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.
Check our FREE Fashion Business Planning Tool to help you get started.
At Fashion Angel we offer fashion business mentoring, events, workshops and access to start up loan funding to fashion start-ups and established fashion business entrepreneurs. We are here to help and to give you the support you need at all stages of your business journey.
Our expert mentors can give you guidance with our 1-2-1 business mentoring packages. Fashion Angel Business Club members receive 20% discount on our mentoring and events and have access to FREE downloadable toolkits, a suppliers directory & other benefits, all tailored for the fashion industry.
By Alison Lewy