What A Fashion Style Book Can Teach You About Business

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Recently, I came across a coffee table book about fashion and style. Normally it’s not my cup of tea but there was something in it that caught my attention…

In order to have a neat, organised closet with high quality pieces so that you “always have the right piece to wear”, the author made the argument that you need to do two things – and do them with some regularity.

First, “clean house” and then when “investing” into new pieces of clothing, consider their value and what you’ll get out of them.

And both of these have direct applications to business. Any business. Even yours.

Step One: Clean house

In the book, the author essentially says: take proper stock of everything you own.

What are some of the things that you no longer use? What are the things that are “just there” but really, all they do is take space and collect dust on your shelves? Take a good hard look at them and whatever doesn’t serve you, get rid of it.

How it applies to business:

What products and services do you have that just don’t sell well? Or maybe they take too much time and effort for you to provide, without seeing a proper return on your investment?

For example, when I ran an IT business, there were some things only I was able to do because none of my staff had that kind of training and specialised skills.

I literally had to be the one to do all the manual labour for it or hire an expensive programmer to help us out in a pinch.

Running my business with this kind of setup wasn’t helpful to our clients and it wasn’t very profitable for me.

So I ended up transitioning out of offering services that required these skills and switched over our entire business model to a subscription based service.

It allowed us to serve more people and generate much better income.

Step Two: Consider what you’ll get out of the new piece before you buy it

The fashion version:Consider your needs first.

Then when you’re looking to purchase a new item, get the most suitable, most flattering, best fitted and highest quality piece you can afford.

And here is where it got really interesting: the author’s advice was to break down the number on the price tag into “units” of how many times you expect to wear it.

So for example, if you’re considering a $500 sweater and you reasonably expect to wear it for at least 2 years, you might get 50 “uses” out of it. So basically, you assign a $10 value to each wear.

Now if you compare it to a similar style sweater but from a cheaper store, say for $90, but you only get to wear it about six times before it starts to get fade and pile, you really are paying $15 per wear – so the seemingly cheaper option actually costs you 50% more.

And that’s not even counting your frustration and time spent to get it replaced before you’d need a sweater for your seventh occasion to wear.

How it applies to business: The obvious one is of course what you invest in in terms of equipment and materials.

I invite you to look at your staff through a similar lens as well today.

You may know by now that I’m a firm believer in outsourcing and using contractors instead of regular employees, whenever possible.

This already reduces your costs and you only pay your staff when there’s work to be taken care of so your expenses fluctuate proportionately with your revenues.

But taking it a step further: in order to best serve your clients, you need to have A-players on your team.

Outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean finding the cheapest labour you can from third world countries…

While it’s a great option, consider the “cost per wear” – how confident are you that the staff you’re hiring or contracting to can manage their job to the standards you envisioned when you set out to build your company?

Make sure that you invest in the people that will take care of your clients to the highest and best level possible.

Check that they have the kind of emotional and mental intelligence, care and compassion for your clients and your business that they might for their own stuff.

Make sure they measure up in terms of quality, just like a $500 sweater would against the $90 “deal”.

My hope is that after reading this article, you’ll really take a step back and re-evaluate what you’re doing in your business both on a day-to-day basis and on the strategic level.

It’s important to have these kind of “closet cleaning” exercises every so often because this way, you can be sure to only “own” and deliver the highest and best quality products and services to your clients.

If you would like help with how to put this strategy into action, give us a call at 1300 680 223. We can help.