I get asked a lot if there’s one thing successful designers have in common.

Some of the common traits I see are:

  • They work hard
  • They’re smart
  • They understand business
  • They want it badly enough to do whatever it takes

You might think there’s some secret formula for success, like having a ton of start-up capital, or being “connected” to the right people.  After having my own line and boutique for ages, until I sold both businesses in 2007 (14 years and 2 kids later!), and after interviewing hundreds of design entrepreneurs; I can tell you that there is ONE thing that the successful entrepreneurs do that I’m convinced makes the big difference.

(drumroll please…)

They take ACTION every single day in some way.

It sounds simple, but 90% of design entrepreneurs I talk to don’t do it.  They are confused, overwhelmed, and/or afraid to take the next step.

The definition of action: The state or process of acting or doing.

Nowhere in that definition will you find:

  • Thinking a lot about something
  • Planning
  • Mapping things out
  • Researching
  • Waiting for the “right” time

Those who do take real action on a regular basis get somewhere.  Simple as that.  It’s about making a plan for your business, then working on it step by step.  It also involves letting go of perfectionism. The “I can’t send that out yet until I do A, B, or C” syndrome.  Perfection paralysis can kill you.  I know because I used to be that person. It held me back and it will hold YOU back too.

The secret is to take IMPERFECT action. I learned this from Kevin Nations, when I was in a mastermind group, and it freed up a part of me that I was happy to see go.  It’s hard to describe, but I really learned there is NO perfect time to get started, NO perfect blog post, NO perfect script for a video I was doing, No perfect time to start a business. I like to say, “Perfect is good but DONE is better”.

Is my sales Bootcamp perfect? No. Is my “How to Start a Fashion Business” online course perfect? Heck no. But it’s pretty darn good and people get a lot out of it.  If I waited until I really felt things were perfect, you would not be reading this at all.  I would not be in business at all. And I would have lost the chance to help a lot of emerging designers!

What you can do now:

1)  OK, so right now.  RIGHT NOW.  List 2 ways you can take imperfect action with your business. List the precise steps you will take, when you’ll start, and your deadline for completion.



2)  Try to think about what stops you from taking action. Fear? Not knowing the first step? Not having some specific skills you need? Brainstorm for a minute and write them down here:



Whew. I hope you feel better already.

Remember, we all get behind sometimes. We all get “stuck” doing only what we’re used to doing. Just pick yourself up and keep moving forward – don’t beat yourself up for it.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, setting some goals for yourself, and knowing where and how to take action, then consider some business coaching.  As I read recently, “It’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame”. A fresh perspective can do wonders. You can see some options here.




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