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  • Writer's pictureAminu Hashim

Setting Up a Retail Business

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

6 Steps to guide you through setting up your own retail business

The essence of retailing is buying something and reselling it for a profit. What you sell, where you sell it, how you price and display it, and who you sell it to are all factors that help make retailing an extremely interesting challenge. The old retail business expression “Retail is detail” is as true today (or more so) as it was 50 years ago. And as bright new entrepreneurs enter the retail arena, each one brings a new detail to retail — a new wrinkle in the way to do business. Retailing is about creativity, and if you like change, you will love the retail business. In fact, creativity is the giant-slayer of businesses that are too set in their ways to change.

But while retailing can be a lot of fun, if you want your business to succeed, you need to make sure that you’ve tightened a few serious nuts and bolts. To help you do this, here’s a handy to-do list of the basic steps you must take to create a successful retail business:

Step 1: Plan your business.

The first thing you need to do in order to setup a business is to plan for it. To do this, you first need to develop a business plan, this forces you to document every aspect of your business. Early in the planning stage, define what kind of business you want to open and what’s going to make you special, what kind of merchandise you want to carry, and what type of customers you want to attract.

You must also decide where to locate your business for optimal success and how to design your store to make it attractive to customers. And before you get too far in your planning, make sure that you determine the structure of your business and obtain the necessary permits and registrations.

Step 2: Validate your ideas.

Ask everyone you know what he or she thinks about your idea for a new retail business. Show these people your business plan, but be prepared for negative feedback — even your family members or closest friends will often give you the classic, “It will never work.” (Perhaps they’re jealous that you’re trying something they wish they could do.) No matter. You must ask their opinions — they may bring up some important points that you’ve overlooked.

If anyone succeeds in talking you out of your new venture, your conviction wasn’t strong enough to make it work in the first place.

Now is the time to talk to as many professionals as possible. Contact your local state retail association and the trade show or association that services your industry. Many of these groups can refer you to people who will give you an honest opinion. Obviously, now is also the time to share your business plans with your friendly banker. Even if you don’t need to borrow money, showing her your plans won’t hurt. After your plans have been validated by the appropriate authorities, it’s time to execute them (the plans, not the authorities!).

Step 3: Execute your plan.

Being successful requires more than just having a great idea. Lots of people have great ideas, but not many of them know how to market and execute their plans. As the ad copy said, “It’s NOT how many ideas you have, it’s how many ideas you can make happen.”

Step 4: Orchestrate your grand opening.

Your next goal is to open the store. You must set two dates: one for the “soft” opening and the other for the big splash. For the soft opening, simply open the doors to your business, and whoever comes in, comes in. Taking this step gives you a chance to work out the bugs before your grand opening event that includes the ribbon-cutting, the opening party, and the grand opening sale. No matter how hard you try, preparations usually aren’t complete by opening day, and opening a store that is so unready that it looks unprofessional is the kiss of death for any new business. Your grand opening may be short term in duration, but its effect can last forever.

Step 5: Create your routine.

During your first year, you will establish the way your business does things — your policies and procedures. Are they working in practice? Keep a pad of paper by your cash register, and every time you think about a better way to do something, document it. As your business grows, this habit (which requires little effort to create but years to duplicate if you don’t start early) will become an invaluable tool.

Step 6: Grow your business.

When the newness of the experience starts to wear off and the startup phase is complete, it’s time to focus on growing your business. You must now concentrate on advertising, building your brand, buying the right merchandise, and attracting the right personnel. To maintain your success, you must master the art of selling. And in order for your business to stay afloat, you must keep on top of its finances.

As you’ve probably already figured out, this is the step that never ends! That's why you need a reliable business tool like Kamel to help you simplify management, and ease growth across multiple social media and e-commerce platforms.

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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