And honestly, this is entirely understandable because starting a business that you are serious about at the beginning requires all of your attention and effort, it’s almost like a baby. Most times, this cannot be done with a full-time job. People that have tried to juggle both have said, it’s either you are not as efficient at work or your business suffers the brunt. It’s not hard to determine that if there’s not much growth.
So, it’s hard to quit a job that gives a steady income for a business you are not sure will bring profit. Most times, it’s an uncertain decision. But, I have found that with almost everything in life the first step to success is optimism. In the story of the optimist and the pessimist, the optimist hardly ever loses.
It is most times easier to take the easy route so, in all honesty, it is easy to give up. Because of the amount of energy it requires to keep a business running, other times it’s just too difficult. This is entirely understandable. But have you ever seen someone run a business smoothly? I have first hand and even though it is not all that easy, it is beautiful. I saw my father run a business and because I was much younger then, it looked easy. But, growing up and looking back, It is hard work, discipline, and more work. I think where most people get it all wrong is that most times they do not fully come to terms with what they want and how much work it takes to achieve what they want. They also tend to give up in the days of little beginnings.
The thought of owning a million-dollar business is exciting but the work isn’t as exciting. After seeing my dad run about 5 different businesses ( his start-up) mostly by himself and one thing I was able to hold on to was his work ethic. The early mornings, late night, losses, and wins. I learned so much watching him run his business and the first basic 5 lessons I learned are:
- You need a plan, a realistic plan: A realistic plan guides you and put you on a better scale of success. an example is; if I am about to start or just started a fashion company- I’d make quality research on the kind of products I want to go into, how much it’ll cost(down to things like transportation) if I want to sell one/two thousand product in the year 2021. The thing with making unrealistic plans is that it is beautiful to think of, imagine, or even talk about but there’s a 70% you won’t achieve that goal. So even if it means starting small, there’s nothing wrong with that but stick to measurable and attainable goals.
- A brand selling point: The thing is, there are probably many more fashion brands out there with different products. But, the question is, why would they come to you? and the 2 questions here are, -what is attracting them and what is sustaining them. I found a Nigerian socks company about 2 years ago. what attracted me to their products was the quality(the pictures were that good) and what kept me was the customer service. I have also gotten products from brands I thought were good but didn’t meet up to expectations but it didn’t go down as a bad one because the customer service was great. The thing with the second one is that you are most likely to give them the benefit of the doubt and go back again. This is in no way saying you should produce poor-quality products.
- Choose a primary marketing channel: This sometimes can be a tricky one because they are so many channels out there but you’ve got to narrow it down to one. These days we have so many marketing channels like social media apps, SEO, word of mouth. Even with social media apps, you’ve still got to narrow it down. I’ll use Instagram and Twitter as an example; If I was opening a fashion brand, Instagram will be my primary marketing channel because it’s a more visual app but if I wanted to sell an online course, I’ll stick to Twitter. this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have accounts on both apps, I will. Then I’ll study my insights.
- There’s no new idea, recycle the old ones: There are so many ideas sitting around especially with the help of the internet now (I learned this from an acquittance while working for his company). you have got to maximize it. Find out other people that doing the same business as you in your country, another continent, your city, study their business page, look for the ideas you can tailor down to your products, recycle the idea, and put it out there. The truth is, it may or may not work but how would you know if you don’t try?.
- Study your direct competition: You can learn from the big brands but you need to watch your direct competition and see what they are doing right. Learn from them. For a new fashion brand in your area, you cannot be bothered about the best in your country, they are not your competition. Identify your competition, study their success path, learn from it and keep moving.
Most times, when you start up a business, you need to identify what you want long-term and short-term. After doing that, stick to it. Every business is different and depends on so many things like; your customer, the cost, and the environmental factors. Starting a fashion brand in the US will be different from starting a fashion brand in the UK. There are things to learn from the different countries but it cants exactly be the same. Some, you learn and the job and some from your mistakes. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the goals are clear and you keep the ball moving, you’ll be fine.
Success stories are beautiful and they can be very encouraging but you have to be real with yourself by defining success. First, 100 sales are a success, a huge success because you have come from 0–100. The beginning of a start-up is cool right up till the point your business starts to grow and you are your own social media manager, product designer, photographer, account manager, and every other thing a business needs. You know you can’t afford to hire three people at most. A good piece of advice is that you should hire people that share and understand your goal and are willing to put in the work. But don’t forget that, even you should reward yourself sometimes because every job well done over some time, deserves a reward.
It is advisable to look to other people for motivation but don’t get too carried away with that, that you lose sight of how far you have come and your wins. Also, don’t forget the basic 5 steps we talked about,
- You need a plan, a realistic plan.
- A brand selling point.
- Choose a primary marketing channel.
- There’s no new idea, recycle the old ones.
- Study your direct competition.
I believe you are ready now. Good luck!