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High Speed Beats Low Price
Every time we hold our regular WeLink conference, I always find time to challenge our people on how to make everything a little faster. In the sportswear customization business, high speed beats low price. How we always wanted that a customer would wait only for 5 minutes to get his or her first unit of customized sports uniform.
My Best Piece Of Advice
My best piece of advice is summarized in 3 phrases.
Think big. Act small. Master your craft.
If you want to start your own business, you need to THINK BIG so you can see the entire picture. That also means you need to study the industry and look for opportunities or possible niches that you can specialize in. Some entrepreneurs fall victims of the usual start-your-own-business seminars where they teach you how to produce a product like soap, candles, or any other simple items, and convince you that you don't need a big capital for that. Then, you realize in the end that what matters most is the marketing side of the business amidst the strong competition. Then, you end up not being able to sell anything. The reason is that those seminars are think-small and easy-to-start ideas. Always THINK BIG by studying about the unmet needs of the market, about the bigger picture in the industry, and what is required to compete.
After seeing the big picture, you might be overwhelmed by the vastness of the industry and the amount of work or capital needed to start your venture. That overwhelming feeling may not inspire you and may push you to procrastinate. To overcome this, you need to ACT SMALL. Segment the market into smaller pieces, find a niche, do something in small scale, and start immediately. After all, you already know about the bigger picture and you know where your small act will end if it will succeed. By acting small, you can break the inertia and build a momentum. By acting small, you will also need less capital, time, and effort to start the venture.
The next thing you need to do is MASTER YOUR CRAFT. Since you started small and with focus, you can afford to master your niche and do better than competition. Slowly gain momentum and expand your scale.
In my 15 years as an entrepreneur with several ventures, I learned about these 3 simple steps to get my ideas running once they hit the ground.
Infographics (a clipped compound of information and graphics) is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. Infographics can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. Infographics have evolved in recent years to be for mass communication and thus are designed with fewer assumptions about the readers' knowledge base than other types of visualizations. Isotypes are an early example of infographics conveying information quickly and easily to the masses.
INFOGRAPHICS CASE STUDY
The infographics below was created by Customer Magnetism (CM), a full-service agency offering creative, social, content, design and development. It shows a case study about infographic. It has already generated hundreds of favorable social media signals, over two thousand unsolicited, inbound links (including sites like adobe.com) and has already generated nearly 100,000 pageviews.
Business success requires wisdom, focus, and skillful execution. Interestingly, the top performing companies possess the strategic world-view of large global enterprises and strong team commitment more common among small businesses. This is the premise of Think Big, Act Small: How America's Best Performing Companies Keep the Start-Up Spirit Alive. It’s an enlightening book by Jason Jennings which examines the growth of thousands of companies, both public and private. The most successful companies (those who experienced more than 10% annual growth in revenue and profitability over a 10 year period) shared a simple philosophy: think big while acting small. Jennings’ research also found that companies who think small tend to stay small and those that begin to act big tend to get into trouble. Winning cultures reside in the upper right hand quadrant of this matrix (i.e., think big / act small):
A good sportswear design graphics enhances the shape and contour of the human anatomy".
If the guiding principle in making a good sportswear graphics is the enhancement of the human anatomy, then the basic concepts that we learned in school can be applied. We were taught that to highlight contours and shapes, we must use shading, contrast, shapes, curves, etc. Enumerated below are a few of the guiding principles that can help us become a great sportswear designer.
LIGHT MAKES MIGHT
Lighter shades and gradients on the muscle areas like chest, abs, biceps, and arms make the latter more prominent and enhance shape and contour of the human body. The sample designs below show distinct lighter shade and gradient on the chest area and includes texture and shapes on the abs area, making the design look more masculine.
BLADES CUT SHAPES
To enhance a shape on a body, the use of blades, curves, and pointed geometrical shapes add to the enhancement of the area that we want to highlight. For example, to create an illusion of narrow waist, the use of blades on the sides can help.
DON'T IGNORE THE COLOR WHEEL
Like death and taxes, there is no escaping color.
The use of color can be considered an exact science despite the fact that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Very often, it happens that at first glance, you may consider one color combination more appealing and pleasing than another. That is because it is a fact that violating the use of the 6 color harmonies can create negative appeal and impression.
