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Getting Through The Beginning: Our First Year Starting a Business

The risks were all reasonable and we knew we could offer a great set of products. Starting a business seemed like such a natural thing for us to do. We knew we would have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to get from point A to point B: from a few guys working around a table in a dorm room, to a buzzing and productive design shop. Prioritizing the business above all wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially when we were still in art school. It was frustrating to have to worry about projects due in class while also having deadlines with our clients. All this while learning the hard way on how to run a shop efficiently. However, having started the business while still in school turned out to be one of the reasons that got us through. The lack of responsibilities and bills as a college student allowed us to pursue Suits & Sandals without consequence.

Pursuing the goal of successfully starting a business was the easy part. Staying vigilant, hungry, optimistic and motivated was extremely difficult. When you’re just starting out, the smallest bump in the road could seem huge. There are times when giving up is the most logical and sane choice. People have always told me that starting a business is absolutely insane. I believe that statement now more than ever.

We embraced the lessons that emerged from the situations we found ourselves in.

Coming across problems and situations for the first time is a bit tricky. We would improvise and occasionally turn to design and entrepreneur blogs for guidance. The beginning is filled with uncertainty. It teaches you a lot about yourself as a person. When opportunities arise, handling and making careful and tactical decisions could alter the course of your business. One thing that kept us going was remembering that we were just starting out. It was so crucial that we approached everything with so much excitement.

Having started as a design centered shop, we placed all our emphasis on the branding. I’ll be the first to admit that this is a huge part of any business. However, as it turns out this would also be our first mistake. We quickly learned the importance of balance. While the quality of the product is extremely important, maintaining a business and being diligent with the “boring stuff” is just as crucial. I’ve come across incredible and brilliant people who didn’t quite make it because they were too focus on just one aspect of their company.

The beginning for us was all about recognizing what we were doing wrong. We constantly experimented and tried new ways of doing things in both production and the business side. Maintaining your flexibility and avoiding permanence in any situation allows your business to grow and fit the personalities of people. The only way we got through the beginning was that we knew it would be difficult. We knew that in the beginning we would make mistakes and be in foreign situations. Staying optimistic helps but without action there won’t be growth or movement.

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