After years of extensive research on the nature of leadership, Daniel Goleman outlines the conclusions he has drawn in his 2002 bestseller, Primal Leadership. In this book, he pinpoints the key role emotional intelligence plays for an effective leader. One of the primary ways of strengthening emotional resolve when making business decisions is to provide a service or product in which the business leader and his or her employees can strongly believe in. New Generation T-shirts, an online T-shirt company, aims to achieve this goal.
A September 2013 NBC news report states that student enrollment in colleges and universities dropped by half a million students in 2012. Experts speculate that rising tuition fees and mounting student debt are partially to blame for students opting to crack into the workforce instead of pursuing higher education. In addition, higher education degrees no longer ensure higher salaries. In another 2013 article from U.S. News, it was reported that “the number of college students working minimum wage jobs is nearly 71 percent higher than it was a decade ago.”
In such a dismal economic environment, it is important to develop networks of encouragement and support for the younger generations of today. New Generation T-shirts will specialize in creating fashionable t-shirts with positive messages targeting college and university students printed on them. In addition, my company will specifically seek recent university graduates and university students in need of part-time or summer work to help design the t-shirts, promote our product and assist in the management of our company.
Our primary obstacle in establishing this business and promoting this brand is raising awareness of what we are attempting to achieve among our targeted market segment. I believe this goal can be achieved through an effective marketing campaign that will initially begin with posts placed on university job boards and student forums and advertisements in college newspapers.
New Generation T-shirts’ marketing strategy is to emphasize the participation of the target audience, which consists of university and college students, in the designing of our t-shirts and the processes of our business. These t-shirts will be made by students, for students. The carefully selected designers will benefit greatly from the exposure of their work on t-shirts worn throughout the country, while students who help manage and promote the company will gain valuable work experience. The collegiate managers and marketers will also gain valuable firsthand experience in operating a successful company, which may inspire some of them to one day start their own businesses.
We seek an operating cost of $150,000 to establish the first year of the business. The bulk of the cost will go to creating a factory to print our t-shirts and placing advertisements in college newspapers. In addition, a small team of talented web designers will be needed to design our website.
Since I will be the sole proprietor of the business, I must master the steps involved in starting a business such as establishing a personal liability plan. This would entail taking the necessary steps in forming a limited liability company (LLC) in order to avoid most personal liability in the unfortunate case that my company faces legal issues.
Following the establishment of an LLC, I must learn how to deal with the issues of taxation. I am aware of the options available to me in this regard such as the “flow-through” taxation option and the other popular alternative, entity taxation. Through some form of mentorship with a local business owner or a business professor, I can hopefully make the right taxation choices that best suit my company’s needs.
In addition, I am aware of the fringe benefits available to me as the sole proprietor of my company such as tax-sheltered retirement programs. I would need assistance in the form of mentorship in making the necessary steps in taking advantage of such benefits.
Since according to my business plan a majority of my employees will be part-time workers still enrolled in college or university, my company can minimize expenditures in terms of benefits such as health insurance. However, for the most essential positions such as web designers, I would need assistance in establishing some form of health coverage for them. With the introduction of new rules and regulations under the Affordable Healthcare Act, I would need guidance through the complexities through these legalities.
Furthermore, I plan to finance my business through business loans initially, but, hopefully, as our company becomes more successful, I will eventually seek out investors. While I expect the knowledge needed to fill out bank loan applications to be fairly easy, I would need mentoring in learning how to approach investors.
I plan on gaining the mentorship needed to establish my business by approaching professors at my university and at other universities in my surrounding areas. In addition, I plan on approaching businessmen in my city for advice. Since my company has a good cause at the base of its concept, I am confident that many businessmen will be impressed enough by my idea to be enthusiastic about assisting me.
In the 2004 book, Bankable Business Plans, Edward Rogoff emphasizes the importance of building a positive image and brand. Consumers want to feel emotionally connected to the products and brands they purchase. If the product or brand has a good reflection or a positive message attached to it, consumers will want to associate themselves with that product or brand. This is the perfect antidote to any sense of buyer’s remorse.
New Generation T-shirts will look to project such an image of positivity through the values contained in its message. In today’s world, average people are inundated with disposable words whether in the form of text messages that are deleted moments after they are read or mindless gossip about celebrities and sports stars of the front pages of popular search engine websites such as Yahoo and MSN.
