Monthly Archives: October 2015

Oct 30

Delegating and Outsourcing Can Be Key To Growing Your Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

 

Being a small business owner can sometimes be quite overwhelming.  There is so much to do and not enough time to do it.  Sometimes you are a one man band and have to do everything yourself.  In fact many times you want to do everything yourself because you don’t think anyone can do it as well as you can.  One of the ways to handle this is to learn how to delegate.  There are certain activities you should absolutely do yourself.  But there are many you can have someone else do.  Finding interns who will work for you for school credit is a great way to find an extra set of hands you can assign certain tasks to.

Every business has limited resources, and every manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing is another option that can help you to shift your focus from peripheral activities towards working on high value activities.  There are companies out there that will help you find professionals to do things like computer programming, bookkeeping, or acting as an assistant.

Upwork.com is a platform for companies to hire and work with independent professionals. They have freelancers from around the world that you can hire and they make the process very easy.  Hiring and training staff for short-term or secondary projects can be very expensive, and temporary employees don’t always live up to your expectations. Outsourcing lets you focus your human resources where you need them most.

Delegating to others is not only helpful, it’s crucial to your success. As you advance in your business and begin taking on larger and larger projects, you won’t be able to juggle all of your responsibilities and keep up with a high standard of work, too. Yes, delegating may take more effort up front, but in the long term, it will save you time and allow you to focus on the bigger, more important aspects of your company.

 

 

Oct 29

5 Traits of a Successful Entreprenuer

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

Successful entrepreneurs have certain traits in common.  If you don’t have them, don’t despair.  You can always develop them.  5 traits of a successful entrepreneur are as follows:

  1. Perseverance – Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” As an entrepreneur, you’re going to fail. That’s just an unfortunate fact.  Not everything you do is going to work.  It is your ability to come back and keeping on keeping on that sets you apart.  In fact many don’t even look at things as a failure but rather something they tried that didn’t work.
  2. Passionate –  Having passion for what you do drives you to continually strive to be successful.  If you believe in your business you are able to inspire others with your vision.  “Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” — Donald Trump
  3. Calculated Risk takers – Let’s face it, an entrepreneur is by definition a risk taker.  It is much safer to work in corporate America than to go out on your own.  However they don’t take risk for risk sake.  They make decisions based on sound research and evidence.  They test ideas before rolling the dice.  Unlike the former CEO of JC Penny’s Ron Johnson who did a major overhaul on the business without first testing his concepts.  We all know how disastrous that turned out.
  4. Self Motivated –  Entrepreneurs have the ability to do what needs to be done, without outside influence from other people or situations. People with self motivation can find internal reasons and strength to complete a task. Which is important when you do not have anyone to answer to.
  5. Visionaries – Most successful entrepreneurs start out with a vision.  It might be a new product or just a new way to do things.  Having a vision of where you want your business to go it is essential to success.
Oct 26

10 Tips To Increase Your Productivity

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

 

As ambitious people we are always looking to achieve more.  Getting more done in a day definitely helps with that.  The following are 10 tips to increase your productivity.

  1. Work in 90-minute intervals.  Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. They also found that top performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day. Interesting!
  2. Designate times to handle e-mail.  Being disrupted by emails constantly through the day interrupts your flow.  Instead of stopping what you are doing to respond to each new e-mail, you should consider setting aside a time for responding to e-mails in batches.  I believe in setting aside 2 times a day to review and respond to my emails.
  3.  Spend a few minutes preparing for the next day.  It is a good idea to plan your schedule for the next day before you finish for the evening.  This way you start your next day organized and ready to go.
  4.  Get To Work Early.  As you are probably aware, an office that is empty and quiet will often mean fewer distractions. Arrive to work early before everyone begins flooding the office.  I have found that those quiet times are ideal for getting a lot accomplished.
  5. Set a timer for each of your tasks.  There is something to be said for giving yourself a fixed amount of time to do something.  The pressure of time forces you to be focused.
  6. Complete your most dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.  This way it isn’t hanging over your head all day and doesn’t play havoc with your concentration
  7. Keep a notebook and pen on hand at all times. This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos, and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Then your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second.
  8. Organize your office. The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system, and dumping the junk.  Keeping an organized office also saves time on trying to find those lost reports.
  9. Three Main Tasks.  Getting the most important activities done in a day is a sure fire way to increase productivity.  Identifying and accomplishing high value activities serves to move the needle forward.
  10. Eliminate potential distractions.  Although interruptions during the workday are inevitable, minimize them to the extent possible. If you have an office with a door, keep it closed. When a co-worker is looking to shoot the breeze, let him or her know that you’re trying to finish a project, but would be happy to chat later. (Just be sure not to brush off any of your superiors.)
Oct 21

