Owning your own small business or retail store is a goal of many. You can be one of the few small business owners who make the dream a reality.
You just need to understand what you are in for as far as start-up costs, cash flow, as well as what it takes to be profitable before you open your doors.
Your marketing strategy should include understanding your target market and what products they will buy from you in enough volume with high enough profit margins for you to live the lifestyle small business owners dream of.
While I don’t believe in build it and they will come, I do believe if you go in with your eyes open, you can have it all. I’ve met thousands of business owners from all over the world who prove it.
And, you’re going to learn how to increase retail sales sooner or later anyway, why not learn the pitfalls you will encounter when you start a retail business before you take the plunge?
If you’ve already opened a new store, read on to see how many you’ve already encountered…
42 Things no one Told you About Starting a Retail Business:
1. Your retail shop will be solicited for donations before you make your first sale.
2. People in your town will assume you are rich because you have your own business.
3. Some days you will donate more products to charities in your community than you will sell in your store that day.
4. As soon as you figure out what your customer wants, they will want something totally different.
5. Every lunch will be eaten standing up, and only one bite of a hot meal will ever be eaten hot.
6. What customers say with their mouths is interesting, but what they say with their wallets is how they really feel.
7. You will always remember the customer who managed to get under your skin and got you to lose your cool…even if you were right.
8. Every big event in your store coincides with a terrible storm.
9. Customers will have suggestions for every part of your startup – what products you carry, what events you should hold, what POS system you should buy, etc. But what they buy, attend, and otherwise support, is another matter entirely.
10. You will work weekends and holidays; if you don’t like it, don’t become a retailer.
11. Just because someone asks for a discount, doesn’t mean they won’t buy if you don’t give them one.
12. Nobody cares more about you and your business than you.
13. You will outsell your best retail employees… every time.
14. Customers never read the small print on coupons which will challenge your ideas of delivering customer service.
15. People think that because you are the business owner you have no boss, which is completely wrong; you have many. Your business loan is your boss, your retail business space is your boss, plus every customer who walks through your door is your boss too.
16. 99% of the time, that 800 number on your caller ID is probably a merchant-services telemarketer trying to get you to switch to them.
17. Sometimes a Tuesday might be your best day of the week; other times it will be a Saturday. In this business, there is often no consistency.
18. There will always be customers who won’t respect your store, products, or employees.
19. Never discuss politics with your clients in your shop or on your shop’s social media page. You will be making half of your customers angry.
20. Like most brick-and-mortar retailers, you will fight a losing battle to keep your backroom, stockroom, and desk organized.
21. Without a sense of humor, you will never survive. Okay, you may survive, but you will be miserable.
22. You’re bound to get pitched by a small business consultant who opens the conversation with, “My retail store failed so I switched to consulting.”
23. The customer is not always right.
24. There are many businesses out there whose only intent is to rip off and scam other small business owners.
25. Sales reps can lie…even some of the best ones.
26. If you let your vendor substitute one item for another one time, the next time they will simply send you whatever products they feel like sending you, to the point that you won’t even recognize it as your order when it arrives at your retail shop.
27. You will need to force any marketing or PR firm you hire to be accountable, and you will need to fire them when necessary.
28. You’ll have to fire the friend you were sure would be a great business partner or employee.
29. Balancing income with expenses is an art form entrepreneurs rarely master.
30. You will eat, sleep, read, breathe, talk, study, compare, worry, and probably be flat broke for some time.
31. 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales.
32. You can always be told no and say no.
33. Organization is a skill worth working on; it’s what can make or break you.
34. The longer you own a store, the harder it is to ever pay full price anywhere for anything.
35. You will rarely have a “for sure” day off again.
36. You need to listen for what customers actually spend their money on, not what they say they want.
37. You must study a location for foot traffic and other variables before you open your brick and mortar; going by your gut is often wrong.
38. You’ll discover an employee you loved during the interview is unable to do the job.
39. The best parenting advice in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t know what YOUR baby needs. Your store is no different. Know your baby.
40. Consistently great customer service will make your enterprise thrive, but one bad customer experience, in the face of social media, can close your doors!
41. Running a business is harder than you think it’ll be, but you won’t really have time to notice.
42. Master change. Change vendors when pricing or service don’t match, change advertising when it doesn’t drive results, and change employees when necessary (especially friends and family).
But you know what? It can be well worth it…
… even with all of the maddening things that come along with being a small business owner – especially, it seems, right now.
When you are starting a retail small business, the things you will learn about yourself, your customers, your online presence through social media, and your community will make your life more rewarding.
While you won’t start off a well-known brand, from your dedication to trying new ideas as you go along you can build a local brand that beats others in the retail industry.
If you are not already a BRA Retail Member, you can easily opt in to either Regular (no cost) or Distinguished ($100/yr.) Membership via this super simple join form