Politics and Business
Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My
I Started Up Jersey Champs. Here’s My Advice for New Entrepreneurs
When I was attending Rutgers University, I was miserable, taking classes I had no interest in as I did not get accepted into the business school. I realized college would not be the best path as an entrepreneur and decided to drop out the beginning of my sophomore year with a 1.9 GPA.
Shortly before dropping out, I created Jersey Champs—the first company to really make jerseys that offered a stylish, artistic touch rather than just sticking to plain sports teams jerseys. Using social media’s influence and the power of Instagram, I was able to create a company that has gained international appreciation and also become a trailblazer in hip hop fashion.
As simple as running a company may appear to be, I’ve quickly learned that there’s a lot I wish people would have told me before I ran my startup. There were a bunch of moments where I wanted to give up, or where I felt like it was too difficult.
Rule number one of being a CEO is that you better be ready to work.
The first thing that I really wish people would understand is that hard work alone does not dictate success. To actually be able to succeed in today’s economy, you need to have a solid team, a superb work ethic and you actually have to be able to take risks. After all, if you’re not risking anything, you’re losing on everything.
But, everyone tells you that running a company is going to be hard work. If it wasn’t filled with hard work and risk, everyone would do it, right? It’s true, but even so, the sheer amount of risk and work can never be emphasized enough.
Speaking of risk, let me tell you a wild story…
Risk is inherently a part of the learning process, and most of us don’t have parents who can show you the ropes on every little aspect of business. For many people, this means that you can’t really be able to learn how to conduct business like a pro without being ready to make some mistakes.
One of the worst mistakes I made when I just started out was selling a Chance the Rapper Coloring Book Jersey without his permission. It sold out, but Chance’s lawyers reached out to me. I soon learned my lesson, and understood copyright a bit better. I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t take the risk.
Your team matters more than your money.
You do not need a lot of money to start a successful business, and I really wish that people would remember that. I personally only started Jersey Champs with $1,000 and a really crappy website. From then on, we were able to expand.
You know what you can’t start a good business without? A good team. I had a great mentor with a local business who helped motivate me. I had an excellent team who made Jersey Champs even more successful. I couldn’t do it without them. Every business is a team, and you really can’t do it all yourself. (Trust me, I tried. Being a solopreneur doesn’t work.)
Show your concept to see if people will buy into it, and know how to market it well.
To start a business, you need two things: a concept and a viable marketing plan. I had both, which is why I was able to start my business on a shoestring budget. I learned how to use social media for marketing through online videos & courses, networking and a lot of audio books and keynotes.
Showing the concept, which in my case, meant jerseys, is the most important thing. The next thing I needed was to know how to market them. The power of the internet was what made it possible for my business to be viable. To this day, I still spend tons of money on Facebook ads.
Finally, don’t try to start a business dealing with things you aren’t really passionate about.
I chose Jersey Champs because I’m very passionate about sportswear and hip hop. I wanted to combine the two elements into something unique. I love the idea of giving people their own chance at personal style, and it’s something that I thrive on doing. Before you even think of starting your own company, ask yourself if you’re passionate about it. If you are, then go for it and chase your dream!
For more information check out Jersey Champs: