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Bootstrapping, initial capital-building failed! What now?

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elusive97

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I haven't been making as many threads here as I've been putting things into action and figuring things out as I go. I just hit a roadblock that I'm not sure of my way around though, and I'm hopeful someone can help.

I run a large Facebook community and have experience growing a publishing/entertainment business so this is what I intend to do again.

Phase 1 of my plan basically involves making £3-10k so I can start to grow my team and begin other more lucrative monetisation methods.

I have less than £100 so all I can afford is printing unique t-shirts. The advantage of screen printing is that the finished t-shirt costs me less than £3.50, so at full price I can make £10+ profit. My goal by the end of March is literally just to sell 3-5 a day, which is a conservative amount as my audience is 350k+, but will make enough for me to begin investing into the business properly. It's a more than achievable goal. Additionally, from feedback, the uniqueness of a product made in the UK is something that appeals to my audience.

I have an awesome tag design and stamp that I created last month! It looks amazing and the audience dig it. They also like the designs I've showed them that I intend to screen print.

Screen printing is a process I've done in the past successfully and recapped greatly the past couple of months. I keep hitting roadblocks in the DIY screen printing process, and I'm now at the roadblock of 'this will not work, even after trying all the variables, and the answer/solution is expensive'. I can't afford the equipment to upgrade the setup, which would likely solve the issues I'm having.

My process from the end of March/month 4 is something I've done a couple of times and I know will be a success, but sadly these slow 1-3 months are the groundwork for reaching $10k/mo profit by the end of the year.

I'm not sure how to do this without capital, and I can't raise capital with screen printing, but I also don't want to give away 30-40% of my business (the value of the assets is literally around $10k right now).

I own my home outright but as I'm on low income and have below-average credit, I can't borrow form my bank/peer-to-peer lending services/loan providers/etc. UK regulations don't help me in my situation!

I had my house evaluated earlier this month and it should be up for sale within 8-10 weeks, whilst the average for selling + conveyancing is 4-6 months. I will have capital by the end of the year, but my goal is to be well on the way to the Fastlane by then, and it's frustrating that I have a plan I can start ASAP once I have just some cash.

I'm focusing on the present more, but it's still a worry that I'm going to spend the year struggling like I did in 2019, even if I'm certain I'll end the year with capital. I want my business to be running, what I love to do, and what I've been successful at. I'm only 22 and don't want to spend a second year of my life miserable, broke, and stuck!

It felt good to write this out. WTF should I do?!
 

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SamRussell

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Can you start with DTG printing 5-10 t shirts at a time, then move to screen printing later?
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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Can you start with DTG printing 5-10 t shirts at a time, then move to screen printing later?
Possibly. I called up a few screen printing places but their minimums were 25-100 so it's just not doable.

I wonder if dtg printers can get a decent price for orders of 5-10? I definitely couldn't afford that at their usual price though (like £45-70). Additionally I was planning on launching 5 designs and I definitely won't be able to do that. It's crazy frustrating, as even one design will be a huge financial hit, and if those don't sell pretty imminently I'll be even more stuck!

I was attracted to screenprinting as I can create a screen, print one for photos, then despite spending £5 or less on materials for each screen I'm only buying t-shirts and can just print as orders come in. It made the most sense from my broke view point! I'm so so frustrated.
 

francevalue

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Did you check aliexpress for custom printed clothes? They're really cheap and some of them don't even need a minimum order!
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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Did you check aliexpress for custom printed clothes? They're really cheap and some of them don't even need a minimum order!
The designs I have prepared (and paid for in the case of the stamp) say made in the UK. My audience have told me that's an appealing selling point also.

I could look into selling some other stuff with our logo from China but that tends to require higher minimum orders.
 

GrandRub

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The designs I have prepared (and paid for in the case of the stamp) say made in the UK. My audience have told me that's an appealing selling point also.

