Good fashion designers "see" things that most of us mere mortals do not. Their gift oftentimes is their creativity and sense of possibility. At some point however, their sketches and ideas end up in a pattern that others can use to make the garments or accessories they have designed. A pattern puts the design into a concrete form that others can use to execute the designer's vision. Fashion entrepreneurs need equally concrete plans to turn their business vision into a a viable venture.
A substantial case can be made that start-up ventures categorically suffer from insufficient “upfront” planning and a lack of strategically informed decision making. High failure rates (55% within the first 5 years of operation as reported by the United States Office of Small Business Administration) are generally attributed to problems directly traceable to shortcuts, oversights, and inexperience in the most fundamental business principles and legal foundations of starting and operating a business. The inescapable conclusion is that most new businesses fail for reasons that are avoidable.
Gerald Driggs, a business associate of TaylorMade Solutions and personal friend shared the following story with me a short time ago. “I worked with an individual who was on the verge of joining the 55% Club – the designation given to the loosely related group of individuals with failed start-up companies. In spite of an excellent product, well-established industry connections, and a group of reference customers, he was unable to show a profit. His investors and his employees were loosing faith.
It didn’t take long to discover the problem. The company lacked focus, resources were being used ineffectively, successes in the marketplace were not being leveraged and staff moral was plummeting because of the growing sense of failure. His company was imploding.” Driggs continued, “Repeated attempts to reason with him were met with defensiveness and excuses. He just didn’t understand that his company’s problems were foundational in nature. Minor adjustments were not going to save the day.
Coincidently, at the same time his venture was failing, he and his wife were building a beautiful new home. He often would bring the elaborate blueprints into the office to show how perfectly designed the house was to meet their every dream. The architect had expertly translated every requirement into a detailed plan. Building the house was the easy part.” Driggs said he asked him if he would have ever considered building his house from scratch – no blueprint, no architect and no guidelines to ensure that the house would not fall down around them. “He looked at me like I had two heads and said, ‘Are you nuts? That would be suicide!"
Later the same day, we met to review the options for his business. They weren’t good. He still could not understand why he was in such a fix – all of the ingredients for success were there.” Having just been exposed to the glowing report on the construction of his new home, Driggs tried another approach to get through to him. “I asked him to show me the blueprint for his business. It did not take long for the implication of that question to register with him. In an instant, he “got it.” He did not have one. He realized that he had followed a more disciplined approach for building his house than he had for building his business.”
This story and the lesson it conveys has wide-ranging applicability for all entrepreneurs – businesses must be built from a blueprint for success. The fashion industry is especially unforgiving if you have not done your home work. Anyone who has built or remodeled a home knows the importance of translating the vision, the proposed use and the aesthetic priorities of the building’s user into practical blueprints to guide the construction process. The builders do not show up one day and start pouring concrete, laying block, assembling two by fours and hoping that the results meet expectations. Your dream home is not the product of random chance. It comes from an architect using a disciplined process that defines and declares the intricacies of function, design, structure, utility and budget and translates them into a detailed blueprint.
Starting a business requires a similar blueprint produced by a new breed of professional; the business architect. Startup businesses require assistance in building the context in which their ventures will operate. A business architect uses a disciplined approach and proven techniques to create a blueprint for success with each entrepreneur. The hallmark of this consultative approach is its practical, results-oriented principles that enable any venture to target its energies and resources towards agreed upon outcomes.
Whether you are creating a new business venture or for reshaping the the Fashion and Design Department in your institution, TMS can assist you reach success. Contact us for more information on how to get started.TaylorMade Solutions can assist you create the blueprint for your initiative.