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Goals are not wishy-washing thoughts in your head or things you “hope” to do. I think where a lot of fashion designers (and other creative entrepreneurs) get hung up is on the idea that in order to create a business plan, you need to have a lengthy, involved, research-heavy, numbers-focused roadmap that list every last detail of what you want to do and how you want to do it. Will you have a few signature styles that you introduce in new colors or fabrics over the year?
You’ll need to leave room for the product(s), of course, and talk about any plans you have for branding, sales and marketing, as well as operations.
Finally, whoever’s reading your plan will be most concerned with one thing, and that’s the money.
You’ll need to finish off with a solid section clearly outlining your business’ current financial position (even if this is very initial), priorities for growth, and how their investment will help things to fly.
Even if you’re not writing a full-on business plan, the same principles apply when organising your startup.
Try to allow room for flexibility – you may not know the price of specific materials yet, for example, or manufacturing costs – but having that original budget in mind will help you make the decisions that drive your first sales.
Your budget will also depend on whether you plan to design and make the clothes yourself (or with a manufacturer), or buy clothes from designers at wholesale price. Invest in smaller designers and/or basic equipment to start off with and as demand grows, you can review your key outgoings.If you need a business plan – perhaps to secure funding or other support – start off by nailing the basics.You’ll need to give an overview of your business, including an executive summary, and a clear outline of how your clothing line is going to start, grow and prepare to scale. But the problem is that too many people stop there. You can create a one page outline of what you are going to build, with some details on how you think you’ll build it, and then get moving on making things happen. We should all have dreams and we should all chase them. Well, since I don’t believe in roadmaps, I like to emphasize with my designers that you don’t have to take this approach to a business plan. Starting a clothing business is a very personal journey.You’re probably a creative person, with something different to offer in a fast-moving industry.It can’t just be your personal view of what’s wrong with the current market options (although there’s a place for this too!) Your plan should also outline who’s involved in your business and what they do, whether it’s just you, or you’re working with anyone else.Are you planning to build a fanbase for one specific item, like the world-famous Fred Perry shirt?Or it could be a particular style that you have in mind for your clothing line – for example the pared back, design-focused children’s products sold by lifestyle brand Scandiborn, or menswear that nods to your own unique heritage?