So, you have been thinking about starting your own T-shirt business. As you figure it, T-shirts should be a fairly easy money-making enterprise because everybody buys them. You are on the right track. But don’t expect to throw up a website and start selling T-shirts right away. You have to do a few things first.
The key to business success is preparation. If you prepare before you launch, you stand a much greater chance of enjoying long-term success. How do you prepare? By following these five easy steps:
Step #1: Legally Establish Your Business
Your business must be established as a legal entity for tax purposes. You basically have three options: sole proprietor, limited liability corporation (LLC), or limited partnership (LP). In all likelihood, you’re going to go with a sole proprietorship. You will have to go down to your county office building to file a DBA. You may have to pay local license fees as well.
All the information about legally establishing your business is available from your county. Do not let the county intimidate you. Getting set up is really not hard. If you need help, there are plenty of DIY websites where you can download your forms and get help filling them out.
Step #2: Decide on a Niche
You can sell general T-shirts to a general audience if you want, but the real money is in finding a niche. Take Umai, for example. Their niche is the anime community. They started out selling anime T-shirts and sweatshirts. As the business has grown, they have added cell phone cases, coffee mugs, and even artwork.
Your niche could be anything. You could target sports lovers or nature lovers. You could cater to the legal cannabis crowd. The niche does not matter as much as deciding on one.
Step #3: Establish Your Sales Venue
Next, you are going to have to decide on a sales venue. Are you going to sell online or in person? In terms of a latter, do you plan to set up at a local flea market or rent a kiosk in a local shopping center? Whatever your choice, you will have to set up your selling venue before you can begin selling.
Step #4: Determine Who Will Do the Printing
Perhaps the biggest choice you have to make is who will handle printing your T-shirts. You can keep everything in-house by investing in your own printing equipment. You will have to spend a few thousand dollars upfront, but keeping things in-house gives you maximum control.
On the other hand, you can outsource the printing. You contract with a wholesaler who takes your original artwork and transforms it into custom printed items. If you don’t want to submit artwork, you can just choose from your wholesaler’s existing designs.
Step #5: Order Your Inventory
The last step in preparation for selling is ordering your first round of inventory. This is definitely going to cost you some money up front. Prepare for that. Also prepare to dump a large portion of your initial sales into buying more inventory. It could take a while for you to start realizing a solid profit. Don’t worry. That’s normal.
Now you know how to start your own T-shirt business in five easy steps. However, please know that this post serves only as a basic introduction. There is actually a lot more to know about running a business than you read here. If you don’t know the basics, do yourself a favor and do plenty of research before you take the plunge. Otherwise, you could end up losing big.