Our t-shirts will have written on them the words of wisdom that have endured throughout the ages from ancient texts such as the Bible, the Upanishads, and the Tao Te Ching as well as the wise sayings of great men such as Gandhi, the Buddha, Shakespeare and Nelson Mandela. Above all, these words will be of encouragement, hope and the call for perseverance. They will be designed in eye-catching patterns created by our university-trained staff.
When people walk down the street, we want our t-shirts to grab their attention through our designs and make them reflect momentarily on the messages of our brand.
I strongly feel that in a short period of time, our t-shirts will quickly garner a reputation as emblems of positivity and hope that will endear customers to our brand.
Aside from the messages printed on the t-shirts and their eye-popping design, every t-shirt will be made of the finest material available.
In addition, a well-thought-out logo will be designed that will be printed on the sleeves of the t-shirts.
In terms of hiring employees, we will seek out not only the most qualified and skilled candidates but will also look for people who share our vision for our company. In the 2005 book, Alpha Dogs, Donna Fenn highlights the importance of making the right hire. She explains that, more often than not, problems with employees are usually not a result of a lack of skills or incompetence, but rather hiring someone who is simply a bad fit for the company. A worker’s skills and education are not the primary factors in ensuring their success with a company as they can be taught and trained. But, rather, finding workers who have the proper attitude and work ethic is most important for a company’s success.
Due to the positive concept of our product, I feel we will have few problems in finding employees who will be excited about working for our company. Besides having a positive message they can be proud to be associated with, we will invest in our workers’ development by assigning them mentors during their training period. This will show them that the improvement of their knowledge and skills are intimately linked with the success of our company.
In addition, we will run a transparent operation, keeping employees informed as to how our company is performing, what challenges we are facing and our plans in the short-term and in the future. As part of their training, we will even keep them informed about our company’s financial information so that they will gain invaluable knowledge of how a company operates. In this way, not only will our company be a place of employment, but it will also quickly gain a reputation as an educational opportunity and a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities in the future.
Following the management plan of Eric Nicole, the CEO of the highly successful United Biscuits company in the U.K., that is outlined in Charles M. Farkis’ 1996 book, Maximum Leadership, when it comes to employee evaluations, we will not choose to focus on the negatives of their performances. However, we will initially create a tentative outline of objectives for each full-time employee such as the web designers and the management team. We will then annually or semi-annually assess how well they have achieved these objectives and where they can go from there. I feel this will encourage employees to have a sense of aspiration and, above all, give each employee a clear and unmistakable idea of what they should expect of themselves.
In terms of marketing, it will be most important for me to fully assess how my business will fit in with other national and local brands. On this issue, I will rely on my mentors to help guide me through the process of this assessment.
When customers decide whether or not to purchase a product, they, consciously or subconsciously, compare it to other products and brands. Our marketing and research staff must think through this thought process from the viewpoint of the customers when designing our marketing plan.
It is important for any successful business to differentiate itself from the competition. To do so, we must consider our potential strong and weak points. For instance, we must consider the price of our product. While we do not want to be considered a high-end brand in light of our noble message, we also do not want to be considered a cheap brand. Therefore, we will look to be moderately priced.
Next, we will have to consider our target customers who will, of course, be college and university students and recent graduates. As stated before, we will market to them through college and university resources such as websites and college newspapers. In addition to these methods, we may also sponsor parties and advertise during college sporting events. We can also, eventually, advertise through college radio stations, fliers and mailed brochures.
Our staff will act as a significant source of marketing and advertising possibilities as they will be of the same age and educational situations as our target audience. We will constantly turn to them for any ideas about the best ways to reach our audience. I feel that our methods of marketing would be extremely cost-effective as advertisement in college newspapers and on college radio stations is relatively inexpensive. Our marketing plan along with the use of part-time and summertime employees are brilliant strategies for keeping our costs low.I feel that regardless of the success of this company, the opportunity to establish and operate such a business will provide me with invaluable business skills I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Farkas, Charles M., 1996, Maximum Leadership: The World’s CEO’s Share Their Five Strategies for Success, Henry Holt and Company, Inc.
Fenn, Donna, 2005, Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of the Pack. Harper Collins Publishers
Goleman, Daniel, 2002, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Basil Blackwell, Inc.
NBC News, September 3, 2013, “College enrollment down by a half million students in 2012 Census Bureau report.”
U.S. News, December 5, 2013, “Twice as Many College Grads in Minimum Wage Jobs as 5 Years Ago”.