To learn more about it, you may visit http://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator. It is an amazing color calculator that suggests the other colors that you can combine with your first chosen color.
An ideal example is the logo of Los Angeles Lakers team. If you use the calculator, you will find out that Lakers use complementary color harmonies, wherein gold yellow is the complementary of violet.
TOUCH IT, FEEL IT, SEE IT.
Texture is an element that plays an important role in design and is defined by two aspects - visual and tactile (sometimes referred to as feel or hand).
Tactile texture is a surface quality related closely to our sense of touch. All the clothes we wear feel differently to the skin and to our hand. Tactile texture is very much dependent on the type of fabric that we use to make our sportswear. Some fabrics are soft, others are rough. There are fabrics that are weaved like honeycomb. Others are weaved satin or plain.
What is more important to a sportswear designer is visual texture because it can be controlled and can be changed easily to fit a specific design concept. It is not dependent on the type of fabric. Rich, layered graphics can create visual texture that mirrors actual texture. Graphical textures can make a plain boring fabric look astonishing and elegant.
Texture can also be modified and enriched with gradients to emphasize geometrical shapes and enhance body shapes. A good example is the design below. Simple diagonal lines created a rugged texture creating an illusion of a metal surface. The gradients made it look more three-dimensional and enhances the body contour.
A case can be made that the “about” section on your website is the single most important page on the entire site. It’s where strangers can get comfortably acquainted with your brand, and where they can learn to not only like your company, but trust your company. And that’s crucial to your business success.
We humans aren’t always a very trusting species to begin with. We don’t trust politicians, doctors, in-laws, and least of all, companies.
So how exactly do you achieve trust for your business online? Here are a few must-haves to include on your “about” page to begin building that relationship.
Real imagery or video
Speaking about trust, your potential customers trust real people. So show real people. Consider using imagery of actual customers enjoying your product or service, and maybe even include pictures of your team, either individually or as a group. And if you have the ability to create an “about” video, that's even better.
You could probably write a book about your company and all the complexities of your product offerings -- which is great! Let’s not make people read it though. Your potential customers need easy-to-understand, digestible information. This doesn’t mean you need to make it short, just make sure you only include information that someone would be interested in knowing and capable of understanding. Also, don’t be afraid to use bullet points. Everyone loves a list.
A brand story
In plain, concise language, answer all the pertinent questions about your brand: “What do you do?”; “How do you do what you do?”; “Where do you do what you do?”; and most importantly, “Why do you do what you do?”
Tell your brand’s story as a narrative. Explain what inspired you to create your company, what drives you to keep going, and what you’re offering to the potential customers who give you a chance.
Make it easy to contact your company
Many visitors will visit an “about” page thinking it’s a way to contact the company directly, so don’t leave them out in the cold. They might even just need to know that they can contact you without needing to at the time. If you have a main phone number for customers to call, this is a great place to include it. Otherwise, consider using a clean, simple contact form to field inquiries. This doubles as a great way for you to learn about what your visitors are looking for and provides you with a way to track customer interactions.
Links to your social media
While this seems obvious enough, it’s super important and you would be surprised at the number of companies that don’t include social media links. Your social media, in many ways, is an extension of your “about” section. It’s where people can get information about your brand, engage with you, and learn about your company culture. Plus, including links to your social pages from your “about” section is a great way to increase your following.
Mastering the perfect “about” page isn’t rocket science. It just takes a little understanding of what your customers are looking for -- whether it’s company details, contact information, or proof that your company is made up of humans and not vicious cyborgs.
Courtesy of Weebly
Chad Reid • Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular online form building tool for small businesses
If you’ve ever received feedback that you “need to be more strategic,” you know how frustrating it can feel. To add insult to injury, the feedback rarely comes with any concrete guidance on what to do about it. One of my coaching clients, Lisa, a vice president of HR, was in this situation and explains, “I was just told to think bigger picture and to be more strategic. It felt like I had been given the definition of a word by using the same word. It just wasn’t helpful.”
So what specific steps can you take to be more strategic in your current role?'
Start by changing your mindset.