Make Sure Your Fashion Brand Is Awesome!

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Make sure your fashion brand is awesome if you want to create a great business.  Mediocre or even just ok doesn’t cut it anymore.  It used to be that having a good sales organization was enough to get you into retailers and keep you there.  Creating a product that is a must have for your customer is essential to building a growing and sustainable business.  Sometimes it involves creating something a consumer didn’t know they needed till you created it.  Companies like Spanx which created a new version of support wear and Lululemon which started the whole athleisure craze are prefect examples of this.

However a new brand doesn’t always have to design a whole new concept.  It can be a new approach to a category that already exists.  You must always have a USP (unique selling proposition).  Additionally you need a kick ass product.  Buyers must love your line.  While perfection is not possible or even worth pursuing having great product is.

So what do you do to make sure your fashion brand is awesome?  I always look at the following 5 as what a line needs to be awesome:

  1. Aesthetics are important.  After all this is fashion.  It is all about the look of a garment. Is it great looking to your target market?
  2. Fit is another key.  If a garment doesn’t fit well it doesn’t sell.  Spend some time in a fitting room and that will convince you.
  3. Quality and value are critical as well.  I worked with a brand (won’t say who) that was consistently 20% higher than the competition.  My business would have tripled if the value price ratio was there.
  4. On time delivery is another big factor in your success.  This is something a lot of manufacturers have problems with.  Even seasoned ones.  Make sure your product is on the selling floor during the optimal selling time.  As a previous coat manufacturer I know what happens if I lose a month of selling time on the floor because my product is late.  Stores put coats on sale after Christmas (and usually before) so I can never make that time up.
  5. Great customer service essential to building an awesome fashion brand.  You want you customers to love working with you.  Sometimes companies grow so fast they neglect good customer service.  They think because demand is so high that they are too important to for accounts to ignore.  Believe me that gets old fast.  So never ever neglect this part of your business.

 

Oct 19

Using Bloggers To Promote Your Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Using bloggers to promote your brand is a relatively inexpensive way to get your message out.  According to Technorati, blogs rank among the top five “most trustworthy” sources of information on the internet.  Because bloggers build a following during a long period of time and by producing interesting, quality images or articles, people begin to trust these sources. They relate to them and respect their opinions.  Each blogger has a circle of readers and followers who read and respect their work, and if you can leverage the power of multiple bloggers at once, you’ll quickly build a respectable audience of your own.

You don’t necessarily have to promote to fashion bloggers only.  Think outside the box.  There are lifestyle bloggers that could be perfect for your brand.  Let’s say you make children’s clothing.  You can contact mommy bloggers about your product.  One of the best ways to get a review of your product is to send a free item for the blogger to review.  Remember that like any magazine or newspaper editor there is no guarantee that they will have good things to say about your piece.  So make sure you send something fabulous.  Also the story behind your brand is very newsworthy so include that in your information.  Bloggers like editors need a hook to write about.  So a newsie as opposed to a salesie PR piece has more of a chance of being featured.

Treat bloggers like professionals. Maintaining a blog, a strong following and a personal brand is hard work that is rarely compensated. Make sure that the opportunity you pitch is beneficial to both of you. Don’t forget that the FCC requires bloggers to disclose any compensation or items they receive in exchange for a review, posts or tweets.

