Key Point 13: Research your chosen market – This should probably be common sense, but believe it or not, too many people decide to jump into the water before seeing if it’s too hot or too cold. When I was starting ARCH, I already had one shoe company under my belt. I knew the difficulties. I did not use this as my foundation though. I went out and purchased Swoosh, Just Do It, The Towering World of Jimmy Choo, Primal Branding, Eating The Big Fish, and I watched every episode of Shark Tank, visited Rise To The Top, visited MediaFly and subscribed to E-Vids to enhance my technical knowledge of how to use various social media for grassroots marketing. I watched MSNBC shows on entrepreneurship and any article I could find online about footwear brands, I bookmarked them and studied them. I still reread Swoosh and the other books at random times. I read them for inspiration, guidance and to enhance my knowledge of the stories.
I often speak with writers and the first thing many of them will say is, “I’m not reading anything right now because I don’t want it to influence what I’m writing.” I understand this, but after writing for a long time and going through the MFA program I realized that reading and picking up subtle nuances can actually strengthen the work a writer is creating.Readingand studying is the foundation of the successful writer.Readingand studying is the foundation of the successful entrepreneur.
If you don’t know the market you are going into how can you expect to really make any real strides into that market? If you are a tee shirt designer and you haven’t read about the history of tee shirts. If you don’t understand that Nike once had the worst athletic apparel on the market and it took serious development to improve, if you don’t understand that a person is just as likely to buy a plain white tee shirt, 3 for 10 dollars, then you are already losing a battle that is being fought by millions on a daily basis.
Look at it like this, and I’ll focus on tee shirts. Is it wise to start a tee shirt company? Yes and no. Consider this; it used to be more difficult to make tees. Now, a person with a laptop can visit any number of websites: spreadshirt.com, zazzle.com, cafepress.com and within a week have their own tee shirt company. What does this mean? Yes, you can start a tee shirt company, but so can everyone else. What makes your brand different from any other brand? What makes your company the tee shirt to wear? Is there a full proof plan for success in the tee shirt market? None of these questions have definitive answers, but at the core of them all is the fact that if you don’t understand your market, you can produce goods and they will not sell. You can also know your market and still fail.
The more research you do as you are working on your project, the better chance the project has of succeeding. Don’t wait until your research is done though to launch completely; it will never be done. However, the more prepared you are, the better you will be when you encounter difficulties in generating revenue and interest. Research is vital to entrepreneurship. Know your field, or you better have a lot of dumb luck on your side.