Fashion Startups And The Mistakes They Make

Anyone in the fashion business should know the speed at which the market evolves, what's in vogue one season may see you laughed out of the room the next and hence this is what you need to do it make things work

By Nisha Chanda


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Everyone's heard of India's start-up success stories like Zomato and Flipkart, with their unicorn tag and billion-dollar valuations. But for every such venture, there are thousands of other start-ups out there, struggling to survive and transform themselves into the next big thing. Of course, that's not to say that founding a successful start-up is impossible. Indeed, India's start-up scene is one of the most vibrant in the entire world. According to a recent NASSCOM report, India is the third largest start-up ecosystem globally after the United States and the United Kingdom, with a total of 7,700 tech start-ups.

India contributed eight members to the exclusive unicorn club in 2018 – Fresh works, Oyo, Swiggy, Zomato, Paytm Mall, Policybazaar, Udaan and Byju's – for a total of twenty entrants as of the writing of this article. But what stands out in this list is the absence of any fashion-centric businesses. As we all know, the global fashion business is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. So why is it that fashion start-ups haven't seen the same level of success as their peers in other fields? Here are a few common mistakes that every start-up makes, and that need to be avoided in order to achieve true success:

Lacking a Business Plan

Everyone has an idea for a business, that one passion project that we wholeheartedly believe in. But it's the ability to turn this idea into a concrete business plan that separates the successes from the failures. Having a business plan in place serves a number of purposes. It sets you a set of targets to work towards, helps you navigate through difficult decisions, allows you to measure the outcome of your efforts, and most importantly, helps convince potential partners and investors of your ability to run a venture.

The Hiring Seesaw

A successful business cannot be built on the shoulders of one person. Specialised skills and talents will always be a must for a budding business. At the same time, many startups have made the mistake of expanding too quickly, too soon, a scenario that inevitably ends in mass layoffs during a rough patch. Success comes to those who learn to walk the line between hiring too soon and refusing to hire at all.

Breaking Before Bending

While passion is absolutely vital to starting and running a business, it should never blind you to the realities of your situation. Every business faces difficulties at some stage in its lifecycle. But what distinguishes good businesses from great businesses is the ability to adapt to challenges, instead of remaining rigid in the face of them. Businesses and markets are constantly evolving, and we need to evolve alongside them in order to stay on top.

Not Listening to the Market

Anyone in the fashion business should know the speed at which the market evolves. What's in vogue one season may see you laughed out of the room the next. That is why it's absolutely critical to pay attention to the latest developments and trends in your chosen field. You may be convinced that suspenders are the next big thing, but if the broader market doesn't agree with you your business won't go very far. You may not like it, but as the old saying goes, the customer is always right.

There's a reason that extremely successful startups are called unicorns. They are, for all intents and purposes, a statistical impossibility. But that doesn't mean they don't exist. For the longest time, the start-up industry has been dominated by tech-focused companies. But with a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck, fashion may just be responsible for the next unicorn.

Nisha Chanda

Head of Department, School of Fashion - Whistling woods international

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