41 Things No One Told You About Starting A Retail Small Business

By Bob Phibbs

retail business tips startupOwning your own small business is a goal of many. You can be one of the few small business owners who make the dream a reality.

You just need to understand what you are in for while you are in startup mode before you open your doors.

While I don’t believe in build it and they will come, I do believe if you go in with your eyes open, you can have it all. I’ve met thousands of business owners from all over the world who prove it.

And, you’re going to learn this retail sales stuff sooner or later anyway, so why not learn it now, before you take the plunge?

And if you’ve already opened a store, read on to see how many you’ve already encountered...

41 Things No One Told You About Starting A Retail Business:

1. You will be solicited for donations before you make your first sale.

2. People in your town will assume you are rich because you have your own business.

3.Some days you will donate more to charities in your community than you will sell that day.

4. As soon as you figure out what your customer wants, they will want something totally different.

5. Every lunch will be eaten standing up, and only one bite of a hot meal will ever be eaten hot.

6. What customers say with their mouths is interesting, but what they say with their wallets is how they really feel.

7. You will always remember the customer who managed to get under your skin and got you to lose your cool...even if you were right.

Discover The Retail Doctor's Guide To Growing Your Business Here

8. Every big event coincides with a terrible storm.

9. Customers will have suggestions for every part of your business - what you carry, what events you should hold, etc. But what they buy, attend, and otherwise support, is another matter entirely.

10. You will work weekends and holidays; if you don't like it, don't go into retailing.

11. Just because someone asks for a discount, doesn’t mean they won’t buy if you don’t give them one.

12. Nobody cares more about you and your business than you.

13. You will outsell your best salesperson... every time.

14. Customers never read the small print on coupons.

15. People think that because you own your business, you have no boss, which is completely wrong; you have many. Your bills are your boss, your building is your boss, plus every customer who walks through your door is your boss too.

16. 99% of the time, that 800 number on your caller ID is probably a merchant-services telemarketer trying to get you to switch to them.

17. Sometimes a Tuesday might be your best day of the week; other times it will be a Saturday. In this business, there is often no consistency.

18. There will always be customers who won't respect your store, products, or employees.

19. Never discuss politics with your clients in your shop or on your shop's social media page. You will be making half of your customers angry.

20. You will fight a losing battle to keep your backroom, stockroom and desk organized.

21. Without a sense of humor, you will never survive. OK, you may survive, but you will be miserable.

22. You’re bound to get pitched by a business consultant who opens the conversation with, "My business failed so I switched to consulting."

23. The customer is not always right.

24. There are many businesses out there whose only business is to rip-off and scam other small businesses.

25. Sales reps lie...even the good ones.

26. If you let your vendor substitute one item for another one time, the next time they will simply send you whatever they feel like sending you, to the point that you won't even recognize it as your order.

27. You will need to force any marketing or PR firm you hire to be accountable, and you will need to fire them when necessary.

28. You’ll have to fire the friend you were sure would be a great business partner or employee.

29. Balancing income with expenses is an art form you'll rarely master.

30. You will eat, sleep, read, breathe, talk, study, compare, worry and probably be flat broke for some time.

31. 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales.

32. You can always be told no and say no.

33. Organization is a skill worth working on; it's what can make or break you.

34. The longer you own a store, the harder it is to ever pay full price anywhere for anything.

35. You will rarely have a for sure day off again.

36. You need to listen for what customers actually spend their money on, not what they say they want.

37. You must study a location before you open your brick and mortar; going by your gut is often wrong.

38. You’ll discover an employee you loved during the interview is unable to do the job.

39. The best parenting advice in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don't know what YOUR baby needs. Your store is no different. Know your baby.

40. Consistently great customer service will make your business thrive, but one bad customer's experience, in the face of social media, can close your doors!

41. Running a business is harder than you think it’ll be, but you won’t really have time to notice.

See also, How To Avoid 5 Sins of a Startup Retail or Franchise Business

But you know what? It can be well worth it.

Even with all of the maddening things that come along with being a retailer, the things you will learn about yourself, your customers, and your community will make your life more rewarding.

And to make sure you thrive once you’ve opened your store, no matter the size, the type, or the location, checkout my best-selling book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business (Wiley).

Discover The Retail Doctor's Guide To Growing Your Business Here

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