Contact bloggers that you feel has an audience similar to your demographic.  Contact as many as you can.  There is no guarantee they will write about you so think of it as a numbers game.  The more you contact the more opportunity you have.  Send them a Press Release and then if they are interested you can then send them the item to review.  Using bloggers to promote your brand should be an effective part of your marketing plan.

 

 

Oct 16

What is a ‘brand experience’?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

What is a ‘brand experience’?

A brand experience is a brand’s action perceived by a person. Every interaction between an individual and a tangible or intangible brand artifact can be seen as a brand experience.  The interaction might be the packaging of a product that a handbag company ships to you, or the communication between a sales person and a customer, or the advertising the brand develops. These places of interaction are called touch-points. Hence a brand experience can include one or more of a recipient’s five senses and cause any kind of response.

Creating a positive brand experience should be the focus of your marketing.  You need to consciously create the kind of experience you want to deliver to your customers with each and every interaction.  The totality is about the completeness and consistency across your various marketing elements. If the experience isn’t complete and consistent, the totality won’t be effective in creating customer loyalty. Consistency is important so that your customers know what your brand is going to deliver each and every time.

Warby Parker is a great example of a company creating a consistent brand experience (see above).  “When someone buys a Warby Parker ‘creates boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.’The brand communicates this boutiquey vibe through all its promotions and marketing assets. For example, Warby Parker offers a luxurious touch to prospective customers by sending 5 pairs of glasses to try on for free. Attention to style is also evident across channels: their website is clean and easy to navigate,” says HubSpot.

According to my daughter she feels American Eagle has a consistent brand experience.  The fit is always the same, their shirts are always soft and comfortable, and she always can count on good sales.  She also really likes their policy of no photo shopping the girls in their ads.

By creating a consistent brand experience a customer can count on their brands to delivery on their expectations.  Bringing a strong sense of loyalty to the brand.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 14

Using Social Media To Marketing Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

Using social media to market your fashion business is very effective.  However how should you use social media?  Using it just for the sake of using it will not bring you the results you want.  It is important to be strategic in your use of social media.  Marketing through social media is time consuming.  By coming up with a plan you make the best use of your time.  Time is something fashion business owners have little of.

The first question you should ask yourself is…what are your social media goals?  Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you make decisions on what your approach should be.  The next is…where is your audience?  Facebook has an older demographic where Instagram has a younger one.  Knowing the demographics of your group will guide you on which social media you should concentrate on.

What should your social media be about?  One of my recent clients is a handbag designer.  She makes bags with special organizing pockets for things like a computer.  The bags are fabulous and are called Katina Bags.  The owner of Katina saw a need for handbags that would help organize busy women.  So Katina Bags were born.  To aid her in getting her message out Katina turned to social media as a cost effective way to promote her brand.  Since her brand is focused on busy women she decided to direct her content to subjects that busy women would care about.  A big one was organization.  What could be more in line with her concept?

This is what you have to think about when you are planning your campaign.  Who is your audience, what do they care about, and how does that relate to your product?  By focusing on things that are important to your customer you create an emotional connection.  Remember that your product is visual so lots of photos.  And being consistent and publishing often is vital.

 

Oct 12

What Is The Difference Between Marketing And Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity

The difference between marketing and sales is: marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects and the sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business. You cannot do without either process. If you work to strategically combine both efforts you will experience a successful amount of business growth.

A marketers job consists of identifying the customer and finding the best avenues to reach them.  This can include advertising, public relations, social media strategies, events, pretty much anything that you do to attract your customer.      Marketing is typically a media driven endeavor that introduces your company to prospective customers. Whereas sales is usually human driven, with a salesperson introducing your company to prospective customer. While sales and marketing are different processes,  it’s critical for “marketing” activities and “sales” activities to be closely coordinated.  By coordinating the processes brands learn  to speak with one, consistent voice.  They also form a synergy that increases sales and profits.

