#1 MAKE A LIST.
First things first, make a list of all the successes, both big and small you had this past year.
Did you finally launch your dream business? Make your first sale? Did you make more sales this year than last year? Did you create and stick to an editorial calendar for your blog? Did you grow your newsletter list? Get more followers on social media? Create a strategy that worked for you? Write it all down.
Sometimes as entrepreneurs we tend to focus so intensely on the where we want to be and where we want to go that we don’t stop to acknowledge our victories. This can cause us to fall out of love with our business and to feel burnt out. Before the new year, take some time to make a list and acknowledge ALL your successes, no matter how small.
#2 GET YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER.
As creative entrepreneurs, for many of us, our goal is to make a living doing what we love, full-time.
We want to make our own schedule, have our own work space and get paid to do what we love. We want to be debt free, able to travel more and spend more time with the ones we love.
In order to live your passion full time, you HAVE to take control of your finances.
You have to know what you’re break-even-point is. You have to correctly price your garments so that you’re covering costs and making a profit. You have to know how much your expenses are each month. You have to know how much it costs to live the lifestyle you want and how many skirts, dresses, and necklaces you have to sell each month in order to sustain that lifestyle.
Before the new year, tally up your 2016 expenses. Tally up your 2016 sales. Did you break-even? Did you make a profit? Do you need to adjust your prices? How much do you need to sell each month to live your passion? These are all questions you need to go into 2017 knowing.
#3 AUDIT YOUR WEBSITE.
Your online presence matters, especially in the fashion industry that's driven by aesthetics. You only have a few seconds after someone lands on your website to grab their attention or you risk losing them.
Many times, I see designers and fashion brands throw a website together real quick thinking, "this is just a place-holder. I'll come back to this later" and they either never revisit their site. Or they say, "I don't have time to work it, there are other much more important things to do."
So NOT true.
Your website is the one employee that's working for you 24/7, 365 days a year. You can have an amazing Instagram account with thousands of followers, but when customers visit your website, if they're less than impressed, they won't buy.
In a competitive market and an internet-driven society, it’s really not okay to have a mediocre website. First impressions are lasting impressions. When someone lands on your page, your site needs to grab their attention and entice them to want to see more. You can have amazing designs made with the most fabulous sustainable materials but if your website is less than appealing visitors will never know because they’ll hit “exit” before ever having a chance to find out. To many consumers, a company’s website is a representation of legitimacy, professionalism and trust.
Is your website accurately portraying your business?
Take a look at your website now. If you were to visit a website that looks like yours, would you feel comfortable and confident purchasing from it? Does your “about” page represent your current vision for your business? Are the images on your site of quality and accurately show the true color and texture of your designs? Is your contact information easy to find? Can potential customers easily find shipping information, refund and return policies?
TIP: Ask a friend to take a look at your website and give you honest feedback. Is anything confusing? Can they easily describe what you do based on your site? Are your products/services spelled out? Can they easily navigate around your site? Is it mobile/device friendly? You don't have to be a web designer or graphic designer or, spend a lot of money in order to have a nice website. There are many affordable platforms like Squarespace and Shopify that offer plug-and-play templates that make designing a website a breeze.
#4 CHECK WEBSITE FOR BROKEN LINKS.
Check for broken links on your site. Do all the social media buttons lead to the correct pages? Are all the page links active? Are all of your product pages active?
#5 UP YOUR SEO GAME.
If you haven’t looked into SEO for your website, it’s time to start! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and essentially just means how to get traffic to your website organically (aka “free”) from search results on search engines like Google or Yahoo.
Here are three easy ways to improve your SEO today:
Name your images. Whether it’s an image for your homepage slider, your headshot on your about page or product photos, whenever you add a picture to your website or blog, make sure that they’re appropriately named with keywords according to the article or the page on your website.
For example, for this article the original file name for the image I used was DSC2981.jpg but instead of leaving it like that, I changed it to, 10-things-to-do-for-your-fashion-business-before-the-new-year.jpg.
Maintain and update your website regularly. The more content you have, the more likely people will stay on your website once they’ve found it and, the more likely search engines will put your pages on the search index. Having a blog connected to your site or your social media feeds is a great way to consistently keep your website updated and your SEO up.
Use internal links. An internal link is when you put a link on one page of your website to another. Internal linking will boost the traffic to individual pages and your overall SEO.
