I'm little over a year into this thing now and safe to say I have learnt more about myself, business, content and marketing in the past 18 months than I have in the 10+ years prior, working a 9-5.
Thought I'd jot down today four big lessons, straight off the top of my head, that I have learnt along the way.
Hopefully it can help guide whatever it is you decide to do!
1. Be prepared to self-learn
Okay, so why the fuck don't we learn any of this stuff in school?!
If you're like me you will start your journey knowing nothing about E-commerce, accounting, budgeting, taxes, marketing and just general financial literacy.
The daily ins-and-outs of running your own business is going to be tough, but it's something you can work through.
I was lucky enough to have smart people and mentors around me I could lean on for advice - and those willing to ask for help will find they likely do too.
Being humble and understanding it's okay to be completely clueless is the best thing you can do.
I remember my first meeting with my accountant, leaving and feeling like I was the dumbest guy in the room.
By meeting three-four, I know a little bit more. I understand a little bit more.
If you're open and prepared to learn, the whole process becomes a lot easier -and actually enjoyable.
2. Bring your own flavour
This is a big one cos I feel people have misinterpreted what I have meant by this in the past.
Since starting Vintage Kit a year or more ago I have seen, shit, probably 40-50 people reach out to me and say 'you've inspired me to start my own vintage page' or guys who are already established DM and ask for tips and advice.
I'm transparent as fuck - I write down everything I know right here on the website for all to read and podcast everything in between.
I say all the time, copy and paste.
I'm not doing anything new, take what I'm doing and run with it - BUT, do it with your own flavour.
And that's what people miss.
I've seen plenty of brands that look exactly like mine lately.
They sell similar kit, use the same emojis and even half talk like me (weird).
That's not the play - cos you won't beat me at my own game.
I take inspiration everyday from my mentor, turned mate, turned business partner Ice, and his brand YKTR.
I copy and paste exactly what they are doing - BUT with my own flavour.
If I jumped on the camera and started walking like him, talking like him, I'd just be a poor man's version.
People can feel when it's not genuinely you.
If you're starting your own brand/company be true to yourself.
It's fine to be inspired. It's fine to take lessons from others - but be authentic.
Don't just copy the business model off another. You'll lose.
3. Create genuine content - and shit loads of it
If you ain't into what you're selling, don't expect people to buy it.
It sounds pretty simple, but I see a lot of people getting into not just vintage, but e-commerce in general just to make a buck.
That's fine, but if you don't truly love your product your content will reflect that - and the consumer as a result.
I had a mate trying to end a flat argument the other day, ask me how much a follower was worth, dollar wise.
It was a strange question because I had never really put a monetary value on followers before.
When I first started, followers were the goal. Because that made sense to me, the more followers I get the more sales I'll make.
But I now know that's just not true.
This mate had someone purpose to him; they could charge $2,500 and guarantee a brand 10K followers on insta.
The brand in question would also hand over all social media management responsibility to that third party thereafter and give up a stake in the company.
Meaning from the jump, the hypothetical brand's social presence was cold and the 10k followers were not what we call engaged followers.
Someone who starts their own, let's say clothing brand, locally and has 500 followers could easily make just as much sales as someone with 10K.
Because it's not about the number, it's about how connected the consumer or customer is to you personally/your brand.
And you achieve that by creating fuck loads of genuine content.
Content you enjoy, built around a product or service you believe in.
If people vibe with it, they will support you.
In short, don't buy followers, k.
4. Start lean
Stop putting off launching your company. Just fucking start.
Going back to my first point, I've learnt that you are never going to be ready.
You learn from doing, and failing (over and over again).
You don't need 10k in stock.
You don't need a perfectly built website, thousands of dollars in the bank, an airtight business plan or third party investment.
I launched Vintage Kit, on Instagram, with about 10 shirts, 30 followers and $100 odd in the bank.
Document the journey from the jump and bring people along for the ride.
Coming out of the gate perfectly polished is great, but unrealistic because in the eyes of so many people their brand or product is never quite ready.
So they delay, delay, delay.
If you're nervous, pre-sale is a good way to gauge interest early on.
But don't put yourself in a financial hole right away and expect to make it all back.
Start lean - just fucking start, really.