Following on from my post 'Want To Be A Stylist'? here is a more in depth guide to turning an idea or passion for fashion into a living, breathing business. The hardest part of any venture is just starting - the first step is the most important but also the most difficult.
Whether you want to be a Personal Shopper, Wardrobe Editor, Creative Consultant, Editorial Stylist, Designer, Event Planner, Photographer, Brand Strategist, Online Store or Retail Owner, the initial business process is much the same. Launching a business in the creative field is challenging but achievable.
The first thing is to decide whether you will provide a service or product. The great thing about providing a service is the ability to get started with little to no capital while selling a product is a much more costly venture. Each have pro's and con's but both can be achieved. So if you want to start a business, grab your courage, collect your ideas, harness your creativity and take that first step!
Select A Name
I touched on this during my Fashion Careers Seminar and this is such an important step. Your business name is your first point of contact, your lastly first introduction and your gateway to effective branding. Make sure you choose a name you will still be proud of in years to come and one that is legally available. Do a search of registered business names and also look on google, Instagram and any relevant channels. You want to avoid getting into a legal mess down the track and you want to stand out in your field - steer away from anything too similar to what is already out there.
Cast your net wide. I choose to go for a business name which won't limit my growth. The Style Side is quite ambiguous, hinting at style but not defining me to one or two services. In choosing this name I have covered a lot of bases, allowing me to take my business down which ever path I choose as I grow and develop.
Select Your Products/Services
Decide what your business will provide. Will you be a makeup artist, a personal shopper, an interior stylist, a blogger, a designer, a retailer? Decide on what you will produce or sell, or select a range of services and create a price list. Be realistic - if you are starting out, charge accordingly. Never under value yourself but don't go charging premium amounts until you are well established. Be creative with your services, offer something different than your competitors or create packages which combine a few services together for a reduced price.
If selling a product, decide whether this will be handmade or produced in a factory elsewhere. Producing stock in Australia can be expensive but comes with less risk and more hands-on benefits - you can be much more heavily involved with the production side of things if you stay on shore. Alternatively, producing something off shore can save you a lock but there is less opportunity for quality control.
Buy A Domain, Register Name
Register your business name and buy a domain. Without your own domain you cannot have a successful website. Design your own site (there are plenty of free platforms to do this such as Wordpress, Wix or Blogger) or hire someone to do this for you. Building a site can be very time consuming but if, like me, you enjoy this creative process there is no reason why you can't do this yourself.
You will most likely register yours business as "sole trader" but you might decide to register as a company. Click here for a quick comparison chart to see the pro's and con's to consider.
Establish Essentials for Operation
Work out the absolute basic needs required to get up and running - for example a computer, WiFi, stationery, work space, camera etc. You may be surprised how basic your business needs actually are. If you are stuck financially you can rent a computer, Ipad, Laptop, camera and just about any tech related items. There are always ways around road blocks when you do your research. You will find your costs and needs increase as you progress but cross this bridge when you get to it, don't let this be a reason not to start.
Write A Business Plan
A good business plan is one that actually achieves something for your business and isn't just filled with ideas and goals - if you are after a small loan ensure your business plan is financially detailed as well as clear on concept, service, branding etc. If your business plan is purely a means to clarification and focus to get yourself motivated, ensure it is filled with personality, goals and targets. You should know what inspires you - utilize lists, goals and inspiring terminology and images.
A business plan must contain your business name, a brief summary of your business, a mission statement, legal and accounting info (who, when, what), profit projection, costs to begin, overheads, company/business structure, insurances, competitive edge and growth targets. You can find free downloadable business plan templates specific to your industry and then tailor these to your individual needs. Remember, the key to a business plan is communication - you are effectively selling your vision in a summarized, written form.
If you need to raise some funds to get your business off the ground, there are three main avenues - a loan, crowd funding or investors. You can apply for a small business loan utilizing your business plan, start a crowd funding campaign or approach family members, friends or others with a similar vested interest to invest in your business. Ensure you get legal advice if dealing with an investor so everything is clear cut from the get go. Alternatively, save as much money as you can to cover your initial start up costs, avoiding the need to over complicate the process.
So you have a name, a website, products or services ready to go...now what? Get out there. The only way to generate customers and sales is to start marketing your business. Utilise social media as much as possible - take a look at my post '5 Steps To Effective Branding' to get clued up on how to brand your business to get the right customer base and cohesive communication. Consider offering freebies, running competitions through local businesses in a similar field or teaming up with someone to offer something new. Working together is a great way to reach more people. Collaboration is vital to business success - take a read of my post "How To Succeed through Collaboration". The first client/customer is the hardest, once you can tick this off get a testimony or as much feedback as possible to learn, grow and develop.
Goals, Growth & Greater Good
Create a goal timeline, with realistic profit projections and where you want to be 6 months in, 12 months in and 5-10 years in. This could be anything, from 'turn first profit 6 months in' to 'employ an assistant at 2 years' or be more specific and financially focused. 3 in 5 small businesses fail in the first year so success within this starting out phase may simply be that you break even, which might not seem exciting but in fact this is a big win. The main thing is to remember to be realistic and aim to grow slowly but steadily.
Finding the greater good in your business is crucial to success. There must be a purpose for yourself and your business which extends outside of 'profit'. You may link in with a charity or you may look at supporting others through mentor-ships or your business itself may help people in some capacity. There must always be a bigger reason outside of working, profiting or growing - the community, animal welfare, the environment, supporting women, supporting people in need...the list goes on and the cause or purpose will be different for everyone. The motivation for dollars will absolutely drive your business but if this is not supported by and combined with a higher purpose then you may as well give up. The business world may be cut throat in many ways but it is also a big community which allows us to support others and provides a platform for the opportunity to make a difference. Go into business wisely, find your greater good first.
Find your passion, then establish your 'why', then get started!
Image via Pinterest