The Lords of the Ties

Throwback to when I spent over $4,000 on men’s neckties.

Note that I was broke then. The money came from winning a business plan competition. It was a lot of money to me at the time.

While in college, my buddy and I started a necktie company.We imported the ties from overseas and sold them online and door-to-door. We had an iPhone app (when iPhones were still very new) and a website built. We brought on sales reps. We had visions to become the #1 online-shopping-destination for men’s neckties.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from this business:

1. Partnerships are challenging and require communication. You have to be on the same page. You’re bound to have different opinions on many things.

2. Do ample research and take orders before spending thousands of dollars on product. We purchased ties that we thought would be great sellers without asking many people about their style preferences. Some sold like hot cakes. Others were straight up duds. This caused us to have inventory that we couldn’t move, cash locked up on unwanted product. Ouch.

3. Avoid starting companies where you have to stock product. Drop shipping is your friend.

4. Making Skype calls at 11 PM to chat with suppliers in Asia is a fun experience. There’s a whole world of suppliers out there looking to partner up.

5. Your website and app will look good today but give it 6 months and it will be outdated. They require constant updates.

6. People from anywhere may find you. Getting a tie order from Mongolia was exciting to me.

7. Focus on selling your product to people that have both the desire and ability to buy it. At first, we sold them door-to-door to broke college students. Conversions rates were hit and miss.

8. Get your darn business name right. We named the business RainSeason. It was a poor choice. I can’t tell you how many people asked why we called it that. “Are the ties waterproof or something?” Fail.

Ultimately, I transferred my stake in the company as I transitioned into insurance.

These lessons positioned me for more success in my next venture. I encourage you to start that company you’re dreaming of because you won’t learn if you don’t try.

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