Honestly speaking, we have experienced our fair share of mistakes while launching HL Threads, from picking the wrong silk screen printer, to overstocking our inventory, to not having the right initial launch strategy. These are issues that exist for creators, who are willing to put their egos at risk and go after their dreams. This top 5 list could have been a top 10 or 20 list, when I think about it, but for the sake of focusing on the 5 things that made a significant difference in our new brand. Follow these 5 must do’s and get your new brand or project off to the best start
1) Be clear on the goal and really know why you matter
Knowing what you are working towards is critical. Never losing sight of your end result will allow you to make sure that every small task and activity, is moving you one step closer to your goal. Clarity of your goals is your roadmap and the honesty trigger, when you find yourself considering new products or expanding your project. Knowing exactly how you plan to change the world is the key to keeping your spark alive and being scattered brain is the quickest way to lose steam. Change is inevitable when you launch a new project or brand. A year from now something will look slightly different and 3 years from now, things may be totally different. Expect the change, but even better embrace the change and use it to propel your brand forward. At HL Threads, we made mistakes in the beginning, by trying to be too many things to too many people. So we had to reevaluate why we started and our goal of helping others and this has allowed us to as you would say “see the forest, through the trees”.
2) Create the sometimes unseemly customer buy-in
Your story is told by you but more importantly it’s believed by your customers. Magic is made when your brand goals find that perfect connection with a potential customer and excite their belief in who you are and what you do. Building a community of not just customers, but brand loyalist is what your project or brand needs to survive in this day and age. One thing we are constantly working on improving is reaching out to the people that mean the most to our brand. Learning from them, co-creating with them and doing our best to make their lives better, is the fuel we are using to generate genuine customer buy-in. If you love what you do, then what better way to increase that love, other than creating great relationships with people that make it all worth it. Another way to consider creating buy-in from your target market is via incentives. Incentives not only help you grow an engaged base, but allow you to give back to a group of people that will tell your story with passion and willingness. For HL Threads, we are striving to grow our college campus programs that are the heartbeat of our brand. We found a great balance of incentivizing college students to co-create with us, giving them a jumpstart into retail and allowing them to give back some positive vibes, as we retail for a better purpose.
3) Find the right partners
Remember, remember and remember this one…I know in the beginning everyone is excited to launch something new. The hope is that everyone stays committed through the ups and the downs. However, we know things happen and it can alter team dynamics. Picking the right partners, whether Co-Founders or new teammates, is super critical to setting the tone for your brand or project. These are the people who will work the late nights with you, struggle through the trials and be your biggest champions when you succeed.
Having the right partner(s) can accelerate your brand energy and encourage out of the box thinking. No one person has ever been successful by themselves. We all need people around us to make us better, the goal is simply finding the right people. When you find that awesome team, make sure you set the right expectations. Your project and brand is your baby, but you can’t expect others to grind if you don’t show them how. Be the example and let your team follow you to success.
4) Refine, refine and then refine again
The 4th must do, is something that should always be on a pioneers mind. Evolution is necessary for improvement of your brand or project. This is where your awesomeness is created. Your first piece of work is never your best piece of work, so when we refine constantly we ensure that we deliver our best version. The concept sounds simple, but trust me through the hustle and bustle, sometimes it's hard to get the quality time to sit down and create that next best thing. Making products that inspire people are a combination of things mentioned in this list of must do’s, but all things are made possible in the refining process.
5) Don’t “wave” the white flag
Let me say it first, creating something new is fun, a great learning experience and most of all difficult. There are times where you get the anxiety that maybe it won’t work out, you doubt yourself, or maybe it's just not what you thought it would be. In this moment, this is where your passion and purpose kick in.You have to believe more than everyone else around you, that the world needs what you have to offer. If you quit, figure out a way to un-quit, because if you are still in pursuit of your dreams, you can still reach them, but if you quit, you will never see it happen. Success is a long-term deal and if you desire your brand and project to survive, you must stay in the race. You cannot; you must not; wave the white flag.
This must do list, is a quick no-lie and honest look into some of our struggles as a new brand. It's a fun thing for me to be able to help other inspired people, in the pursuit of their goals. I hope you go 5 for 5 in these must do’s and get your brand and project off to the best start.