6 Mistakes African Start-Up Fashion Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them
Starting and running a fashion business is hard enough without the disadvantages we face starting and running a fashion business in Africa. Here are a few common mistakes made by start-up fashion entrepreneurs and tips on how to avoid them.
A lot of fashion entrepreneurs are commonly making this mistake where they price their products at a cost below their products’ true value. They do this because the are looking at the pricing of international fashion brands and trying to compete with the significantly lower prices of international fashion brands. What they don’t realize is that these international brands are outsourcing their manufacturing and paying extremely cheap labour. Even with their low-priced products they are still making way more than 100% profit. African fashion entrepreneurs need to learn to be confident in pricing their products at their true value and finding a target market that can afford their products and are willing to invest in African fashion items.
Miscalculating all the necessary costs
This is a common problem. The fashion industry is one of the most capital-intensive industries and many people fail to realize just how expensive it is to manufacture, sell and distribute clothing wear. Some of the expenses that may be forgotten could include costs of equipment like sewing machines, costs of packaging and labelling, PR and marketing costs, etc. Without a proper costing sheet for your products, you will end up pricing your products to include a very small profit or even no profit at all. Designers need to make a budget sheet as well as costing sheet to include all expected and incurred expenses.
Relying on only one manufacturer
The clothing manufacturing industry in Africa is not as extensive as it once was. It is also difficult to find a reliable, efficient and skilled manufacturer for your products. A lot of designers usually settle down and feel comfortable when they find that one manufacturer that caters to all their needs. In case anything goes wrong with your manufacturer, you may lose a lot of business and clients. It is important to have multiple manufacturers in case anything goes wrong with one of them. This way, even if there is a hitch with your first manufacturer, business can still go on as planned with your other manufacturers.
Hiring a team too early
A lot of entrepreneurs make this mistake where they hire a whole extensive team too early when starting their business. There needs to be a balance between hiring too many employees and hiring none at all. Obviously, it’s not expected that designers will do everything on their own. However, some tasks can be done by the designer themselves for example marketing your business on social media, making deliveries yourself if you have a car, etc. This would save on a lot of labour costs that can be used to invest more in the business. It would also increase your profits by reducing expenses.
Ignoring the value of a website
A constant mistake is not investing in a website. Launching a brand with a “free” website makes you look unprofessional and it doesn’t instill a sense of safety for a consumer to spend their money. Consider this: if you can’t even buy a domain name why should people buy anything from you? If you don’t have a brick and mortar location, a website is all you’ve got. A professional website says you believe in yourself enough to spend your own money on it. Furthermore, a website, especially an e-commerce store, will ease your selling process to customers and will also enable you to reach a wider range of consumers.
Quitting as soon as things get tough
While passion is 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.