No Excuses: You Have To Put In The Work

William Wilson, CEO

I started William Wilson Clothing with 3 major obstacles. 1. We were in the middle of the economic down spiral. 2. I didn’t know anything about the clothing industry. 3. No one knew who I was. When I think about it, it was really pretty stupid to start a company under these conditions. But God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

The economy was out of my control. But the other two obstacles weren’t. To overcome my second obstacle, I taught myself the clothing industry online. For obstacle number 3, I devised a branding strategy, and set out to execute it. My goal was to make sure the Charlotte Market knew who I was. It doesn’t matter how good your product is if no one knows you exist. I made a commitment that if I didn’t sell a single suit that year, people would know my name, and my brand.

I went to every event I could afford to attend; sometimes 3-4 events in a day. Once, I got home and bent over to remove my shoes. I woke up 2 hours later, still bent over, with a sore back, and my shoestrings still in my hands. It was hard, exhausting work, but it was necessary. After a few months, people started to recognize me, and I started getting some press. I slowly started getting put on guest lists. First it was general admission. Then the VIP lists started. Before I knew it, I was becoming a recognized and respected brand.

The plan was working. So I kept following it, only I was becoming smarter. I began to streamline my calendar. I made sure that I attended events for a purpose, not to just be seen. I elevated my brand exposure by maximizing my time, and going to where the people I needed to see were. I started getting feature articles written about me and TV exposure. I even got my first magazine cover in Sophisticated Charlotte Magazine. This didn’t make me a star, or make me “The man”. But it gave my brand credibility and integrity. This opened the doors that led to designing suits for the Grammys, the Oscars, and everything else I’ve done. There is nothing special about me. I didn’t do anything, that thousands of others haven’t done. I don’t have a “magic touch”, or super skill. I’ve been blessed far beyond what I deserve. But none of this would have happened without a lot of faith, and a lot of sweat equity.

Social media is great. I utilize it regularly. But you can’t build a brand off Facebook and Twitter. You can enhance your brand exposure, get instant feedback on potential campaigns, get market research data, and even build a fan base. But a fan and a customer ARE NOT the same. You HAVE to put in the work. There is no substitute for that. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice comfort, sleep, and fun, and risk total failure for success, you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re a wantrepreneur. If that’s who you are, that’s OK. Just accept it, move on. Get a job somewhere. Otherwise, stop making excuses and put in the work. It may not succeed, but it definitely increases your chances. Until next time…..

God bless and dress well,

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

You Gotta Pay To Play

William Wilson, CEO

There was a high profile CEO that I once wanted to meet. I called and sent emails literally for weeks. But I could not get . I had heard he was a really cool guy, and that he would be a great contact and potential client. This sounded great, but if I couldn’t reach him, this bit of information was useless. I found out there was a golf tournament at Ballantyne Country Club. Now I’m smart enough to know that a significant part of my client base plays golf. So I went there with the intention of playing, and maybe meeting some potential clients. Until I found out there was a $350 entry fee. WHOOOOAA! I didn’t have $350 to play in a golf tournament. I had bills! I needed to eat! I can’t waste this money playing golf. So I drove away. While on the road, a voice in my head said, “You can’t afford NOT to play in this tournament. You’re trying to reach high net worth people. This is what they do.” So I started calculating my money. My bills were caught up, so I had at least 60 days before anything started getting cut off. So, I bit the bullet and paid the fee. While sitting at my table waiting for the tournament to start, who sits down next to me? THAT SAME CEO I HAD BEEN TRYING TO MEET. We talked for 5 minutes and hit it off well. In less than 10 minutes, I had his cell phone number, personal email, and a lunch meeting set. He is now one of my best clients. This would never had happened if I hadn’t taken a chance and spent the money.

There’s an old adage, “It takes money to make money.” There is a lot of truth to that. The single most asked professional question I get is   “How do I get in front of high net worth people?” The answer is pretty simple. Go where they are! If you want to see whales, you go to the ocean. If you want to see lions, you go to Africa, or the zoo. If you want to meet executives and high net worth people, you go there they are. It’s not rocket science. In my experience, I have made the majority of my contacts at golf tournaments, business breakfasts, non-profit events, cultural events and through their friends. These events do tend to be a bit pricey, but worth it. The average price I spend to get into events is around $75-%150. I don’t go to as many events as I used to. As you start to establish relationships, your network grows through the meeting of their friends at social functions; not necessarily events.

Helpful hint, you WILL NOT find them at an events that start on Friday night at 10pm, or whose marketing includes the terms “drink specials”, “grown and sexy” and “security strictly enforced”. Nor will you find them at “networking events” with $20 entry fees. Those aren’t networking events, those are parties.

