Category Archives for "Productivity"

Mar 05

How To Move Beyond Chaos in Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

I spoke with a new client today.  She was feeling very overwhelmed by all she knew she had to do to start and run her business.  Part of the stress many emerging designers feel when starting out is not knowing what to do first.  There are so many things they know they should be doing but they have no idea where to start.

They are also unsure which things to do and what to say no to.  Should they do a fashion show, or do they need a website?  They also have limited time and money so they know that they can’t do everything.  Before they know it they have created a chaotic work environment and a chaotic business.

In order to avoid this you need to create a plan.  What are the strategies you need to have in your business?  What should you be concentrating on?  Just waking up in the morning and having the day lead you rather than you leading your day is counterproductive.  Schedule the 5 most important things you need to accomplish in your day.  Use Sundays as the day to plan your week and then you can schedule your work on your calendar.  I used to use post its.  But, I find that actually scheduling the tasks makes it more likely I will do the task.

Next create processes for the things you do.  What does your design process look like?  Do you even have a process?  How is your production run?  Do you have forms you can fill out to keep your processes in order?  Some of the best run companies have processes for everything.  Look at Disney, I have never seen a better run business.

Learn to delegate.  Even if you do not have much money you can delegate. Find schools in your area where you can hire an intern to help out.

Finally, and this may seem like a silly thing, but keep your work space organized.  Having paper, samples, fabrics, books, and whatever stuff you accumulate overwhelm your space so that it is a mess will cause chaos in your business, your workday, and your psyche.  Having an organized and pleasant workspace will go a long way in creating a well managed business.

Jan 10

Make Over Your Fashion Business in Four Steps

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

 

In the fashion world, we all love a makeover. Sometimes, our business deserves the same treatment. Making over your business could be an option if the current state of your business doesn’t fit your original “vision.” Maybe you have a new vision that you want to make reality. Or the most obvious reason: you’re not making money. There is always room for change, and there is no time like the present. Making over your business can be a confusing process at first glance, but breaking it down into steps can simplify it to make it attainable.

 

The first step you need to do is to analyze your business. Find out where you stand and what issues there are. Examine your profitability, production, quality, etc. Dissect every aspect and find the root of your issues.

 

What are your strengths and weaknesses? A good approach to this step is to try the SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses allow you to look at how you have done in the past and present, while examining the opportunities and threats look towards what the industry could hold in the future. How have industry changes affected your business? Making sure that you roll with the punches of the industry in order to adapt.

 

The second step is coming up with strategies to help the determined issues. This often involves developing a new business plan. Some options include revamping your sales team with training, remerchandising, rebranding, new marketing strategies, website design or possible partnerships with other businesses. Decide on the strategy that can lead to possible improvement.

 

The third step is to put the plan into action and execute the strategies you chose. Decide how you can put the plan in motion. Make sure you determine the resources at hand and how you can utilize them to their fullest potential.

 

The fourth and final step to making over your business is to analyze the results from your strategy change. Consistently monitor the results and tweak as you go along. After a couple months, look at your “before” and “after” to see how your strategy affected your business.

 

Feedback is key from the beginning of the first step all the way through to the fourth step. Listening to your associates and your buyers is how you can see the holes in your business as well as what is working that doesn’t need to be changed. It can draw your attention to a part of your business that you may not have noticed. It’s also important to look at what your buyers are saying after implementing your “makeover” strategy. Do they notice a difference? Whether it be good or bad, feedback is the best way to see what your buyers want, what they like and what they expect.

 

Remember, an evolution of your brand is more effective than a revolution.

Oct 06

5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Fashion Entrepreneur

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity

Mistakes are part of life. They most definitely are part of business.   It is important to learn from them. But, even better if you learn from others. Here are 5 that you should avoid.

 

  1. Treating employees unfairly

 

An employee will only work hard if they feel like they are respected at the business. Treating your employees poorly can result in poor service on their part, which could hurt your clientele. Respecting their availability, acknowledging their successes and keeping a positive work atmosphere will keep them motivated to work hard. We’ve all had bad bosses, and you don’t want to be someone else’s.

