To support the launch of our business plan template we have collated a brief overview of 5 things you might have overlooked in your business plan. If you’ve got a great idea for a business, a passion for creativity or a skill for design and manufacture you might be considering starting a fashion brand. If you want to transform this skill, passion and vision into a business you’re going to want to start with a plan!
1. It’s all about the process
The first and most important thing to understand is that business planning is often more about the process than the finished document. This part of the planning process is not to flesh out your ideas as quickly as possible, but to use the opportunity to work through your ideas in a thoughtful way. Mapping out your plans and setting out goals is most beneficial when it is allowed to be an organic process. Having a more concrete grasp of your business plan will be very useful in the long term.
It’s completely worth sticking with the process of business planning. It may feel tough at the beginning but once you’ve got your head round the business plan you’ll be well on your way to creating a valuable document to support your brand.
2. Focus on your target audience
The next thing which you might have overlooked is your focus on target audience. Many fashion brands begin with the garment, the theme for a collection and ideas for marketing, but in order to sell, garments must have a target audience. Still, figuring out who you want to sell to is one of the biggest challenges faced by my clients. There is a general tendency to go too broad and focus on several different groups of people; often this method undermines itself by producing an unclear focus, and it becomes a challenge to cater to anyone at all.
At the other end of the spectrum, you might choose a small niche, in which it can be a challenge to find any customers at all. When it comes to figuring out your target audience I’d suggest that you begin by thinking about the characteristics of your target customer. Once you’ve got a list of these characteristics begin to build this into a target customer persona.
3. Finances are essential
Number three on our list is finances. They’re often listed last in business plans but are the core of your business plan, central to everything else you build and develop. To enable you to work through your plan with the numbers in mind, I’d recommend that your incorporate financial plans into your business experience from the start, so they remain utmost priority. On our business plan template, we focus on three key finance sections:
Costs and pricing – when working out your costs remember to include studio rent, designing time, staff costs and overheads into your costs.
Financial forecasts – sales forecasts (how much are you intending to sell) and costs forecasts (how much money you’ll be spending to make these predicted sales).
Cash flow – how to you expect your finances to look each month across a year? Use an Excel document to outline the money in, money out and balance in your business each month.
4. Don’t forget the executive summary
The next thing you need to consider within your business plan is your executive summary. This is essentially a one-page section at the start of your plan, outlining key information for someone reading it. Whoever this person might be, a potential partner, an investor, a collaborator, an event’s organiser or a friend, they need to be able to read and understand the role of the business, target audience, why you run your business, and your key aims and goals. All of these aspects should be contained within the first page of the document. If you’re writing your own executive summary you can start by filling out these core sections:
The name of your business and anyone who is involved in it
A summary of what you’re selling, who you’re selling to and how you’re selling it
The top three aims of your business and timelines for achieving these
A financial overview including your financial aim for the next year, how you’re planning on funding your business and what money you’re contributing to the business yourself.
5. Values are vital
Lastly, we need to talk about values. These are the driving force and guiding principles in the construction of your business, they reflect the principles that we live by, and influence the choices that we make. Values are how we relate to others, and what we consider most important in life. You need to make sure that your values, personal or business, are clear to the reader from the very beginning. You can download a free values template over on the Rockett Fashion shop.
Have you got more question about business planning? We’ve created a great business plan template with complete explanations and solutions for each of these sections, available at rockettfashion.com for only £40. We’ve developed the business plan from years of experience working with independent designers in fashion, and our own experiences of finance applications put through the Arts Council, the Princes Trust, INNOVATE UK and British Fashion Council.