What You Need to Do Now
Do the following tasks either before launch or during the early days of your startup. Custom Apparel Source understands the business side of launching a new company as well as the fun part, creating the apparel. It isn’t necessary to have these items finished, while we work on your apparel line. And some of the steps may be developed as we work on your apparel line. We are here every step of the way.
1. Determine viability
Be brutally honest. Your activewear startup needs to be something you can make a profit doing or delivering. Ask yourself: would you buy it? Run the numbers: will customers pay enough so that you can cover costs and make a profit?
2. Create a business plan
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.
3. Figure out the money
Most startups take a lot more time to get off the ground than you expect. Know where your living expenses for the first year will come from (savings, a job, spouse’s income, etc.). If you need financing for the business start investigating as soon as possible. Typical sample production runs $500-$1000 for development. I charge $375 for first 5 hours of consulting then work in 20 hour blocks. So it depends on how many items you are going to produce, but starting a brand with marketing and all may cost anywhere from $15-$30,000.
4. Choose a business or trade name
The business name is the name that your business is run under. Setting up the company as a corporation (see an attorney for this), setting up the bank account. For example Under Armour Inc. is the trade name for Under Armour. You can easily add a Inc. or LLC after the name or even operate under a partnership name.
5. Choose a brand name
You want a name that will stick in your target audience’s heads. And it shouldn’t already be taken by another company. Do Google searches and use a corporate name search tool to see if the name you have in mind is unique. Check at the state and Federal level. The business name and the brand name can be different. I strongly suggest not using your name for the company name.
6. Register a domain name
Get a matching domain to your business name. A gmail email address or a website with free hosting and a name like mysite.wordpress.com makes it seem like either (a) you are not running a real business or (b) you don’t plan to be around long.
7. Incorporate / figure out legal structure
Incorporating your company can protect your personal assets. Talk over structure (corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship) with your attorney and accountant.
8. Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) helps you separate yourself from your business. You’ll need it if you plan to incorporate your business or open a business bank account. Plus, with it you can avoid giving out your social security number (an opening to identity theft). EIN numbers are free; apply online.
9. Investigate and apply for business licenses
You may need one, if not several, business licenses for your startup, depending on your industry and where you are located. Most licenses are at the state or local level. Here in the United States, the SBA has a helpful business license & permits tool.
10. Set up a website
Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Today, it’s necessary for credibility. Even if your product is not yet built, you can start with company information and a splash page. Use terms that are searchable so that Google and other search engines will see that you have been in business for a while.
11. Register social media profiles
Getting set up on the major social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter, to start) will make marketing on them later easier. Also, it’s important to reserve your brand as a profile name.
12. Start your revenue stream
Start generating revenue as soon as possible. At the early stages of a startup there is never enough money – resist the temptation to wait until things are “perfect.” Oh, and get your lawyer to create any customer contract forms necessary.
13. Order business cards
As a startup founder, you’ll be doing a lot of networking, so order plenty of business cards. They are inexpensive enough that you can reorder them later if things change. Without cards you lack credibility.
14. Open a business bank account
It’s all too easy to use your personal bank account to pay for business expenses, but it becomes a gnarl to untangle later.
15. Set up your accounting system
Once you have your bank account set up, choose an accounting program. Start as you intend to go. Few things will doom your business faster than books that are a mess.
16. Assign responsibilities to co-founders
If you have one or more founders, it’s imperative that you decide who will do what up front. Put it in writing. Co-founder disagreements can destroy your business.
Contact Custom Apparel Source at email@example.com or 704-236-0568 and we can assist you with any and all of these steps. We work daily with professionals such as attorneys and CPA’s that work specifically with apparel companies so you can ask specific questions pertaining to launching an apparel line and what that entails.