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Startup Journal: Why Is Tim Gunn Relevant to Your Business?

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When you think about the tech startup world, or business in general, a character like Tim Gunn is likely not what comes to mind. But he's as relevant to your work as any developer or marketer, for one simple reason.

How is fashion relevant to tech?

As a marketer, creative, and someone who generally loves commerce, I'm fascinated by the fashion industry. Fashion, like architecture or music, is a form of art. When it's not art, fashion is still a multi-trillion-dollar global industry.

Fashion is business. And when it's somehow not art or business, it's still a part of culture.

It's everywhere! It hits us on all levels. And there's so much that can be learned from the fashion industry about marketing, advertising, content, trends, and getting consumers to swipe their cards.

Truthfully, the two worlds - fashion and tech startup - are identical. The only difference is one designs with fabric while the other uses code.

Every budding designer looks up to top brands, just like every budding entrepreneur looks up to company founders. Brands like Oscar de la Renta and Dior are like Apple and Google.

Bergdorf Goodman is like Salesforce, where everyone's trying to be featured. Parsons School of Design is like Y Combinator, where some of the best talent and ideas go to be nurtured. And the man sitting at the helm for years was the one and only Tim Gunn.

Tim Gunn Well Read Quote

Why is Tim Gunn relevant to your business?

When producers reached out to Tim about creating the show Project Runway, they really wanted to know one thing. "If we told contestants to make a wedding dress in two days, do you think they could do it?"

Tim's response to that question has become the catchphrase he's famous for.

"Well, they'll have to... It won't be [anything amazing], but if that's what they're supposed to do, they'll have to make it work."

They will have to make it work.

That's why Tim Gunn is relevant to your business. When you're an entrepreneur, when you're trying to build a company, you probably don't have all the time and resources that you could possibly want readily available.

Related: Startup Journal: Accepting Failure vs. Expecting Failure

You've got deadlines. You need funding. There's 1,000,001 things on your plate. But you've got to make it work. So much of building a business is saying, "We can't do that, but what can we do?"

Tim Gunn Make it Work

It's a process of figuring things out. It's an ongoing struggle to make it work. But that's what you have to do!

You're given this incredible idea or opportunity or skill set, and you have to figure out how to turn it into something tangible!

What does that mean for you?

As a startup, the odds are inevitably and eternally stacked against you. 50% of startups fail within the first 5 years, regardless of industry, and 90% of all startups eventually crash and burn.

Forget about becoming wealthy or hugely successful, you've got to survive! You have to continually research and learn and come up with a plan E when plans A, B, C, and D are all infeasible.

You're probably not going to have enough money, not enough experience, and not enough manpower. You're probably going to be stressed to the nth degree! But you've got to find a way to make it work.

Really, that might be one of the better and brighter aspects of creating a business.

The winners aren't the ones with the biggest market potential or the hottest tech. The winners are the ones who, at every step and every level, find a way to make it work.

Related: Startup Journal: How Should You Spend Your Time?