Congratulations! You’ve either just started a clothing line business or are thinking about doing it. You have just about everything ready, including the most important part: What kind of clothes to sell.
Now it’s time for your next important step: Creating a business plan.
That business plan is important because it:
- Helps you understand what you need for reaching your short- and long-term objectives
- Tells your investors about your business, making it easier for them to fund it
While you know the plan is important, creating one might seem daunting. Have no fear. We’re here to help. Following this what-you’ll-need-guide, and using the downloadable clothing line business plan PDF will help you develop a killer clothing brand business plan.
What You Need for a Successful Clothing Line Business Plan
While your executive summary kicks off your plan, it is the last to be written. This is because this component sums up your plan in several paragraphs; you want to be sure that it is no longer than one or two pages. This high-level view of your plan gives readers a taste of what to expect down the road.
An example of an executive summary is:
“XYZ Clothing, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is an ecommerce site that sells the latest in hip, edgy fashions. Founded by entrepreneur Dane Carleson, XYZ stands head and shoulders above the competition by offering unique and colorful clothing types to the lucrative 18- to 49-year-old market.”
You would then follow this with a brief description of your company, the goals and objectives, mission statement, and more.
The business overview introduces your company to your readers. It provides everything from how it’s set up, to legal structure, to how you sell your goods or services, to your vision.
In addition to your business name and headquarters location, here is what this section should include.
Business legal structure
Before you hang your shingle, you need to decide on your legal structure. This decision will have an impact on your taxes, liabilities, and asset exposure.
There are four common business legal structures in the U.S.
A sole proprietorship is the most common form of business organization, as it’s very easy to set up, and doesn’t require much paperwork. The downside is that you’re personally liable for the business’s financial obligations.
In a partnership, you join forces with at least one other person or entity, and agree to share the business’s profits and losses. As a partner, you don’t have to take on the tax burden of profits, while losses are “passed through” for you to report on your individual tax return. You are, however, liable for both your financial obligation and those of your partners’.
In a general partnership, all partners actively manage or control the business. A limited partner is one who doesn’t have total responsibility for operations or debts.
A corporation is created to conduct business. It is like a person in that it can be taxed and held legally liable. This lets you off the hook for any personal liability. However, running a corporation requires a lot of work and record-keeping.
Limited liability company
Limited liability companies are a recent development, and are a cross between a partnership/sole proprietorship and a corporation. If you decide on this structure, you aren’t responsible for your company’s debts or liabilities. Furthermore, you need to report your business’ profits and losses on your personal tax return. LLCs are determined by state statutes, with rules varying from state to state.
There are many different ways in which you can create your product. Once again, before opening your doors, you need to outline this on your plan. Here are some product development methods to consider, as well as the pros and cons.
Self-manufacturing: You develop your own products and sell them; you take control of the process, from start to finish.
- Pros: You have complete control. Also, this method is the best for great brand development.
- Cons: It’s expensive, and a lot of work. You won’t earn an immediate profit, either.
Private labeling: Another company manufactures products for you, or you outsource manufacturing to a third party. Your responsibility is sales and distribution.
- Pros: You outsource the costs and hassles of manufacturing, which provides a potentially higher profit margin.
- Cons: You are dependent on a third-party company. Also, private labeling can require a substantial upfront financial investment, especially with inventory.
Print on Demand: Items are printed as soon as a customer places an order on your website.
- Pros: A print on demand company like Printbest lets you design the custom clothing, and you only pay after you get an order from your customer. You avoid the costs of manufacturing and inventory.
- Cons: Many print on demand services can take up to a week for fulfilment, and sometimes product quality is a problem. (Printbest fulfils your order within one two business days, offering high-quality printing.)
Dropshipping: This allows you to outsource fulfilment and logistics to a third party, such as Printbest.
- Pros: You can offer more products and services without having to worry about shipping or inventory. Your profit goes into your business instead.
- Cons: Dropshipping can be highly competitive, and you don’t have control over lead times or inventory.
Wholesale/warehousing: Someone else manufactures the clothes, and you distribute them.
- Pros: The rise of ecommerce and online shopping have boosted the need for this service, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for you.
- Cons: This requires a large investment. In addition to the space, you’ll need to hire labor to ensure proper storage and fulfillment activities.
Digital Products: These allow you to sell and/or license your designs and images to others to print on apparel.
- Pros: You don’t need to source or manage inventory nor do you need to deal with shipping and logistics. Others will do that for you, leading to fewer expenses and more profit.
- Cons: There is a great deal of competition out there when it comes to digital art and products. Plus such designs can be easily stolen and resold, even with your copyright on them.
Subscriptions: Buyers pay you a monthly fee for your clothing, and you deliver it to them.
- Pros: This is a great way to both build your brand awareness, and ensure ongoing cash flow and revenue.
- Cons: The subscription model tends to have high cancelation rates. You have to work very hard to retain customers, especially those who might be reluctant to participate in ongoing commitments.
At first glance, the industry in which you are involved could be considered retail. This is true, as you’re selling clothes to consumers. Your business could also be in the following industries, which would need to be outlined in your plan.
- Manufacturing. You might be responsible for hands-on development of your clothing line, from taking orders to producing the product.
- Distribution. Your company is responsible for getting the product from point A (a manufacturer) to point B (the consumer).
- Fulfilment. You might be responsible for accepting customer orders, taking the payment, and then outsourcing the delivery to a third party.
Vision, mission, and values
At the heart of any great business is the “why” and “how” of a strategic initiative. This is underlined with your vision, mission and value statements, which are also essential for your business plan. Delving deeper:
- Your mission statement explains why your business exists.