 

  1. Never adapting to trends

 

What’s hot, and what’s not, can change at the drop of a hat? Staying relevant is how you stay in business. You need to stay on top of the current, and upcoming, popular trends to give your customers what they want, not what they wanted last year. All types of businesses go through trends, and optimizing those trends brings in customers that could lead to them finding something they didn’t expect. They come for the trend but could stay around to see what else you have to offer.

 

  1. Not knowing your demographic

 

We may want to, but it’s impossible to please everyone. As a business owner, you need to learn your demographic. Who’s buying your product? The same person that buys sweatpants with cartoons on them is most likely not the same person that’s going to buy a pair diamond-studded heels. And that’s okay! Find a niche, and run with it. Trying to incorporate 30 different types of styles and interests is only going to confuse people.

 

  1. Not reaching out for experienced advice

 

There’s always going to be someone bigger and better than you. There’s always going to be someone more successful that is making more money than you. But instead of being jealous of them, ask them how they did it. Never be too proud to ask for advice. There are so many people in the world of business with different experiences, different strategies and different success stories. Always be eager to learn more.

 

  1. Trying to survive, not thrive

 

The number one mistake that we make not only as business owners, but as people in general, is that we focus on staying afloat, never trying to go above and beyond. Never settle. Never be happy with just surviving. Always try and thrive to the best of your abilities.

Aug 14

Why do new fashion businesses fail?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have read that the number one reason new businesses fail is lack of money.  I believe this is true.  But there is more to the story than not having enough money.  Lots of times they do have money.  There have been many entrepreneurs that I have run across who have told me they spent $50,000, $100,000, or even $200,000 and they have nothing to show for it.  So they really did have enough money to, at the very least, start small and then build from there.

So what is the problem?  As I see it, it is two fold.  One reason is many emerging designers just don’t know where to start.  Their beginnings are somewhat chaotic as they jump from task to task without a plan.  They don’t even know who their target customer is.  Or they think they do but haven’t done any research to insure that they are right.  They do step 5 before step one. I have even seen people spend years on their brand and yet haven’t had any sales because they make it the last priority.  One entrepreneur I know put $1 million of inventory in his warehouse before he even started to think about how to sell it.

Another issue I see is brand owners who spend their money on ineffective marketing.   They jump around trying a little of this and a little of that.  I had one client spend $50,000  a fashion show in Europe yet sold no stores and had no plans to do so. And how many people do one $10,000 trade show with no orders placed, not realizing that it is a building process and takes many shows before they see results.  Or they try to do so many things but do not consistently pursue a few targeted strategies that will ultimately build results.

Yes, not having enough money makes it hard to be successful but spending what you have unwisely is the biggest culprit of all.

Jun 14

How To Create a Million Dollars business In The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have created several multi million dollars businesses in the fashion industry.  The key to their growth,was success at retail.  The bottom line is the stores that did well with my product increased their orders each season.  Their customers voted with their wallets and laid down their money to buy.  In order to build a million dollar fashion business you need to have styles that people want.

There are plenty of mediocre products out there, and chances are these companies aren’t making a million dollars. In order to generate big sales, you’ve got to bring something to the table that wows customers and generates buzz within your marketplace.  Product is everything.  That is where you must start.  Creating a great line that stands out in the market as unique is what makes million dollar fashion business.

So you must first ask yourself, what makes me unique in the market and what makes my product fabulous?

As the co-founder behind the Kate Spade and Jack Spade brands, Andy Spade once said; “don’t worry about starting a company, If your product is great, the rest falls into place.”  This doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about setting up you business correctly.  It just means making amazing product is first and foremost.

Consuming data helps make you right.

Even the smallest businesses generate data these days.  If your business has a website, a social media presence, sells wholesale, etc., there is data it can collect on its customers, through its user experience, web traffic, selling reports and more.  Studying your data will tell you what styles work and what doesn’t.  Are you getting enough traffic and is the traffic converting to sales? In this day and age consumers love to comment.  Use all the information to make your collection even better.

