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Every person comes to a stage in life when they must evaluate a collection of different options and choose one for their future engagement. The other day I shared a lunch date with my childhood friend Brian at a cafeteria off campus, and we got into a discussion about the changing fashion trends both in and off-campus. Brian is a science nerd, always engrossed into new developments in the avionics world. Brian, in his cheeky ways refers to me as a “nista”, a sarcastic nickname he gave me due to my deep love for clothing and fashion. Interestingly, Brian is right. As we continued with our conversation over fries and crispy chicken wings, it occurred to me that I needed to start giving more thought to my dreams of operating my apparel store in the not-so-distant-future.
I harbor unparalleled love for fashion and clothing, a love that has grown from my childhood days. I had once considered a career in science, just so that I would enjoy competing with Brian, but that was during the ignorant teenage years. Presently, my mind has been made up; I will set up my apparel store. I did not just rise one morning and choose the trade, no. It took a lot of soul-searching and information seeking to realize that my passion for clothes and fashion can be turned into a venture that generates revenue for me and, maybe several more people. I have spent endless hours on fashion blogs and online fashion magazines seeking new information and updating my current knowledge. The greatest setback for me has been the lack of adequate funds to subscribe to major periodicals.
Despite my inability to afford membership to the major fashion publications, I have been fortunate enough to get occasional copies of fashion magazines from family friends, as well as the rare copy at the library. According to Kamphausen (2014), the best lessons and inspirations for a business person are learned during the course of the enterprise. The success or failure of a company is, for the most part, dependent on the entrepreneurial ambition and resilience of the enterprise owner. I personally believe that I have great resistance and the desire for success. The operation of a successful business, however, requires formal skills in communication and financial management. Additionally, a good apparel store operator would have sharp knowledge of both conventional and emerging trends with a view to fine-tuning the business always to maintain relevance. In this respect, I have plans to pursue the relevant academic courses and acquire all the requisite knowledge. College education is necessary especially for entrepreneurs joining a fast moving market like the apparel clothing business.
Businesses are operated in order to make profits for the owner (Kotler, 2007). I also have a desire to earn a satisfactory income from my future commercial activities. Apparently, it might appear that the apparel business is crowded given the high number of retail and merchandise stores that have been established. I have already done my research and found out that there is an immense untapped market in the American cities. Success in clothing business, as I found out, comes from proper business design and client selection. The fashion trends are perennially changing, and an entrepreneur will always get customers. I already have the right attitude, and I am pursuing the necessary academic program. I plan to be ready to start my business even before I have finished my academics.
In order to find relevant information and get ready for my future occupation, I sought a conversational audience of a renowned apparel store owner. I had to prepare myself well in order to make sure that the opportunity was well-utilized. I had the question I wanted answers to, and I had written them down. Well, the interview was quite informative as my interviewee happened to have great knowledge of the apparel business, having been in the trade for nine years. Naturally, any entrepreneur is excited when they encounter longevity in their desired line of business. Tony was both informative and inspiring to talk to. Tony has deep knowledge of the fashion trends both locally and internationally. Additionally, Tony has his hands firmly on the reins of his business. As he informed me, “Businesses don’t always go according to the owner’s plans”. From the interview I gathered a lot of useful information that I will present in the following section.
I began by asking Tony how it was when he was starting his apparel store business. Tony informed me that the startup was not as easy as he had anticipated. The country’s economy had begun shrinking and the consumer spending power had been heavily eroded. However, Tony had already made up his mind to start the business and had already secured financing. When Tony mentioned about financing, I realized that I had been very ignorant about raising capital for my business startup. I had not given the idea of financing a lot of thought. I asked Tony about his startup financing and he informed me that he used bank credit for his startup. He had presented a very detailed business plan to the loans officer and this contributed greatly to the success of his loan application. Tony informed me that many businesses expand because they have good credit backing. It is not every potential entrepreneur who can raise the requisite capital for a business from personal or family savings. A good business at startup would also benefit from the backing of a good financier in order to absorb the risks and uncertainties that arise from business operations (Tiffany, 2001).
The discussion with Tony made me appreciate the important role that research plays in supporting the development of a good business plan. Although the entrepreneur might have very profound knowledge of the operational details of the proposed business, it is always helpful to seek more information about the enterprise in order to develop a formidable and financially sensible business plan. Apart from the challenges of raising capital, Tony also had problems identifying the proper location for his business and, strangely enough deciding the company name. At this point, I was already convinced that Tony was very knowledgeable about the operation of an apparel store and, therefore, I requested him to take me through the factors that one should consider when setting up a clothing business.
According to Tony, most start-up businesses fail during the first year of establishment. Researchers have also made the same observation. Tony attributes this failure to what he called “setting up a business to prove that you can also become an entrepreneur.” The process of starting a business should be well thought out. A business is a risk and the person starting it must be prepared to face and overcome monumental challenges. An apparel company also has risks and, therefore, requires a lot of dedication from the business owner in order for the enterprise to succeed.
The target marker should be one of the most initial considerations by a business person. The selection of a location and the amount of financing necessary are directly dependent on the niche that the entrepreneur selects (Shanker, 1996). In the apparel business, there are three general gender categories. One can decide to stock for men, women or children. According to Tony, “do not be fooled by the apparent presence of a mixed collection in large stores, most moderate stores have a preference”. From Tony’s comment, I gather that every store should have a niche market for its merchandise. He refers to the presence of the female clothing items of clothing as a “basket filler” meaning that the ladies who accompany their men shopping would also be a source of extra revenue if they can also buy several items. Tony observes that in such stores, the person will purchase a child’s item or something for his lady with the balance from discount. An entrepreneur should, therefore, select a niche for their enterprise. Additionally, matching up items increases sales by up to 60%. The entrepreneur should, therefore, consider stocking full sets of clothing and accessories.
Operations entail the daily activities that take place in the apparel store (Kotler, 2007). Assuming that the financing has gone well, and an appropriate location and target market has been selected, then the store can be set up. Operation begins with the setting up of the business. The entrepreneur has to recruit staff members. The entrepreneur also decides the operating times for the business and the mode of trade. Some stores accept only cash transaction while others accept credit facilities (Edmiston, 2011).
The fourth factor to consider when setting up an apparel store is marketing. I asked Tony how much he spends marketing, and he said that his marketing costs were catered for through franchising. He sells branded items, and he benefits from the manufacturer’s high brand name. The marketing is also provided for by the manufacturer. Tony says that he would advise a startup business entrepreneur to consider franchising. Franchising attracts consumers and eliminates the marketing costs leaving more revenue for other commercial operations (Kamphausen, 2014).
The ability to consider a person’s future occupation early has the inherent advantage of preventing time and resource wastage. The person who knows their future career early in life can seek the appropriate academic skills. Such a person is also able to seek appropriate knowledge regarding their future occupations. Personally, I gained a lot of insight into my future career from the exercise. The interview with Tony was very informative. There are issues I had ignored all along, but I eventually realized that they are critical. Seeking the proper financing for a business is one of the most important parameters in operational planning.
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