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  • Writer's pictureAminu Hashim

Deciding If Retail Is Right for You

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

So, is the retail business right for you?

If the prospect of excitement, change, and constant improvement seems right for you? then retail is right up your alley. The following questions can help you think more deeply about whether or not retail is for you:

Do I like to sell?

Retailing is selling! But don’t worry, the days of turning the customer upside down and shaking him till the money comes out are over. Your advertising, your displays, and the contact you have with your customers are all part of the selling process. (The customers think it’s good service, but you’re really trying to sell them your product.) If the idea of selling scares you, beware. Retailing is selling — no matter how you disguise it.

Do I like to buy?

Part of retailing is shopping. If you find shopping to be a pain, you better find yourself a good buyer — or you better not go into the retail business. You have to know what your competition is doing. You’re not looking to steal their ideas, but their ideas can certainly inspire some great ones of your own.

Do I like dealing with and serving people?

Retailing is a people busi- ness. As a retailer, you must deal with emotions both high and low. Many times, you must deal with irrational people, rationally. If you welcome this challenge, you may be right for retail.

Do I like to network?

Retailing is establishing contacts. When I ask myself what made me successful, I realize that I couldn’t have made it without all my business contacts who’ve helped me over the years. Through them, I can find out which merchandise is selling and which has “slowed up,” who has the best buys, and where the best seminars are. My contacts are also there for me when I get a little down in the dumps. Sometimes it’s nice to have a friend around.

Can I motivate people?

Retailing is motivating your staff. Can you inspire your employees to man the ship and get things done when you’re not around? If so, not only can you be a successful retailer, but you may also have the ability to own multiple stores — perhaps even an entire chain! The ability to motivate others is a skill that winners have.

Do I mind sacrificing my schedule to accommodate my customers?

Retailing isn’t a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 job. You must be in the store when your customers are there — you have to be present when and where the action is. Don’t worry, you can still have a normal life and schedule — it’s just that your normal will be a little different. (You get used to it.)

Do I like to plan?

Retailing is planning. You must plan your buying trips and what you will buy on these trips. You must plan your budget. Plan your staff. Plan when to change your displays. Plan your time on the selling floor. Get the picture? Planning is just part of the business.

Do I like to master new things?

Retailing is constant learning. It doesn’t take place in the classroom, but when attending trade shows, looking at merchandise, listening to salespeople, going to seminars and workshops, and reading trade publications. You must keep up with what’s happening in your industry. There is nothing worse than a stale retailer.

Do I like displaying, arranging, and changing merchandise to make it look appealing enough to buy?

Retailing is displaying your merchan- dise in the most attractive way possible. The ability to arrange a selling floor to make the merchandise say “Buy me!” is one of the most valuable talents a retailer can have. If you don’t possess this ability, find someone to do it for you.

Do I know (or can I master) some basic accounting to understand how I’m doing financially?

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ll have my accountant handle that.” Sorry to tell you this, but there are a few basics that you yourself must commit to do weekly and monthly. It’s not that bad, so don’t get nervous — just accept the fact that you must master a few basic accounting skills.

If most of these questions excited you, you will make a great retailer. If, as you read them, you thought, “I can do that,” you have retail in your blood.

But if you’re thinking, “I just want to open a small gift shop and sell souvenirs — all of this can’t apply to me,” you need guidance (and Kamel by Kenga) in your business life more than you think you do. If you think that having some old fixtures from a store that closed and knowing a company that can supply you with some merchandise are good enough reasons to go into the retail business, think again.

From the challenge of finding the right products to sell, to the thrill of buying it, and the excitement of unpacking it and showing to potential customers what you have in store, retailing can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences you ever have. Nevertheless, 15% of all new retail businesses on average fail within the first two years. Why? Because people don’t spend enough time learning about selling products in order to understand whether it’s right for them. This doesn’t have to happen to you. Retail business is a wonderful business — if you’re the right person for it. In this series, I'll give you an idea of what the retailing is all about so that you can decide whether it's right for you.

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