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Starting a business in African fashion business, just like any other venture can be daunting. There are many possibilities. Statistics show that x percentage of startups fail with their first year. Some have the best backup money so that funding is not a problem.
Business is not as straightforward as it may seem. It is not for everyone who wishes to take it up. Before you just decide that you are launching an online store or bespoke cloth line in your country, here are some few things that you should consider. They are the most common pitfalls for businesses to fail.
1. Lack of a clear purpose and problem to solve
Before starting your fashion business, make sure you know why you are doing it. Is there a need for the solution that you’re providing? Is there an existing problem in the first place? For example, is there a shortage of quality Africans themed high school sports outfits? Is there a shortage of tailors that dress the working class in your town? Think through it. Do market research. Before rolling out the product in the the masses, make sure your family, friends and close colleagues truly love your offering. It all begins within your circle.
2. Lack of a proper working plan
What do you hope to achieve within the next six months? Have you thought about the mini-projects that you will do for you to get there? Do you have someone that you can work with to help you accelerate the process? Those are some of the questions that you should be asking yourself. Do not just start a business and swim through the process with complete uncertainty, not knowing what to do the next day. That’s one sure way of failing. It has made many business owners who rely on gut feeling to make decisions. Don’t be that person.
3. Uncalculated moves on collaborations
Let’s say you want to collaborate with an influencer to boost your sales. You approach the most sought after celebrity in your country so that you can dress her. She promises to tag you on Instagram so that your brand gets visibility. This goes on and on and on until you’re out of business, simply because you keep giving celebrities free items hoping for a breakthrough. That will cost you a lot of money and do very little.
Why? Because there is a better way of doing it. You can create an affiliate marketing program and use micro-influencers whose values align with your brand. The celebrity may also be promoting a lot of other competitor brands so it might be difficult for you to make a sale. For affiliates, you only spend once someone makes a sale. Always make a calculated move.
4. Not embracing the right technology and innovative culture
The future will only be kind to brands that innovate. Uber came in and totally disrupted the transport industry. Airbnb came by and changed the way we experience hospitality. eCommerce is no longer the same. Customers don’t need to visit your store to shop. Innovative brands like Sephora (cosmetics) and River Island (fashion) are on the leading edge of disruptive digital strategy. With the makeup brand, customers can try out makeup via an app that allows them to try-before-buying.
New comers are constantly bringing in new ideas that contribute to further digital transformation. Follow tech summits in your country and across Africa, fireside chats in your city and innovative influencers within the industry for your business survival. You can’t do it alone. Remember the quote that says alone you can go faster but with collaboration you can go furthest? Always keep that in mind.
5. Ignoring competition
These could be existing businesses or new entries into the market. As a business owner, you need to be proactively involved within the industry. Whether it is attending events to network or simply doing research to know your competitors better, you have to do the work. If you do business blindly, you may be setting course for your business to collapse.