Over the course of the semester, I learned a lot of lessons that have given me a more complete understanding of the risks and opportunities that come with being an entrepreneur. It may sound cliche, but my biggest takeaway from the course and the associated business project is that being an entrepreneur requires a great deal of courage and patience. Resolving problems often required spending more time and energy on the business in moments that success seemed far off anyway, and doing so took some courage. As I worked on my company, Oinc, I encountered a lot of difficulties that made it seem like the company may not succeed or that it would go on in a diminished way that did not reflect the vision I had for it. For example, when I was designing the products, I had designs for t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and pants, but I quickly realized that they were simply unrealistic. While I envisioned releasing a big product line from the start, I realized that I had to be patient and start with a few basic pieces.
My biggest success was keeping my focus on growing the business and seeing friends and family wearing it. The whole process of thinking of designs, making mockups on the computer and building the Shopify site took a while. After all of this work, it felt great to actually sell a product. That first sale made all of my handwork and effort seem worthwhile and showed me that commitment to a project can yield success. The first sale also inspired me to keep working on the company because I felt like there was some potential for growth.
My biggest failure was not making connections with the necessary suppliers and printers early on in the development process. Throughout the semester, I procrastinated on a lot of decisions when it came to the business development, which put me at a disadvantage when I went to turn my ideas into products. This was especially true with not being able to use local blank tees and having to rely on drop shipping which hurts profit margins. Many of the suppliers work on a friendly basis and give long time clients of theirs better deals and rates. Because I waited so long, I did not have enough time to use blanks.
As I look towards the future, I am confident in the knowledge I already have, but I also recognize that I still have blindspots. The main thing I feel like I still need to learn about is how to stay organized on the backside of the business. Marketing and designing seems to come naturally to me, but I have found it difficult to keep track of all the sales, accounting, inventory, and other things of that nature. The back-end of the business is probably even more important than the front-end, so it is really important that I get a good grip on how to manage this important part of business.