People ask me all the time what is the one piece of advice I have for starting a business. My answer is that there is no one answer to that question as there are many things that make a business successful.
Looking back on my career, here are five that I have found to be the most valuable and have helped me gain the most traction.
Do Your Homework
One thing I stress everywhere I go is the absolute necessity to understand your market. That means studying your competitors, the condition of your market, where the market is going, the average lifetime value of your product, EVERYTHING.
The ironic thing is, the moment you think you know everything you realize how much there still is to learn. The greatest entrepreneurs are those who continue learning no matter how great a level of success they have achieved.
This concept I call “doing your homework”, and it is something that has helped me to adapt when FUBU was hitting the valley of its seven year cycle. It was from this studying and doing my homework that gave me the foresight to make the move into acquiring other brands like Willie Esco and Coogi so we could keep the wheel turning and maintain our revenue stream.
Stay Singular in Your Focus
Regardless of what your particular niche may be, you need to stay singular in your focus. You need to understand that just because you are successful in one market does not be you will be successful in another.
I learned that in a rather abrupt lesson from Phil Knight when I called him up one day asking him if he was getting into the hip-hop market. He very clearly stated to me that the sports market was his focus and that he had just hit the tip of the iceberg… then he hung up on me.
That is the kind of focus you need to have and why Nike has achieved such a high level of success.
Your Competition Is There and You Don’t Even Know It
One piece of advice I give to entrepreneurs all the time is that someone else is always working to take their place. They also need to know that however hot their brand may be at a given time, there will always be a new brand to come in from a different angle to take their place. I think this is very important as it keeps an entrepreneur on his or her toes. It sure keeps me on my toes!
Understanding Your Distribution Model
I always say distribution is key. No matter what you create, if you have no eyeballs on it and nobody is purchasing it, what do you have?
You need to know your lane, whatever that lane may be, and take advantage of the full level of distribution within that niche.
You need to be narrow and deep, never wide and shallow. Find your customer base and get respect from them. If they believe in you, they will continue to buy from you. If you try to be everything to everyone you will spread yourself too thin and you will have no loyal customer base.
Your Weakness Is Your Greatest our Strength In Disguise
Lastly, and most importantly, I have been telling entrepreneurs for a very long time that their greatest strengths lie in not what they have but what they don’t have. It is all a matter of perception as what you may think is your biggest weakness can actually be the spark to the fire that fuels your success.