By Katy Messersmith

Are you considering opening a small boutique or fashion business? There are steps you need to take to get up and running just like any other business. You need a solid business plan, a brick-and-mortar location and/or an online store, a budget that plans out your first year of expenses, marketing strategies, and LOTS of commitment. Key factors that determine if your business is successful are not include determination, time management, and self-discipline.

However, starting a fashion business has its own challenges. These challenges often differ from running other small businesses, like franchises and mom-and-pop stores. Take a look at some of the unique challenges below.

1. You Control Every Detail of Operation in a Fashion Business

To start a franchise, you come up with the capital and pay the franchise company. The franchise parent company then helps them get the business up and running. They provide training and branding for their storefronts, and give them access to all of their manufacturers and distributors. The franchisee becomes locked into what products they can offer for sale and how much they can charge for them. Even business hours are dictated by the parent company and must be adhered to.

You are the boss and in control of every aspect of how your business is run when you open your own boutique. This includes what products you sell, what you charge for items, and other details.

For some people, having full control is what their dreams are made of. However, some people like the idea of buying into a franchise business that has proven methods for success. If you long to have your own boutique that touts your own personal style and fashion trends, don’t ever get discouraged by a few setbacks here and there. Building your own successful fashion store from the ground up may take a little more time and effort. But the rewards you reap are well worth the mistakes you make along the way.

2. Fashion is Always Changing   

For many small businesses, the owners will have a period of learning the ropes and the ins-and-outs of becoming profitable. After that, they can relax and keep operating with the methods they have learned are successful.

For example, running a gas station or a carwash business really doesn’t change that much from year to year. A gas station may want to bring in a new energy drink brand that just hit the market, or a car wash might stock some new car air freshener scents, but those upgrades are nothing compared to the constant industry research that fashion shops must do.

With every new season, fashion trends change and boutique owners have to stay on top of new styles. This is how you can keep your customers coming back for more. Customers crave the next best thing and want to own it before their friends do. That means constantly researching for new vendors, keeping an eye on the runway and celebrities for new trends, and visiting fashion trade shows and markets for hot new fashions.

3. Standing Out Amongst the Competition is Key

Franchises, gas stations, and carwashes don’t have to work hard to stand out from their competitors. A good location will give them an adequate amount of business. Boutiques, on the other hand, are a popular type of business that can have a lot of brick-and-mortar competition in one area and tons of online competitors across the country.

Marketing efforts are key to getting your fashion business’s name out there to bring in potential customers. For brick-and-mortar stores, this will also include having a clean, beautifully laid out shop and enticing storefront displays. Online stores will need to invest in advertising avenues like social media and search engine ads. A modern website with easy-to-use e-commerce functions, an email list for updating customers, and perks like free shipping and customer discounts can help set your business apart from the other myriads of online boutiques and fashion businesses.     

4. You Can Infuse Yourself into Your Business

Not every business gives owners the opportunity to put a piece of your heart and personal style into the business. Fashion boutiques let you do just that!

There are no guidelines that say you have to stick with the clothing that you see on the runway or that is predicted to be the next trend. Perhaps your store will be a trend-setter itself with styles so fresh, they draw in customers from towns away. Maybe you live in the south where you can find a niche need for stylish cowgirl boots, hats, and leather fashion belts that speak to the way you were raised. Or, maybe you live in sunny California where your unique clothing and accessories make hitting the beach a joy for local residents. Whatever you find that brings yourself enjoyment can be put back into your fashion business!

The Choice Is Yours!

Some people like just punching the clock day after day, even in their own self-run business. But for people in the fashion industry, conquering new challenges, finding new fashions, and bringing their own personal styles into the business on a daily basis make the dream of running a boutique a fulfilling one. Every new business owner makes mistakes and learns by trial and error; don’t get discouraged as you start your journey.   

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