If there’s one thing that will kill a business before it’s really had time to get started, it’s the lack of a plan. Now, if you’ve been reading StartUp FASHION for a while, you’ll know that I’m not one to push the importance of a 100 page business plan with charts and graphics and a bunch of overly detailed ideas that will likely change within the first week of running your business!
No, I’m more of a loose planner. I’m an outliner, really.
I believe in the process of creating plans for various areas of your business, while embracing flexibility in all areas.
But, it’s planning none-the-less. Without a foundation from which to grow, your business will take off wobbly and unsure; and that’s a tough place to come back from.
While there are several business areas that need plans attached to them, there are three that I believe have the most impact on a brand’s ability to succeed.
Here are 3 Fundamental Business Mistakes Fashion Brands Make and How to Fix Them
No Real Financial Plan
This is 100% the most common business mistake I see brands make. Listen, I’m all for taking risks and “just going for it”, but there needs to be a balance when it comes to the money part. Because if you don’t know how you’re going to support yourself and how you’re going to fund the business until it’s profitable, you’re not giving your business a fair chance.
How to fix this:
- Be able to answer the question: How will I manage cash flow as I build my business? If you don’t have a good answer for this, it’s time to stop and make a plan.
- Research ways to raise money for your fashion business and decide on which one(s) make sense for you. Get those going before you take any more big steps forward with your business spending.
- Work on your mindset. There is a good chance that you will have to have a side gig while working hard to make your business financially successful. Accept this. Don’t allow yourself to feel like less of a designer or like you’re not giving your business your full self. What your business needs is your creativity and focus. If you need to have another job to pay the bills in order to take some of the pressure off of yourself and sleep at night, then that’s totally OK. Get in the mindset of that.
No Real Pricing Strategy
It’s so common to see brands design their collection, research what it costs to produce it, multiply the numbers, and come up with a retail price point. In an ideal world, that would work. But considering that competition is huge, and the market determines the retail price, you’ll need a stronger and more reliable approach to your pricing.
How to fix this:
- Do some real market research. What brands are you aligned with? Who is your competition? What are their retail price points?
- Understand the concept of perceived value and how this ties into your approach to branding your business. The customer needs to feel a certain way about your brand to be willing to pay a certain price.
- Decide on your product assortment. Will you start with one signature piece and build out from there? Will you hit a few different price points with things like giftables?
No Real Marketing Plan
So you have your cash flow figured out, you’ve got your pricing down, and you’re ready to sell the hell out of your product. Do you have any idea how you’re going to do that? I mean, beyond saying “wholesale, eCommerce, and seasonal pop-ups”.
There is nothing more important than having a plan around how you’re going to get the word out about your brand, because if no one knows who you are, then no one is going to be able to buy from you. And all the fancy financial projects, and costing mathematics, and beautiful branding won’t mean a damn thing.
How to fix this:
- Understand the difference between paid and organic digital marketing, and put together a plan with a mix of the two.
- Choose a few platforms to start with, get really good at them, and then build out from there. There’s no point in being everywhere but doing it poorly. Figure out the digital platforms where your target spends the most time and start there.
- Create a marketing plan that mixes both digital and offline initiatives. Marketing online is essential for reach. But complementing that with in-person marketing ideas is a great way to deepen the relationships you’re starting to build online.
- Get good at testing, learning, and adjusting. Trying out marketing ideas, even when you’re not sure if they’ll work, is so important. Because, honestly, you don’t know what will work and what won’t. Now’s the time to allow yourself to get a little vulnerable, push past your hesitancy, and look at flops as learning opps.
Syama Meagher, the founder of Scaling Retail, just launched Fashion Profit Plan: Fundamentals. Syama has contributed many articles to this blog because she knows what she’s talking about. And I only let people who know what they’re talking about to share on our blog.
I worked with Syama years ago to help me get the business fundamentals in place for StartUp FASHION and I think this is where Syama shines. That’s why we’re an affiliate of her Fashion Profit Plan program. I would not share this opportunity with you if I didn’t believe in Syama’s ability help you get the fundamentals of your business in a solid place.
So what are the fundamentals of your fashion business? Well, once you’ve got your sketches ready, here are the places you need to focus your time and resources:
- Finances and cash flow
- Market and competitive research
- Pricing and sales channels
- Marketing and branding
- Thinking like a business owner; owning your decisions
And this is the outline of Fashion Profit Plan. You will master the basics of retail in just nine weeks. Grasp everything from cash flow to pricing in a way that makes sense. You’ll leave with a host of new strategies, a suite of industry tools, and a CEO mindset.
If you’re interested, here are more details:
- The course is made up of 9 modules on retail business mastery.
- You get 3 hours of individual strategy session calls with Syama.
- You participate in weekly group coaching for 3 months.
- You receive templates for marketing plans, financial plans, and the retail calendar.
- You will benefit from the course whether you’re a new brand or you’re ready to grow to new levels of financial success.