For example, did you know we just launched a new online course called, Digital Fashion? You can check it out here!
That was an example of an internal link. Instead of posting a link to another website, I linked back to my own.
#6 AUDIT YOUR INSTAGRAM.
Look over your Instagram feed and as a whole and ask yourself:
“Would I follow this account?”
“Would I buy from is account?”
“Does my feed currently represent my business in the way that I want?”
If the answer is no, delete pictures that are no longer on brand or represent your business. If you wouldn't buy from an account that looks like yours, you can't expect others to.
#7 MAKE ANOTHER LIST.
Make a list of what worked and what didn’t work.
Did you spend money on Facebook ad’s that didn’t result in sales? Did you participate in a local pop-up that resulted in lots of new customers and increased Instagram followers? Did you create a strategy that really grew your business? Does your online presence need some work?
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in your business and take note of what worked and what didn’t work so that you can learn from the things that didn’t work and do more of what did work. There's a lot of trial and error in running a business and that's totally okay.
The businesses that tend to succeed are the ones that pay attention to what's working and what's not working, create strategies and adapt to challenges.
#8 SET GOALS AND A PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEM.
Not only do goals give you something to work towards, but they also give you a game plan and essentially a step-by-step guide to growing your business by working backwards. Set a goal and then work backwards by creating a list and deadlines for everything you need to do in order to achieve that goal and make it a reality.
For example, Let’s say you took a look at your finances and realized that you need to increase your monthly sales by $500 in order to work for yourself full-time. Your goal is to increase monthly sales by $500.
The next step after setting the goal is to determine how are you going to increase sales each month? Will you run specials, collaborate with bloggers and other brands? Participate in popups? What’s your plan to make that happen?
#9 LET GO OF FEAR.
Let me first say that fear and self-doubt are totally normal emotions. There’s a lot of risk in being an entrepreneur and sometimes it’s scary to put yourself out there.
However, although fear and uncertainty are natural feelings, don’t allow them to dictate your life. Easier said than done, right?
At times you may feel unsure about what the next move in your business may be, you may feel hesitant to move forward with that business idea you’ve always dreamed of and keep second guessing every decision. Maybe you see others succeeding and wonder if you have what it takes.
I don't think it's realistic to say "don't allow yourself to feel this way", the trick however is to overcome that negativity by turning it into motivation to propel you forward.
Create a plan. When you have a well thought out plan that you feel confident in. It’s much easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You may be nervous and have doubts but when you give yourself deadlines, and a plan of action it easy to forget to doubt yourself because you're too busy moving forward.
Surround yourself with a good support system. (in person or online.) Surround yourself with people who support and motivate you when you aren't feeling as confident. This could be friends, family, or internet friends. There are many Facebook support groups for creatives that are great for getting feedback, sharing links and supporting each other.
Fake it 'til you make it. Sometimes you just have to throw some lipstick on, put on a cute pair of shoes and TELL yourself, “I can do this. I’m capable. I got this!” The things you tell yourself have power (aka the law of attraction). Even when you aren't feeling your best, tell yourself that you're a baddass bossBABE and you got this! (Or bossDUDE for the fellas reading this).
Give yourself time to excel. This is Probably the most important point. Success takes time. It takes time to build a brand that everyone knows. It takes time to get noticed. For some, it may seem like it happened over night, but you never know how long they've been working on their brand or how much behind-the-scenes work they've done. Remember that success takes time and don't beat yourself up if you've been doing this for a year and still haven't peaked.
#10 DOWNLOAD OUR FREE 2017 VISION & GOALS PLANNER.
Whether you're ready to take your business to the next level or, finally launch that business you've been dreaming about for years, OUR 30-page vision & goals planner is designed to give you clarity in your vision and help you discover, visualize and achieve your goals by providing you with a clear and actionable plan for success.
In this planner you'll:
- Define your dream business in 2017
- Define your vision and true business wants
- Set 2017 goals
- Create actionable strategies and to-do lists
- Set 2017 social media goals
- Set 2017 financial goals
- Create a month-by-month plan for goal setting and achieving action items
- Create a plan to make 2017 your best yet
- Evaluate your 2016 accomplishments
- Evaluate 2016 business lessons
- Determine current business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Note social media stats
- Evaluate top selling products of 2016
- Determine top marketing and PR strategies of 2016
- Record total 2016 income and expenses
- Determine biggest financial lessons of 2016