Starting a business, whether small or big takes a lot of planning and sacrifice. It is crucial to have a specific focus and constantly revisiting your business plan. There are several common and dangerous mistakes many new business owners make that can negatively impact their businesses.
Here are 5 of the most common mistakes to avoid as you start your small fashion business in Africa.
1. Lack of preparation and research – Designers start to produce a collection without knowing how much money they will need or how they are going to reach their target customer. Unlike the western world where start up loans are available that is if you have a great business plan, in Africa its a different case, the banks are not interested in Fashion, high street banks will not hand out a loan for a fashion business. Preparing and taking your time to research your target market will help you to produce a collection that will sell for a quick turn over.
2.Careless financial planning and management – Many businesses don’t have financial forecasts in place and fail to keep their financial records up to date so lose control of their cash flow. Whilst many people will want to focus on the creative side of business, you will soon run out of money if you do not constantly review your cash flow. At the early stages of your business, there is no time or money to be doing any guess work you must obtain exact information on everything you will need to keep your business running.
3. Poor quality control processes – Managing production is one of the biggest headaches and often not enough time is spent developing robust QC procedures. This can lead to getting goods returned which apart from being costly, it damages a brand’s reputation. There is nothing worse than seeing a well edited collection by an African designer in magazines or blogs and when you make an order what you receive is of poor quality yet overpriced. Even worse, some designers describe their brand as “Luxury” when in fact after purchasing that so called luxury African print shoes you notice that all they have done is glued a piece of African print fabric on Primark or New Look shoes. The area of quality in production will either make you or break your business, word gets around very quick. As they saying goes, a good name is better than riches, building a quality and reliable business will speak for itself and in the long run save you a lot of money on advertising.
4. Excessive website expenditure – It’s easy to be lured into thinking you have to spend a lot on an all-singing and dancing website, but actually with advancements in technology it isn’t usually necessary at the start. The focus should be on good photography and a robust marketing/PR strategy to drive traffic. Creating a clean cut website without any fancy elements is all that you need at this stage, as your business grow you can then splash out on a more high profile looking site.
5. Underestimating the time and money it takes – Building a fashion business in Africa isn’t a quick process and can require deep pockets – you have to be in it for the long haul! From business registration form charges to paying your workers must all be accounted for. The challenges you face starting a business in Africa is overwhelming but do not loose hope as it gets better when a firm foundation has been established.
Starting a fashion business in Africa is not easy , but with passion, drive and a clear vision it can be one of the most exciting and rewarding industries to work in.
I hope this has helped. If you have another common mistake, please leave a comment. Thank you. :)