I could look into selling some other stuff with our logo from China but that tends to require higher minimum orders.
You wont get a T Shirt thats Made in the UK. And who cares where it was printed .. Change your Stamp to "Designed in the UK".

Does it have to be Screenprinted? Have a look at Teespring or Spreadshirt- They handle the whole fulfilment for you - Margin is ~10$ - And if you dont have to spend anything for marketing thats a pretty sweet margin for next to no work.
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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Is this a 350k group? If so hit me up. Likely a better way to monetize.
There's a 370k page, 11k group + assorted pages with about 250k likes (which I'd basically use to further push the most successful stuff from the main biz!)

My last Facebook business was my first and I got it to 6 figure profit within a year. I feel like now I know more and am better at what I do so can do twice as good. The only reason I'm not already is building this initial capital as I'm broke. I'd love to hear your ideas also! I'll message you some links.
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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You wont get a T Shirt thats Made in the UK. And who cares where it was printed .. Change your Stamp to "Designed in the UK".

Does it have to be Screenprinted? Have a look at Teespring or Spreadshirt- They handle the whole fulfilment for you - Margin is ~10$ - And if you dont have to spend anything for marketing thats a pretty sweet margin for next to no work.
I have a good relationship with my audience and lots of feedback from them.

Doesn't have to be screen printed! That was a way of keeping profits high whilst minimums were low. I'm not a fan of Teespring or Spreadshirt and have never had success with them on Facebook - only with a brand. My designs aren't anything special, so the brand seems important. I have sold thousands of t-shirts through my own websites, so that's something I have experience with.
 

GrandRub

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I have a good relationship with my audience and lots of feedback from them.

Doesn't have to be screen printed! That was a way of keeping profits high whilst minimums were low. I'm not a fan of Teespring or Spreadshirt and have never had success with them on Facebook - only with a brand. My designs aren't anything special, so the brand seems important. I have sold thousands of t-shirts through my own websites, so that's something I have experience with.
You havent had success with promoting them via facebook ads? if you have your own website then just sell your shirts via one of the third party t shirt printers like printful or gooten? they connect to shopify or woocommerce and also the fulfilment is done for you. if you have your 350k fb group you wont have to pay for marketing and will have a good margin without doing boxing and shipping yourself.

it isnt the greatest way to ship a great quality shirt and you dont have the level of control you would have if you fulfil yourself .. but its very hands off.

/another thing you could try is to promote a kickstarter to your audience and collection pre-orders so you could then buy your shirts in bulk.
 

Mr.C

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I have a good relationship with my audience and lots of feedback from them.

Doesn't have to be screen printed! That was a way of keeping profits high whilst minimums were low. I'm not a fan of Teespring or Spreadshirt and have never had success with them on Facebook - only with a brand. My designs aren't anything special, so the brand seems important. I have sold thousands of t-shirts through my own websites, so that's something I have experience with.

- Use Pwinty for t shirt fulfillment (via manual transfer of orders or integration with the Shopify app)
- Use Shopify Lite for your Facebook page, or a dedicated Shopify store if that's better
- No upfront costs to speak of, although your margins will be lower initially

Why not consider this?
 

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MHP368

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Ive been in (am still in) that boat

If the capital is a must , can you just work a second job? I know that sounds less sexy then bootstrapping 3 or 10k heroically through entrepreneurial endeavors but how serious are you?

Apparently serious enough to sell your house?

How many months with 2 jobs would it take to squirrel away that money?
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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- Use Pwinty for t shirt fulfillment (via manual transfer of orders or integration with the Shopify app)
- Use Shopify Lite for your Facebook page, or a dedicated Shopify store if that's better
- No upfront costs to speak of, although your margins will be lower initially

Why not consider this?
I will look into that for sure. I have access to lots of willing people to get feedback from in the accompanying groups, which is great :)

Ive been in (am still in) that boat

If the capital is a must , can you just work a second job? I know that sounds less sexy then bootstrapping 3 or 10k heroically through entrepreneurial endeavors but how serious are you?

