Starting a fashion consulting agency is a dream come true. After years of grinding it out for someone else, you’re now ready to take the leap and be on your own.
After years spent honing your skills, you have not acquired the expertise to really make a difference and leave your mark on the fashion industry.
The moment when you’re starting a new venture is always full of excitement and potential but it’s important to take a minute to consider a few tips that can help you get started in the most productive way.
In this post, we’re keeping it simple by providing a few really helpful tips to get you ready to go.
With no further ado, let’s dive into this.
#1 Understand a Problem Fashion Companies are Willing To Solve
As you start your fashion consulting business, it’s important to take a minute to define the services you are going to provide. In a busy and competitive marketplace, you need to be specific and develop services that are relevant for your potential customers.
Defining your services is the first challenge you need to overcome, as you need to understand how your work is able to impact the financial performance of your clients.
The truth is that when you’re running a business there are so many things that could be optimized or bettered. Nonetheless, business managers realize that only a few of these problems really matter, and even fewer can significantly impact your revenue.
As a fashion consultant, you need to make sure that the services you’re offering are focused on problems that are urgent and relevant for the business so that your clients will be willing to spend any kind of money to get the issue fixed.
In entrepreneurship, we often say: “You need to sell painkillers and not vitamins”.
We can all benefit from taking vitamins, but we would all rush to the pharmacy to buy painkillers.
So how do you find out what problems to focus upon?
Well maybe you already have a few ideas, but as you set out to start a business it is really important to test your assumptions.
Engage in meaningful conversations with your prospective clients and listen to what your customers tell you.
Conducting research can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is certainly the foundation of a successful business.
To get started you could even set up a simple questionnaire to take a pulse of the market.
If you’d like to read up more on how to develop a questionnaire for your business research, here’s an article to help you out.
#2 Set Up a Repeatable and Scalable Process
Now that you’ve figured out what issues to focus upon we can move to the next step. You can now identify a clear process to provide your consulting services.
When providing a consulting service, we need to remember that what we’re charging for are our time and expertise. What we are offering is mostly intangible, as it lacks the physicality of a product.
Yes, we may provide a brief or a report, but the physical output of our work is minimal in comparison to the actual work a project may require.
This may lead to confusion, your customers would like to better understand what they are being charged for, and you may have a hard time actually defining the project’s specifications.
In order to better manage the operations that are going to take place in our consulting firm, it can be really helpful to set up clear, repeatable, and scalable processes.
This will allow us to gain a variety of benefits.
- We’ll be able to allocate to each project a clear workload and hours to charge.
- It will allow us to delegate sections of the project and streamline operations.
It will allow us to show our clients exactly how the consulting project will work out, what steps it comprises, and how long it will take.
All of this will help us provide more transparency regarding our business and more convincing pricing for our services.
#3 Attract Talent and Create a Strong Team
A consulting agency is a team. In this business, it is normal to be very market-oriented, but it’s important to remember that just like you’re working hard to attract customers, you should be working hard to attract talent.
Developing a team for your consulting business is essential. It will not only help you share the high workload required to get a business off the ground, but it will also help you stay motivated throughout the journey.
In entrepreneurship, it’s normal to have a few mood swings: one day you’re reaching for the stars, the next you’re in the gutter. Having a strong team surrounding you is what gets you through a lot of the hardships of the first months and years.
The challenge may be finding the right talent. However, if you’ve identified the right type of services you want to provide and the process you will undergo to deliver results, then you should already have some good ideas when it comes to writing the job descriptions.
If are looking for a little more advice, in this post, we’re looking at how to recruit the best talent for your business.
Starting a business as a team can also be a way to split costs and financial responsibilities if you’re willing to give up a little bit of your company’s equity. If you’d like to learn more about this, in this article we discuss options when it comes to funding your fashion business.
#4 Work Out a Simple Pricing Plan
An additional challenge many entrepreneurs face in consulting comes to charging your customers for a completed project.
As you’re starting out, some of your clients may take advantage of your “early days” and get you to provide rates that don’t match the value you’re actually delivering to your customer.
It’s better to avoid this issue altogether by developing a clear, uncomplicated pricing strategy.
As you build your expertise and experience in account management, you’ll learn how to profitably price your products, however, in the early days, it’s better to focus on clarity and transparency.
- Make estimates and create service bundles to get started.
- Detail each service with the steps it comprises.
- Apply a discount policy that leads clients to commit to higher-ticket projects.
- Provide a refund policy to induce trust and show accountability.
The pricing strategy is often a very important element of your firm’s strategy in the early days because your customers haven’t had enough time to build a relationship with you and identify pricing as a proxy of the quality of your services.
This is why pricing should be managed with a little extra care.
We’re almost done, before drawing our conclusive remarks, let’s look at the final tip of the article.
#5 Choose Your Clients Well
Your clients are what keep the business afloat.
What we need to remind ourselves, however, is that we need to attract the right clients to allow our business to grow.
This means that we can’t only go after the money, we need to make sure we’re providing our services to clients who appreciate our expertise and work.
If we work for clients who are not aligned with our approach to a problem, we’re in for a difficult project, one that may make us feel as if we’re back to square one, working for a tough and unappreciative boss.
It’s true, at the beginning you can’t be picky or choosy, but it’s still a good idea to keep in mind the type of client we are interested in attracting so that in time we can focus on those customers who are aligned with our values.
Great, now that we’ve touched upon all 5 tips, it’s time to draw a few conclusive remarks.
As we’ve discussed in our post, a few tips like the ones presented can really help your business get started on the right foot. Consulting in fashion is a wonderful job, full of exciting opportunities, but there’s a lot of competition out there and it’s really important to prepare for a busy and noisy marketplace.
To help you further we’ve created this article discussing some of the best ideas and practices to get started as a consultant in the creative industries.
If you’re interested in the fashion business, don’t hesitate to keep exploring our blog to find a wealth of information on this exciting industry. Enjoy!