How to Start a Small Retail Business


It's the dream of most working people...not working for a salary and being able to build your own business and reap the profits from your endeavor. It can be either a joyous time or the beginning of years of tumult, heartache and concern. Many of the negatives can be overcome if you deal with the important issues from the start.

Here are some things to consider when you start your own small retail business.

Pick a name for your business that will be as relevant 20 years from now as it is today. All too often, business owners find that the name they chose for their business comes back to bite them years later. Instead of arriving at a name that means something to you, try to find one that reflects a benefit to your prospective customers.

Select a product line that will both appeal to your market and provide your with a fair return. As the saying goes, “You can't sell from an empty wagon,” so make sure that you have sufficient quantities on hand to satisfy your customers' needs. But you are cautioned to buy only an amount that you can sell in 4-6 weeks, the normal “turn” time necessary for the business to make a profit.

Shop your competition, especially since you are just starting out on your own. You'll be able to tell what sells and what doesn't; and, most importantly, you can learn a lot about how they conduct business by simply observing. And if you pay close attention, you will see ways to run your business that are superior to your competition.

Subscribe to industry publications. There are hundreds of magazines that are devoted to the retail business that will give you tips on how to run your business. Stay abreast of your particular products by subscribing to publications devoted to them. They will help you learn more both about how to improve sales and new new products that may be on the horizon.

Also, watch for advertising from businesses with whom you compete. Pay special attention to how they price their products as well as how they get people into their stores to buy them.

Be open when your customers are likely to come in to buy things. Generally, the larger the market area, the longer the retailers are open. However, there are retailers in large markets who rely on the value they offer to their customers rather than the hours they are open. Depending on what you sell and at what prices you sell them, you could find that you can reduce hours, and overhead, and make a larger profit.

Determine how many people you need to hire and how much they should be paid. This should be based on the number of people you will need to run the business, but it needs to be affordable based on anticipated profitability of your business. Ideally, you will be able to offer wages that will attract the best employees.

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