Category: CEO Advice

Scaling Up Your Fashion Business $5M > $50M

Really excited to share with you this article I wrote for Makers Row on how to scale up your fashion business. Enjoy!

Congratulations! You are ready to scale up. Now what does that mean? It means your business is about to be or already is becoming bigger than you.  It also means that you are on your way to hiring more people and that you have a steady business with steady sales. If your business is struggling to make sales or if you are still perfecting your marketing, branding or product then you will not be ready to take on the actions below. If you are ready, here we go: 5 Steps to Scale your Fashion Business.

1. Get your finances lined up.

To take your business from $5M in revenue to $50M in revenue will take financial backing. This will require preparing your profit and loss statements as well as projections on your sales, marketing plans and proposals for new hires and infrastructure. You know how things have been running to get this far, but you need to think critically about how they need to be running to grow. Any potential investor whether family or the bank will want to see proof of financial sustainability and a plan for the next 5 years of what your business would look like without the capital injection and what the additional capital could do for your business. Be wary of investors who just want to be in ‘fashion’. They may not understand the volatility of the market and the unique cash flow needs of a retail business

2. Evaluate your sales channels and think global.

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It is important to continue to maximize the channels that are working for you, but your brand needs to have a wider impact. These means looking at international distribution, longer-term pop-up shops to test brick and mortar, Big brand collaborations, licensing, and diffusion lines and products.  Explore each of these options and see if they are in alignment with your vision of expansion.

3. Stop working in your business. You need to focus on your business.

This means taking stock of what is necessary for you to do to run your business and what you can outsource. I suggest making a list of everything you do for one week and the time it takes. The things that take up a lot of time, and aren’t essential for you to do you need to hire out. I know that as a business owner you can feel that your touch on everything is critical, but letting go and hiring out great people is essential to scaling. If you have great employees it is also time to evaluate their scope of work. Could they do more if they had an assistant?

4. You are your brand.

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It’s time to come out from behind the desk and let people know who you are. Everyone knows Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh, but even smaller companies out there are getting a lot of exposure because of their CEO’s. Take for example CEO Andy Dunn, of Bonobos. He built a brand and used the power of personality to increase exposure. He speaks on panels, does keynotes and is active on social media (16K followers on Instagram). There is a reason why your company has been successful and people want to hear about it. Some tips to get you started:

  1. Look at conference listings for speaking opportunities
  2. Prepare your personal media kit and start pitching
  3. Build your personal social media channels.

5. Get in front of the game changers.

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Show your value and ask for what you want. Showing your value is more than just showing a healthy P&L statement. Your value is a combination of your vision, your story plus the accomplishments and profit statements. Asking for what you want means having a plan for the ‘ask’, and the gumption to go after it. It’s not unheard of for entrepreneurs to fly across the world to put a face to the name when speaking with potential investors or potential key stakeholders. Take a moment and envision the end goal, now move backwards to develop the steps. When going in for your ‘ask’ keep these goals in mind.

Scaling your brand ultimately means stretching your vision and yourself. You need to surround yourself with the right people, kind of like how President Obama has a cabinet and staff of experts. You need to arm yourself with a plan, a lot of energy, and good company.