The companies I ran started with a pretty good product, but as we learned and grew it got better and better till we were the leaders in our category.  That’s how you create a million dollar brand.

Mar 27

Pot holes and fallen tree trunks

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

Obstacles to your business growth are a given.

In the real world things occasionally go wrong.

That is just how it is. For example, I have a new client who’s business has gone down the last two years and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s worried, but hasn’t actually decided on a course of action. Sometimes it’s just far too easy to hide your head in the sand.

A far better approach is to look at the obstacle as an opportunity.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel once said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.”

Confronting obstacles isn’t necessarily easy to do, and I am not suggesting you take them lightly. Underestimating the difficulty of clearing a roadblock can cause the problem to become that much more threatening. But hear this: not dealing with potholes and fallen tree trunks make them even more dangerous.

Don’t let hurdles in your path floor you. Expect them and embrace them. Take the time you need to overcome them. Most days I think my job is just that – to solve problems.

By thinking this way, rather then bemoaning difficulties, you start to build the habit of being a true problem solver. When you figure out how to turn it around you will find that you can make your business stronger and more lasting than ever before.

So what is my new client doing?

He hired me to help him design and implement a strategy to turn it around. No matter what the obstacle, there are always solutions. To find them you need to face the problem straight on.

Ask yourself, “what is the opportunity here?”

Believe me, this is a much better conversation to be having. Not only does it set a more positive tone, but it opens your mind to finding alternative routes around the pot hole.

Sometimes a scenic jot down a lazy back country lane can get you to the interstate faster than waiting for the traffic jam to clear. Not only do you get to enjoy the countryside, but you’re in motion.

Of course, you could always strike up a game of gin rummy with the poor guy stuck in the car ahead of you!

Jan 05

Is Your Sales Team Up to Snuff?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let me start with a truth that needs to be said:

Sales is a really tough job.

Most people think they aren’t suited for it. They believe you have to have a certain personality, or they think you have to be sneaky and a bit of a liar. It’s a dirty subject that “nice people” avoid at all costs.

What a bunch of BS.

I have been a salesperson almost my whole career. That is 30+ years. And I will tell you the best sales people are hard working, ambitious, and honest people who care about their customers and want to do right by them. The sleazy ones usually are not all that successful. So when you add someone to your sales team, make sure they have the qualities I mentioned.

To be a good salesperson you have to be a self starter. A person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told what to do.

You see, salespeople need to always be selling. That means increasing their business with their present accounts and always opening up new clients. Because there is a lot of paper and detail work it is very easy to be seduced by busy work and not keep your eye on the ball. Time management is an important skill for a salesperson. Especially since sales is such a difficult job.

The #1 way to improve the productivity of your salespeople is to…

  • Train them properly, reinforce the training and observe them with accounts. It takes time and effort but that’s what builds an effective sales team. Great salespeople work in putting great effort over time.
  • Keep them motivated. Let them know what is going on in the company. If you treat them like partners they will go the extra mile.
  • Set specific goals that are challenging and attainable. Then follow up on a regular basis to see how they are doing. Giving them feedback and ideas on how to achieve their goals is an important part of managing your people.

But please remember, there is a difference between micro managing and guiding your staff. It’s a delicate balance that requires conscious effort.

With salespeople you need to be interactive, however you don’t want to be peering over their shoulders every minute. They need to know that you’re there for them without feeling constant pressure.

A good salesperson is worth their weight in gold — and they know it.

So, once you come across someone who really produces, make sure they’re happy and motivated to stick around.

Finally, the ugly truth is that you also need to be ruthless with salespeople who aren’t working out. If you’ve set clear goals and expectations and they clearly aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to part ways. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, and if it’s not you need to cut costs as soon as possible.

May 19

There Is Power In Focus For Fashion Entrepreneurs

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

 

There is power in focus for fashion entrepreneurs because a lack of focus leads to scattered resources.  Focus involves the ability to pay attention to things that will help and avoid distractions that will hurt your business.  I speak about lack of focus a lot in my blogs because to me  it is one of the single most destructive thing I find fashion entrepreneurs suffering from.  I call it the bright shiny penny syndrome, some people call it business ADD.  But whatever you call it doing it is not a good thing to indulge in.

