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Make Your Start-Up Biz Dreams Come True – While Juggling A Full-Time Job

Desperate to turn that genius start-up business idea into reality – but worried it’ll crash and burn because, you know, full-time job? It is actually possible to do both… Get ready to take notes from a serious hustler.

Inge Wulff is the owner/operator of Know Scrubs, which manufactures custom workwear for medical professionals who “don’t want no ordinary scrubs”. (We lurve ’em scrubs by the way!) But she’s also got a regular day job. So, how does she do it? And how can you do it too?

“Know Scrubs is still part-time for me,” explains Inge, whose day job is working for the marketing team at a network of private schools. “If I didn’t have the support I do, I wouldn’t be able to keep both jobs…”

READ MORE: How to Prepare Financially When Your Job Suddenly Doesn’t Feel So Safe Anymore

Along with a solid support structure, being able to delegate business is key. “When you create your own brand, it becomes your child,” says Inge. “[It’s] hard to let go, but as you scale it isn’t possible to keep everything… Only this year was I able to delegate production management.”

Start-up business tips, from an insider who’s done it

So, let’s start at the beginning. How did it this start-up business begin? “A doctor friend inspired my brand at a time when I was sewing regularly,” says Inge. “I went from making a birthday set for him to launching a brand in a couple of months. Now, two years later, my brand is (seemingly serendipitously) in a position to assist with medical supplies for those on the frontline due to a global pandemic.”

But was it luck, or more a case of luck being that amazing thing that happens when preparation meets opportunity? We’re betting on the latter. Here’s how Inge laid the groundwork for start-up business success…

READ MORE: Could One Of These 5 “Issues” Be The Actual Reason You’re Feeling Unsatisfied In Your Job?

Start small

So, for example, if your idea involves clothing, like Inge’s, start with one design or a capsule collection. Test and see what people respond to, change or perfect the product, then take bigger risks from there. “I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I can confirm it was easier when I was producing 30 scrubs a month,” says Inge. “It’s easier to test and change products when there are few of them.”

Spend time on your brand vision

Decide what kind of company you want and be intentional about the things that are important to you. “I’m passionate about prints of fabrics and I’m very selective in this process. I’m also passionate about local manufacturing [and] women empowerment… so everything I do is in support of that,” she adds.

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Know Scrubs: 100% guaranteed to put more joy in your (life-saving) job 👩🏻‍⚕️ #KnowScrubs #Influenza

A post shared by Know Scrubs (@know_scrubs) on

READ MORE: Ace The Second Half Of 2020 With These Tips From A Self-Worth And Abundance Coach

These golden start-up business rules apply to any industry, so use them

1. “The barrier of entry for clothing brands in South Africa is really low – you need a product and a social media page. This is great if you’re starting out because you can test easily. But this also means the market is pretty saturated and you need to have a differentiator (something that sets you apart from the rest).”

2. “Choose who you collaborate with wisely. Who you choose impacts the overall product and the customer experience. I’d recommend testing an idea with a manufacturer before you commit to a whole range.” PS: Be sure to draw up a contract!

3. “Follow/observe and intern brands you admire. I interned a local designer for a couple of weeks before I formally worked for them (for three years) and only after that was I ready to start my own brand. It’s easy to get a temporary internship to test the waters. Be cautious of the fashion industry though – it’s notorious for low/unfair pay. Negotiate before you start.”

4. “The consumer mindset is shifting – people don’t just care about getting a product; many are asking about the origins (where you source, how you make the goods and who is in your team) and that means that creating locally-manufactured goods with an ethical footprint is in your best interests and may set you apart from imported goods.”

5. Then be observant. Try new things. Read anything that piques interest and talk to people you admire.

Leadership lessons Inge’s learnt so far…

1. “Kindness is everything – have the generosity of spirit with others, give generously to them and be kind to yourself.”

2. “Your inner voice is more powerful than you realise. If you talk yourself down, you give others permission to do the same. You’re stronger than you think.”

3. “Just start – and start simple. Don’t try too many things at once. It won’t be perfect, but don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.”

4. “Collaborate with other entrepreneurs. Share ideas and learnings. Make the circle bigger – there’s space for everyone.”

Simple mental tricks for dealing with that “stressy” feeling

“During lockdown, I have a sacred 4pm hour – when I close my laptop and go for a walk – for one hour,” says Ingrid. “This has helped with the ‘stressy’ feelings that often overwhelm me…

“I’ve also learnt that saying the scary thing out loud can often take away its power, so I try to talk about the things I fear the most regularly, so I can begin to problem-solve for them,” she says.

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Stay protected, stay safe🦠 #KnowScrubs #medicalscrubs

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Five books every woman should read…

1/ Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

2/ Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3/ Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

4/ Educated – Tara Westover

5/ I Write What I Like – Steve Biko

Connect with Inge and Know Scrubs

Check them out on Instagram and Facebook: @Know_Scrubs and @Inge_Wulff

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My beloved Know Scrubs 🚑 . Who knew a global pandemic would give my company the push it needed? 🦠 I wrote “more bulk orders” on my vision board in Jan, but it turns out I was ill prepared 🤒 . These couple of months have been more emotionally trying than expected. EVERYTHING at almost every stage went wrong. I’ve learned a lot about my capacity as we try to scale this one-woman show – to legit business – while I maintain another full-time job – during lockdown but #squirmingislearning I guess 🧟‍♀️ . Around 1500 scrubs later I am mostly just WILDLY GRATEFUL for the support from clients, friends and family who have gone out of their way to assist and been unbelievable during this time. I want to celebrate by being socially close and day drinking with my friends (ideally at a particular party on a particular jhb rooftop), but for now I will settle for being content with how far @know_scrubs has come and that I could make a sort of rainbow with all the prints 🌈❤️

A post shared by Inge Wulff (@inge_wulff) on

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