The fashion industry finds itself driving revenues through the sales process.  Companies hire salespeople to contact buyers with the goal of bringing them into the showroom to see their collection and persuade them to buy the line.  This is a tried and true method.  But, by introducing the use of marketing into the process a brand creates an attraction  that pulls in prospective buyers who then come into a showroom with an intention to buy the line.  Or at the very least a desire to like the line.

Integrating the two processes increases sales efficiency, eliminates wasted marketing dollars, creates effective sales tools, and increases your pipeline of new prospects.  It additionally educates the end consumer to the product which improves store sell throughs.  So while there is definitely a difference between sales and marketing there are major advantages to leveraging the two together.

 

 

 

 

Oct 09

Trend Services And The Design Process

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized

Designers are working hard on their fall collections.  But before they start designing the first step is researching in order to come up with inspiration for their line.   That means visiting museums and galleries, shopping the stores to see what they are currently carrying, reading fashion magazines, and shopping trend services.  Regardless of what a layman thinks, design does not happen in a vacuum.  Designers do not just come to ideas off the top of their heads.  Research is a very important component.  I remember reading a quote by Tom Ford saying he thought he did more research than any designer.   Trend services are particularly helpful.

Fashion trend services are responsible for spotting upcoming trends and products. They attempt to project past today’s trends, into the future, to discover what will be hot next season. Their predictions can guide manufactures and designers to use certain materials or focus on certain styles. To predict these trends, forecasters take many elements into consideration. They research past trends and attempt to determine the factors likely to affect upcoming trends. They should be familiar with shopping and the current economic environment. They are required to be familiar with all aspects of media, including movies, music and television. They are also required to travel throughout the world.  Doesn’t sound like a bad gig.

There are many trend services.  Some concentrate on specific things like color and others are more comprehensive looking at everything from fabrics to shiloulettes.  The following are some of the top agencies:

WGSN, a top trend forecasting service that offers in-depth reports on what people will be wearing in the future. They have been in business since 1997 and have a global team of creative content experts.

Fashion Snoops is a trend forecasting service.  The company’s team of 50 experts and 100 international analysts helps brands and companies identify and act on the trends and cultural movements that impact their business.

Trend Zoom  a fashion forecasting is an integral part of many companies design process.  According to their website their sole aim is to provide that creative rush of inspiration that will position their subscribing community ahead of the curve.

Trend services are another tool in a designers arsenal to create line inspiration.  They are something entrepreneurs should explore and see if it fits within their budget and design process. There are also free services such as Style.com which is produced by Vogue.  So not all trend reporting companies need to break the bank.

 

Oct 07

Ready, Fire, Aim And The Fashion Entrepreneur

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity

 

“Ready, Fire, Aim” is the title of a book by Michael Masterson.  Traditionally the term is ready, aim, fire.  Ready was where you prepared, aim is where you directed your product to go, and fire was the execution.  The idea behind ready, fire, aim is that you prepare first, then execute, and then fine tune as you go along.  Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A new business idea can be looked at with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be so concerned with trying to make the “perfect” business upfront, that they take forever to pull the trigger.

Starting a business is scary.  You want it to do well and be an instant success.  You plan and plan and continually polish it.  But there comes a time when you must take decisive action with no certainty of the outcome.  Then as you see results you can course correct as needed.

“The Ready, Fire, Aim concept is about velocity, about the profound benefits of moving from an idea into action at the fastest possible speed. But Ready, Fire, Aim doesn’t mean reckless abandon. It doesn’t mean bolting into action before you are ready. It’s Ready, Fire, Aim, not Fire at Will.” states Michael Masterson in his book.  So prepare as much as you can.  But, remember that nothing is ever perfect.  In our striving for perfection we sometimes block our ability to go to market with our product.  I have clients who have spent up to 3 years on developing their collections before ever trying to sell it.  That is a long time.  Perfection is never possible and sometimes really good is good enough.