EP Basics: Cold, Hard Facts (People Seldom Tell) About Fashion Entrepreneurship in India
The epiphanic moment where you realise that you’ve just decided to take that plunge, jump in at the deep end and finally start your own business is absolutely unforgettable. What is also unforgettable are the ensuing days of endless work hours, the long nights of restless brainstorming, building one plan after the other, often to see it crumbling apart. Welcome to the dark side of the moon where fashion entrepreneurship in India isn’t all things roses and rainbows; it has its fair share of gloom and doom. And this article is to prepare you for the days where you feel like a certain disaster is happening only to you, for the first time, when it might just be a common, albeit secret, truth only seasoned entrepreneurs are privy to. That’s right, I’m spilling the beans. Take failure and errors in your stride if you’re in it for the long haul.
- Your product will be as good as your market research
So you’ve thought of a stellar idea for a product, you even know how you’re going to flesh it out and bring it to life. It could be clothes, shoes, jewellery, bags, etc. However, that is only the beginning of the market research you need to follow it up with. Here are some of the questions you should be able to answer by the end of extensive research:
- What are the market trends in the category of the product you wish to sell?
- Who are your competitors?
- Is there a market gap in the category of the product?
- Who is your target audience, and what are its needs?
- If it’s crowded out there, what will your niche be?
Your product is not a self-sustaining entity; it is only as good as the purpose it fulfils in the market. That is why you need to understand not only the product itself but also the market and your audience/target clientele.
- Network and outreach like your business depends on it (because it does)
If fashion entrepreneurship had a list of ten commandments, networking would definitely be on top of it. It may be a no-brainer but it is also one of the most effective ways to spread the word about your business by building connections. You can also treat it as ground research for trends in the industry, how to start an online fashion business, new talents you might be interested to collaborate with, and even meet potential investors. Identify such events in the industry and make sure to be present. This will help you form a solid foundation for the outreach and marketing plan of your brand.
- Don’t go all out with your expenses in the nascent stage of the business
You might be tempted to rent that fancy office space that looks over the city or get yourself OTT amenities to help you toil over the business. However, if you have limited capital at the initial stages of the startup, your financial goal should be solely to generate revenue. It is one of the key ways in which you can sustain your business through the inevitable lows in order to see the light at the end of it. So, hold your money tight, the fancy office will come to you in its time.
- No, you can’t do it all on your own.
A lot of entrepreneurs tend to cut down on expenses by thinking that they can wear all hats efficiently. However, as your bigger responsibilities grow by the day, you will not have the time to lend your ear to everyday matters. That’s why the right team, coupled with your leadership and entrepreneurial skills, will complete what will prove to be the winning equation to eventual success. It is your team who can flesh out the best of your ideas, carry on everyday important work while you bring the capital and the leadership required to run the ship.
- Having a contingency plan isn’t pessimistic, it’s called being realistic
Having a Plan B is not being unsure of your Plan A. In a business where trends change almost every day and there are more seasons than nature allows, you always need to be on your toes to act swiftly. And this is where Plan Bs come to play. It might even be that you have to scrap Plan B and think of Plan C, but what is important to remember is that perseverance and patience are the two most key, even though intangible, tools you need in your box at all times in fashion entrepreneurship.
- No, you shouldn’t spend the whole day at work, and yes, you deserve getting paid too
When setting up a business, it is easy, and even natural, to spend hours in your workspace to work on ideas for setting up the brand, social media marketing strategies, hiring your team, customer acquisition, and whatnot. However, it is also important to recognise from an early stage that you also need to take time out for yourself. Burning out during the first year of your fashion entrepreneurship due to spreading yourself too thin might mark the end of new ideas and new plans. It is also important to reward yourself for your hard work by paying yourself. When you eliminate financial stress with a salary comfortable for you to live on, you make the mental space for those breakthrough ideas to take shelter in.
- It’s okay to slack behind as long as you persevere
Fashion business and the industry as a whole is extremely fast-paced around the world. It hardly looks back on those who were left behind. However, having said that, it is also okay to slack off sometimes, to feel like you’re losing your pace, as long as you buckle up and get going again. Remember that the moguls of the Indian fashion industry who have led the way also didn’t have a fail-proof formula they were living by. The only way to recognise and appreciate success is by living through failures.
When you know, at the beginning of the journey, that there will be rain and hail and snow and storm, you can arm yourself to weather it through. Consider these truths your armour before and while you venture into fashion entrepreneurship in India.