If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives, think again. It can, and must, happen at every level of the organization; it’s one of those unwritten parts of all job descriptions. Ignore this fact and you risk getting passed over for a promotion, or having your budget cut because your department’s strategic contribution is unclear.
Once you’ve accepted that it’s part of your job, focus on developing four key abilities that demonstrate your strategic prowess.
Know: Observe and Seek Trends
Lisa wasn’t seeing the big picture. Because of the amount of work she had and the pace at which she needed to get it done, she often took a “heads down” approach to her job and failed to “lift up” and observe both internal and external trends. She was missing key information that could help her focus, prioritize, and be proactive in addressing talent issues for her fast-growing company. Because Lisa approached her job in a transactional manner, simply getting the next hire, she didn’t recognize that she needed a completely new approach to recruitment and retention.
In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. An intellectual appreciation of the importance of bringing in current data and seeking trends isn’t enough. You also have to:
Think: Ask the Tough Questions
With a fresh understanding of trends and issues, you can practice using strategic thinking by asking yourself, “How do I broaden what I consider?” Questions are the language of strategy. Lisa came to appreciate that her life and prior experience gave her a unique, yet myopic, strategic lens. So she pushed herself to ramp up her perspective-taking and inquiry skills. By becoming more curious, and looking at information from different points of view, she was able to reduce her myopia and see different possibilities, different approaches, and different potential outcomes.
For example, when working on an employee retention project she asked herself, “What does success look like in Year 1?” “What does it look like in Year 3?” “What could impact the outcome in a negative way?” “What are the early signs of success/failure?” “What do business partners need to understand to ensure its success?” and “Do the outcomes support the broader goals of the organization?” By asking these tough questions first, she recognized that she could better engage with colleagues and senior executives early on in ways that would benefit the project — and would help shape the perception that she was thoughtful and strategic.
Speak: Sound Strategic
Strategic thinkers also know how to speak the language. They prioritize and sequence their thoughts. They structure their verbal and written communication in a way that helps their audience focus on their core message. They challenge the status quo and get people talking about underlying assumptions. Those that are really skilled walk people through the process of identifying issues, shaping common understanding, and framing strategic choices.
If this sounds complex, that’s because it is. But there are ways you can start honing these skills:
Lisa didn’t realize that the way she spoke created the perception that she was not strategic. She set about changing that. First by focusing her one-on-ones with her CHRO on higher level discussions and leaving tactical issues to email. She chose one or two strategic areas to focus on. and made sure to frame issues in the context of the CHRO’s and the CEO’s top priorities.
Act: Make Time for Thinking and Embrace Conflict
In the early phase of our work together, Lisa kept a jam-packed schedule, running from meeting to meeting. She found it difficult to contribute strategically without the time to reflect on the issues and to ponder options. Recognizing that she was not bringing her full value to the table, she started to evaluate her tasks based on urgency and importance as outlined in Stephen Covey’s 2 x 2 matrix. She stopped going to meetings she didn’t need to be at. She blocked out thinking time on her calendar and honored it, just as she would for other meetings. And she fought back the initial guilt of “Am I doing real work when I’m just sitting at my desk thinking?”
Lisa also practiced other key skills. She learned to embrace debate and to invite challenge, without letting it get personal so that she could ask tough questions. To do this, she focused on issues, not people, and used neutral peers to challenge her thinking. To manage the inevitable ambiguity that arises when you ask more questions, Lisa also learned to clarify her decision-making criteria, allowing her to better act in the face of imperfect information.
The quest to build your strategic skills can be uncomfortable. At first, you might feel like you’re kicking up sand in the ocean. Your vision will be blurred as you manage through the unsettling feelings that come with challenging your own assumptions and gaining comfort with conflict and curiosity. Once the dust settles, however, and you’re able to contribute at a higher level, you’ll be glad you took the risk.
Nina A. Bowman is a managing Partner at Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. She is a contributing author to the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees.
By Jon Keehn
Walk down almost any street and you’re bound to see people who look like they’re headed to a yoga studio, spin class or specialty gym — whether they are or not. This is part of a trend in which athletic wear is becoming a fixture in mainstream fashion and apparel. From running gear and workout clothes to yoga pants and leggings, sportswear is growing ever more popular in the U.S. and increasingly taking hold in the developing world. This is creating opportunities for athletic apparel and footwear companies, especially those capable of pairing sought-after designs and innovation with the marketing and distribution muscle needed to stand out in a crowded field.
