One of the easiest ways for any aspiring fashion maven to start a business is with a potentially lucrative t-shirt business. There are a number of reasons why t-shirts are the perfect path to independent entrepreneurship. For one, the profit margins can be quite good even if you don’t achieve a high volume of sales. Second, you don’t need a whole lot of seed money to get going. Finally, your eventual market reach is limited only by your imagination. As such, the t-shirt game is one of the best industries for first time business owners.
The Research Phase: Legal Issues & Logistics
Before you embark on your new path, be sure to thoroughly research any local business laws that might apply to your venture. This basically means business licenses and taxes. Whether you’re operating online, on the street or from a commercial location, your local government will want a cut. Beyond that, determine which target demographics you’ll be going after before you spend a lot of money on any physical merchandise. Decide whether you will target moms, teens, new dads, enthusiasts of a particular sport or techies.
Materials, Design & Economics
The next step is to outline a plan for your eventual production phase. You’ll have to figure out what kinds of materials you’d like to use, how to design your graphics and what you need to make per shirt to turn a profit. You can easily create awesome graphics in any desktop program like Photoshop from your home office. Whether you opt for cotton or synthetic fibers for your shirts, you’ll have to do some number-crunching to figure out which materials are more cost-effective based on your price points. Screen printing vs digital imaging is another aspect to take into consideration.
Producing the Shirts
Once you’ve gotten a business plan and an array of t-shirts sorted out, you’ll need to move on to the production phase. You can either do it yourself or outsource this step to online t-shirt manufacturers. The DIY option, which typically entails a heat press or a digital printing machine, is more expensive up front but boasts better profit margins. The online option is essentially free if you go through Etsy or Zazzle, though you’ll earn less per shirt. Depending on how many shirts you plan on selling, either route is pretty appealing under the right circumstances.
Marketing the Merchandise
Finally, you’ll need to actually sell your t-shirts. Both offline and online promotion strategies should be employed for maximum revenue. Hit up local festivals, concerts and conventions to create on-the-ground buzz. On the Internet, be sure to target your demographic’s favorite stomping grounds whether they’re forums or social media sites like Reddit. Just don’t be too aggressive. Create a great product and the merchandise will eventually sell itself given enough time. Viral marketing when it comes to things like t-shirts is tricky, though Snorg Tees seems to have figured it out.
How to Proceed
To begin with, take care of the bureaucratic red tape before you get started. It’s always an important part of starting any business. Get those business licenses and figure out the tax equation first. Next, solidify your relationships with either local manufacturers or online t-shirt purveyors to ensure a steady, cheap supply of product. Finally, be ready to spend a lot of time promoting your business. The “overnight success story” is quite often a myth. Most businesses that eventually succeed do so through hard work and dogged persistence.