Startup Diaries: Business Owners, Do it Yourself

J.P. Sawyer recently left his nine-to-five to go into business with his brother. In summer 2012 they started Tide 38 Clothing Co., a collection of clothing and accessories that combines nautical design with a fresh, new feel.

A mistake I see new business owners make regularly (and which I made) is to start a business solely for money.

Instead of doing what I loved, I tried to do something other people would love. I thought, what can I do to make money quickly and easily? Before Tide 38, I dabbled in the wine industry. I knew nothing about wine other than this thought: If I make it big, I will be filthy rich! Needless to say, I failed miserably. I lacked passion, drive, and knowledge. Instead of making a lot of wine, I just whined a lot.

I didn't do the work myself. I tried to make my own wine but failed. Then I paid a company to do everything, but they did a horrific job. I took the easy way out. My advice: Do everything (or as much as you can) yourself. No one cares about your business or will put the effort in more than you. Honestly, I'm not sure they were even a real wine company -- shouldn't have hired off Craigslist (kidding, of course).

Why did the company do a poor job? Because they could. They didn't care about my business … and why should they? Honestly, I would have done a half-hearted job too. I deserved it. They're business owners too; they only care about money. Good job or bad, I had to pay them.

Eventually, I quit the wine industry (to the dismay of my competitors) and started Tide 38, for which I am passionate and do most of the work. Of course, there are still things I need help on -- manufacturing, website, etc. -- but if I can do something (or figure out how to do it) on my own, then I do it myself.

I thought about asking for help regarding my designs, but then I thought, if the designer is as good as I want him to be, he should have his own clothing line. If he doesn't have his own line, then his work ethic and passion must be lacking. If his passion isn't lacking, then he must be some homeless man who walks around the local zoo, feeding pigeons or kangaroos. I've seen the movie “Home Alone.” I know....

As a result, I do my own designs. It's hard work but it's worth it. If I can't do the most important job for my company, why am I even hired? I might as well just fire myself.

Final note: If your business venture is in the wine industry, I have one tip -- try your wine before you give a bottle to your mother-in-law. Having her sick at the dinner table doesn't make the greatest first impression.

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