This is the second in a series of business tips from J. Alexander Martin, co-founder of FUBU, owner of Afashionmind Television Network and editor-in-chief of Afashionmind.com.
We invited Martin to share insights with our readers on his early beginnings and his tips for succeeding in business.
What would you say to young people who aspire to start their own businesses?
One, find out what you do best and turn that into a business. I found out early in my life that fashion is what I wanted to do. Once you do that it can turn into a job, it can turn into a career. And if you make a whole bunch of money, great, and if you don’t make a whole bunch of money, you are still happy.
You feel most comfortable doing something natural that you love to do versus doing something because everyone else is doing it and you think you can make money.
What is the top advice you can give to a business starting out in today’s economy?
My top advice is to know your market. I think a lot of people don’t do enough research. I want to stress that so much, because when you go into something you need to know as much as you can about that business, and most people don’t do that.
They will know some what [about the business] and think they know everything, but they don’t, and in turn they get burned. People just jump in and look at a little textbook and think ‘Ok, I read the textbook and that is it,’ but there is a lot more knowledge out there to get – they look at the surface and not beyond.
How did you do your research for FUBU?
I was going to school at the same time as I was launching the business. I was always in the library, and if I wasn’t in the library, I was in class. I am a reader and even to this day, on my Twitter account, I put out articles that I know will help other people.
It is funny, I failed a couple of classes because I did it my way, but it worked. The teacher kind of did it by the book, but I looked beyond the book. I looked at what was going on (in the market). A lot of times when you go to school they just teach you the fundamentals, which is good to know, but you have to be able to put two and two together, which in turn, worked for me because I built a multi-million dollar business.
Next column: J. Alexander Martin shares why he believes African American businesses should steer away from branding themselves solely as African American and why it is important for business owners to think globally.
About J. Alexander Martin
J. Alexander Martin has externalized many successful ventures in the fashion industry including the iconic clothing line FUBU –“For Us By Us” – serving as the co-founder and vice president. Today, his kingdom includes a clothing line, a non-profit and a consulting firm. J Alexander Martin also serves as the editor-in-chief of Afashionmind.com and is host of King on 34th Reality TV Show Casting. He owns and operates, Afashionmind Television Network which features fashion, design, beauty, interior decoration, and urban lifestyle-related programming.