Making More Money

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By Learning These Things

The reason we’re talking about learning, is because it’s very likely that you’re already in business and that you’re working pretty hard. You make X dollars last month, you worked all the hours that you could possibly work, and you worked just as hard during those hours that you possibly can. If you had available time to put into your business, you did it. You produced the best products that you can with the equipment you have.

With all these things, what is going to happen next month? You’re going to make about the same amount of money. You’re putting in the same effort, same hours, producing the same products. (All depending on the economy, your biggest competitor loses a customer to you, etc.)

One thing to mention is that if your business is growing pretty rapidly every month, keep doing those things.  Don’t stress over what you need to change, just pay attention and keep on your path. But don’t shoot yourself in the boot either.

You can’t be in business and stay stagnant. You have to improve yourself in some way.  You have to learn something new every month, every quarter, every year if you want to improve your business. There are some fundamental things we’ve mapped out that we expect you to either already have knowledge of or that you might want to put on your list to learn before next month starts.


You need to know how to use your equipment well. You need to be an expert (or whoever uses the equipment). There’s a surprising number of people who will have equipment for years and call up with the most basic question. They came in and started running their business first, before they learned everything and are learning as they go.  And forgetting things, because they’ve lost the fundamentals of mastering the equipment.

It can be tough if you’re working 8-10 hours a day, but you have to take a step back and look around your shop. Look at the equipment and ask, “Am I the best at using this equipment that I can possibly be?”

If you have a cutter:

  • Do you know what the cutting pressure is for all the different vinyl materials that you might use?
  • Do you know what those adjustments might look like?
  • Do you know what the trouble-shooting steps are if you have any issues?

If you are doing DGT:

  • Do you know what 50/50 you can use?
  • Do you know what the best ring-spun cotton shirt is?
  • Do you know the difference between ring-spun and brushed cut?

These are all things you need to be aware of, so you can save time down the road. You can use that time that you’re going to waste when you’re trying to learn when you have a job in front of you, or from making mistakes on a job, to make more money.

Our company had a meeting the other day to talk about how we can improve things – ourselves and our company for our customers. During it the analogy was brought up of “the person who sharpens their axe before they go out to the woods.” The person with the dull axe has been wailing away at the side of a tree for hours, trying to get it to come down. Then a guy with an incredibly sharp axe comes in and chops a tree down in three hits. That’s because the tools are ready and he knows what to do with it. For your business, that axe is your equipment. If you know how to use your equipment efficiently and properly, when you have to print a t-shirt, embroider a shirt, or cut some vinyl, it’s simply step 1, step 2, step 3, and it’s done.

In the Custom Apparel Facebook group, you’ll see a lot of those different “sharpened” levels from the members. You’ll see people in DTG, embroidery, vinyl who are real pros. Their stuff is completed faster, it looks better, they’re not wasting supplies. They perhaps have their blanks narrowed down to a handful of t-shirt, jacket, or cap options, so they’ve mastered using that piece of equipment.

Take some time up front to learn the equipment – am I doing this the most efficient way? If you’re still not as comfortable doing certain things on your machine, carve out some time every day or a few times during the week to master that part of it.

Here at ColDesi we offer Tech Talks every week. Colman and Company are also always producing videos about how to do things. There are a lot of places you can go to sharpen your axe.

Computer Skills/Software

As you look around your office, don’t just focus on the equipment, cast your eyes over to the box with the keyboard in front of it that you really use to run your business. This is where you’re going to do your design work. This is where you do your bookkeeping and where you send your emails. All of these things are part of the fundamentals of your business that you can improve at, you can save yourself time, you can do a better job at, you can save yourself money, and you can make more money.

For example, your design software. If you are in the embroidery business or the bling business you’re using Sierra Liberty or HotFix Era. We hear of people all the time who don’t do great designs and it’s perhaps because they’re intimidated by the software or because they’ve never tried or been asked to do anything more than a basic cheer. A lot of home embroiderers that want to start their own business, they’re not computer people. They’re used to embroidering just with their own designs. Then they’re faced with this software package to create a design from scratch and they’re not comfortable using design software. You can learn it. You’ve researched this business, you’ve chosen equipment, you’ve found customers, you can also learn basic computing skills and use the software.

