WHAT IS COOL, ANYWAY?
We’ve met with so many amazing brands since our inception and there is one worry that most of them have.
‘We know it isn’t the coolest thing out there but…’
If this sounds familiar…stop right there. What the flying bananas IS cool anyway? Who decides? We’re all held hostage to Instagram where we see perfectly edited and achingly cool versions of people’s life and their products. It’s all part of the story and boy, do they do it well. But you know what? Whether something sells or not doesn’t depend on whether it’s cool. It depends on whether someone wants to buy it. Tampax isn’t cool but we buy the stuff by the bucket load. Crocs DEFINITELY aren’t cool, but people are buying them and buying them and, amazingly, buying them.
You know what is cool? Making money. If you’re worried that you’re product isn’t cool but it’s selling and making you a profit then, let us reassure you, that’s cool. Really fucking cool.
So, if anyone disses your profitable product for not being ‘very cool’, or sneers a little bit because it isn’t very ‘east London’ or dares to suggest that your brand’s a bit dorky…laugh in their face and keep laughing all the way to the bank.
THAT’S COOL. RIGHT THERE.
PARTNERS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
Starting up a business with a partner could be the very best thing you’ll ever do. It could also screw you over royally. Choosing the right business partner is crucial. It’s as important as choosing your husband or wife…perhaps even more important. Your husband or wife (should) love you unconditionally – they’ll forgive you most things, except maybe murder, adultery and consistent splurging on ASOS but your business partner isn’t bound by the same emotional handcuffs. So, what do you need to remember about choosing your business partner and launching a startup business?
GOOD FRIENDS DON’T NECESSARILY MAKE GOOD BUSINESS PARTNERS
You may think that your best friend is the perfect person to set up a small business with. You know each other inside out, you’ve got so much in common and you’ll never get sick of hanging out together. What could possibly go wrong? Short answer: everything. Your personal relationship may be tighter than Vin Diesel’s thigh grip but your professional relationship is new and spongy and vulnerable. It’s so easy for personal stuff to overflow into business stuff that before you know it you could find yourself arguing over percentages just like that time you argued over those shoes that you definitely, definitely didn’t borrow and forget to return. I’m not saying that going into business with your friend doesn’t work, but you must set clear boundaries from the outset.
TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING
Mention everything. I mean everything. Don’t assume that they won’t be interested, or it isn’t that important or it’s not within their remit. If you fail to mention something, even innocently, it could come back to bite you on the ass and then whaddya know? They think you’re hiding something, you think they’re unreasonable, they don’t trust you, you think they’re neurotic. It’s never a great way to work. Take time each week to sit down and talk about your lists – what you’re doing, who you’re emailing, conversations that you’ve had and everything in between.
MAKE SURE YOUR SKILLS COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER
You both LOVE social media? You are both amazing sales people? Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? Oh. So. Wrong. You need to make sure you business partner is great at all the stuff that you don’t want to do, don’t like to do or aren’t good at doing. Know what your limits are and if you’re terrible at talking the talk but amazing at all the figures then get on board with a wordsmith who’s shit at maths. If you’re too similar you’ll find yourself treading on each other’s toes and being unclear about whose responsibility is whose.
YOU ARE ALWAYS A TEAM
As mentioned above, they are better at some things, you are better at others. Sometimes their skills will bring in the dollar, sometimes it’ll be your skills that create the cash. If you’re a partnership, it doesn’t matter who brought the cash in – it belongs to the business and, unless you’ve stipulated something else beforehand – that gets divided up between you. You both take responsibility for everything – if you’re partner fucks up (they will eventually) then the business has fucked up and that means you’ve fucked up too. It may seem unfair but no one wants to see cracks in a partnership. Fucking up doesn’t actually matter most of the time, as long as you deal with it well. Have your partner’s back and defend the business like it was your baby.
SET THE RULES
Make sure you know what’s what about your start up before you start. Sit down and talk it all out – go through the ‘what ifs’? Be clear on everything from the hours you expect each other to put in, how the money works, who’s in charge of what, what you hope for the business and what you want the business to do. Make sure you’re both working towards the same goals and be honest about what you can and can’t commit to. You can make this as formal or informal as you feel comfortable with (the bigger the business gets, the more formal this needs to be) but make sure you write it down somewhere and each keep a copy.
DON’T SCREW EACH OTHER OVER
If you come up against a sticky situation or you decide it’s not working or you just need to get out – be upfront and honest about it. No one can make you run a business you don’t want to run but they can expect you to be honest and open about it. No matter how tempting some offers may be, if it requires you to not be 100% honest about it to your business partner (and I’m including just ‘not telling them’ in that) then that’s not ok. Don’t let greed, ego or pride get in the way – if any of those things are an issue then your partnership is going to suffer sooner rather than later.
COPYCATS: WHY YOU NEED TO IGNORE THEM
We all know them. They’re the ones that don’t have an original thought in their head. They’re the ones who want to make a quick buck. Best case, their motivated by jealousy; worst case their motivated by greed. Either way, we can all agree that copycats are annoying but fear not, they’re unlikely to do you harm. Here’s why you should ignore them.
YOU DON’T NEED THAT KIND OF NEGATIVITY IN YOUR LIFE
Here at Hustle+Fox we believe in the power of positive energy. Yes, it’s a little hippy but essentially it boils down to the reality that if you’re spending time and energy being pissed off and worrying about what someone else is doing then you’re distracted from your true goals. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing someone steal your creativity and hard work but know this: you’re blazing the trail and you can have faith that everyone will be able to see that.
NOTHING IS NEW
Literally, everything has been done before in some form or another so get over the illusion that you’re the only person on the planet that had the idea. What you shouldn’t get over and what you should definitely spend time focussing on is that you are the ONLY one doing it your way. That is new. That is unique and even if someone is trying to copy you, they’re doing it in their own way and if it hasn’t sprung from a deep passion about something other than making some cash, it won’t be very good and it won’t last.
WATCH YOUR REP
It’s understandable to want to shout and scream about how you were here first and it was your idea and they are nothing but narrow-minded copycats but, can we be honest? It doesn’t make you look that good. The last thing you want to be perceived as is petter. Hold your head high, look forward and keep doing what you do best. That will speak volumes and THAT’S the kind of rep you want.
HERE ONE DAY, GONE THE NEXT
Here’s a fact: copycats are short-lived. They burn out eventually because firstly, they’re not passionate about it. It’s not their baby and sooner or later they’ll grow tired of it. Add to this the fact that you are almost certainly doing it better than they are and, even if people are momentarily swayed by your copy-competitor, they’ll be back when the realise that you’re the genuine article. Give consumers some credit: they can see through bullshit.
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