Success within the competitive fashion industry takes talent, passion, and dedication. While important, these essential characteristics are not enough to guarantee success. Most fledgling fashion entrepreneurs also need a certain degree of proficiency in financial planning, marketing, website design, and more. That’s a lot to take on.
Sometimes the day-to-day reality of running a successful fashion business can be overwhelming. When you start to feel like you might be in over your head, it’s easy to fall into patterns that can sideline your productivity. Loss of productivity can interfere with business growth and that sense of personal fulfillment. Here are a few tips to help you develop habits shown to increase productivity, brand longevity, and overall job satisfaction:
Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals
Whether just getting started or taking your brand to the next level, there will always be days, weeks, or even months at a time when you feel overwhelmed. Rest assured that it’s normal to feel that way when too many tasks demand your attention. But feeling as if you’re always behind can chip away at your self-confidence and stall your progress. While it’s natural to assume you simply need to work harder, the most successful fashion entrepreneurs also know how to work smarter. The key to working smarter is making organizational skills a priority.
It’s much easier to stay organized and focused when you have clearly defined goals and a workable plan. That planning starts by committing monthly goals to writing. After setting a monthly goal, identify the steps you need to achieve each week to be successful. Before beginning a new week, break down the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Consider scheduling your daily workload by the hour. Your day should start with the most important task on your list. The rest of your to-do list should be arranged in descending order of priority.
The key to staying on track is focusing on one task at a time. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is counterproductive. As you develop goal setting and time management skills, you will likely find that you are achieving more and stressing less.
Scheduling Personal Time
As a passionate, results-oriented designer, you probably invest a lot of time into your business. But if you’ve been devoting every waking hour to brand success, you’ve likely lost sight of the importance of scheduling time for yourself. No one performs well when they’re running on empty. Fashion entrepreneurs who prioritize self-care tend to be healthier, calmer, and more successful than those who don’t.
Protecting your health requires a healthy diet, exercise, and a sufficient amount of rest. While it’s tempting to work while your friends and family sleep, burning the midnight oil too often will eventually catch up with you. Sleep deprivation affects your moods and emotions, cognitive function, hormone production, cardiovascular health, and more. Even minor sleep disruptions can derail your focus, steal your resolve, and stifle your creativity.
While caring for your body, it’s also important to recharge your emotional batteries with activities and experiences you enjoy. Reading for pleasure reduces stress and helps boost emotional intelligence, playing a musical instrument improves cognitive function, coordination, and memory. Making time for physical activity helps your body manage the effects of stress. Long story short, the time you spend taking a break from designing, planning, and marketing will also benefit your business.
Communicating as a Valuable Solution
Once your brand has launched, it’s important to remember that everyone you do business with makes decisions based on their desire to fulfill a need. Unfortunately, far too many designers lose sight of that fact. Many assume their customers and professional contacts instinctively recognize brand value and understand the benefits of individual design features.
You can avoid brand stagnation by adopting a “what’s in it for them?” approach to every decision you make. Since the people you do business with want to know how your products might improve their lives, spell it out. Ask questions. Start conversations. The more you learn about the needs of your customers through social media contact, blog post comments, and personal interaction, the easier it is to stay relevant and build lasting relationships.
Cultivating your curious nature will help keep your creativity flowing. Offering something of value will build customer loyalty. If your goal is repeat business, provide a rewards program for frequent shoppers. If you’re trying to expand your mailing list, offer a discount or downloadable content in exchange for contact information. A business concept that focuses entirely on brand-image without providing value is unlikely to achieve the results you are hoping for.
Keep Moving Forward
As you begin to achieve your business goals, it’s far too easy to get complacent. Success generates success. Complacency fuels failure. To keep moving forward, make a habit of staying current with industry trends and new developments. Every week or so, evaluate some of your closest competitors. Make time in your schedule to evaluate websites, read customer comments, and scan social media chatter. The comparison will help you play to your strengths, identify your weaknesses, and keep your brand moving forward.
Part of moving forward also includes recognizing the signs of stalled momentum. If a large portion of your day is spent registering for trade shows, answering emails, or maintaining your social media presence, your productivity will suffer. When productivity slips or sales sputter, it may be time to hand some of your least favorite tasks to someone else.
You can lighten your load by hiring a personal assistant, social media consultant, website manager, fashion copywriter, or photographer. Easing your workload will free your time for design, production, and other tasks that require a personal touch. If you can’t afford to expand your business through conventional means, consider establishing a virtual business team.
Whether you work solo or as part of a creative team, it’s easy to get discouraged, overwhelmed, or complacent. While staying on top of your game requires clear goals and effective business strategies, all work and no play is not the answer either. Time spent nurturing relationships, protecting your health, and pursuing hobbies will lift your spirits, fuel your creativity, and help you keep up with the demands of success.