The other day I wrote about ripped elbows on Brooks Brothers shirts. One reader thought that I was a bit harsh on the popular men’s brand. She was probably right. Elbows seem to rip on all brands of dress shirts that I wear – I just have a lot of Brooks Brothers shirts, so they were the target of my rant.
But, it looks like Brooks Brothers is getting the last laugh. I woke up this morning and ironed my Brooks Brothers dress shirt. It had a hole in the elbow! I don’t know whether to say “I told you so” or apologize to Brooks Brothers (I mean, they must be reading my blog and sending people over to my closet to rip the elbows, right?)
BTW – I still wore the shirt – just threw on a sweater.
I was out to lunch with a friend the other day and she said that she wouldn’t even know where to start if she wanted to build her own business. She raised an interesting question – where does one start on Day 1?
I’m sure there are hundreds of reasonable answers to this question, but I believe that you need to start with a simple business plan. There is no need for a verbose, detailed plan. No one is interested in reading a novel about your business – not even your parents. Keep it simple.
Starting with a business plan will accomplish two things – 1. Make you sound more intelligent when you’re describing your business to friends and family members (some will still look at you like you’re nuts) and 2. Help you think through the activities that need to be completed to get the business off the ground.
When you start your own business, all you have is an idea. Aside from that, you’re starting with nothing. You have to do everything. Literally everything. If you try to tackle everything at once it will be overwhelming. Instead, break your activities into 6-12 discrete projects. For me, those projects included developing a website, creating a customer acquisition strategy, formalizing operations, creating a watch acquisition strategy, raising money, etc.
Breaking your activities into discrete, manageable projects will make the process of building your business feel less daunting. It will also allow you to celebrate milestones and breakthroughs along the way.
People generally have a positive reaction when you tell them that you’re an entrepreneur. It’s exciting. You are your own boss. There’s an opportunity to make a substantial amount of money. What they don’t think about is the potential for failure. They don’t think about the ups and downs. I think about all of those things.
Two months ago I left my comfortable job in strategy consulting to start an online marketplace for authenticated pre-owned luxury watches. I love watches and I believe that there’s a need for a trusted place to buy, sell, and trade watches without paying an arm and a leg in the process.
I took a risk. But I think the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Only time will tell.
As I build my business, I plan to share my journey through this blog. You’ll hear about my thoughts on watches. You’ll hear about my triumphs and struggles as an entrepreneur. Hopefully it’ll be informative. But more importantly, I hope it’ll be entertaining. And on that note, I may throw in a few entries on random stuff.
People always ask me why I’m so interested in watches. I don’t really have a great answer to that question. It’s probably a combination of the following:
- A watch is the one piece of jewelry that most men wear. Women have necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. Men have watches.
- I live in a world of grey slacks (or khakis) and blue button downs. Boring. You can spice up your slacks with pinstripes and your shirts with checks, but no one is going to notice. And the odds that you show up to work with the same shirt as a coworker are pretty strong. After all, Brooks Brothers only has about 12 different shirts. The odds of someone showing up with the same watch are pretty slim.
- Watches can be a good investment. I bought a Panerai in January 2008 for about $5,000. If I bought the same watch two years earlier, it would have been about $4,000. If I bought it today, it would cost me about $6,500. If there was a fair place to sell my watch (there isn’t – that’s where my business comes in), I could probably get my $5,000 back. When’s the last time that you wore a shirt for two years and then sold it for the same price that you paid for it? And let’s be honest, if it’s a Brooks Brothers shirt, there would be a hole in the elbow after 18 months.