Starting a fashion consulting firm can be really exciting. For the first time after years of study and hard work, you get to set your own rules.
You get to decide what you want to do, and who to do it for. And how much to charge for it.
The first few weeks and months of starting a new venture are so filled with excitement and drive that it’s easy to be carried away.
When building a company rather than “doing all of the right things” it’s important to avoid committing some of the most common mistakes that can potentially turn a dream-come-true into a real-life nightmare.
There are many mistakes you can easily come back from.
Maybe you hire the wrong people, maybe you charge too much or too little. These are all things you can learn along the way, but there are a few elements connected to the mindset you are using to start and grow your firm that is hard to change unless you really focus on them.
Don’t worry just yet. In this post, we’re listing 5 of the most common mistakes you could be making as you start your own fashion consulting firm.
With no further ado, let’s delve right into it!
#1 You don’t focus on a niche.
As you start your consulting business, you may want to avoid setting yourself limits. That’s understandable, but at the same time, it is important to consider that the fashion consulting space is busy and competitive.
As a new entrant to a crowded marketplace, it is usually better to breach through the noise by focusing on a handful of high-quality, services. Be specif, both in terms of the skills you bring to market and in the results your clients can expect.
In time, nothing will prevent you from stretching out of your niche, but unless potential customers can associate your brand or consulting firm as the go-to solution for a particular problem their business experiencing, it will be hard to get any top-of-mind-space.
As a result, it will be difficult to acquire actual market space.
The starting steps of a new consulting venture are critical to your long-term success, and if you’d like to read more about what to do over the early days of your company, in this article we delve right into the topic.
#2 You do everything yourself.
A second common mistake is doing everything yourself. It is normal to feel that with your company it’s your name and reputation on the line, at every single delivery.
You will be likely to build your organization around your own competencies and skills, but at the same time, you can’t be doing all of the work.
There is, in fact, a big difference between being a freelancer and creating an agency. The difference is just one word: delegation.
If you don’t learn to delegate, you will never actually tap into the potential of running a business. You will be still exchanging time for money and that’s not good.
If you want to start a company your most important skills should include being able to attract talent. If you skip this critical step, chances are you will be overworking yourself.
If you draw all of the work onto yourself, instead of clients you’ll have bosses.
What happens in most cases is that, instead of working for one boss, you’ll find yourself working for many bosses, which defies the point of being an entrepreneur.
#3 You don’t (have time to) build relationships.
Developing a business is also about creating a network and building connections. Most businesses will want to become familiar with a consultant before they decide to work with him or her.
Sure, there will come a time in which your reputation may precede you, but chances are that at the beginning of your journey your client acquisition strategy will build upon and rely on your own network and personal relationships.
What this means is that, unless you have time to network, you will not be acquiring new clients.
This is why time management is such an important skill to have, as ultimately your own time is the scarcest of your company’s resources.
In some cases, the public relations management and the network build-up is what gets your business off the ground, and therefore, you may need to put in the time to develop these connections before you even decide to open up shop.
If you’d like to read more about a fully-fledged strategy, based on network development in this article we talk all about it.
#4 You overpromise.
When trying to win over a client, we’re all guilty of overpromising. The issue with that is that sometimes you may end up promising results that don’t depend on you.
This is why we started off this list by talking about niches. You must never underestimate the power of focus and how “less is more” is a great mindset in business.
It’s good to fully immerse yourself into a client’s case to expose yourself and your organization to complex, current issues in fashion, but at the end of the day, you must avoid developing such a huge ego that it will have a hard time fitting in conference rooms.
You can’t be the “deus ex machina” that comes in and saves the day, but you can provide actual help in solving one important problem.
Try to identity the quantifiable, practical results that make you great at what you do, and stand by them.
Choose issues that customers see value in solving and help identify what actually matters, and what they should spend money on.
#5 You don’t have a plan beyond keeping the business afloat.
Last but not least is you may find yourself struggling because you don’t have a clear plan for your business, aside from keeping it open.
At the beginning of a new venture, it’s normal to feel as if your primary concern is keeping the business afloat, but that can’t be your only concern.
Set goals for yourself and try to identify a timeline to reach them. By focusing on the long-term objectives for your organization you will see how it may become easier to manage the day-to-day challenges.
Great, now that we’ve covered all 5 advice, it’s time to move to our conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve covered 5 of the most common mistakes you are likely to make as you start your fashion consulting business.
A consultant is a unique professional figure and aside from the professional skills that you will apply in your day-to-day job, learning how to approach your clients and assist them through their challenges and successes is something that needs to be learned as well.
If you’d like to read more about the best consulting practices in the creative industries, in this post we’re delving deep into the subject.
If you’re interested in learning more about the crafts of fashion consulting, take a look at our blog where we share a wealth of information on the business of the creative industries. Enjoy!