BrainTrust Query: Why or Why Not Open a Retail Store Now
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail Doc blog.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to be your own boss. You’ve always enjoyed shopping and think opening your own store will be fun. It can be fun, but make no mistake: succeeding in retail is about planning, change, and making yourself available.
How do you know if a retail store is for you? Answer these questions:
- What would you feel like if you had to work Christmas Eve until 8 pm? Like Roseanne Roseannadanna said on Saturday Night Live, "It’s always something."
- What would you do when a friend’s child broke one of your expensive baubles and did not offer to pay for it? You’ll need to be able to separate personal relations from your business.
- How would you handle your manager leaving early and going skiing over the weekend without telling you in advance? Would you be willing to reprimand them, especially a friend working for you?
- What would you do if your favorite item that you stocked heavily didn’t sell? You have to separate your personal favorites from what the marketplace desires.
- Have you ever had to fire someone? It’s part of doing business.
- What would you do if you caught a shoplifter? A forceful response leads to less of it happening in your store.
- Do you hate repeating yourself? Training takes a lot of time and repetition. Training takes a lot of time and repetition.
- Do you genuinely like talking to other people? Retail is connecting with people — from your crew, to your landlord, to your vendors, and to your customers — all in a positive manner.
- Do you get a thrill from making a sale? The sense of accomplishment and rush from a particularly large sale is necessary to balance the inevitable slow day or January doldrums.
- Have you visited other stores that carry similar products and know where they are weak? You should not be afraid of anyone selling anything in your category, nor should you look the same.
- Could you survive financially for eight — 18 months — without drawing a salary from the business? The greatest cause of retail businesses closing is due to having an unrealistic idea of break-even and profitability.
- Do you have a great location? You never want to be 100 feet from success, so visibility is key, not a cheap lease.
- Do you like to create a team atmosphere or do you want to be the "owner?" Retail is teamwork. Employees never go out of their way for the boss or the customer if they are afraid or disrespected.
- Do you have a great idea of how your retail business will stand out from the rest? A plan created early laying out how you are unique assures success. Who are your customers and why would they be willing to crawl over broken glass naked to come buy from you?
- Are you prepared to work long hours? The average retail store is open 70 hours a week, including weekends.
Discussion Questions: Which of Bob Phibbs’ questions are most important for prospective entrepreneurs to ask themselves before opening their first store? What others would you add to the list?