Fashion business like every other business venture is in stages and phases; knowing what kind decision to take that would yield positive results is just as important as knowing when to take the decision.
You see successful businesses online and might want to copy what they are doing but it took them time to get where they are. You have to grow in phases. It’s a lot like a lifecycle.
I put this blog post together to help you discover the stage you currently are in your fashion business, and provide you with tips to move to the next stage. You’ll also find common mistakes some brands make and why they fail even when they have the best intentions.
STAGES OF A FASHION BUSINESS
1) Idea development stage (AKA brain dump stage)
This is when your brilliant idea is merely just a thought and will require some sort of testing. The big guns would call it beta testing.
In testing your fashion business idea, you need to conduct research regarding the industry, gather feedbacks from your friends, family, experienced coaches etc. You are basically determining whether the business idea that you had is worth pursuing or not.
This can be done by developing a sample product and asking for HONEST feedback. This feedback can even be used as a basis for improving your actual product or as testimonials to help you build trust with prospects.
If you skip this stage and go right to starting your business, you’d be building a house without a foundation and when the rains come (trust me, they will), you’ll be gnashing your teeth. Market research and analysis is very important. You need to analyze everything from your competition, the product or service you want to provide, the channels you would use to market your products (marketing strategy), the kind of people that need your products (ideal buyer persona) etc.
This is when you need to do a proper SWOT analysis. I’ll break it down a little further.
STRENGTHS: what you need to know is the strengths your would be competition has, compared to your own strengths and what you can do to make up for the strength they have that you are lacking in.
WEAKNESS: the weakness your competition has, compared to the weaknesses you have, and try to bridge the gap. When you see where your competition is lacking, you can easily know what to do because entrepreneurship is about bridging a gap, meeting a specific need, solving a problem and getting paid for it.
OPPORTUNITIES: knowing the opportunities the business you want to venture into is paramount so that you can recognize them when you see them and use them to your advantage.
THREATS: this are mostly the risks of doing the business you want to do. You have to know all that could go wrong (adverse effects) so that you can actually prevent them always.
This stage is also called the brain dump stage because you need to write out all the ideas you have and validate them one by one. The act of writing out everything is called brain dumping. You can’t do everything at once and need to free your head of all the raging ideas (common with creative people).
2) Start up stage
You are at this stage when you’ve finally decided that your business idea is worth pursuing and have finished developing the products you intend to sell, and even started marketing and selling them.
During this stage, you will listen to feedback attentively so that you can tweak your products according to the initial feedback from your first PAYING customers and market demand.
This is your little beginning and not the time for you to go into production overdrive. People are just getting to know you and your brand. It is not also the time for you to invest all your money into Ads. Proper marketing is great but do it with a budget. Don’t go over budget and run at a loss!
Just because you see a brand Ads everywhere doesn’t mean they are making sales. It is the same as seeing a brand write “SOLD OUT” everyday on their products. They might be under-pricing their products to make more sales which doesn’t equal profit.
See why having a proper plan in stage one is important?
3) Growth stage
This when your business is consistently generating revenue, you are getting new customers, and are actually making PROFIT (you already know thatselling doesn’t always equal profit, right?).
How you perform in this stage will determine if you can open expand or not.
You have to make sure your strategy is legit
Be careful because some businesses never leave the stage, they die here. This happens mostly when you are psyched at the rate of enquiries and stuff people are buying and you decide to run countless giveaways, brands come to make you shitty deals in exchange for “exposure” and you take it.
You start feeling too important and feel like the “big deal”; you stop listening to advice, take days to reply DMs, stop putting in the work, change your instagram bio to “NO REFUND” with plenty danger emojis and start dropping business tips instead of promoting your products.
You lose essence. And things can only go downhill from there. It is also when you’ll feel the heat from your competition.
Instead, refer to the SWOT analysis you did, have an excellent customer service, if the work becomes too much, hire an extra pair of hands or two. Go the extra mile always.
4) Expansion stage
This is when your business has built strong roots and is ready to expand and spread. But watch it! You might feel like your business is ready but it might not be.
Dabbing into this stage before you are ready is a recipe for disaster. Your growth in this stage will depend on the platform your have set in the first three stages.(When I say platforms I mean your marketing strategy, sales model, business plan etc)
For instance, if you sell bags and have been thinking of selling shoes too. You’ll have the market ready because everyone that buys a bag might need a matching pair of shoes. You are now grown enough to sell both things without one weighing down the other.
5) Maturity stage
The maturity stage is the final stage of business. It will continuously mature if only you do things right. This when you are at the top of the food chain as it were, and people KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST your business to always deliver.
Things won’t be like the growth stage so you’d want to keep your repeat customers as you try to get new ones. Having a team you have already groomed to help is crucial at this stage so that you can have a rinse and repeat process that works for you like magic!
You should consider rebranding while in this stage because people may get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. And your brand might no longer excite them because your competition might be the new big deal. This is the reason why even established brands do stuff like repackage their existing products or develop new ones after a while to create a sort of buzz, like “Hey! We’re still here and are upgrading our products to meet your needs even better. We are all you need”. This is what keeps customers LOYAL because they’ll be no need to try another brand.
The goal is to never leave this stage. Just dominate the market, because everything can still go south really quickly when you start taking the wrong decisions.
6) Decline Stage
This is what happens when there’s nothing exciting about your brand anymore. When you miss it in stage 5, your business loses essence and begins to go down the drain. Whatever you do as a fashionpreneur, ensure that you never get to this stage. Stay on your A-game and make good decisions in stage 5.
It is common for business owners to be burnt out at stage 5 and feel like there’s nothing new to do, but this is what separates one time good businesses from great businesses. Be the difference, hire a coach and let someone with experience bring the brilliant ideas to your table.
Finally, nothing is permanent; there’s no one shoe fits all when it comes to building your fashion business is these stages. What worked when you were in stage one might not work in stage three. What worked for your friends’ business might not work for you own business.
Every business is unique, that is why you have to constantly upgrade your knowledge and constantly improve yourself
You need a solid business plan and guidance to start and scale your fashion business to actually become the fashionpreneur of your dreams.
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