The Cool Business Paradox

How much time does your business spend designing logos, t-shirts, stickers and S.W.A.G.? If the answer is “more than a few minutes” you’re probably doing something wrong.


We’ve all seen these guys, right? They’ve got 1000 t-shirts with the company logo, trucker hats, stickers, beer coozies and stress balls. They’ve got branded merchandise from head-to-toe and if you ask them about their business they immediately launch into a diatribe about how they’re a “lifestyle brand with focus on social interactions and connecting with awesome celebrities via social media and giving them free stuff” but if you ask about their profit and loss statement you quickly learn they’re bleeding money and don’t really have a plan to change it.


Many wantrepreneurs devote too much of their time to designing the coolest t-shirts imaginable; they painstakingly design new logos, pick the finest quality goods, and ensure everything looks just right before they order 1000 new units and start to hand them out to employees, family, and friends. In their eyes having these t-shirts makes their business real – but they spend so much time designing their merchandise, they lose sight of what they’re really supposed to be doing – RUNNING A BUSINESS! They’re more concerned with how their business LOOKS than how their business RUNS. They’d rather impress the people they know with costly merch than impress their customers by delivering great value.


Some people are more worried about running a “cool” business than a successful one; and they forget they have to actually run the business for any of this to work.


If you spend more time on your “brand” than you do on your day-to-day business, you’re doing something wrong. Too often people get hung up on the idea of having a “cool business” that they forget that the coolest businesses are the ones that make lots of money for their owners and continue to operate for years to come. Spending huge chunks of time and money on cool t-shirts or branded merchandise is a waste of time if your business isn’t running properly, and too often business owners get the whole thing backwards.


Focus on building a great business first; set the course, put the systems in place for management and growth, empower your people to help your business grow. Once you’ve got things running the way they’re supposed to – then you can afford to dedicate some time to finding the right color t-shirt to feature your company logo. Once you have a quality business to back it up, you can devote some time to utilizing your brand and creating meaningful merchandise.

Remember, cool t-shirts don’t make a business – products and services, revenues, profits, these are things that make a business; where will you invest your time?


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