The most challenging part when running a marathon is the middle part.
This is where the excitement of the beginning is starting to fade out and the finish line seems far far away.
This is when thoughts of quitting start to surface inside our heads and we start to feel that something big has to happen otherwise we will never make it.
The same type challenges come up when building a fashion brand from scratch.
Don't get me wrong, starting a fashion brand is exciting.
However at the beginning stages the adrenaline rush is so strong that it overpowers anything that might get in the way. You simply feel so pumped that you will make everything work no matter what.
And that is awesome.
But then, most times it's in the second/third year when the first big hurdles start to show up.
By now you have a business, you are selling products, but it's starting to feel as you are hitting a wall.
The business seems to plateaued, things that worked for you so well when you started are not working as well anymore, new concepts and strategies are not really showing a big difference.
So what's next?
Is that it? Did the business reach it's pick point? Will it now start to sink?
This is usually a critical point for a small business, from here (unless you are content with things), if you don't act, the business will either stay the same or worse than that, will collapse.
If you are in this stage, here are 7 reasons why your fashion brand might be reaching that point and what can be done about it:
Target customer changed - this is quite common, the business starts with targeting a specific target customer but down the road for one reason or another that target customer might not be right anymore (their buying habits changed, they got older, there is only so much of them, etc.). Revisiting, and if needed, redefining the target customer and market positioning is one of the first things I would look into.
The product is dated - fashion is always changing (even more so with today's technology), therefore keeping your products current is key. Customers count on fashion brands to always be ahead of the curve and always introduce new and existing things (a reason to buy), however some owners luck design experience and it shows in their product offering. This will be the time to bring on a new set of fresh eyes, a design consultant or a designer who can infuse newness and make the brand exciting again.
Having the right team - when starting a business owners normally hire the personal that they can afford at that stage according to their budget, but as the business grows and gets more complex some of these employees might not be up to speed with where its heading. They might not be experienced/knowledgeable enough for the bigger stage or are simply not a good fit personalty wise. It's time to upgrade that part of the business accordingly. Either find a way to train the current staff or bring in a new blood.
Poor vision/planning - In order to scale the business, you will need to have a vision of where you want to go and create a plan to get there. Many small businesses start with a plan but than they get busy with the business and abandon the plan. As a business owner once the business passed the start-up stage and is able to stand on its own feet, it's time for you to be working ON your business and not IN your business. You are the only one who holds the vision to the business and therefore its your job to lead the business in that direction...but how can you do it when you are dealing with the day to day of the business???
Bad inventory management - many brands lack in that department. Fashion brands must manage their cash flow very closely, yet one of their biggest enemies in that department is inventory. Managing inventory closely is key! I've gotten so many inquiries from brands who has their cash flow tied in a huge inventory that is sitting in their warehouse collecting dust. Not surprising that they don't have the cash that they need to invest in growing, right?
Lack of experience - there will be a time in your business, once it grows that you will need experience on your side. Experts who had previous experience in running a business of that size. Yes, you went through the growing pain and the learning curve by yourself and did a great job building the ground floor, but this might be a good time to learn from experts who've done it rather from your own mistakes.
In need of an operational makeover - as I mentioned, when starting a business you make things work. Your factory is limited in skills and capacity - you'll design to work around that. Coordination is lacking in your product cycle - you'll work around it. Your development process is too long and expensive - you'll make it work. However, the time will come where all of the above will cost you time, money and worst than that - your business! What worked so far was fine to start and build the business but now its time to stream line your product cycle, work with the right service providers who can meet your business needs and let the product cycle be an advantage for your business rather than a burden!
Feel like you're hitting a wall with your current business? Let the experts evaluate your current business and help you make the next jump!