Having been in the retail consulting business for over 35 years, I continue to get calls from people who ask me how they can start a retail business and what they need to know before they do? I have fielded many inquiries of this type over the years and I noticed that a pattern exists among the folks who have contacted me. The patterns seem to be composed of folks who have a fleeting thought today about being in retail, which will be gone tomorrow. There are folks that genuinely want to get into retail but do not know how. Lastly, there are people that really want to pursue a career in retail and are doing initial, well thought out, research before they leap. After only a short conversation, I can tell the difference between these three types of callers.
Once contacted, I start my conversation with these people by figuring out which of the 3 types of inquiries I may be facing. Those folks who have a fleeting thought about retail always seem to be unprepared for any question that I may ask them. I typically ask them to think about a few key questions and call me back with answers. The next day they are onto another thought and they never call back.
How should you proceed?
Those folks that are serious about retail but do not have a clue how to get into retail tend to have done no preparation for any type of conversation about a new career. My best advice to these folks is two-fold. First, go to amazon and buy a series of how-to books about retail and read them – cover to cover. There are many very useful guides available and I would recommend starting with the Retail Business Kit for Dummies…(https://www.amazon.com/s?k=retail+for+dummies&ref=nb_sb_noss_1). It is a decent initial guide that will give the reader helpful insight into what one needs to do to open a store. There are other similar books on Amazon as well that can be useful in rounding out a person’s retail awareness.
Secondly, if a person is serious about starting and owning a retail establishment, I strongly suggest taking a job in a store that is part of a successful large chain of retail stores and learn everything you can over a year or two. Watch everything you can and ask as many questions as you can. You will learn a lot about how to run the store and you will be better prepared to start your own.
For those people who are preparing to open their own retail company and are doing well thought out research, I applaud them. I answer as many questions for them that I can and often suggest they also read the retail books mentioned above. Typically, the big unknown for a person heading toward a retail career of their own relates to the finances involved. I strongly suggest doing your homework on this subject before asking questions and understand how retail math works.
If you are unable to do that get a partner who can. Become capable of accurately planning your sales, expenses, and cash use patterns before you invest your life savings. Know the retail benchmarks that will guide you. Lastly, and I cannot stress this point strongly enough, choose a retail product line to sell that is popular, has demand, locate your business in an area where shoppers will find you and advertise.