We recently sat down with one of our Start, Scale, Grow mentors, Tom Lovelace, Creative Director of Hawthorn, a clothing manufacturer based in the City of London to have a chat about some of the tips he would give people who are looking to start up in business.
Tell us a bit about your business
Hawthorn is one of the UK’s leading clothing manufacturers, supplying companies both small and large in a wide range of industry sectors such as fashion retail, merchandise, uniforms and corporate promotions.
What is a typical day at Hawthorn look like?
Hawthorn is a very customer focused company, meaning that during the day we spend a lot of time dealing with both new and existing clients; discussing orders and specifications, developing items and working to ensure that our tight production schedule runs without a hitch. We are a small team here in the UK, where we are located in our London headquarters, but we also have factories overseas which we are in constant contact with.
What advice would you give for someone looking to fund their enterprise?
One of the most commonly thought of ways to fund a small business in this day and age is via an angel investor, mostly because of shows like Dragons Den, giving more people more of a drive to start their own business than ever before. However, this sort of investor will rarely part with their money over just an idea; they’ll want to see hard facts, figures, and usually a tangible product which they can get excited about. If you’re in a very early stage the family, friends and savings are definitely routes I’d recommend for just a small amount to help get you off the ground. Of course this isn’t always possible, or you may be past that stage and looking to take your business to the next level, in which case the start up loan scheme offers an affordable way to fund and launch a business.
What tips would you give someone looking to start their own business?
The best advice I think I could give to anyone starting out in business is that any timeframe you have, triple it. Regardless of what you think and what your business plan might say, things always take much longer than anticipated. It may not be your fault, but there can be unforeseen events can delay timescales. Not just unforeseen events can delay your business though; sometimes you might create something which in your head looks great but in practice may not. In the early stages of business you will no doubt be striving for perfection, so don’t be surprised if you fall out of love with some of your ideas and concepts and end up re doing them.
As a clothing manufacturer ourselves we have a lot of experience in dealing with smaller fashion brands and start ups. There are 3 main things that brands in our industry fall down on and which we would definitely recommend investing time in to which all make up your brand image; extremely important in our industry. These are your website, your social media and your photography. Spend time and money perfecting these to help you stand out from the crowd and you’ll have a great start in the fashion business.
What characteristics do you think make a successful entrepreneur?
There are certainly common traits among successful entrepreneurs, the most notable being that they are tenacious; motivated beyond the normal levels that an employee usually is. The reason for this is that your business is a part of yourself, and you find yourself working as hard as possible to achieve your goals. This drive is one of the main things that is required for a successful entrepreneur. It’s important to be calculating when it comes to risks. It is inevitable that you will have to take risks as an entrepreneur, but ensuring these are calculated and that you’re thinking two or three steps ahead will help you along your entrepreneurial path.