Apparently serious enough to sell your house?

How many months with 2 jobs would it take to squirrel away that money?
Haha I get what you mean, I'm only interested in this as it's something I love to do. I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was twelve with £500 and enjoyed turning that into thousands then tens of thousands within the next few years.

I've been applying for jobs since I joined FLF in November, I'm in an overcrowded market though but keeping my fingers crossed. To be fair I still wouldn't have the capital much sooner than the house sells, but it'd be good to not worry about how I'm going to pay the bills of course

I'm not selling because of my entrepreneurial devours, it's for the sake of my life and mental health haha. I bought this house outright age 20 without really thinking as I fixated on owning a property by age 21 for so long. I'm still only 22, for reference.
 
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SamRussell

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Possibly. I called up a few screen printing places but their minimums were 25-100 so it's just not doable.

I wonder if dtg printers can get a decent price for orders of 5-10? I definitely couldn't afford that at their usual price though (like £45-70). Additionally I was planning on launching 5 designs and I definitely won't be able to do that. It's crazy frustrating, as even one design will be a huge financial hit, and if those don't sell pretty imminently I'll be even more stuck!

I was attracted to screenprinting as I can create a screen, print one for photos, then despite spending £5 or less on materials for each screen I'm only buying t-shirts and can just print as orders come in. It made the most sense from my broke view point! I'm so so frustrated.
You can get good DTG for £15/unit (1 unit), £7/unit (25 units). With the design, you can't have any transparencies. It took me ages to find a good place, I'll message you the company I've used. Designs that have a straight edge come out slightly not straight sometimes.
 

FinanceStudent

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Do you have a plan to diversify your risk by bringing in traffic from places other than Facebook?

Let's say Facebook decides to delete your page for some reason. How would this scenario affect your business?
 
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Davidla

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There's a 370k page, 11k group + assorted pages with about 250k likes (which I'd basically use to further push the most successful stuff from the main biz!)

My last Facebook business was my first and I got it to 6 figure profit within a year. I feel like now I know more and am better at what I do so can do twice as good. The only reason I'm not already is building this initial capital as I'm broke. I'd love to hear your ideas also! I'll message you some links.
a few questions & thoughts:

What is the FB group about more or less?

As others mentioned, you might be able to find some faster/less capital intensive methods of generating capital (sponsors, co-hosting webinar, giveaways etc)..

How did you go from 6 figures profit a year with the last FB biz to having less than 100£? (I'm curious, as well as thinking there might be good reflection/lessons here).

Most importantly...

Take a breath dude..you are 22, got a strong entrepreneurial drive, experience and some past results and experience.

You are on your path already..and it is a lifelong path..

How can you make your day to day more fun, less stressful? (you mentioned not wanting it to be like last year, broke etc)

How can it be more sustainable financially?
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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a few questions & thoughts:

What is the FB group about more or less?

As others mentioned, you might be able to find some faster/less capital intensive methods of generating capital (sponsors, co-hosting webinar, giveaways etc)..

How did you go from 6 figures profit a year with the last FB biz to having less than 100£? (I'm curious, as well as thinking there might be good reflection/lessons here).

Most importantly...

Take a breath dude..you are 22, got a strong entrepreneurial drive, experience and some past results and experience.

You are on your path already..and it is a lifelong path..

How can you make your day to day more fun, less stressful? (you mentioned not wanting it to be like last year, broke etc)

How can it be more sustainable financially?
The Facebook group is about positivity. Self-help content does NOT appeal and performs very very poorly (just wanted to say that as that's sometimes what people jump to for what sort of products/services I could offer).

Reached 6 figures in 2016-2017, bought the house in January 2018. I bought outright so that's where over half the cash went. Have you ever seen the movie The Money Pit? That's how I ended up with nothing.

