Are you a Business Amateur or a Business Professional?

business amateur vs business professional

I recently spent two hours reading a book called Turning Pro; Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work.  While I didn’t love the book (I have issues with self-help books), I didn’t hate it (because it’s not overly self help-y).  The book did get me thinking because the author poses a point about the difference between a business amateur and a business professional.

I won’t go into every last detail of how the author defines a business amateur or a business professional, because to be honest, I didn’t agree with it all.  I did however start to think about fashion industry. And how there are definitely characteristics and practices that take us from spending hours sketching and planning but never doing (amateur) to starting and actively working on growing (professional).

What Makes a Fashion Business Amateur

  • Whether the business has launched or not, the amateur spends a lot of time nose down in a sketchbook, constantly “perfecting”.
  • The amateur allows fear of failure to paralyze decision making.
  • The amateur worries that people (consumers, buyers, press, colleagues, friends) won’t like what’s been created and will be vocal about it.
  • The amateur views everyone as competition and hoards knowledge, experience, and resources like they’re pure gold.
  • The amateur becomes easily distracted, spending too much time escaping on social media and not enough time being productive.
  • The amateur craves instant success and lacks the patience and understanding of gradual but deep-rooted growth.
  • The amateur allows other people’s successes to impact his/her mood and outlook; feeding insecurity.
  • The amateur puts things off until tomorrow; the amateur focuses on “Everything will be great when…”; the amateur clings to past success.

What Makes a Fashion Business Professional

  • The professional knows that running a business requires a lot more than sketching; closes the sketch book and completes task each day that move the business forward.
  • The professional has fear, a lot of it, but doesn’t allow it to rule; instead faces it and pushes past it.
  • The professional acknowledges that you can’t please everyone and it’s important to take risks in life and business.
  • The professional understands that being open and sharing experiences is actually a fantastic way to build a business and loyal community.
  • The professional has structure to the day, not allowing distractions to creep in and stamp out productivity.
  • The professional knows that building a business takes time and requires stamina; the professional knows every day is a lesson.
  • The professional uses other’s success as a tool for motivation.
  • The professional acts in the moment, getting done what needs to get done; the professional knows that the journey is part of the experience; the professional embraces the past and uses it to push forward to the future.

I’d like to finish by saying that we all have tendencies that fall in both the amateur and professional realms. This article isn’t meant to criticize, it’s meant to help us all identify these tendencies and work to improve them.

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

  1. Sonia K

    The points were great….. actually all your articles are….. I am the owner of a start up. And this article has been really helpful in categorizing my mistakes and pitfalls.

    But I wonder if waiting for an up and getting a bit impatient when things get messed up midway classify as professional or amateur. Planning is a professional thing, even replanning as situations change. Does impatience count as amateurish?

    • Nicole Giordano

      Hi Sonia,
      That’s a great question. I tend to classify impatience as amateur. This is mainly because I struggle with impatience myself and I see how it hinders my success in areas like business opportunities and relationships.

      I think one of the most important aspects of a successful business is having patience, both in the day to day tasks/interaction and the long term growth planning.

  2. Osmery Guerra

    Great piece! Worth sharing. I work with different designers (most are start-ups) doing production domestically in NYC. Is difficult to run a fashion business, especially when there’s little or no experience in the industry… Well said!

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