Recently I sat down with a client.  She showed me several new lines she was thinking of taking on.  She was also thinking of adding the West coast trade shows to the list of shows she was doing.  The problem was she is just one person.  She had not even come close to building her business with the lines she had and they had huge potentials.  The new lines would be for different buyers so she wouldn’t be able to leverage existing relationships.  Finally the East Coast was so underdeveloped that just building that would be a full time job.  These were things that I convinced her were not something to take on yet.

When your resources are limited focusing is a powerful tool.  Concentrating your activities will help your business gain momentum because each step builds on the step taken before.  Instead of doing a task here and there that do not relate which builds nothing.

Think of it like you would compound interest.  Albert Einstein called compound interest  “the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.”  In terms of money, compounding is the exponential increase of an investment. But in simpler terms, compounding is interest you earn on interest.

Applying the same principle to your fashion business by focusing your efforts you can compound your results on selling, marketing, and generally building your fashion brand.  That is the power of focus!

 

 

 

Apr 29

What Is A Fashion Entrepreneurs 2 Most Important Commodities?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity

 

What is a fashion entrepreneurs 2 most important commodities?  Time and Money!    When you have your own business you want to do everything you can to make it successful…the best website, advertising, writing 5 blogs a week, etc.  It is easy to lose focus and find yourself doing a little of everything and before you know it you have very little money left and you wasted time on unimportant activities that do not drive your business forward.  When you think of Time and Money as a limited resource you are then more judicious on how you spend them.

As a business manager, it’s important to place a value on your time and on the time of your employees. My time is worth more than my staff’s, and their time is worth more than an intern’s. Everyone understands this dynamic and plans accordingly.  The key here is to understand that time spent cannot be replaced.  So don’t utilize your time doing busywork and make sure you are performing high value activities.  High value activities are the activities that produce your most important outcomes.

One of the biggest ways I see fashion entrepreneurs wasting money is doing to many things at once and not focusing.  They either start with too many product categories, or they try a trade show once or maybe they run an ad only two times.  Focusing and doing less things but doing them well is the way to go.  These entrepreneurs expect too much, too soon from a strategy and then give up before they see results.

The Small Business Administration says 30 percent of all start-up small businesses fail within two years, and that number reaches 50 percent within five years. Many small businesses start strong, but then, within months, they’ve failed.  With numbers like that it makes sense to husband your time and money very carefully.

 

 

 

 

Jan 04

What Makes Your Day a 10?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

 

What makes your day a 10?  I was listening to a Tony Robbins CD.  He spoke about making an activity into a 10 (meaning rating something on a scale of 1 t0 10 at a level 10).  So his example was going for a run.  Normally he feels at a 7 when he goes running.  This time he and his friend were going to make it be a 10.  They discussed how they were going to do this.  Pay attention to the scenery, listen to music, and run in sync, were some of the ideas they had.  Using these strategies the run went from a 7 rating to a 10!

I decided to make my day a 10.  But, what did that mean to me?  Did it mean I accomplished the tasks on my list?  Did it mean I brought my “A” to all I did?  Did it mean that I enjoyed myself?  Did I have to do something that moved me closer to achieving my goals?  Was it all of the above or none of the above?

I looked up some ideas on the internet.  Some of the ideas were:

  1. Take time to feel gratitude.
  2. See friends
  3. Work out
  4. Take a walk in nature
  5. Read a good book
  6. Meditate
  7. Spend time with loved ones

 

The lyrics in Aquabats – Best Day Of My Life sing…

Today’s gonna’ be the best day of my
Life… so far!
Today’s gonna’ be the best day of my
Life… so far!
I’ve no particular reason why I think
Today’s gonna be so nice.
But today’s gonna’ be the best day of my
Life… so far!

 

Can it be so simple that you can just decide to have a great day?  So what makes your day a 10?  What do you do to have the most outstanding day possible?  I would love to hear your comments.  Let me know what makes your day a 10.

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