I recently read an article about a company that sparked a thought. In 2013, when my wife started her fashion label and I was scouring the internet to learn more about this business, I came across an article at the time about a company named “Nasty Gal“. You might wonder the content considering the name however this company started as an eBay clothing retailer that in 2013 nearly made $100 million in sales. That’s right, $100m! Now, business has been down lately and the company isn’t making great headlines, however reading a bit on them again there is a piece that sparks my interest and goes along the following line:
The founder of Nasty Gal dropped out of college and started selling vintage designer clothes as a side project to her “normal” day job. She’d buy old designer clothes for a few bucks at flea markets and resell them for several hundred to thousand % markups and quickly starting earning money online.
Reading through this brought me pondering to my days as a small entrepreneur with a bunch of crazy ideas;
- I started a forum back in the hay days of the internet and sold it for a very over priced value at the time.
- My brother and I started a gaming clan that had a significant amount of players competing for top prizes.
- I started a delivery service just to travel around, which I actually did.
The list goes on and on – even one where I wanted to build a search engine better than google (that’s for a different post), but those are just a few to give you an idea of some of the wacky things I’ve done. Perhaps not my proudest moments, but they did get me from one point to another. And on top of that I earned some money as well. I wasn’t solving world problems, but I was working hard trying to build various businesses.
That is what appealed to me in this Nasty Girl article. Reading through this piece spurs some thought around how you can start your own business. Yes this reads easier than it actually is, but give this some thought:
A constraint breeds creativity
The majority of businesses start out with virtually no resources versus an incumbent. Establishing any business is hard work and requires effort and consistency. However you may be an entrepreneur when you begin thinking of a way to solve a problem in a way which no one else has come across before.
I’m sure that when Sophia Amoruso started Nasty Gal, no one would have thought that should would create a $100m business within a few years. Buying garments from “anywhere” for a few bucks and then hustling them for several hundred dollars is an arduous task that most people will never take on. We all want it nice and easy, don’t we? No challenge should stop you!
One believer is all it takes
This is literally true. Religion(s) may need thousands if not millions of believers to gain any traction – regardless of what belief this may be, however in business you only need one believer – you! Somebody is going to tell you that you are absolutely crazy for buying a piece of old designer trash for $8 and then try to resell it for several hundred – pulling your vision down at the same time. But as an entrepreneur, all you need is to believe in your own vision and execute it accordingly regardless of what others say and think.
Now you may be thinking to yourself – what about my customers. You’ll always have customers out there if you reach the right folks.
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge
I say this over and over again. Continuous education (not just in the formal sense) is a lifelong mandatory assignment for all of us. This is just as valuable and true in business. Never ignore the knowledge gap. Sophia knew where and how to source something that her customers didn’t, which meant that she could sell that onto them at any margin. Customers love convienence, so if you are making it easier for them they will eventually pay you to bridge the gap. Never ignore the “knowledge gap”.
Now will this post make you go out and start your own business. Maybe. Perhaps not. Entrepreneurs are a different breed altogether. Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Not everyone can be a leader. Not all of us are meant to save lives being doctors. To some, things come easier than to others, but the above four traits in my opinion can be learned! All it requires is a different way of thinking about taking a chance and executing on your vision and passions. Conquer and crush limits!