So you wanna’ start your own BJJ Gi brand, do you?
It makes sense, after all. You’re passionate about all things BJJ! You love to train, and you want to make a little cash on the side while working on something that you love! We totally get it…that’s exactly what we did! We took something that we were passionate about, and turned it into a business.
Sounds like a great idea, but before you take the plunge, I just want to give you some free advice. And no, this isn’t to discourage people to get into the BJJ Gear business and create more competition for ourselves. As we all know, just like in BJJ, steel sharpens steel, and good competition like good training partners makes business stronger, not weaker.
Not that I want to discourage you from following your dreams. Far from it, I believe that if everyone went to work everyday working on something that they loved, then the world would be a much better place with far fewer grumpy people.
Here are the top 5 reasons that people fail when starting up their own BJJ brand. Avoid these, and your road to the podium will be much smoother!
- Lack of a clear unique selling proposition
What sets you apart from your competition? What makes you unique? Why would someone order your BJJ Gis or BJJ rash guards over another company making the same thing? Answer this all-important question before you go any further.
You need to find the white space! Find the opportunity! Are you going to set yourself apart with the best price in the market? Or perhaps some innovative BJJ Gi technology or design?
When we created Fusion Fight Gear, this is what we looked at. We saw the MMA/ BJJ and athletic apparel world exploding with new brands on almost a daily basis. What we didn’t see was anyone creating legit, officially licensed goods in this space, so we went ahead and filled the void.
- Lack of Capital
This is unfortunately the second most important thing. You are going to need a website, pay someone to design your BJJ gear, and of course, some funds to pay the factory up front to actually make your BJJ product. Make sure you have this money ready to go when you start things up, because you’ll start burning through cash at an alarming rate, and if you run out, it’s game over. Whether it’s a bank loan, mortgage on the house, crowdfunding, or the bank of Mom and Dad, be sure to have your ducks in a row before moving onto #3.
- Lack of knowledge
To own your own BJJ brand, you are going to require some basic business knowledge. You can learn on the fly if you’re resourceful enough, but best to do all of the research in advance. You won’t need to be an expert in everything, but at first you won’t have enough capital to hire everything out, so you will need to be reasonably well versed in manufacturing, accounting, marketing, logistics, etc.
- Lack of Marketing
You’ve designed the coolest BJJ gis, BJJ rash guards, and BJJ spats on the planet, and now you’re ready to sell them to the world. Your new website has launched and it’s ready to go…but wait…where are the orders? This is where I see most BJJ brands fail miserably. What are you doing to get eyeballs onto your website? Do you have a solid SEO plan in place? Social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook are great, but do you really know what you’re doing, and how are you going to cut through the clutter of BJJ gear already out there?
What sort of distribution model do you have set up? Are your BJJ products going to appear in other stores, or on other retailers’ websites? What about on Amazon, or Jet.com?
- Lack of time
If starting your own BJJ brand is going to be a side-hustle for you, that’s totally cool, but keep in mind that you will be competing with companies who do this on a full time basis. It’s like a competitive BJJ player training two nights a week, and thinking that he has a good shot at winning the Pans. Highly unlikely!
Be realistic with your goals if this is going to be a side project, and be patient. How much time can you honestly devote to this business? Evenings and weekends are great, but that will require some sacrifice from other things in your life that you might really enjoy as well such as family, friends, and GASP…..BJJ training! That’s right, to own your own BJJ brand, you can and will likely sacrifice your training at some point. Nothing wrong with that, but just be sure that you are passionate enough about running a BJJ business to give up some training. Answering customer service emails and picking/ shipping orders all tack a tremendous amount of time.
Hopefully this helped a bit. People ask me about starting their own BJJ Gi brand all the time, and while I never want to discourage anyone from following their dreams, I feel like I have to present both sides of the coin, giving them a dose of reality, so that they can make their own educated decisions. Owning your own BJJ brand is just like training jiu-jitsu. It takes sacrifice, dedication, and hard work, but is totally achievable with the right attitude!