How To Increase Productivity in Your Fashion Business: The Power of Systems

How To Increase Productivity in Your Fashion Business: The Power of Systems

Learn to Save Yourself Some Time Energy and Money

How to Increase Productivity – this is every small business owner’s primary struggle. As your business takes off, it’s harder and harder to manage operational tasks without sacrificing time for the higher-level thinking required to propel a business forward. Due to the lack of effective systems, most business owners are bombarded by a hamster wheel of menial tasks. And worse – they can’t imagine their business running without them being around.

Systems Allow Your Company to Run Without You

Is it hard for you to delegate without micromanaging? Are there a large number of tasks that require knowledge that only you are aware of? If any of these sound familiar, then maybe your business is poorly managed and too dependent on YOU for success. This type of dependency isn’t healthy if you want your business to take off. And the point is to own a sustainable business – not to own a job.

If you already own a business, close your eyes and imagine your business for a week without you around. Is this a pleasant scene or a horror story? If it’s the latter – it’s time to get some systems in place!

Why Systems Matter

  • Creating systems forces you to work smarter and think analytically about your processes and how they can be improved.
  • Systems promote better quality and brand consistency.
  • Systems help integrate new hires into your business more smoothly.
  • Systems allow you to focus more energy and time on brainstorming, ideas, and higher value activities- improving work/life balance.
  • Systems increase productivity with reduced headcount.

How to Build Your Systems

1. Choose Where to Start

Systems are needed in the areas of your business that feel most disorganized, time-consuming, and sloppy. Think of your own business and refer to the tasks below to gather ideas. You may need a system for everything on the list and that’s okay. Awareness is always the first step – you don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Highlight 1-2 areas where you want to begin.

  • Email Marketing (Newsletters, Promos)
  • Managing Your Inbox
  • Running Sales Transactions
  • Pricing
  • Budgeting and Tracking Expenses
  • Managing Deadlines for Product Development and Production Stages
  • Recycling Fabric Scraps & Waste
  • Removing Unsubscribers from Mailing List
  • Storing Receipts and Invoices
  • Shipping Orders and Managing Returns
  • Tracking Inventory (Samples, Product, Fabric, Patterns, Trims)
  • Social Media Posting
  • Accounting
  • Payroll
  • Website Maintenance, Updates
  • Blogging (Brainstorming Topics, Scheduling, and Promoting)
  • Product Reviews and Testimonials (Requesting them and Posting them)
  • Marketing and Content Creation
  • Planning Events (Ordering Food, Decorations, Wine)
  • Tax Preparation

2. Record the System

After selecting your first system, start writing out the procedures. Write each procedure step by step. Try to be concise and straightforward – remember that one day you’ll need to relay the information to your new hires. See that instructions are comprehensible and detailed enough for a future employee to grasp and follow. Remember the goal is for your business to one day run WITHOUT YOU.

You may need to adjust a system later on but start with a system that you are happy with for now.

First, decide where you’re going to store your systems. Common examples are:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Shared Desktop Server

Here’s an example for you…

System: Preparing Images for Weekly Blog Posts

Role: Intern

  1. Reference the Editorial Calendar in Google Drive for the next blog topic
  2. Find a related photo that sits well with the brand’s aesthetic. Search sites like, Unsplash, etc.
  3. Upload Image to Canva and place the image inside the existing blog photo template found in the “Blog Photo” Folder. Make sure it measures 500px x300px.
  4. Update the blog title and name the file.
  5. Store in the “Blog Photos” Folder for the freelance blogger to access later

This example outlines a very basic, simple system. Depending on the system, your tasks and procedures will vary in length and depth.

3. How Will It All Get Done??

Writing down the procedure is only the first step. Now it’s time to figure out how it will get done. Who will this role be assigned to? In the beginning, it may fall on you – but later on, you can think about hiring interns or freelancers to carry out certain systems. Some systems may call for apps, programs, or software. You can download our list of Productivity Enhancers for Fashion Start-Ups here.

How To Increase Productivity *Bonus Tip*

Do you find yourself drafting similar types of emails over and over again? Do you type your hashtags one-by-one on your daily Instagram posts? Building a reservoir of templates, scripts, and lists alongside your systems make for even more efficient business practices. Of course, the templates should be personalized for individual use; but having a starting point saves a LOT of time.

Scripts and Templates Can Be Used For:

  • Following Up with A Client
  • Reaching Out to a Potential Collaborator
  • Approaching a Buyer
  • Handling Vendor or Factory Misunderstandings
  • Responding to Comments on Social Media
  • Answering Product Related Questions
  • Setting up Interviews or Scheduling Fittings
  • Hiring Emails
  • Product Descriptions or Social Media Captions
  • Hashtag Lists

Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Gradual implementation is less stressful than changing everything up at once. Instead set aside a block of time every week to tackle a new system.  Your future employees can help adjust them over time.

Systems are addictive. Once you use them, you’ll start exploring how to increase productivity in everything you do. So be patient. The most important part is STARTING.

If you’d like more guidance in your business operations, we recommend scheduling a 1-on-1 Strategy Session with one of our coaches! And don’t forget to download our FREE list of Productivity Enhancers For Fashion Start-Ups here.

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