Fashion Business Owner Musings: My Answer to “How Do I Grow My Business?”

This week’s love note is a little different. I’m in the mood to get strategic. But first, a story.

Not too long ago, while at a small gathering of creative entrepreneurs in Philly, I was asked a question. A question that everyone who wants to be successful in growing a fashion business has probably asked.  

This question is so common that I have it asked of me on a daily basis. The reason this question is asked all the time is honestly that the people asking it have already decided what the answer is, and they’re just looking for validation. 

The question is almost always asked with a predetermined expectation of the answer. 

And the problem is, the predetermined answer they have in their head is almost always wrong. 

The question: How do I grow my business?

A question we’ve all asked, I’m sure. 

Now, when a fashion designer who is in the idea stage or in the startup stage of business asks this question, they assume, honestly they have already decided, that the answer will include:

  • You need money
  • You need to hire experts
  • You need to have more people on your team
  • You need much more product to communicate your brand
  • You need a much bigger audience and followers

But that assumption, and those responses, are wrong. 

So, what did I say to the designer who asked me, “How do I grow my fashion business?”

Growth is achieved through taking action on your goals and adjusting how you think about yourself. 

It’s accomplished by dissecting each goal on your list, whether that’s “How do I get the product made?” or “How do I reach $500K in revenue?” down to the tiniest of tasks. It’s also achieved by identifying and adjusting the habits you have formed, probably without even realizing it, over your years as a human being. 

So, here’s where we get strategic.

Step 1: Start with the right question to Identify Your Goals

When it comes to this step of identifying your goals, the key is to stop being vague. Stop asking the question, How do I grow my business? And start asking a much more specific and measurable question based on the specific and measurable goal you’ve created for yourself.

“How do I get my business launched with a capsule collection of 5 pieces, an eCommerce website, and a partner collaboration kick-off event by June 2020?”

THAT is specific. And that, when dissected, is 3 main goals. 

Or how about, “How do I grow my email list to 5000 people, with an open rate of 10% and a click-through rate of 3% by June 2020?”

Do you see that? Do you see how specific and measurable that is compared to “How do I grow my business?”

But you can’t stop there. 

You now have three 3 big fat goals in front of you. 

And the feeling of overwhelm happens when these big fat goals remain big and fat.  So…

Step 2 is to dissect these goals even further into Supporting Projects and Actionable Tasks. 

Here’s how you do that. 

Goal 1: Capsule Collection of 5 pieces

  • Perform market research
  • Design the collection
  • Do a cost analysis and figure out my retail price points
  • Source the right fabrics
  • Find a factory

Goal 2: Develop an eCommerce website

  • Create my brand personality
  • Create my ideal customer profile
  • Hire a web designer

Goal 3: Partner Event Collaboration

  • Identify possible partners
  • Create the event outline and what’s in it for them
  • Reach out to possible partners 

And THEN, focus on just 2 or 3 of those Supporting projects at once. If you try to do them all, you will remain in the state of non-action, asking anyone who will listen “How do I grow my fashion business?”

Because, by focusing on just 2 or 3 projects at a time, which you can then dissect even further into tiny, actionable tasks, you are making sure your to-do list doesn’t turn into a list so long that you want to cry and run in the other direction. 

Because each one of those projects will have a list of actionable tasks that you need to do in order to complete that project.  And, as each project is completed, you are one step closer to your big goals. 

So, just to use my last example to drive home this point: Reaching out to possible partners becomes . . .

  • Look on LinkedIn to see if there is a connection that can do an introduction
  • Research past collaborations they’ve done to see if it aligns with my idea
  • Draft an email script that really highlights what’s in it for them
  • Ask 2 or 3 people I trust to give feedback on the email before sending it.

These are ACTIONABLE. These are things you can check off of your list in a short period of time. 

And, these are the things you do to truly “grow your fashion business.”

However, NONE of this matters at all if you don’t….

Develop the right habits for taking action, and that’s step 3

What are the habits that are getting in your way? Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Telling yourself you don’t know enough about running a business to be successful
  • Procrastinating by watching TV at night, rather than taking your action steps
  • Sleeping in rather than getting up an hour early, before your day job, to get something accomplished toward your goals.
  • Letting fear win: fear of looking stupid, fear that it won’t work, fear that you will disappoint people, including yourself

These are habits that are developed because of the fears that are ingrained in you. 

These fears cause us to develop deep-rooted habits that inform so much of what we do and do not do. So much of how we think about our own abilities and our vulnerabilities. 

When we identify these bad habits and then create a plan for changing them into habits that actually serve us, we see the difference. 

We see the possibilities.

We dream and then we stop dreaming and we start doing. 

Now that you have learned these steps, I want you to take action in 3 ways:

  • Ask yourself the right question in order to identify your specific and measurable goals
  • Break down those goals into supporting projects and actionable tasks
  • Do an honest brain-dump of all the habits you see that are not serving you and are keeping you from achieving the things you want to achieve

That’s my answer to “How do I grow my fashion business?”

Lots of love and encouragement,

Nicole Giordano
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!

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