Starting a business in an industry as competitive as fashion can be very difficult. Passion is a must, but if you already have that, you will need a few more tips if you are going to make it. Don’t allow yourself to get left by the wayside like so many other fashion businesses. Take this advice and you’ll go much further!
1. Treat it as a business
Many people get caught up in the idea of designing a fashion range, or creating a label, without thinking as a business. Like any business, you need to focus on the financial and administrative side of things if you want to succeed. Set out a business plan, figure out what you need to do to grow, network with people who will be useful to you, and so on. Don’t just enjoy the fantasy without doing the work behind the scenes.
2. Use branding and product development
Fashion businesses need a brand that everyone can recognise. Whether you are creating a label, going into management, running fashion shows, or getting involved in any other aspect of the industry, brand is hugely important. Lay out brand guidelines and stay true to them. You also need to start with one product which you can do well, before you bring out anything else. Product development needs to progress slowly enough that you don’t get overwhelmed or lose the quality in the process of bringing out new ideas.
3. Know your finances
This is so important, and a lot of fashion start-ups fail to recognise that. You need to pay your suppliers before you produce anything. Once you’ve made your first batch of products, you are going to need to make some sales before you pay your suppliers. Classic mistakes include not budgeting for the money to come out first, not negotiating a good price with suppliers or manufacturers, and reinvesting profits somewhere else in a way that leaves you without the funds pay your suppliers for the next batch. Keep your finances under control, record everything, and have it set up so that you know how much you can spend at any moment without going under.
4. Have an exit strategy
Just like any good business, a fashion brand is a commodity. It’s not something that you may plan to hold on to for your whole life – while some fashion houses may manage that, often it’s more profitable in the modern world to do things differently. If your brand reaches a high enough level, you’re likely to be able to sell it. Selling your online fashion brand with Digital Exits is something that you can do when you have reached that height, and recognised it. You may want to consider calling your business something other than your own name, so that when you do sell, it will be worth more, easier to sell, and easier to move on from.
5. Accept criticism
A lot of young fashion entrepreneurs eventually crumble because they can’t take criticism. The fashion industry is all about being judged – on your style, your aesthetic, your talent, and so on. Listen to criticism. You don’t always have to act on it, particularly if that would mean not staying true to yourself. You should learn to hear the difference between an opinion and an issue with your brand – something that you will absolutely need to change in order to succeed.
Starting up in fashion is hard, but it’s not impossible. Use these tips and you may just be one of the lucky ones to make it through.
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