Everyone is always looking to “grow their fashion business” but not many people are able to identify the major factors that go into growth. A few are obvious– like making more sales or growing your audience. But there is also a list of things at the root of the business that need to be addressed. Doing so will make a massive difference in your ability to grow.
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Step 1: Decide what you want
There’s no way you will see growth in your business if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You need to have a clear picture of what you want right now. Now, this may change over time, and that’s fine. But you have to start somewhere so that you can create goals that support what you want, rather than arbitrary goals based on nothing other than what you think you should be doing next.
You should be able to answer these questions in detail:
- What do you want for this business?
- What do you want for your life?
- How do you want to serve your audience?
Step 2: Get your head straight
It’s absolutely necessary that you get your head straight when it comes to running a business. What I mean by that is working on your mindset. Things like lack of confidence, constantly comparing yourself and your business to others, and being unkind to yourself will be your ultimate downfall if you don’t take the time right now to fix it.
- Create a mantra for when you’re doubting yourself
- Unfollow any accounts that make you feel less-than
- Catch yourself when you say things like “I can’t do this” or “What a stupid mistake” and turn them into supportive statements like “I can do this,” and “OK, I can fix this.”
Step 3: Make your money plan
It’s not enough to save some money and launch your brand. You have to have a money plan.
How will you fund:
- first production run
- marketing efforts (this should not be ignored early on just because you don’t have a product yet)
How will you pay your bills and have money to live off of for a few years while you’re trying to get real traction in your business?
If you’ve been flailing because you didn’t properly plan your money, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. But you need to make a change now. There’s no way you’ll be able to stay in the right mindset if you wake up every day worrying about money. This worry will fill your thoughts, cause doubt, and drive your decisions, none of which you want to happen.
Helping you create a money plan is something that we do in The Designer Membership, our online resource center and community, specifically for independent startup fashion brands. We’re open now for a short time. Click here to learn more.
Step 4: Clarify and simplify
I mean this in all things. To see massive growth, you have to de-clutter. When your thoughts, assets, and environment are all cluttered with junk it’s really difficult to get past it to the important stuff. I challenge you to take some time to figure out where in your life and business you can clarify and simplify and see what kind of impact that has.
Here are some suggestions:
- your bookkeeping
- your brand
- your marketing communication
- your office/desk
- your business processes
Once you take some time to clarify and simplify your message and how you work, things will run more smoothly and you’ll be less stressed out.
Step 5: Create a customer relationship strategy
I say this all the time but that’s because it’s so important (and because I know there are some of you out there who still haven’t listened) . . . you must prioritize creating relationships with your audience. Relationships lead to community and community leads to sales.
If you don’t spend time really getting to know this person and then acting on what you’re learning about her, then you are missing a major component of building a successful business.
- meeting her in person through trunk shows, pop-ups, and meetups?
- emailing her content that brings value, not just announcements about a sale you’re having?
- getting vulnerable through a blog or video series or Instagram Stories?
- talking to her on Instagram instead of just posting content?
And then, what are you doing with everything you’re learning about her? Are you . . .
- turning what you’ve learned into even more personalized and tailored content?
- adjusting how you speak to her and what you’re saying?
- applying it to the products you’re making?
Step 6: Learn how to sell
Guess what? You’re a salesperson. Yes, you are. If you have a product to sell, then you’re a salesperson. I’m so exhausted by the phrase “I don’t like to (or want to) sell my line. I suck at it.” You know what? You need to get over that. I’m sorry to say that you have no choice but to suck it up and do what needs to be done.
The commission-only sales rep and the magical showroom are unicorns. You cannot make them your sales strategy.
Get out there, make phone calls, talk to people at events, practice your sales talk, take a course if you need to. But know that no one is responsible for getting your startup fashion brand off the ground more than you are. And if that bothers you, then go back to step 2 and get your head straight because you can do this.
Step 7: Stop ignoring email marketing
Do you know what great email marketing is? It’s consistent communication with your audience that brings so much value to their lives that they anxiously await your next note and if for some reason it doesn’t show up that week, they email you asking why.
Do you know what great email marketing isn’t? 1 random email roughly every few months that announces a sale or an event where you will be selling your stuff.
Which are you doing? If your answer is the second one, fix it.
Step 8: Learn the skill of goal setting
There is a skill to setting business goals that, once learned, will have a major impact on your ability to grow your fashion business. I’ve talked about this before, but like many of the points I’m making in this post, it bears repeating.
What is a goal? A big picture accomplishment that is tied to the ways that you measure success.
What is a project? It is a focus that supports the goals you set for yourself.
What is a task? It is an actionable to-do that, once checked off, will get you closer to completing your projects.
Start with a few goals, create a list of projects that support each goal, and then break down those projects into very specific tasks you need to complete.
Plop all that into project management software, add some due dates, and there, my friend, is the beginnings of mastering the skill of goal setting.
Step 9: Create a business review practice
If you spend all your time focusing on everything that needs to get done and none of your time reflecting on what’s working and what’s not working, then you are missing a big piece of the puzzle. You want to grow your business? Then make it a regular monthly practice to . . .
- review what’s working and what’s not working
- decide what will you keep doing, what you will change, and what you will stop doing altogether
You should do this every month, make your decisions, and keeping moving. You can’t expect anything to change in your business if you keep doing the same things that aren’t working. And the only way to know that, is to make sure you’re paying attention.
Step 10: Find your support system (and use it!)
In the top three “musts” for any business owner to be running a healthy, growing business is having support. No one can do this alone and stay sane. Honestly, every business owner needs a community to be there for them when things are terrible, to celebrate with when things are wonderful, and to turn to when things are unclear.
It’s our job as business owners to go out and find that support. And then, once found, to use it.
Ask questions, share stories, get opinions, give feedback. Connect, learn, teach. Be vulnerable, offer tough love, accept critique.
These are things we all need. And these are the things that a community will bring you.
I’m often asked questions like “How do I find a mentor?” or “What do I need to do to get this business going?” or “I’ve launched this thing, but now what?” These are all valid questions. And my answer is always the same– we’ve created a place for you– you just need to go get it. The Designer Membership offers answers to all these questions, and more. Join us and let me help you reach that massive growth you’re after.