Starting and running a fashion business can be pretty exciting especially if it is something you really wanted to do. But despite this excitement, more often than not, fashion entrepreneurs find that things spiral out of control and they have so much to do in so little time.
From being excited about being your own boss to working longer hours than expected and getting less income, things can get pretty bad fast, and many entrepreneurs have found themselves in this situation.
This problem prevents business owners from growing their business and sees them spending too much time on unnecessary things. The solution to this problem can often be found in systems.
What is a System?
A system is a set of defined procedures or processes that outline exactly how to do something in your business. Systems are created to work together to solve a specific problem or achieve a goal. They help you solve a repetitive business issue effortlessly.
As a fashion entrepreneur, your systems can cover anything from getting and processing orders from clients to your tax preparation.
Benefits of Systems
The benefits of systems for fashion businesses are numerous and
1. Systems save time.
When everyone knows precisely what to do at every point in time and do it the same way all the time, they become better and faster at performing that task. Also, with systems, you, as the creative director of your brand, get to have time to focus on building your business rather than attending to every issue yourself.
2. Systems create consistency.
Consistency in running a fashion business is key. Customers love to know that the quality of service you give them is consistent every time. With the right systems in place in your brand, you get to provide a great buying experience for your customers, and even meet and exceed their expectations.
3. Systems help improve productivity.
With systems, your employees are more efficient and productive because they have a specific way of doing things.
4. Systems make the job easier for employees.
When you have the right systems in place to run your business right, you make the job easier for your employees. Since they know what to do, they don’t have to waste time trying to understand what to do in different circumstances.
Also, it’s much easier to hire and train new employees with systems in place.
5. Systems help grow your business.
Overall, the main reason for putting systems in place in your fashion business is to grow your business. With systems in place, you would know how to address growth hurdles rather than react to crises.
With systems in place, you get to eliminate unnecessary activities and reduce cost for your business, also you get to have time to create better ways to grow your business.
How to Create a System for Your Fashion Business
1. Analyse Your Current Business Activities
Every fashion business does certain things consistently, for example, producing or getting new products, selling products to customers, marketing, and so on. Go over your business and identify activities that are repetitive and/or crucial to the running of your business.
After you have identified them you have to figure out ways to make these activities and processes much easier. Some of the major activities to form systems for in your fashion brand are your
- Operations, that is, things you do at the backend of your business, for example, how you create or get products, hire employees, maintain your website and social media pages, and so on.
- Sales and Marketing, that is, things you do to attract and convert customers, for example, email marketing, advertising, sales channels, and so on.
- Finances, that is, how you make and manage money in your business, for example, bookkeeping, payroll, tax filing, and so on.
For example, as an e-commerce fashion business, one of you key activities is the fulfilment of orders, this contains components like the product you are selling, the person that will pack the product, and the tools that will be used to back it.
2. Break Down Each Activity and Develop a Process
When you have identified repetitive or stressful activities in your fashion business, break them down and determine what needs to be done from the beginning to the end of that process. Here, you need to identify the tools, processes, people, and strategies each activity will require to be successful.
After breaking it down, document the steps required for each process. State exactly what the activities in this process look like. For example, break down the process of taking orders from your customers and fulfilling them.
“Our production process is very detailed. When a client sends us a message for an outfit, we book them for a consultation session first. At these sessions which are done in person or online, we discuss all the details of the client. Then, we open a file for the client and document all the details of both the client and their outfit, from the type of outfit they want to fabric choice and even delivery and fitting dates. Afterwards, the tailor that is in charge of that particular type of outfit takes over. We clearly state what outfit each tailor handles based on their strengths.” – Adepeju Zainab Okunuga, Creative Director of The Oza Woman brand.
3. Evaluate Ways to Improve the System
Look over all you have written down for each of your processes and evaluate to see any possible issues you might run into. Does your system help you achieve what you set out for it to achieve?
When you have looked over your system, delete unnecessary activities, defer processes that are nor urgent, automate any task that can be done with software, delegate tasks to the appropriate quarters, and batch tasks that can be hatched, for example, social media posts.
4. Test Run Your System
After you have broken down and developed a system for your fashion brand and gone over it to identify issues with the system, you should test run it. As you test run it, compare results from before you implemented your new system to after implementing it and notice what changed.
In your test run stage, whatever you have identified as your key performance indicators (KPI) for your different systems should be checked to see how well the system is working. For example, Were customers more satisfied with your services? Did you make better profits? Were your employees happier? Did your marketing efforts get more clients?
5. Execute Your System
After test running your system, it is time to execute it. As you execute, you might find areas you need to improve on or adjust in certain ways, do so and keep going.
The more you and your team use the system, the more it will become routine and everyone will get used to it. This will help you overcome problems and bottlenecks you might have previously had in your business.
Looking over all of these, you might find that you already have a sort of system in place but it is not clearly defined or stated out for everyone to see. Take out that time now to sit and document all your processes to scale your business today.