What should every retail business know? Where are the nuggets in all the cumulative knowledge, insight, skill and experience that these business owners acquire by running companies in a highly competitive and notoriously fickle industry?
Every small business owner wears many hats. In no other industry is this truer than in retail. Business owners quickly become expert in everything from store design and atmospherics, like music and scent, to business financingand product management to customer insights and analytics and of course, all forms of marketing, including social media and everything else digital. Whew! Retail business owners must be adept at continually creating fresh, meaningful, memorable and loyalty-building experiences for its customers.
Cash is king. Chronic cash issues can be clues for things you need to change or fix.
Cash may be king but it’s not everything. Things like your mission and brand promise, for example, need to be priorities.
Culture matters. This is the who you are as a company, rather than the what you do.
Systems can be humane. Outmoded models like “command and control” are being replaced by “trust and track.”
Character is key when hiring new employees. Emotional intelligence (EQ) and things like wisdom, courage and integrity often trump high test scores and acing an interview.
Learn to delegate and trust. It’s the only way to grow.
Plan for rainy days. Plan B will not only ensure your survival but is also what stimulates innovation and creativity in your business.
Partnerships are tricky. Carefully vet and manage this relationship.
Keeping good records is tricky—but a must. No omissions, no short-cuts.
Engaging workers means they call some of the shots. Involvement, being valued, and real participation in running the business are big motivators.
Customer service is a way of life. It’s not a department; you already know this!
Good salespeople thrive on rejection. Good business owners, too: ‘No’ doesn’t deflate, it simply makes you want to find another way.
Dealing with (and managing) clients and customers is an art. The word ‘No’ is a learned skill.
Failure is a good thing. It’s the laser focus on the process, not the end goal, that brings success.
Leave yourself some ‘open’ time. Dream. Stay creative. Think and ponder. Read for pleasure. These are among the most important things you can do for your business.
Additional insights are offered at About.com Retailing. Against the retail formula to success (increase sales + reduce expenses = improve profitability) the site suggests 10 ways for retailers to better their businesses.
Reduce shrinkage by learning to spot and reduce shoplifting and employee theft.
Increase sales opportunities by looking for new chances to sell.
Improve customer service—a never-ending process!
Add new products for fresh and exciting options.
Buy from vendors with best value (shipping, terms, etc.) –not just the lowest price.
Increase marketing NOW, regardless, to keep building your customer base.
Lower expenses for more profits directly to your bottom line.
Get out of the store! Go to trade shows or expos, network, learn—all vital to the health of your business.
Add one piece of technology to save time or money.
Train your staff by passing along everything you’ve learned to them!