Checklist for Your Apparel Startup

Questions to ask yourself before starting a business

There are numerous questions to ask yourself before you undertake a venture involving the fashion industry, which is famous for its complexities and failures.  You should try to answer these questions and analyze the answers with a trusted friend or family member.  Many of the answers to the questions will be covered in my book, Fashion For Profit and it is a fact that some of the questions will be quite taxing and stressful to fully answer.

Do I have what it takes to own and to manage a small business?
Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I a self-starter?
  • How good am I at making decisions?
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
  • How well do I plan and organize?
  • Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?
  • How will the business affect my family?

Have I researched the market completely?

You may have developed your new product due to the realization that there is a need for this product and that’s a good start. You should still spend the time to research the stores or markets you wish sell. Shop in a variety of neighborhoods and compare the customers, price points and products.  Investors will want to see that you have done your homework and that you know and understand your target market.

What price bracket will my clothing line fall into?

After researchingthe market, you will have a bettercomprehension of this question. It goes without saying that starting any business requires money. It costs money to develop the product and it requires money to produce the product.  You may be lucky enough to get a loan from somewhere, but loans are not easily come by for a new company. No history of past success to evaluate whether your new company will be able to repay a loan.  Also, you do not want to put yourself into too much debt at the start of your new venture.  Plan to build slowly and with as little borrowed money as possible.

What legal aspects do I need to consider?

A bank account with company checks will be the first thing to consider. There will be licenses required, zoning laws and other regulations varying from business to business, and state to state. You will need to consult your attorney or SBA (Small Business Association) for advice specific to your business arrangement and State. You must also decide about your form of organization (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship) for your tax status.  You will have to register your fictitious name, which is the new name for your company, if other than your own name (bad idea).

Would a partner(s) make it easier to be successful?

A business partner does not necessarily guarantee success.  If you require additional management skills or start-up capital, engaging a partner may be a good decision. The ultimate success of a partnership will be determined by their ability to give technical or financial assistance as well as personality and character.

If you have a partner, do you know him or her well enough to operate a business together?
Like any close relationship working in close proximity can often lead to conflict between “good friends”.  Define the jobs to be done by each partner by making a list of jobs, and dividing them up.  It is better to choose a partner who has other skills from yours and who can complement your own skills.

Should I hire a family member to work for me?

Frequently, family members of the owner “help out in the business.” For some small business owners, it is a rewarding experience; for others it can cause irreparable damage.  Carefully consider their loyalty and respect for you as the owner-manager. 

Is it possible to keep family and business decisions separate?

If you borrow money from a family member remember that they are loaning money because of their relationship with you, and not because of the products worth.  When you borrow money from an institution they loan money on the product developed by you, and the collateral that you provide.  (When dealing with a family member you are their collateral!  They areinvesting in the person, not the product.) How much money do I need to get started?

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