I am involved with a program called Co.Starters. Co.Starters is a program that is facilitated by a local entrepreneur to help aspiring entrepreneurs put ideas into action.
Business problem: There is very little selection for fashionable women's football apparel. The market is over saturated with boxy, screen- printed t-shirts. I am out to develop very soft, flattering, cute, and fashionable t-shirts for women.
My first assignment is to interview business owners who has a product based business (since my business offering is product based). Would anyone share their experiences with me as an entrepreneur and allow me to interview you? A list of the interview questions are below.
Type of business:
Number of years in business:
Tell me about starting your business. Why did you start it?
What is your role/job? What sort of responsibilities do you have?
What is your typical day like?
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
What is the hardest thing about owning your own business?
How long did it take for your business to start making money?
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start a business? What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?
Could I spend a day with you seeing what you do?
An eager Co.Starters Student
I am a business partner of the founder of a software firm in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. While I didn't start the business, I do know enough about the history and ongoing challenges and rewards to offer you some insight, which I have answered below. Please feel free to message me if you would like to discuss.
Type of business: Software
Number of years in business: 20
Tell me about starting your business. Why did you start it? We make an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Email. At the time, there were very few affordable options for small business owners to use an email system without a large investment.
What is your role/job? What sort of responsibilities do you have? Marketing and Business Development. I work with resellers around the world to understand market changes, help them position/message/improve the software, and look for complimentary business partners to develop new sources of revenue.
What is your typical day like? I wear many hats within my area of responsibility. From interacting with customers, guiding staff, competitive analysis, product management and marketing, etc.
What is the best thing about owning your own business? Flexibility and controlling how to impact the lives of employees in a positive way. Not having to work within the bureaucracy of a large corporation.
What is the hardest thing about owning your own business? Fighting the messaging and budgets of billion dollar corporations with whom I compete. Making tough decisions based upon factor outside of my control that could impact the livelihood of my employees. Working with limited resources. Having worked in Fortune 500 companies, there are a lot of resources and a lot of waste. As a small business, working smarter not harder is key.
How long did it take for your business to start making money? Within 6 months. The beautiful thing about software: no inventory.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start a business? What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started? Find good people with whom you have trust. Understand that you don't know everything required to make your business a success and when you outsource or hire others to do those jobs, trust but verify. Don't assume every person you deal with has the same moral compass.
Hi Maranda, I am not an entrepreneur, but I do have a lot of experience in retail / manufacturing, so I'd like to suggest a few thoughts and questions for you to discuss when you have your interviews.
1) Your idea is to target football apparel, but that limits you with seasonal relevance. How do you take your idea and give it broader appeal for 12 months of the year and a wider fan base with additional sports?
2) When you speak to the business owners, ask them how they manage inventory as it's the biggest issue in the retail sector. Tight lead-times, with an ability to quickly react to the changing fashion trends is critical. Too little or too much inventory can shut you down.
3) How does the small owner have product that differentiates themselves from the big box retailers who compete on price and volume? What distinguishes that individual location to bring in the consumer?
4) How are they managing the on line traffic which each year becomes a bigger piece of sales vs brick and mortar?
As you get further along , if you would like to have a discussion about manufacturing and how to bring your product to market, I would be happy to talk with you.
GOOD LUCK and thank you for your service to our country
Best Regards, Mike @ email@example.com
I would be more than happy to help- I'm a business owner and have also had experience in mens and womens sportswear retail when I was in the golf industry. i just signed up for this program so I'm not sure how it works- What's the next step Captain?
Thank you so much Mike for your response :) I will keep you in mind for the future. To start it will just be me and my ink and screen to print the t shirts. The question you bring up are valuable one's and I will add them during the interview.
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