Startup Brands: You Should Shoot to Break Even

I’ve created some side-hustles and businesses over the years, and they all start the same way: in the red. There was an initial investment before I started making any money. Some took a few weeks; some took a few months. You have to be patient no matter what game you’re playing.


No one knows who you are

After you’ve sold shirts and hats to your friends and family, no one knows who you are. Yeah, that the unfortunate truth. Unless you have previous success or have a following, it is going to be a long time before you have a brand. As a streetwear start-up, you’re going to want to aim to break even. That way, people can start promoting you.

Give people a shirt in exchange for a post on social media. Tell them to use a hashtag you created for your company. That’s going to build social proof for your clothes, and you’ll have them do a lot of leg work for you.

Go to a skatepark with a duffel bag and a few pizzas and hand out shirts to skateboarders. Bring along a camera and take some photos. Shit, make a compilation of the best skaters and throw that on YouTube as a tape from your brand. Sponsor someone.

The numbers

Let’s look at some raw numbers when it comes to breaking even.

Say you invest $500 on your launch. You spend $8 on each shirt and sell them to your friends and family for $20 a pop. That’s about 60 shirts in various sizes.

You have to sell 25 of them to break even, excusing taxes. That means you have 35 to give away. You already made your money back; now it’s time to get some earned impressions of your clothing.

Your profit will come soon enough.

Real life

I was talking with a startup called SLEEP about ordering a sweatshirt and ended up asking them about their tricolor jacket. It turns out they’re getting another round created and are going to hook me up with one along with my sweatshirt.

You’re damn right if you think I’m going to gas them up when my order comes in.

They’re giving me two opportunities to promote their brand. That’s going on the Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. A lot.

Overall, if you want to make long term moves, you have to think long term. You can create things to make fast money. Fast money will be made, but there will hardly be any longevity.

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