Fashion Business Owner Musings: Follow Through and Commitment are Harder Than We Realize

Dear Designers,

We all have good intentions when it comes to our goals. We come up with ideas, have inspiration coming out of our ears, get pumped and plan things out, and have the desire to go, go, go.  But then something happens. The work. It’s overwhelming and time consuming and little bit scary. And little by little our good intentions fall away and our follow through and commitment to our ideas are on shaky ground.

I get it, I’ve been there. Sometimes, I’m still there.

But it’s OK. Step one is acknowledging the problem. Step two is doing something about it.

Let’s step back for a minute. I want to clarify that dropping the ball with follow through is something I see all of the time with business owners, especially ones in a creative industry, and it doesn’t mean you suck. It just means that you lost your mojo and you need to get it back. No biggie.

I think part of the problem is that we aren’t anticipating the lack of commitment. When the idea first presents itself to us, we’re so pumped that we couldn’t imagine not making it happen. But once reality sets in and we are suddenly presented with all the planning and doing that it requires, coupled with our usual day-to-day responsibilities, we are left feeling like it’s more of a challenge than we’re able to take on.

The novelty wears off.

So we have to get it back.

It’s really that simple. I’ve learned over the years that ideas are constantly coming to me, but if I don’t make a real plan for getting them done, I will lose my focus. It’s not that I don’t want to do them, it’s just that I’m not organized enough to make it happen.

So here’s what I do.

First, when a new idea (marketing idea, business idea, or any other big picture idea) comes to me, I immediately write it down so I don’t forget it. I also jot down initial thoughts about it- creative things, research to do, etc.

If I’m in the middle of working on something else, I stop there and add a note in my calendar for the next Friday to spend an hour working on the idea. If I’m not in the middle of working on something else, I stick with it.

I open up Asana (my chosen project management platform) and add the idea as a new project. I then add as many detailed tasks under that project as I can think of. I get really detailed here because the smaller we can make the tasks, the more likely we are to complete them. And psychologically, the more tasks we check off the list, the more pumped we are to complete more– progress!

Then I assign a due to each tiny task, as well as a person on the team who will complete it. If you’re a one-person show- that’s you!

Now I’ve got a plan. I’ve got due dates and some accountability. Sweet!

Then I get to work making it happen because it suddenly seems a lot less overwhelming, and a lot more doable.

Now,  what tends to happen to many of us is that we get halfway through the project and we start to get overwhelmed again. That’s OK, refer back to your plan, update it, adjust deadlines if you have to, break down tasks even further, list absolutely every little thing you need to do to make something happen (in complete transparency, I’ve been know to add “wake up” to my tasks- hey, whatever works!)

Then sit with your notebook and write down every single reason you were originally so excited about this idea. Remind yourself about why you’re doing this. Think about what it will bring to your business and your life if and when you complete this project. Get that feeling of butterflies in your stomach again, smile big, close your eyes and imagine the project complete and your awesome idea out in the world.

Remember, being a successful entrepreneur is not about always being on-point, it’s about recognizing when you’re not and doing what you need to do to get back there.

Ideas will come constantly, recognize which ones make your stomach flip and focus your time and energy on those. When the excitement inevitably falters among the workload, don’t toss off the idea as silly, find your inspiration and get excited again!

Lots of love and encouragement,

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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. Ciara wilkins

    Your articles are very helpful it’s like everything your saying is exactly the challenges I am facing it also helps to know I am not alone at feeling like this and it motivates me to keep going and fight through the thoughts, anxiety and feeling a mess some days . So thank you very much.

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