I often get asked how can someone take their business to the next level? Today I am going to give you some examples of things I did that worked for me, and offer some pointers for the direction you could go in. These are from my perspective on the fashion industry. Sadly I’m not going to give you a magic formula to success but can start by saying that sheer hard graft plays a large part.
What makes me qualified to talk about this? Well a few years ago I was maybe a lot like you. I was trundling along nicely and year on year the sales came in. Yes, I was probably getting a little complacent…. If things were looking quiet I would take out an ad somewhere or get some instagram star to wear our clothes and the sales would come again. But then things really slooooooowed down. My home life had been super busy… Looking back I have no idea how I juggled things or got any sales at all but I did keep working. Then when the Winter kicked in and I had time to review the business, I was a little bit concerned that the sales were down on last year, and the clothes we were selling just didn't excite me anymore.
Make a Plan and Make Connections
It was definitely time for a change so I created an action plan (okay I wallowed about feeling sorry for myself first) but with the new year I felt a renewed energy and decided if nobody was going to wave a magic wand for me then I would have to fix things for myself. I started with a bit of customer research. I spoke to the clients that I already had to discover more about what they were looking for in clothing, what they wanted to buy that they couldn't. This is how I first heard of many of the brands we aspire to be like. I got in touch with some of the owners of them and though I totally cringe now reading back my initial email, it does show that the best approach is always a personal one. I’m not saying call someone up and ask to meet up and be BFFs forever… That is just creepy… but neither should you send an impersonal contact. Talk a bit about yourself and showcase some of your best work and ideas. Ideally what you need to do is form associations with people in your industry who are more powerful than you. Getting ideas and inspiration gave me the drive to launch our own in house line (which launches S/S 18!)
At the time I didn’t know this but forming alliances with your peers is a sound business strategy and now I also believe it works the other way. If you believe in someone else’s talent who is newer than you that is also a good connection. If they have drive and ambition then they are only heading in a forward direction which is where you also want to be going. I used to know very few other small business wonders and now I know lots, and all of them slightly different in their experience, style and outlook. By connecting with lots of others doing the same thing as me but at differing levels, I get a bigger view of the industry in general.
Stand Out From The Crowd
You are never going to raise your game by being the same as everyone else around you. Have a good, long look at how your are presenting yourself to the world and decide what areas could be improved. When I decided my site wasn’t representing my brand well enough, I worked with a web developer to achieve a unique site that I felt really put across the brands style and ethos. I worked on the branding so that it is now very ‘on brand’. If you feel a rebrand is in order I would advise that you look inside yourself rather than all around at what everyone else is doing. It’s good to be inspired by others but if you go to the same designer and ask for the same website or blog template as someone in your field then you will blend in with them.
Get Some Help
Nobody that I know who is successful as a business wonder has done so without working long anti-social hours. Getting to the next level can mean having more income so I suggest investing some of it in paying people to do some of the jobs that can be outsourced (book-keeping, accounting, processing etc etc). This leaves you with more time to do all of the above and keep your business progressing. Ultimately you will get paid more but work less. Be prepared to open the doors and then be brave enough to walk through them.