If you want to expand your business, you have to expand your network. Sometimes, that requires expanding your wallet. You are investing in your business, and your future. If you aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is, then don’t be upset that you always see the same people everywhere you go. Birds of a feather, right? When you’re serious about doing more business, you’ll make your move. If not. You won’t. But that’s your decision. Until next time….

God bless and dress well,

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

Man’s Rejection or God’s Protection

William Wilson, CEO

Rejection is as much a part of life as acceptance. At times, more so. Sometimes, it’s the caveat that predicates our path to success. Oftentimes when I speak to budding entrepreneurs, or students, they assume that things come easy for me because I have reached, what they feel, is a great level of success. Though I have been blessed to have achieved some success; I am nowhere near my goal. Contrary to some of their beliefs, I still face a significant amount of adversity and failure every day. No great achievement comes without risk and failure. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can truly start our path to success.

As some of you know, I have been on a search for space for the Charlotte office of William Wilson Clothing. I wasn’t looking for anything overly extravagant. I was looking for 300-400 sq. ft., near Uptown or in the Meyers Park/ Dilworth area. I had a budget in mind that I felt was fair, and I began my search. Oddly enough, I quickly found what I thought was a blessing from God. There was a space in the Charlotte Plaza Building,  between Showmars and Starbucks that was perfect. I called the leasing agent, Mike Lucier of CB Richard Ellis, and scheduled an appointment to view the space. Turns out. it was an old florist shop, so there was a lot of pegboards on the wall and a tile floor. All I really needed from them was to lay down carpet, and return the walls to sheetrock, which would be necessary for anyone. Other than that, it was PERFECT! Great location, plenty of traffic, built in marketing, and the price was lower than I was looking for. This would have probably been his easiest lease of the year. Send me a proposal, let my lawyer look at it, I sign it, we’re in by Dec 1, and everyone is happy. No brainer, right? Not so fast my friend.

For whatever reason, I could not get him to send me a proposal. For weeks I emailed, called and texted him to send me a proposal. I even went so far as to email the owners of the building to see if they just didn’t want to lease to me, or if there was some other issue. I received a response saying that they did want to lease to me, and that I would receive some correspondence from Mike. The correspondence I received was I’d have something in a couple of weeks. That was in November. Til this day, I have received no proposal, lease agreement, or any other correspondence to advance this process. I was upset. I was disappointed. This was an ideal location and I could practically print my own money from that place. But for whatever reason, they rejected me, and my business. Thus began a long, annoying, arduous task of looking for a space. Though I found other prospects, none were what I was looking for. None of them made me say “WOW!” I eventually found a space that “would do” and was about to sign papers on it, when I called the agent to ask a question, I didn’t get a response. I emailed the next day. Same thing. “Here we go again”, I thought. This is ridiculous. ANOTHER rejection. So as I’m driving down the road, I see this sign against a building. I call it, not thinking much about it at the time. In fact, I’d seen the signs many times driving on that street. It was for a 640 sq ft space, which was more than I needed, and what I assumed would be out of my acceptable budget.

The agent, Jay Snover, called me and I met him the next morning at the building. I looked at the space. WOW! It was perfect. It was bigger than I needed, but not as much as I thought. They were about to lay down new carpet, and had painted the walls. I won’t go into the details of the negotiations, but let’s just say, they gave me FAR AND BEYOND what I was looking for, at half the price of the first building. In fact, this space will directly represent the brand William Wilson Clothing has grown to represent. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Now I understood why God kept allowing me to be rejected. He had something better in mind. And it was right in front of me all the time. By the way, I happened to be at the Charlotte Plaza Building the other day. The space is still available.

We are often discouraged by failures in our life. This is understandable. When you put your heart and soul into something, and it doesn’t work, it hurts. And sometimes it hurts really bad. I had lunch with a dear friend of mine, Nathan Krum, at the Speedway Club and he made the statement, “Sometimes man’s rejection, is God’s protection.” Though he was talking about another situation, it fit perfectly here as well. Quite often, our greatest joy will come after our greatest pain. Don’t fall for silly bravado like “Failure is not an option.” “All I do is win” and that foolishness. Failure and rejection is always an option. More often than not, it’s a possibility. But it’s what you do when you get rejected that defines who you are. Not the rejection. Believe in yourself. Stay strong. And stay prayed up. God will provide a way, out of no way. After all, “If God be for you, who can be against you.” (Rom 8:31) Until next time….

God bless and dress well,

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing