What does bootstrapping your fashion business mean? Bootstrapping is the act of starting a business with no money — or, at least, very little money. It certainly means starting a business without the help of venture capital firms or even significant angel investment. It means plowing back into the business the money earned from customers. I speak to many start ups who have no idea how they are going to fund their businesses. So while bootstrapping is a strategy. It is one you still need to think of how it can work for you.
Bootstrapping requires you to run a very lean business. You need to keep your expenses to a minimum. One way is to barter with people to do work for you. By offering your services for someone else’s services you can eliminate a cost. Of course you have to keep in mind tax requirements and this you can discuss with your accountant.
Interns from schools are very helpful in having an extra set of hands to help you with the work load. It is important to offer a good learning environment so that the intern gets a good work experience out of the exchange.
I once worked at a company that had the most amazing look book. Other than the printing it was basically free. They found photographers and models that were new to the business but needed to show work for their portfolios. These people worked for free in exchange for the photos to build their books.
It is a challenge to run your business by bootstrapping. Most of the work needs to be done yourself. There are expenses that you cannot cover without some money. You can’t make inventory without paying for it. So think this method through. You cannot bootstrap without a plan in place. Think through all the aspects of your business and come up with strategies to handle the expenses. Don’t wait till you are in the thick of things to figure it out.
Maria Pesin knows fashion, especially the business side of the fashion industry. Do you know how Manolo Blahnik got his start in the industry? How he leveraged a paltry 3 grand into one of the world’s most famous luxury brands? While she doesn’t take credit for Manolo’s success, Maria has walked a similar path on numerous occasions. The world of fashion is not silicon valley, and it has nothing to do with Madison Avenue marketing. In this industry there is ALWAYS room for something new and exciting, but you have to have your ducks in a row. If that’s what you need, believe me, Maria is the General Patton of fashion ducks!
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