Fashion businesses have a high failure rate, partly due to the fact that many start up without a strategy, and often the business side doesn’t come naturally to creative people.
‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’
Many people think you only need a business plan if you are approaching banks for a loan or are looking for investment. Whilst this is true, a good plan is also your personal roadmap, as it will be central to your business development; outlining your goals, visions and objectives. As time goes on, you will use it to measure your actual progress against your projections.
Writing a business plan could easily take you out of your comfort zone, but it doesn’t have to be tackled all at once – most plans take a few weeks, or even months, to build. As you go through the process you will undoubtedly come across some problems you hadn’t thought of – but by planning in advance you have the opportunity to think of solutions.
Much of the information going into the plan will be in your head so really it’s just a matter of articulating your thoughts and getting them down on paper.
Tips on Writing a Business Plan
Start by dividing your plan into the sections below and try to answer the points within each section. (There isn’t a hard and fast rule as to how long a business plan should be, but aim for one to two pages for each section.)
• Summarise each section of your plan in a couple of sentences. This is easiest to do at the end, once you’ve completed the main body.
• An overview of the market segment you are moving into
• The legal status of your business
• Describe your business – what are you going to design or make?
• Mission statement – in one or two sentences, state your personal vision for the business.
• Who is your target market?
• Have you identified a niche?
• What is your Unique Selling Point (USP), i.e. what differentiates your product from what’s already available?
Sales and Marketing
• What is the size of the market that you are selling in to? Is it a growing market?
• Who are your competitors? What is your competitive advantage?
• How will you get wholesale buyers or retail customers to find out about you?
• How will you build brand awareness and attract press coverage?
• What’s your background and your role in the business?
• Is there anyone else involved in the business, and if so what are their roles?
• What additional staff or expertise may you need to operate successfully?
• Where will you run your business from?
• Are you going to need to invest in any special equipment?
Production and Sourcing
• How and where will you get your product made?
• Can it be produced at a competitive price point, suitable for your target market?
• Where will you source your raw materials from, e.g. materials, trimmings, fittings?
• What will your start-up costs be? You will need to include sales, profit and loss projections and a cash flow forecast.
The financial section is absolutely critical to your plan as it will identify your projections for how the business will grow – in terms of both profits and income – and what financing you will need to make that happen.
Remember: This is not a static document; it needs to be amended as your business develops and changes so it’s worth reviewing at least every three months or so. Once you have completed your plan you’ll feel a great sense of achievement and be better placed to make your business a success.
If you’d like some help with your business plan, one of our expert mentors can give you guidance with our 1-2-1 business mentoring packages. Fashion Angel Business Club members also get access to downloadable templates tailored for the fashion industry.
By Alison Lewy