These are turbulent times for watch brands. Breitling and Maurice Lacroix are up for sale, Technotime, and Pequignet were forced to close their doors, and ETA is raising prices because quite a few brands canceled their orders for next year. Depressing news in general, but especially when you just invested your hard earned money in finally founding your very own microbrand. Time to worry? Yes and no. I would be lying if I said that this was the best time to start your own microbrand, but I believe it is not the worst time either. As a micro brand you have some advantages that larger and more established brands don’t have, and when you flex those muscles with some sense, you might get far.
When the time arrives for most people to start their microbrand, they make the watch they have always wanted themselves. Nothing wrong with, but look at the market first. Many of the established brands are set into a particular type of watches, but you still have freedom. Use this freedom, but use it wisely. The best thing you can do it before you even start designing your watch is market research. Look for a niche that hasn’t been filled yet and create a watch for it. Less competition will increase your chances of success, as long as you also have an effective way to promote your new watch among people who are in that niche.
Most micro brand owners are, so product oriented that they forget te rest. Making watches is a business, so approach it as one. Make a business plan. There are plenty of templates available for free online that can help you put all your ducks in a row. It can help you with getting a helicopter view and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Although they sound terrible, a weakness is not necessarily a problem as long as you are aware of them so you can take actions to neutralize them!
Go big or go home, it sounds very tough and impressive, but right now is not the time for this. Being frugal goes both ways, first, with the money you pour into your brand, and second what you do with it once you have set it aside. Right now it is very, very difficult to found a micro brand and get enough returns to replace your day-job. So don’t seek a replacement for this, but see it as a hobby that perhaps one day will grow into something more. As is with hobbies, you put money in there that you don’t need for anything else. Don’t use your kid’s college funds, don’t use your pension. The money you invest in your brand, spend it wisely. Not spending it, is not wisely, because you do need to get your brand going and that means more than getting a prototype done. Website, publicity, after sales, you all need it and it will all cost money.
And of course last but not least, have fun, be creative, and pour all your passion into your brand once you have made the jump. Looking forward to see you on the other side of the storm!