The rising popularity of athletic wear is being driven by a variety of social and demographic factors, starting with greater health consciousness. More people in the U.S. and Europe are attuned to their physical well-being, while an expanding middle class in the developing world is signing up for gym memberships and boosting its sports participation. That’s contributing to so-called athleisure, in which sports-influenced attire is increasingly versatile and worn in everyday settings. As with so much of fashion, this dynamic is driven partly by cachet. Just as personal trainers and designer barre classes have become status symbols, so have sports-inspired garments.
Growth is also being spurred by product innovations, such as advanced materials that make sports shoes lighter and more form-fitting, and ongoing specialization in which consumers buy activity-specific shoes for running, tennis, hiking and so on. Looking ahead, the emergence of wearable technology — in which digital devices such as fitness trackers are woven into pants, shorts and sneakers — is likely to spark consumer interest in coming years.
Athletic wear is a bright spot in the otherwise troubled apparel sector.
The encouraging outlook for sports-related clothing stands in contrast to the dimmer prospects for the general apparel business, which is confronting numerous headwinds. Given the relative ease in designing and manufacturing basic apparel, there are low barriers to entry. The result is a highly fragmented industry in which even leading brands garner only low-single-digit market share. Most apparel makers have little pricing power and have had to grapple with deflationary pressures for the past decade. That could worsen in coming years as profit margins are squeezed by rising labor costs in Asia, where most global manufacturing takes place.
Apparel manufacturers also face the perennial challenge of fickle consumer tastes. Countless brands have skyrocketed as consumers grew infatuated with their designs, only to suffer later when the market became oversaturated and shoppers moved on to the next big thing. Even some well-respected brands have fared poorly as capricious fashion trends went against them. Companies that miss a trend are saddled with excess inventory, which can mean profit-draining sales promotions and long-term damage to brand reputation.
Meanwhile, apparel retailers — those with storefronts in shopping centers and strip malls — are facing their own existential threat in the form of e-commerce. Similar to trends in electronics, media and office products, consumers are increasingly buying apparel online. The result has been steadily declining mall traffic and ongoing margin compression. It’s likely that only the strongest brands will be able to adapt to the evolving e-commerce world.
Achieving scale is a key advantage in the sportswear business.
Athletic apparel, by contrast, has far higher barriers to entry, giving prominent brands an edge over lower-quality competitors. Sportswear and shoes typically are high-performance products requiring extensive research and development, which makes it difficult for knockoffs to gain traction. Footwear manufacturing, in particular, is a highly technical and labor-intensive process; there are only about 30 large footwear producers worldwide. That’s an advantage for established brands, whose extensive volume helps to secure limited production capacity.
In the same vein, leading companies typically have sizable marketing and advertising budgets, which are critical in building brand awareness and loyalty. Athletic-clothing companies earmark an average of three times as much for marketing as their general apparel peers. This need to spend heavily on league sponsorships and athlete endorsements makes it hard for newer companies to establish crucial brand recognition.
Athletic brands are also far better positioned than traditional apparel retailers to sell directly to consumers over the Internet or through their own stores, where profit margins are much higher. Add up the collective advantages of sportswear makers, and they tend to have greater pricing power, faster growth and better returns on capital than the rest of the apparel industry.
The opportunities are brightest in underpenetrated emerging markets, where there is a high correlation between economic growth and consumer spending on apparel. Although there are cultural and social differences among individual countries, there is significant room for growth overall. Well-known brands are extremely popular overseas, where sportswear makes up a smaller portion of total apparel sales than in the developed world.
Over the long term, athletic wear is likely to play an increasing role in consumer wardrobes. Among other social and demographic trends, the millennial generation has shown a clear preference for casual attire that could propel sportswear in coming years. While established brands have key advantages, up-and-coming companies with clear visions and disruptive concepts can also be promising opportunities. Given the challenges facing the apparel industry, it’s essential to be selective when picking investments. That provides the best opportunity to identify companies with superior long-term potential.
Jon Keene is an equity analyst who covers the U.S. retail industry. He has 15 years of investment experience and has been with Capital Group since 2016.