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Fashion Design Business Plan and Startup Checklist

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If you have the ambition to start a clothing line, make sure to have a plan – not just a big idea that you think is wildly creative, but a business plan, a road map to take your idea from your mind’s eye onto the market. 

A business plan is part of the bigger picture, a picture that helps you execute your idea, benefit from a business loan by government or commercial banks and investment from private investors all looking to benefit from the billion dollar market.

You simply can’t begin to create your fashion empire without first creating a business plan. Running a fashion business is challenging and time-consuming, but the results can fulfill your dreams – if you are committed to sticking to your plan. A business plan for opening your own fashion studio must include an executive summary, company vision, market and competitive analysis, and the ways your company will position itself to take advantage of your targeted market.

While each company is different, there are some fundamentals a business plan for fashion design should have. We know this because we’ve helped our clients raise up to 180 Million Naira in investment with our tailor made business plans (and financial projections).

Let’s dive in.

Analyze Your Niche

Before you even type up that first word in your business plan, take some time to think about your brand’s story, and what makes you different from everything else out there.

“For example, are you passionate about designing affordable and stylish clothing from organic textiles? Is your clothing inspired by a journey you took or a specific era you’ve always loved? Really get to the heart of why you started your fashion brand – it’s this story that should resonate throughout your business plan.

Start with Market Analysis

Once you’ve introduced yourself and your clothing brand, your plan should immediately launch into a brief examination of your market, including the competitive landscape your business may be facing. Identify your biggest competitors, the share of the market they take up, and where your clothing company fits in (or stands out) among the competition.

Demonstrate Customer Knowledge

No matter who’s reading your business plan, you want them to walk away with the impression that you know your customers inside and out. After writing up your market analysis, provide insight into who your customers are and why they’ll be interested in your brand.

It’s always worth outlining customer demographics, but consider taking this plan section to the next level by providing customer testimonials. This social proof can be a really powerful way of showing a potential investor or lender that your brand already has a happy customer base.

In a very crowded space like fashion, focus on a very specific audience, not everyone or male/female.

Understanding your best audience, knowing what they really want and how they want it can lead to more sustainable sales and the opportunity to create brand ambassadors.

The business plan should include more than just how to make a single sale, but how to create a community around the brand. A generic approach will not accomplish any of that, ultimately wasting time and money in a highly competitive industry.

Highlight Key Pieces

Got a few designs that really speak to the heart of your collection? Include a section in your business plan where you can provide images of your clothing, whether they’re studio photos or digital images. Highlight these images with information about the style, textiles and how these clothes fit in with your overall brand story.

Name Your Brand Partners

Whether you’re working with a business owner who’s providing you with materials or teaming up with a shipping service, call out your brand’s partners in your business plan. Give brief details about your partners, how they’ll contribute to your business and financial information about each one. It’s also worth noting what steps they have for quality control, as this information will be particularly interesting to investors.

Share Your Marketing Strategy

Here’s the part of the business plan where you’ll need to show off your marketing strategy. Whether you’re planning on running an online-only shop, working out of a brick-and-mortar location, or a mix of both, dazzle your reader with your plans for getting your name out there. Make sure you mention all the acquisition channels you’ll use to bring customers through your doors, like email, social media, digital ads, websites, search engine optimization and blog posts.

Do a Financial Projection

You’ll need to show potential investors and lenders your plan for getting your clothing brand into the black. Your financial forecast should include a sales forecast, an expenses budget, income projections and a timeline of when you’ll break even with your business (when your expenses will be equivalent to the sales you’re taking in).

Include these key milestones in your forecast – your first six months in business, first year, second year, five years, 10 years and beyond.

Breaking down the forecast by milestones can make all that financial information a lot more digestible, plus it illustrates your thinking around short-term vs. long-term growth for your business.

When drafting financials, be precise.

“Hire a business or financial analyst who can draft real-life financials for the company.

Go Heavy on Visuals

As an owner of a clothing brand, you’ve likely got an eye for detail and design. Show your talents by including plenty of visuals in your business plan. From sales forecast graphs to mockups of how your future clothing store will look, these visuals can make your business plan pop, Bliss said.

Emphasize Readability, not Length

A lot of advice centers on the ideal length of a business plan, but that can cause you to focus on the wrong thing. Instead of trying to hit an arbitrary page number, work on making your business plan as readable and interesting as possible.

Here’s why: Business plans have to walk that fine line between being chock-full of important information, while being interesting enough that the reader won’t be put to sleep. So now that you’ve sketched out a rough draft for your business plan, go back and see if there are sections where you can really tease out your brand’s story. If you’re having a tough time doing it yourself, find a friend with a knack for writing who can help.

Put the Story in a Nutshell

The Executive Summary is the last part you’ll write, but it frames your entire business plan. Think of it as the “book jacket” for your business, introducing key elements and sharing your passion for what you do.

Even if you think you have a good understanding of your business at the outset, it’s still a good practice to write this last; it will likely feel more organized and pull in more information once you have the rest of your business plan nailed down. There might also be a particularly salient point or poignant benefit that emerges in the process of writing the plan, and you’ll get to include it here.

Next Step?

If you follow these steps you’ll have written a concise business plan. You’ll need a 3-5 year financial analysis. These figures will make or mar your business so you must get it right. 

This is where we come in.

We can help you prepare your financial plan for only N95,000. We would also help you design your business plan and deliver it in different formats including text and infographics.

One Page Business Plan Template

Write not more than two sentences about each section below. 

Executive Summary

Value Proposition 

Market Analysis

Competitive Advantage 

Customer Relationship

Revenue Streams

Key Activities 

Key Resources 


Key Partnerships

Startup Checklist

Use this checklist to ensure you tick off all essential steps to starting a sustainable business. 

Get checklist here.