Small Talks features insider expertise from successful small business owners. This video series offers insider advice and highlights how real entrepreneurs overcame their most pressing challenges.

Spencer Johnson got the idea for his business from a college project. At the time, he couldn’t have imagined that idea would someday blossom into a full-blown business. He founded Sota Clothing to capture the essence of what makes Minnesota special. In the past six years, the clothing company has grown to employ seven people. And much to his delight, Johnson sees his fellow Minnesotans wearing Sota designs around town on a regular basis.

“My goal was to go somewhere in Minneapolis and see a random person wearing it. Just the other day, I saw somebody in the grocery store wearing my design,” he says.

Johnson has learned a lot since launching the business and has three pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Could your idea make a viable business?

1. Do you believe in it? You will face many challenges on your path to entrepreneurship. Before you jump in, make sure you are fully invested in your idea, so you can be the biggest champion for your business.

2. Are you willing to make sacrifices? Johnson cautions that when you own a business, you give up the security and life balance offered by a traditional job. He says he often forgoes time with friends and family to work on his business. But if you’re willing to put in the time, the rewards can be worth it.

3. Will your strengths sustain your business? In the beginning, you may not have the resources to hire help. Most business owners don’t start out with expertise in all aspects of running a business, but they’re quick learners. Take an inventory of your skills and strengths, then think about how those will translate to your business. Johnson knew his eye for design and skill behind a camera would come in handy. Instead of being dissuaded that he wasn’t good at the financial side of the business, he leaned on his strengths to grow.

Watch the full interview above for more insights.

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