It’s breakfast trays in bed and bouquets of peonies and red painted lips.

But do you know what’s behind those beautiful photos and “dream lives?”

Many, many, many months (probably years) of it not looking that way.

Because the truth is, to become the picture of success — while creating a business that lasts — it requires this:

Doing work you don’t want to do.

In fact, when you’re first starting out, you can expect to do more work that you don’t want to do than work you actually enjoy.

And usually, it requires running your business as a side hustle while *still* going to your “real job.”

We all know there’s no such thing as overnight success.

But what I don’t think we always remember is that there’s so much more to the story than what we see on social media.

Chances are:

The fashion brand with the perfectly curated Instagram feed started with an iPhone and a Dropbox folder of stock photos.

The designer working in a beautifully-lit studio started in a converted home office that barely fit a desk.

The CEO flying first class to a paid speaking gig spent years sitting in the back of the plane to speak for free.

If you’re ready to start your own business, you should absolutely do it. It’s one of the most rewarding journeys you can take.

But there should be no illusions.

It will require “grunt work” — the things you think everyone else is outsourcing to interns — are the things you need to do yourself when you’re first starting out.

Packing and fulfilling orders, writing and scheduling your own social media posts, creating your emails and blog posts, going to networking events, dealing with tech issues that make you want to pull your hair out.

Those “annoying” tasks that tempt you to procrastinate or abandon them all together are the things you’ll look back on with genuine appreciation.

They’re the things that will make you grow, build new skills and realize that you’re capable of more than you think.

Because every successful entrepreneur I know has a similar story of doing work they didn’t want to do.

That’s what it takes.

So secret #3 is this: Successful entrepreneurs do things they’re not passionate about because they know that it’s not about passion.

It’s about purpose.

 

 

If you’re ready to put in the work to start your dream business, let’s do it together. Applications to Factory45 open in May 2020!


This is a multi-part series, celebrating the five-year business anniversary of Factory45. If you missed “secret #1” you can read it here, if you missed “secret #2” it’s here.

I felt like I was going to throw up.

My stomach churned and my heart raced as I stared at my computer in disbelief.

It had only been six months since I stayed at her apartment, attended a documentary screening together and went out for ice cream with her sister and husband.

I thought we were friends.

And now, as I stared at her newly-launched website, it hit me hard.

“Sustainable Fashion Business Incubator,” it said in big, bold typeface.

My friend — someone who I trusted and supported and grown close to — had launched a competing (almost identical) program to Factory45.

As I scrolled down her site, the similarities between the two programs were nauseating. There were even entire paragraphs taken from my website and plagiarized.

When I got on the phone to ask her why she would launch such a similar program — one that I had already been running for two years — she insisted her course was different.

Five minutes into the conversation, there wasn’t anything left to say


There is nothing that can quite prepare you for discovering your first real competitor.

I’ve gotten more than one late-night email from Factory45 grads along the lines of:

“Shannon, do you know about this brand? It’s so similar to mine! What do I do?”

The first time it happens, you’re allowed to freak out.

It’s normal to enter a state of panic.

As long as you don’t quit.

Because that’s likely going to be your first instinct.

“Well!” *throws hands up in the air* “If she’s doing it, then there’s no point in me doing it! Guess that dream is OVER.”

As soon as those words come into your mind, here’s what I want you to do:

Walk away.

But only for a day.

Go to yoga, play with your kids, have dinner with your partner, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

The next day, come back.

Because you’re going to find that the initial disappointment of discovering a competitor will have diminished — at least slightly.

Gradually, you’re going to feel reinvigorated by your idea and your business and you’re going to be glad you didn’t give up on it. For all of these reasons.

And as your business progresses and your customer-base grows, the concern about competition is going to fade.  

You’re going to become more certain about your place in the industry and more confident that you’re the person to pull it off.

You’re going to realize that there really is room for all of us.

Let me repeat that, there is room for all of us.

Having been through that experience with my friend and seeing even more competitors come into the space since then, I’ve been able to get a grip on how competition makes me feel.

While I’m aware of it, I generally don’t worry about it anymore. Not because I don’t still have fears, but because I know it doesn’t serve me in any positive way.

So, this is Secret #2: Successful businesses aren’t derailed by competition. They don’t slow down, they stay the course and they don’t get distracted.

Most of all, they keep showing up.

 

 

P.S. If you’re wondering what happened to my friend’s competing program, she went out of business after a year. While I did come to terms with there being enough room for both of us, I also saw firsthand how hard it is to stay in business if it’s a direct replicate of someone else’s idea. Needless to say, I learned a lot of lessons.

This is a multi-part series, celebrating the five-year business anniversary of Factory45. If you missed “secret #1” you can read it here.


Factory45 Instagram CTA