23 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE STARTING AN APPAREL BRAND
See if you are cut out for this or not!
From Idea To Launch & Beyond
Running your own business isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It’s not the hours you spend in the office that matter—what matters is what you produce. You’re your own boss and you need to make it all happen. You’ll live and breathe your brand, working 24/7. It’ll require you to put in the work and follow through on your dream. Are you cut out for this or not? Is it really what you want?
You’ll be your own boss—no one will be there to make sure you put in the work and stick to your deadlines. Focus on your dream, your vision and mission of the brand, and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.
Here are some questions that will help you determine whether you’re cut out for this or not.
1. Why do you want to start an apparel brand?
Starting an apparel brand takes commitment, time, and money. You’ll be eating, breathing, and living your brand. Research, ask around, talk to people who’ve started a brand to see what they’ve gone through. Is that something you want? Try to envision what it’s like to have an apparel business. The more you know, the better you can prepare. Be realistic—you need to be really ready when you start.
2. Do you have what it takes? Do you have passion, ambition, and determination?
Without passion, to truly love what you do, you’ll not have the mental power to grind away. You need to really, really WANT this—not just talk about it with your friends because it’s cool to be an entrepreneur. Ask yourself the above questions multiple times, before you start.
3. Do you take action when you have an idea or are you just a dreamer?
It takes some serious action to start a brand—to DO, to execute on every little step involved. If you know that you’re usually a dreamer, find an accountability friend or group. They’ll help you stick to your schedule. Everybody has ideas. The differentiator is: those who succeed execute on their ideas.
4. Does decision-making come quick and easy to you?
When you start out, unless you do it with a partner, you’re usually the one making decisions. There will be tons of things to make decisions about, and if you can’t make up your mind pretty quickly about what you want, things will be delayed and you’ll fall behind. And usually, it doesn’t really matter if you choose one way or the other—the important thing is that you pick something and go with it.
5. Are you good at planning and organizing?
We’re not saying you need to be extreme about it, but as mentioned above, there will be so much going on that you’ll need to keep track of things. A good idea would be to start from the beginning by implementing systems and processes.
6. How will starting a brand affect your family and friends?
Starting out will consume your time, energy, focus, and money. It could be a good idea to talk to the closest people to you about how this will affect them. If they know what you’re going through, it’ll be easier for them to support you and understand your situation. Who knows, some of them might even want to help out. But in the end, it’s about you and it’s your decision.
7. How well do you cope with stress and long working hours?
Undoubtedly there will be more to do than you’ll have time for. Planning is key. If you don’t take care of yourself by eating properly and getting enough sleep, you’ll not have the energy to work.
Stressing out because you have too much to do won’t help. The only thing that helps is to actually do what you have on your To-Do List. Focus on the important things—those that will actually move your brand forward—and drop the dumb stuff.
8. Are you okay working by yourself or do you need a partner?
Most of the successful designers/entrepreneurs out there have a partner or mentor. Someone who will complement you and your competencies. Working with a partner means you can always discuss issues with each other. How do you want to do it? Before getting a partner, you need to ask yourself what your strengths and weaknesses are and what areas you need to develop. That way you will be clearer in terms of what you need from the other person.
9. Do you have the self-discipline needed?
When it’s time to grind and hustle, it’s time to grind and hustle. You’ll have to put in the work to later reap the success. There are tons of tools out there to keep you away from all the distractions. Make sure you know what sucks out your time and seek tools to prevent it.
10. Do you have an interest in the field you want to position your brand in?
Depending on what category you want to place your brand in, you’ll need to have a personal interest in what you do. Without the interest, you’ll have a hard time motivating yourself to do the work. If the interest is there you’ll be your own customer and you’ll know what you need and want.
11. Who is your ideal customer?
When you know exactly who your customer is, you’ll know, in all areas of your business, what decisions you need to make.
12. Do you have something unique to offer?
There are tons and tons of brands out there. What makes yours stand out from the crowd? The fewer competitors you’ll have, the better.
13. What problem does your product/brand solve?
The response, “People will always need clothes,” is not a good one. Go deep! What is the customer need for your products and brand? What will get easier for your customers once your products are available?
14. What does your product do for your customers?
Is it helping them in any way? Is it helping them perform better? Is it making them feel a certain way?
15. Have you done thorough market research in order to find your niche?
When you know the market, you also know where there’s a gap. If you can fill that gap, you’re in business.
16. Have you spoken to potential customers to see if there’s a need for your intended brand/product?
If no one wants your products, you’ll never have a business.
17. What price segment will your brand fall into?
This is directly related to the values and positioning of your brand. If you’re aiming for mass market, then the price and product should reflect exactly that, otherwise those customers will not buy your products because they’ll be too expensive. Keep in mind also that the cheaper the products, the lower the margin you’ll get. And if you end up with a small margin you’ll need to sell many more times the amount to reach the funds needed to keep your business going.
18. Who will be your three main competitors?
Knowing your competitors’ offers is important for you. When you know their offers and price points, you know what you need to put out there in order to differentiate yourself. Don’t risk being No. 2 or No. 3. You’ll know what NOT to do, because they already offer that. It can also be good to see how easy it’s been for them to attract customers. Is there a big need for the type of product?
19. Why should customers buy your products instead of your competitors’?
With your answer to the above question, you can easily make a product offer that stands out. What else in your business plan is different? If too many things are similar, go over it again until you stand out.
20. What type of legal structure will your business have?
Study the different forms and see which one suits you best. Corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship?
21. How much money do you need and where will you get it, to get started?
This depends on how big you want to start out. Will you start with a small collection with a couple of styles or will you go for the big bang? Whichever you pick, you’ll need much more than you’ve calculated. Talk to the bank or your family. Are investors, angels or Kickstarter an option?
22. How will you handle financial insecurity?
Do you have a family who are dependent on you? Do you have enough saved money to keep you going for a while without any income? Remember, product-development cycles are typically a year long.
23. Do you have the experience needed? If not, what external help do you need? Who do you want in your team?
Make an evaluation of your competencies, to determine what you have and what areas you need help with. Check your network for people who can help you out. What exactly do you need to get you where you want to be?
Some tough questions here—so, great job! With the answers from the above questions, you’re well prepared to move on.