41 Things to Know Before Starting a Retail Small Business

 In Retail

Owning your own business is risky, but it can pay off big-time. Are you considering entering the competitive world of retail? The Retail Doctor points out “41 Things No One Told You About Starting a Retail Small Business.” Here are some things to consider before going all-in.

  1. You 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 to charities in your community than you will sell 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 coincides with a terrible storm.
  9. Customers will have suggestions for every part of your business – what you carry, what events you should hold, 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 go into retailing.
  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 salesperson… every time.
  14. Customers never read the small print on coupons.
  15. People think that because you own your business, you have no boss, which is completely wrong; you have many. Your bills are your boss, your building 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. You will fight a losing battle to keep your backroom, stockroom and desk organized.
  21. Without a sense of humor, you will never survive. OK, you may survive, but you will be miserable.
  22. You’re bound to get pitched by a business consultant who opens the conversation with, “My business failed so I switched to consulting.”
  23. The customer is not always right.
  24. There are many businesses out there whose only business is to rip-off and scam other small businesses.
  25. Sales reps lie…even the good ones.
  26. If you let your vendor substitute one item for another one time, the next time they will simply send you whatever they feel like sending you, to the point that you won’t even recognize it as your order.
  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 you’ll 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 toldnoand 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 afor sureday 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 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 business thrive, but one bad customer’s 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.

Is it Time to Step into Small Business Retail?

Do you feel passionately about your idea? Do you know and understand it well enough? Are you ready to take some risks? If this list makes you feel ready to take the plunge, then go for it; just heed the above advice.

More Resources:

15 Steps to Start Your Retail Business

50 Small Retail Business Ideas

24 Retail Blogs to Follow

Share this article:
Lindsay Brown
Lindsay Brown is Operations Director of the Small Business Center of Excellence (SBCoE). Lindsay is Director of Digital Marketing and a partner at Modern Marketing Partners. Lindsay specializes in startups of all types, along with experience with technology brands. She is Google Analytics and AdWords certified, earning a Bachelor of Science from the Illinois State University.
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search