You can take a course if you need to, from a local community college, community center, or online. Invest a handful of hours and the hundred or so dollars. We might even recommend Udemy for online courses.

Then take a look at the software you need to run your business. Perhaps you’re using some kind of accounting software.

Also learn how to do your taxes. You have to file sales taxes every single month in your state. Even if you have someone who does it for you, you have to understand the fundamentals. How often does it need to be done, what happens if you make a mistake, what form do you need to provide to businesses so they don’t charge you tax, etc.

The new basics


You have to be on and learn how to use Facebook. It’s a way for you to make yourself available to your customers and provides a great vehicle to talk to people about what you do. If you know how to use Facebook and you’re comfortable with it, you will make more money. Your potential customers can message you through it. It’s not your personal page that they’re connecting with, but your business Facebook page. So you need to learn what the difference is.

Smart Phone

Learn to use your smart phone. Understand how to download apps. What are some of the apps that are beneficial for your business? How do you connect your email to your mobile device? This is going to untie you from your desktop, so you can go out but still be connected to your business. Learn how to use a video and picture app. There are so many things that you probably don’t know your phone can do that will help your business. As an example, there’s a football coach who’s just finished practice at 9pm, and is finally getting around to emailing custom apparel businesses, and you’re away from your computer watching TV and you get his email on your phone. You can respond right away, with even a simple “I’ll get you this information first thing tomorrow morning,” if you don’t want to give him a quote right away. You can also do a lot of your social media marketing from your phone.

We don’t see this as an optional skill. Make a list of all the things that you would love if you were comfortable doing and find someone to teach you.

Learn how to take a good picture/video

This may be 100% with your phone. So learn how to take a good picture of the things you produce. Perhaps there’s a particular corner in your house that’s lit better than anywhere else. Every time you do a job, you want to take a picture of it, and post it on the Facebook page you just learned how to use. If you ever get a website done, people are going to ask to see photos of your work. If you get a call from someone who says they need 50 charity shirts and can you send them examples of what you’ve done.

Tip: if you aren’t on it already, get Instagram on your phone. Then search for some things you have an interest in. What you’re looking for is people who sell things and post to Instagram. Instagram is going to push more popular accounts to the top of the list, and they’re popular because they take good pictures. See how they take pictures. Generally speaking they’re not using a flash that washes them out. They often decorate the picture with something else, example they’ll put a t-shirt next to some roses.

Then apply all those tips and techniques to video. Video is an incredible format to deliver your message. Because you can describe what you do as much as you want, but actually showing someone through video really helps you sell.

Know what model of phone you have: iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, etc. And do a search on how to take the best photo/video with the phone you have.

Understanding marketing terminology

Look up what these words mean, so you can decide if you’re going to mess with them or not. At some point in time you’re going to get a phone call or get some marketing material sent to you, and you’re going to want to know what they mean to determine if you’re ready to look into them further.

  • PPC
  • Branding
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid Search
  • CRM
  • Sales Process
  • Sales Funnel

That’s a good start because you can eat up a whole morning learning about those and they will lead you to other words. You’ll learn how complex marketing is, but also all the things that you can do.


We want to recommend some books, authors and websites that you might want to go to, to learn and to keep up with the industry to learn about products, etc.

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • Buying Customers – Bradley Sugars
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
  • The E-Myth – Michael Gerber
  • Tony Robbins
  • Seth Godin
  • Malcom Gladwell
  • The CAS Podcast
  • The Smart Passive Income blog

We’d love to have you join our Custom Apparel Facebook Group and give us your ideas. What’s a great business book, what’s a great motivational book, podcast, or website?

We hope everyone got a little bit motivated and is taking a fresh look at their business.

Have a good business.


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