As an entrepreneur myself, it’s been fascinating to watch the highs and lows of the entrepreneurs who have come through Factory45 in the past two years. It’s cliche to say, but starting a business is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Digging into some of those observations, I want to share the ones that I think could benefit any aspiring entrepreneur who is considering starting a company:
1.) No one ever really feels “ready.”
Just ask Factory45'er Angela who has two toddlers and travels around the country full time. As with most big decisions, timing is rarely perfect. But unless you have the confidence of Beyonce, it’s unlikely you’ll ever feel fully prepared to start a business. You can come up with a million excuses to talk yourself out of it, and yes it is scary, but doesn’t it help to know that no one else feels ready either?
2.) Networking is one of the most powerful resources you can leverage.
I can’t count the number of times we’ve been on a Factory45 group call when someone says they’re looking for X and someone else says they know someone who has X. Whether it’s a garment factory in Brooklyn or a natural dyeing contact or a suggestion for a rare type of “seaweed” fabric, the Factory45 crew does an incredible job of leveraging the network.
Going further, I've seen first-hand the power of the referral. Doors have opened for fabric options and production partners, simply by saying “so-and-so” referred me. The response rate is tenfold.
3.) You’ll know when to keep pushing for “better.”
Factory45'er Mikaela wasn’t sure it could be done. Multiple fabric suppliers told her that the fabric she wanted was impossible to get and “didn’t exist.” Refusing to take no for an answer, she continued to contact every person in the supplier database she received through Factory45, while also calling and “nicely harassing” (as she says) anyone else who would listen.
The result? She found affordable U.S.-grown organic cotton that fit her sustainability guidelines. There is a time to push and there is a time to concede. You’ll know when you should keep pushing.
4.) Let go of perfectionism.
All three cohorts of Factory45 entrepreneurs have had a heavy presence of self-prescribed perfectionists. Coming from all different career backgrounds, there’s been a steep learning curve to adjust to the idea that “good enough” is really “good enough.”
In the case of entrepreneurship, perfectionism can hold you back. It keeps you from clicking “publish” on a blog post. It inhibits you from ordering the sample yardage. It tempts you to throw in the towel over a minor technical glitch.
The most effective entrepreneurs know that it’s more important to get your message / brand / product out into the world than it is to wait until everything is perfect.
5.) The fashion industry is changing.
This has never been clearer to me than it is now. The revival of “Made in the USA” is real. And I’m so excited for the companies coming through Factory45 to be part of it.