Many people dream of having their own business or a retail store. If you are one of them, you can make this dream a reality by following the tips discussed in this guide. Opening a shop is not difficult but it requires careful planning.
10 steps to opening a shop
- Find your niche and conduct market research
The first thing you need to think of when starting the process of opening a store is what type of company you want to create. You have to decide on what the business will focus on and what products it will supply. To determine that you should think of:
- what your interests are
- what obstacles you might face when selling a certain product
- what will the potential demand for the product be
- how profitable selling this product can be
- who will your competitors be
Conducting market research allows you to answer all these questions and think of the detailed concept for your shop or retail business. Before opening a shop you need to make sure that what you want to offer will be original. Analysing the market can make you realise what the customers like and can help you alter your ideas to make them more adequate to clients’ needs.
- Write a business plan
No matter whether you’re trying to open a shop or a different kind of business, preparing a business plan is crucial. A business plan will guide you through each step of opening your own company. A good retail business plan should be divided into several sections. These are:
|section||what should it cover|
|Executive summary||What your overall business idea is.|
|Business analysis||What the situation on the market is and who your competitors are.|
|Marketing strategy||How are you going to advertise the product and attract customers.|
|Products||What do you intend to sell.|
|Management||How many people will you need to hire and what will their roles be.|
|Financials||What are the expected costs of opening and running the business. What is the expected profit.|
- Get finances and register your business
Opening a shop requires a big upfront investment. Even if you have some money saved, most people need to get some extra capital to start. The easiest way to finance the opening of your shop is to get a loan. You should look for loans that come with low interest rates, and you will pay it back once your business is running and making profit.
Once you have a budget you can move to making your business become a reality.
- Pick a business name – to register your business you will first need to decide what you want to call it. The name should reflect on the purpose of your company and be memorable. Coming up with a name for your retail business can be tricky but you can be as creative as you want.
- Decide on the legal structure of your business – to register your shop you need to think of what the ownership structure will be, and what type of business you will register as.
- Obtain necessary licences and permits
It is important that you apply for all essential licences and permits. Without that, you won’t be able to operate legally. The licences you might need differ depending on your business type. In addition to licences and permits, it’s a good idea to get business insurance.
- Decide on shop premises and build a retail website
Picking a good location can determine how successful your shop will be. It is important that your shop is easy to find. A few things to bear in mind when choosing your shop’s location are:
|what to think of||why is it important|
|Demographics||Each area has different demographics.|
While your product might be successful in one part of the time, there might be no demand for it in the other.
|Population||The more people live in the area, the more potential customers you have.|
|Competition||If there already are multiple businesses similar to yours in the area, you will need to try hard to stand out.|
|Cost||Rent in some areas is higher than in others.|
As nowadays many customers buy everything online, it’s important that you have an easy to navigate, professional-looking website. There are many website builders online that allow you to build it yourself even if you have no computer skills.
- Get the necessary equipment
Once you’ve decided on the location of your shop and signed a rental agreement you will need to fill in the empty space with the necessary equipment. That includes:
- Tills and retail POS systems
- Card machine and merchant account
- Things to display stock like a tagging gun or a label maker
You also need to consider utilities like water, gas, electricity. Before you sign a contract with one energy provider make sure to do a price comparison to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your business. You might want to consider hiring an energy broker so they can compare all the available tariffs and advise you as to which one will be the best for your needs.
- Build partnerships with vendors
Finding trustworthy vendors is extremely important to ensure that the products you get from them are of high quality. Moreover, if you are on good terms with them, they can sometimes offer you discounts or let you know about new products that might be a nice addition to your shop. You need to make sure that vendors you work with are reliable so that if at some point any problems occur, they will quickly be dealt with.
- Hire staff
You should put a lot of thought into hiring staff as, on a daily basis, they will interact with customers and will represent your business. You should make sure that they are trustworthy and friendly and that they can easily grasp things like using a POS system. It’s important that your employees have a real passion for retail and want to help you grow your business.
- Market and promote your business
Once you have everything set up you need to spread the word and advertise your shop. To promote your business you can use social media, email marketing, or paid marketing strategies. You should also familiarise yourself with SEO-tools to increase your website’s visibility online. You can also reach out to local newspapers to ask about print advertising.
When promoting your business on social media make sure that you engage with your followers. A good idea is also to hold various events during which people can get free samples of your product and find out more about what you offer.
- Prepare an exit plan
While everyone wants their shop to be successful and operational for as long as possible, you must be prepared for a scenario where things don’t go as planned. If you’re ever looking for an exit strategy, your main options are:
- selling the shop – you should always meet with several potential buyers before signing a deal
- franchising the business – that means that you would sell instructions on how to open a shop like yours to third parties who would then create it and run it themselves
Things to keep in mind when opening a shop
- Opening a running a store means working 7 days a week.
- Customer demand constantly changes.
- There will be periods when your shop will be less lucrative.
- There will always be customers who are not satisfied with your products and services.
- There will always be rude customers.
- When you first open the shop you might have more expenses than income.
- It might take a long while for customers to start noticing your store and choosing your products.
- At some point, you will most likely have to fire an employee who does not perform as well as you want them to.
- Great customer service is the key to success.
- Running a business is not easy but it can be very rewarding.
The importance of customer service
Showing your customers that you care about them and their needs is extremely important. By getting close to customers and showing them that they are important, you can build long-lasting relationships. That allows you to make sure they will come back to your shop in the future. A friendly, yet professional customer service is the key to building a good reputation. If customers are happy with how they were treated by you and your employees, they are likely to recommend your shop to their friends and families.
As you can see from the guide, opening your own shop is feasible. It is not easy, but if you plan everything carefully and put a lot of thought into the process you can succeed. The most important thing about trying to open your own business is to make it unique. Nowadays many people open their own shops and other businesses, but not many make it big. You have to constantly ask yourself – what makes you better than the competition. If you can answer that question, you can beat them and have a successful retail business. Even if during the process you encounter some obstacles, don’t give up. Keep working hard and develop your passion and you’ll get there.