Since launching the #SmartBrownGirl line of t-shirts and sweatshirts, I’ve been receiving questions about how did I take an idea, produce and then sell it. So I dedicated this #TechTuesday to answering all those questions and providing a few extra tips to help folks get their ideas off the ground and selling.

sbg-greek-ad1. is your best friend. And there’s not an ounce of shade in that sentiment. Any business venture is going to take research, there is no way to circumvent that and it’s really for your best interest.

2. Friends are not always the best people to do business with. Many of us would like to do business with friends and family because it’s bringing your community up and who doesn’t want to flourish with the people that they love. In the world of running a business though, you really want to work with the people who can get the job done the best and most effectively. Do not make excuses for the lackluster skills and work ethic that your friends are showing you, take that as a clear sign that you need to seek out other like minded people in order to get your business running.

3. Design work is not free. It’s offensive for designers, who have spent time and money to craft their skill, to have to funnel through requests asking them for free work. That goes for photographers as well. It seems as though the design is always the first area that businesses want to skimp on paying for but still demand high quality. It doesn’t work that way. This should be the first area where you go for top quality. Your logo, marketing materials, web design carry your brand. Quality logo designs can be done for $75-250.

4. Good customer service is the foundation of your business. It all boils down to setting the right customer expectation and keeping your word. If you find yourself where a mistake is made or about to be made, you should be the first to own it, contact your customers and offer a solution that you can actually follow through on.

5. The more effort you put into your business the more consumers will respect it, so own everything you do. For the digital space that means have a clean and easy to use website. For shops, BigCartel is a great start. For people that want to deal less with the website upkeep, Etsy is another option. Be sure to purchase your URL (at most $11, GoDaddy is forever having a sale) and own your name across all social media accounts.

6. Other business owners are not your free consultant. In theory, it never hurts to ask a question, but do not take it personal when someone hits you with a ‘no,’ directs you to, or your do not get any answer. This is business, people have worked hard to establish profitable relationships, negotiate contracts and generally just put in the foot work to get it done. I get a lot of questions, that I could charge a legit fee for answering. Consultants get paid good money to help establish businesses, so appreciate the insight any business owner gives you but always be mindful that they owe you nothing.

7. Be prepared to negotiate. And that’s not all talk, that means having your proposals/pitch clearly written out, any visuals in line and that all materials clearly and concisely explain what your business it about, how others will benefit from entering into a partnership in it. If you have the flexibility to be a Print on Demand product, that will give you greater flexibility with negotiating production deals with the company you use to make our product. There will still be upfront overhead costs, but not having to purchase your product in bulk, it greatly minimizes those costs.

That’s it! Hope this helps and you can get over any fears to finally produce those ideas you’ve been holding onto for so long! Be sure to pick up a #SmartBrownGirl shirt in the mean time 🙂