Cole Harris is the co-founder and owner of H.M. Cole, a custom clothing company founded and based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Raised in Kaysville, Utah, Cole began the company in 2010 as a part-time endeavor with three friends while studying finance at Weber State University. While they began selling custom suits to just friends and family, through referrals the business grew from a part-time endeavor to a full-time one in 2012. In order to grow further, the four founders brought in an investor in 2014, and the company has now grown into an international custom clothing company, with clientele ranging from top recording artists and athletes to Fortune 500 executives and more. H.M Cole has been featured in top publications, such as Forbes and USA Today.
Motivation & Perspective
Cole credits a burning desire to be successful and a healthy perspective for his success as an entrepreneur. His middle class upbringing taught him that he had to work for what he wanted, so Cole knew that if he wanted to go to college, get a car, etc. he had to work to get it himself. This dedication to hard work drives him to continue making H.R. Cole successful.
But it’s not all about drive for Cole. “You’ve got to balance your passion with perspective,” he cautions. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have slow months, and it can often induce a panicky feeling. Making sure to keep your perspective and keep moving towards long-term goals is the best way to work through those times for long-term success.
Learn from the Best
Taking time to ask questions of and consult with successful people is something Cole finds to be a key to success in business. H.R. Cole’s investor has continued to stay involved in the business long after his original investment was paid back, because the founders recognize and value his advice and experience. And Cole took the initiative to reach out to each person listed on Utah Business magazine’s list of 40 most successful executives under 40 years old in order to invite them to lunch to gain from their experience. One of the people he met with from that list gave Cole advice that has stayed with him. “He said, ‘People are going to do business with you because they like you, you communicate with them, relate to them and have strong interpersonal skills.’ I’ve never forgotten that. I find knowing how to work with people to be mandatory to business success.”
Know What You Don’t Know
For Cole, success depends on learning from mistakes and bringing in help to cover your blind spots. It’s impossible to know everything, but consulting with experts and learning what you need to do can save you time and money in the long run. H.R. Cole learned this the hard way by spending more money than they needed on a customer management software system because none of the founders were familiar with setting up and executing contracts. They know now to consult with a lawyer or contract expert to save them from time and money in the long run.
If you don’t know the numbers for business, learn or bring someone in to train you. “I think anybody that’s going to take a stab at being an entrepreneur needs to know what a profit-and-loss statement looks like, where your profits are, what your margins need to be, etc.,” Cole says.