- Your vision statement outlines what your business will look like in the future.
- Your values statement focuses on the core principles of your business.
Many times, a vision, mission and values statement can be combined into one strategic idea. For example, Printbest’s strategic statement encompasses the following:
“We believe that entrepreneurs can make their dreams reality and change the world, so we empower individuals with the knowledge and services they need for ecommerce success. We work towards a world where everyone will have the opportunity to start and run an online business.”
Your business objectives represent the specific actions, or steps, that your company must take to achieve goals within a certain time period. Those objectives should be outlined through specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic and timely methods, also known as SMART. Breaking these down:
- Specific means you outline precise milestones
- Measurable allows you to assign a qualitative or quantitative number to that objective
- Achievable means you have the resources to achieve the goal
- Relevant or realistic means the goal is relevant to your company
- Timely means you set the deadline by which you reach the goals
An important part of both your business and business plan will be the people you hire to make it all happen. Your plan needs to include all personnel that is either on board or will be on board, as well as their job descriptions. Also helpful is if your business plan contains an organizational chart.
Just as important as the business overview of your company is your understanding of the market in which it will operate. This is where a market analysis comes in handy. An in-depth market analysis will contain the following.
Target audience: Your customers and their characteristics, including demographics (where they live and how much money they make), and psychographics (their buying behavior, likes and dislikes).
Industry analysis: The status of the industry in which you work, such as ease of entry, competition, economic cycle, and how your company might fit in.
Market size: Based on your target audience, industry analysis, and trends, how many people you think you can sell your product to.
SWOT Analysis: An internal analysis of your company (strengths and weaknesses), and external evaluation of your industry (opportunities and threats).
Competitor analysis: Every business has competition, and an analysis allows you to pinpoint businesses that sell similar products to yours, and determine their threat to your activities.
You know what products you’re selling. This needs to go into your business plan in the following categories:
- Main product/service lines: A detailed description of what product or service you’re offering.
- Competitive differentiation: Why your products or services are different from those of your competition.
- Repeat business: How often your customers return to buy from you.
Business operations are what needs to happen to keep your company running and earning a profit. Here’s what needs to go into this section of your business plan.
If you are running an online store, you need to determine its distribution channels, such as:
- Ecommerce platform ( such as Shopify)
- Online marketplace (such as Etsy)
- Website (such as WordPress)
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you need to list physical facilities, such as where it is, and how it is set up.
In both situations, your information should include:
- Product sourcing: Where your products are coming from
- Equipment/software used
- Shipping and other third-party providers
- Process, or how payments are collected, orders fulfilled and products shipped
Marketing and Promotion
This section of your business plan informs readers about how you plan to tell customers about your dynamite product, why they should buy it, and why they should keep coming back for more. Content is a huge part of your promotions, and should include advertising, emails, tutorials, blogs, and graphics – basically anything and everything that communicates your business to your customers.
Your content plan can vary, and can include the following:
- Ads: What they’ll say, where they’ll run, and for how long
- Social media: What platforms you’ll use and how often you’ll post
- Email marketing: Information you’ll send to customers and prospects, how often you’ll send it, and how you’ll encourage subscriptions
- Special offers: What types you will provide (discounts or buy-one-get-one), when you’ll offer them, and how you’ll let people know about them
Other issues to consider in your content plan should include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): How you’ll help your online store and/or products rank higher on search engines
- Word of mouth: Asking customers or influencers to share information about your store
- Repeat customers: How you’ll get your customers to come back and buy more
The financial plan is another important aspect of your business plan, as it outlines what you plan to earn, and what you’ll need to keep your business running. The financial section of your business should include an income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet.
Sometimes known as a profit and loss statement, your income statement shows your total revenues and total expenses, including noncash accounting. In your business plan, you’ll also share anticipated revenues and expenses.
Types of expenses included are:
- Fixed expenses: expenses you must pay, no matter how much you sell or produce. This can include rent, salaries, website hosting, or taxes.
- Variable expenses: costs based on sales or production, which can increase or decrease. These can include raw materials, credit card fees, customer acquisition costs, or shipping costs.
Cash flow statement
The cash flow statement outlines your company’s inflows and outflows, over a period of time. Your cash flow is based on sales, but can also include credit. Similar to the income statement, the cash flow statement shows net profits and losses. But the income statement includes noncash accounting, such as depreciation.
The balance sheet will tell your business plan readers about your assets, liabilities and shareholder equity. It outlines what your company owns and owes.
Your assets are divided into:
- Current assets, consisting of cash and equivalents, accounts receivables, stock, inventory and securities. Current assets are easily convertible to cash.
- Fixed assets, including property, plants, or equipment. Fixed assets are not easily converted into cash.
Meanwhile, your liabilities consist of owner’s equity, bank loans, taxes and accounts payables.
In addition to the above information, your business plan should also provide information about your breakeven point. The breakeven point tells you (and your plan’s readers) how much you need to sell to cover your costs, before you can earn a profit on what you’re doing.
You can use the following formula to calculate your breakeven point:
fixed costs ÷ (sales price per unit – variable cost per unit) = required number of units sold to break even
Part of your costs should also focus on customer acquisition and advertising. Such calculations can include your costs for acquiring each customer, and how much you anticipate those customers will spend with you, over their lifetimes.
Time to Get Started!
With the above information, combined with the Printbest downloadable workbook, you’re ready to launch your clothing brand business plan! But Printbest offers more than business plan advice. Visit our website to find out more about how you can successfully launch and maintain your own custom clothing line!