I understand I'm only 22 and I am not worried about where I'll be in 3 years, or 10 years, or whenever down the line. I'm not even worried about a year's time. I just don't want the next 6-9 months whilst this house is sold to suck as much as last year did cause it F*cked me up bad. I have almost no debt (less than £500) and would like to keep that up.

I'm already finding joy in every day, laughing a lot, and by focusing on the present moment I have eliminated the vast majority of my anxiety and stress. I posted an update on my mental health thread, I've been feeling a lot less depressed. It doesn't change the fact that when I check if I can pay the bills the answer is NO, and obviously there's some constant underlying anxiety around that, although minor.
 

Abrodos

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The Facebook group is about positivity. Self-help content does NOT appeal and performs very very poorly (just wanted to say that as that's sometimes what people jump to for what sort of products/services I could offer).
Just came to my mind a Spanish brand that might be something similar to your page. They sell cups, notebooks, all kinds of merchandise and they're pretty famous in Spain.
This is the page: Mr. Wonderful Shop Europe - Mr. Wonderful

There are even a couple brands that mock them, which are called Mr Puterful and Mr Wonderfuck, which use the same cute aesthetics but with foul language, and have also had a lot of success.

(By the way I'm an illustrator and figure producer, hmu if you need anything regarding design or object-making).
 

GrandRub

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Just came to my mind a Spanish brand that might be something similar to your page. They sell cups, notebooks, all kinds of merchandise and they're pretty famous in Spain.
This is the page: Mr. Wonderful Shop Europe - Mr. Wonderful

There are even a couple brands that mock them, which are called Mr Puterful and Mr Wonderfuck, which use the same cute aesthetics but with foul language, and have also had a lot of success.

(By the way I'm an illustrator and figure producer, hmu if you need anything regarding design or object-making).
thats interesting - why are they so famous in spain? do they make a lot of online marketing? are they sold in stores? the stuff looks pretty "normal" and generic to me.

out of curiosity and because i want to create some gift items related to the spanish market - do you have a link to your portfolio?
 

Abrodos

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thats interesting - why are they so famous in spain? do they make a lot of online marketing? are they sold in stores? the stuff looks pretty "normal" and generic to me.

out of curiosity and because i want to create some gift items related to the spanish market - do you have a link to your portfolio?
yeah sure!
DM me if you want for specific insights on what people like.

As for this company, it's been on the market for like 10 years or so. The cute designs, the positive messages and the catchy puns I suppose was what made them so famous. Many puns and sentences are hard to translate to English. But they are equally loved and hated, many people find them a bit superficial. But they are best sellers anyway, you can find their products in practically all bookstores, gift shops, malls...
 
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elusive97

elusive97

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Just came to my mind a Spanish brand that might be something similar to your page. They sell cups, notebooks, all kinds of merchandise and they're pretty famous in Spain.
This is the page: Mr. Wonderful Shop Europe - Mr. Wonderful

There are even a couple brands that mock them, which are called Mr Puterful and Mr Wonderfuck, which use the same cute aesthetics but with foul language, and have also had a lot of success.

(By the way I'm an illustrator and figure producer, hmu if you need anything regarding design or object-making).
That's very useful! That's where I want the business to be, but with more focus on publishing (as it's what I know and have experience/success with) besides the store. Their shop is close to where I saw the store at, ending the year. Once I have 5-10k in cash flow, I can easily buy hundreds of products as that stuff is *so* cheap in bulk.

I just need to figure out a way to get people interested without all the fancy branding and packaging, if I decide to dropship, which is usually part of what attracts people to those sorts of brands over social media. I know how to sell hundreds of well-packaged unique products, and add personal touches that increase customer satisfaction and lead to re-orders, whilst getting a high markup. I don't feel confident in selling something at a lower markup, and with just the basics that come with dropshipping, I feel like it could start the brand on the wrong foot.

I'm broke but maybe one day in the future I will be hitting you up for design :p
 

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