Fashion Startup Operations: Setting Up Systems and Processes

We’ve worked with hundreds of fashion startup owners over the years. What we’ve found is that many are proficient in design, but aren’t as comfortable or experienced when it comes to business. That’s fine. It’s one of those things you have to commit to learn as you go. One area that tends to slips through the cracks is setting up solid processes and systems. Here’s a quick guide to get started…

1. Sign Up for G Suite.

Launching a fashion brand without investing in operational systems is a mistake. G Suite gives you access to Google Sheets and Calendar. It helps communication within your business and keeps everything in one place. It also gives you ownership. When someone leaves your organization, you still have access to their company emails and files.

You’ll boost your productivity and streamline systems when you hire your first employee. The more hires you have, the more important it is to manage your time wisely.

2. Set Up a Cohesive Calendar.

Set up a cohesive calendar for your fashion startup. Split up all the basic functionalities of the business by creating silos for marketing, production and design, sales and merchandising. They’ll keep you organized but they’ll also be a big help when you start to onboard employees. An optimized calendar is great for capacity building. New hires will be able to dial into what’s happening internally immediately, while getting aligned with your timelines.

I love Google Calendar and Google Sheets. Google is great for timelines and overall dates; Asana is valuable for teams dividing responsibilities.

3. Incorporate Before You Spend.

When you’re starting your own fashion business, it’s always better to incorporate before spending significantly. Yes, a lot of people do pay for startup expenses from their personal accounts. However, the issue is that you can write them off at a better rate as a business.

In a similar vein, put your investment money into a business banking account. Pay all of your expenses out of that account.

4. Stay on Top of Paperwork.

Financial Forms & Taxes

Every fashion startup’s internal infrastructure is different, so first hires differ widely across brands. No matter who you work with (contractors, freelancers…), keep your paperwork tight. Make sure everyone fills out their tax forms before they start. If you don’t collect them all, you can have serious problems at the end of Q4.

Filing Systems

When you’re starting your own fashion business, be sure to organize your design processes and files. Keep track of every file, image and fashion design tech pack with a folder system or organizational trees.

For example, every time you field information for a collection, you’ll end up with correspondence everywhere. While you may have an easy time finding what you need, your new hires will be lost. So get this right from the start.

5. Be Consistent.

Starting your own fashion business requires consistency to see results. Use the aforementioned calendars to make sure you’re consistent with everything you do. Send newsletters on a schedule, share social posts on a schedule, etc. Even if it means doing less, it’s better to do things with regularity.

Be organized. Be dedicated. Consider launching a fashion brand to be a way to train and discipline yourself. You must be very committed- and that can be a real challenge for many people. If you’re not naturally disciplined, make it a point to cultivate a discipline mindset. It’ll be a huge help with organizational systems and processes. It’s also a must before taking on your first hire.

Hiring forces you to level up in every way. You’ll go from entrepreneur to CEO. An entrepreneur has an idea he/she wants to make happen. Whereas a CEO is creating a structure and an organization. When you start to hire for your fashion startup, you’re creating a business. You have people with a domain of knowledge and expertise and you begin to rely on them. It’s no longer about your own whims or only what you think anymore.

Are your hands full? Don’t know where to start? That’s okay. We can help. We’ve helped many successful businesses launch – from concept to debut – with services including marketing strategies, sales strategies, brand DNA and more. Let’s start with a 30 minute consultation session to learn your unique needs. Give us a call at 310.957.5264 or email our team at hello@scalingretail.com.

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