Fashion Business Owner Musings: Limbo

spacerI’ve been thinking about the idea of keeping ourselves in limbo as business owners.

By limbo, I mean not making a decision, even though we need to, and instead remaining in a place of “working on it”, whatever “it” is. It’s when we stay in the same place in our business because it’s comfortable and easier than taking a step forward.

Why do we do this? Because being in limbo often means being in a comfortable place that feels safe, full of possibility, and hard to give up.

Once you leave limbo, i.e, make the decision to do something fully, whatever the outcome, it’s decided. And that means that you need to deal with the consequences and next steps of that decision, which can sometimes be disappointing or scary.

That’s not to say that they are always disappointing or scary, it’s to say that they could be, which is why “limbo” is such a comfortable place.

In business, this shows up a lot in the idea that you’re “launching” rather than “launched.”

It’s the comfy place you snuggle in after you’ve decided to start your own fashion business but before you’ve announced it fully to the world or taken any significant steps to make it happen, i.e. before you put your vulnerability on full display.

Once you’ve announced that you will launch a business or you have shown off the sketches of those designs,  you feel pressure to perform, you fear flopping, you worry about people’s perceptions of what you’re doing.

This also shows up in marketing campaigns where you know you have to share that video you made but you keep needing to “tweak it”.

Or in sales strategy when you know you have to call those buyers but you just keep working on making your call list, rather than calling your call list.

Whatever the situation, when you’re in limbo, “working on something” you are safe.

You are cozy in the knowledge that you haven’t committed to anything yet. So why wouldn’t you want to stay there?!

If you’re like many aspiring business owners, there’s a fear attached to leaving limbo and becoming vulnerable to the outcomes of your decisions.

The problem?

While it may feel safe, remaining in limbo means you’re never actually accomplishing your goals and dreams.

It means you’re not growing.

It means you’re not facing obstacles and learning how to push past them.

In short, it’s not sustainable.

You can’t stay in limbo and expect to be challenged. And being challenged is an important part of business growth. Challenge brings opportunity and evolution, two must-haves in business.

You need to recognize when this is happening and decide what you’re going to do to move forward.

Are you avoiding taking the next steps because you don’t want to lose the sense of comfort?

Basking in possibility is a great thing. But you can’t stay there. The difference between being in a state of possibility and being in a state of limbo is that with the latter, you are letting the uncertainty keep you stuck rather than using it as a tool to try new things.

It’s important to see the difference.

We’re all scared of something, we’re all worried about certain outcomes, we’re all fearful of how we’ll deal with particular consequences.

But we can’t let that stop us from taking action.

Realize when you’ve moved past dreaming of possibilities and into sitting in limbo, and take a step forward, no matter how scary.

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. Nicole Alfonseca

    hi, I’m 18 and just started my first year of college! majoring in an associate’s degree in general business in my community college. Then I am planning on transferring into a fashion design school its something I’ve always wanted and liked….reading your blog makes me hopeful yet doubtful im scared but I want this any advice?

    • Casey Cline

      Hi Nicole- being in a fashion program should help a lot, since you will be networking with other designers, instructors, etc. Business classes are also a great idea so it sounds like you’re on the right track. You may also find the “starting” category on our blog helpful:


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