Usually, when people are entering business, the common advice holds that they shouldn’t “reinvent the wheel,” or work with a familiar concept. Yet Sean Kelly did just that, and he now enjoys a very steady income. Read on for his five best tips for success in crowded markets!
1. Find a Way to Offer Value Through an Existing Product
Jerseys are not uncommon products, and it is difficult to innovate with them. Sean Kelly, however, found a way to make jerseys fresh by picking up on trends and memes. Any product can be personalized, but it takes skill and talent to pick and choose which trends might lead to strong returns and to deploy them in a way that is timely. Products that appeal to the youth market in their use, appeal, and style create a sweet spot, and that is why Kelly has succeeded. “I wanted to make jerseys into a lifestyle” instead of a sports item, he explains.
2. Leverage Trends Quickly
It is one thing to choose which trends might take on, but logistics are another matter. For many products, however, finding the time to design on-trend products, to work with the supply chain, and to deploy the product is difficult. Especially with manufacturers based in China, the timelines involved in such products can make on-trend products impossible; working with American-made goods can drive prices past an affordability point. Kelly has succeeded because he found a way to combine a product with mass appeal and entry-level price points with a head for understanding trends.
3. Carefully Plan Ahead
Kelly’s story is not all inspiring success. During one critical Halloween sales period, his company ran into fulfillment issues and had to refund orders – about $50,000 worth. The key lesson? Prepare inventory in advance, far in advance. Have a good plan for supply chain management and contingencies, especially if your product is made overseas.
4. Have a Great Personal Support Network
Kelly credits his supportive girlfriend with keeping him sane. He described working 16 to 18-hour days, feeling his health slip away even as his profits increased. Her support is invaluable to him. A support network to fall back on, and to encourage healthy habits – Kelly recommends working out at the gym – is critical for any business owner.
5. Leverage a Broader Network to Create Authentic Influencer Marketing
A personal network can help people feel supported, but they may not sell products as efficiently as a broader professional network. The ethos that influencers offer to products is essential for gaining a foothold in invaluable youth markets and becoming part of the many quick-moving trends. Kelly succeeded with a combination of celebrity endorsements and viral growth, further highlighting the need to capitalize on trends before they become stale.
Sean Kelly’s success was not an accident, and it proves that success can come even with an existing product if the value proposition is delivered in a way that corresponds to valuable markets. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but realigning it can bring businesses to new horizons.
Sean Kelly’s Instagram: @seanmikekelly