Opening and running your own retail store is a dream that is once again flourishing thanks to a renewed interest and practice among consumers to support local and independent businesses close to home. And while that increase in spending at the local level is definitely good news for small-business owners, going into business for yourself and being successful — especially in retail — is still no small feat.
If you're considering taking a turn at running your own retail store, here are six realities that, if left un-contended-with, will sink your burgeoning retail ship.
1. You Need to Have Capital to Start
Everyone going into business for themselves knows they'll need plenty of cash on hand to get their operation off the ground smoothly, but just how much will you need? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but try and foresee as many of the up-front expenses as you can. You'll need to buy or rent a space, secure permits and licenses, purchase appropriate store fixtures, buy inventory, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You'll also need enough capital on-hand to pay yourself and your employees until your business starts making money. Then, there's worker's comp, taxes, and insurance, too. Before you spend a dime, make sure you have a solid understanding of what you'll need to spend overall, so you can be sure to have the money you'll need to succeed.
2. You Will Work More Than You Ever Have Before
Running your own retail store is going to involve long hours and precious few — if any — days off. If your store is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, there's a good chance you will be on-site the majority of that time, especially at first, and you'll most likely be putting in additional hours, too. Regardless of the experience you've had as an employee in retail and other industries, until you own and operate your own store, you probably haven't had to really and truly work without an end in sight, just to make ends meet.
3. Good Staff Is Essential
In retail, customer service can make or break you, especially since almost everything you will potentially sell can be purchased on the Internet. More than ever, having well-mannered and knowledgeable staff is essential to any retail endeavor's success.
Your potential customers need to feel as though your store can provide them not just with goods, but with an experience of purchasing that cannot be had elsewhere. To that end, hire positive, intelligent people; train them well in regards to inventory, store procedures, and how to assist customers; and be willing to pay more than your competitors to hire and retain them.
4. You Have to Make Money
If this is your first foray into running your own business, the reality that you have to make money can be a difficult one to stomach day in and day out. Unlike most jobs where your work is related to task accomplishment as opposed to the overall pressures of keeping the business running happily in the black, owning your own business never stops being about making money. While it's true that owning and operating your own retail store is also about freedom, creativity, a chance to be your own boss, and more, if you aren't able to also handle the monetary pressures, you're bound to have a hard time succeeding.
5. Sales Consistency Is Hard to Come By
Wouldn't it be great to know, once your business was up and running, that you could eventually count on a certain amount of sales each week, month, and quarter? It certainly would, but it isn't likely to happen. Retail tends to do well leading up to the end of the year because of the holiday season, but other than that, future predictions are notoriously hard to count on. You may have had a huge Wednesday last week only to watch this Wednesday come and go with nary a sale. Don't despair! It isn't a predictable consistency that's going to keep you from falling into the red and staying there, it's simply making enough overall — even if the bulk of it happens one month each year — to stay afloat.
6. It Will Be Hard
If the previous five realities haven't helped you hone in on this last one, here it is, stated plainly: Opening your own retail store is going to be hard. From the pressures of making money to the difficulties of finding strong employees, the path to success is a trying one. That being said, if you can handle these six realities, you'll probably find yourself coming to terms with a seventh: It is worth it.