Remaining Viable Through Growth
One of the best problems to have when starting a business is rapid growth but it can quickly lead to problems without careful planning
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a clothing designer whose talent is extraordinary.
I won’t divulge the name of her company but due to rapid growth her potential business problems are common so it is worthwhile to keep in mind the pitfalls that overtake many start ups and can quickly destroy a brand.
She has built a solid reputation and offers a custom service that is rarely seen in anymore in the USA. She creates custom clothes for kids. Immediately this differentiates her brand and makes her a rare commodity.
Due to her talent her business is seeing remarkable growth but she lacks the time to fully concentrate on expansion. It’s a good problem to have, unless and until it creates a brand reputation problem.
The internet has given many start ups the opportunity for rapid growth.
This is a great problem to have until production or logistic issues enter the picture.
Many start ups aren’t prepared for large scale distribution. As a result they may have to halt their online offerings until production catches up. This can actually create more demand as customers see a waiting list.
Some start ups panic at the thought of not meeting production and then they turn to any suppliers who can meet their demands to keep up with production but at a loss to quality. Sometimes they catch the quality issues before they hit the market but they still have to pay the bill to the supplier who delivered a substandard product and then find another supplier. In the meantime the orders are piling up. Will customers wait for these issues to be sorted out? Usually not for a new brand.
When a start up runs in to this problem the costs can be substantial as they suffer a loss to reputation and can’t meet demand. This is a problem that closes doors forever and has crashed many brands that had great potential. Some don’t care, they had enough of a reputation to find a buyer who could keep up with production. Or they made enough cash before the problem became a crisis and it was easier to just walk away. At other times it was too late, the damage had already been done.
Give A Brand A Little Breathing Room
The usual course of events for a clothing designer would be to offer designs to buyers who can large scale produce. The designs then get tweaked to meet price points and distribution of the designs begin. This of course is an inside job requiring quite a reputation to get started in the fashion meccas of the world.
I don’t know if this designer wants to reach those heights due to her desire to be a stay at home Mom until her children no longer need so much attention. Not to mention she already works long hours just to keep up with the demand that she has. What I wouldn’t like to see is a brand crash for her because I immediately deduced her amazing talent as a designer primarily and the huge potential awaiting her business at some point.
Since her talent lies in her creations and the brand she has already established I suggested finding a way to automate something in her production without loss to her brand. Something that would still have her name on it, highlight her talents, showcase her designs but would lessen her production demands.
What Can You Automate?
In this case she could accomplish several goals. One, she can show that her designs are in demand with sales of a product that still showcases her fabulous talent. Two, her reputation and brand will remain intact. This product will already cash in on her established brand. Three, she can branch out in several ways from this automation and four she will still make money to give her the breathing room to resolve production issues. It might also allow her to raise her price point for custom skills as she is not only a talented designer but a very able seamstress as well.
The only small drawback it might present is that this automation would require some seamstress to produce the product but she would gain a new audience as well so it isn’t much of a problem if it doesn’t affect her overall brand and it wouldn’t unless she cares more about her product as a craft as opposed to her creative talents, which I don’t know. I just sensed her increasing pain point and offered her my own experiences with other brands that encountered similar issues.
What was the suggestion?
To offer a few of her designs as a digital pattern for sale as a download on some creative marketplace or even her own store and to team up with a pattern maker or get pattern maker software and learn how to make her own patterns as a digital product. And copyright them of course under her own brand name. Pattern making is already one of the fun parts of her production process, why not sell it and capitalize on what she has already built?
Many brands find themselves in this enviable position and they have done a great job in brand establishment as she has but when that brand takes off to unforeseen heights it is these kinds of problems for start ups that can crash a brand in a very short time.
I hope all brands will consider the many ways to expand and automate their brand without suffering loss from a good problem to have. Success.
If brand strategy ideas like this inspire you to re-focus your start up goals subscribe to my newsletter to get more great content. If you are in my area and would like to discuss brand strategy for your start up shoot me an email below.