If you’re the owner of a small fashion business, you probably have many dreams of taking things a little further. But how do you get there? There will be a lot of luck involved, of course. But with hard work and a good strategy in place, then you will earn that luck. Here are some fantastic tips to help you get closer to where you want to be.
Find your ‘bread and butter’
Knowing your core customers inside out is the only way to grow a business, whichever industry you service. It’s all about having a brand identity as early as possible, and focusing on your ideal audience. Appeal to them, and you will be well ahead of your competitors that try and appease everyone, everywhere.
But how do you do this? First of all, you have to be clear about who you are and why you are doing what you do. You should have a clear definition of your product or service – if you don’t, there’s no way your customers will, either. It’s this clear focus that will grab people’s attention, and encourage them to stick with you. When you have that base in place, it is much easier to develop your brand identity and take those customers with you.
Strategy over passion
You can love what you do and have a firm belief in where you want to go. It’s vital to have these qualities, of course. But, without a clear strategy of how you are going to do this, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will need a robust financial plan in place, and lay out a business proposal that includes short and long-term goals.
If you are a creative, then you might struggle with this aspect of running a business. However, you shouldn’t ignore it. Get help from a business analyst or an accountant – it will be worth your money and time. Your business plan is key to everything, and the strength of any business plan is normally found in the figures.
Hire the right people
Your employees will be critical to your success if you want successful growth. The trouble is, as a small business you may not have the funds to pay for the best staff. So, come up with a range of benefits that can make your offer more tempting. Perhaps you could offer a small slice of your business so that every employee you hire in the early stages has more of a stake in their work. It is so important to have the right skill sets in place as early as possible – and also the same enthusiasm for your business that you have.
Another option is to provide in-house benefits. You could organise a business membership for your local gym, for example. Or, try out an employee wellness program. Take a look at the employee absence management by Health Assured for an idea of what something like this can give you and your staff. As a small business, you need dedication and enthusiasm from your staff, as well as ability. But, you also need to provide a healthy environment for them to remain at their peak productive levels.
Network like crazy
Another major part of the fashion world that you can’t ignore is networking. In most industries, it’s who you know that can make the difference, but it’s even more so in fashion. You have to get yourself out there, and network like you never have before, and expand your contacts list.
As for where you go to find useful people, there are plenty of opportunities. Start with your local fashion groups, media outlets, and get involved with everything you can. Sponsor events, and go to meetups and trade shows. Once you start talking to people, you will soon find yourself building up a head of steam.
Get a physical outlet
If you’re an online business, then think about getting a physical outlet to make sales. This is especially important for anyone in the fashion industry, for many reasons. People like to try on clothes, and there are implications to think about with regards to returns online. You have to meet the costs, or you pass them on to your customers. Either way, that’s going to affect your bottom line, which is vital to protect if you have any plans for successful growth.
Try finding a small shop, or, alternatively, think about renting out a stall at your local market. This will give you mobility, as you can take your wares around a larger area. Not only will it help you protect your bottom line with regards to returns and refunds, but it will also help you meet people. You will be able to judge their reactions to your products far easier face to face than online.
Embrace social media
Social media isn’t the best fit for all businesses, but it’s a different story for the fashion industry.
In fact, any creative industries can benefit from the impact that you can get from a Facebook page. But you shouldn’t stop there. It’s possible to achieve a lot of growth from the more visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest. Both are powerful platforms to attract new people to your brand. And, they can strengthen the bonds between your company and your core audience.
However, one thing to bear in mind is that social networks aren’t just for selling. Don’t be tempted to use them as shameless self-promotion – it just won’t work. Instead, get more involved in the social aspect of your industry, by sharing, commenting, and making contacts. Of course, you can throw in the odd sales pitch, but the idea here is to grow your network and get as much reach as possible. You need people and followers to do that, and they just won’t if you are pitching hard sales on them all the time.
So, after reading our tips for taking your fashion business to the next level, do you think you have what it takes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and get involved with the conversation!