The steps to retail entrepreneurship

If you want to fulfil your dreams of owning your own local retail business, then there is a series of steps that must be carried out carefully.

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A ‘spark’ of an idea

You will initially have an idea of what you want to be selling to the local community. This has to be managed realistically, however, and to find full support on how to develop this initial idea, there is a series of organisations to contact such as the National Enterprise Network in England, Business Wales, and the Business Gateway in Scotland.

As part of this research, yesy your products with potential customers to see if there is real interest there. Identify such individuals and talk to them to find out what they are looking for. Offer them a basic version of your products and request feedback from them. Do they like it? How much would they be willing to pay for it? How are you different to your competitors? Can you offer something better than what is already out there? These are the questions that need to lead your research.

The next step will be to get appropriate funding for your venture. You will be spending a lot of money initially before any profits are made, so you need to fully research the market to see if the customers exist and if they would pay for your products. For example, would a trendy youth store really work in a town where the average age is over 40?

There are many government-backed support schemes that you can look for on your council’s website, but most individuals will apply for a business loan. In this process, you will need to give the bank realistic cash flow estimates and prove that you can pay back the loan with interest. It is not uncommon for a bank to hold security against the loan, such as a house or car, in case you default on payments, so seriously consider this. If the business needs more money, you can sell shares to ‘business angels’ or through venture capital from other companies.

Developing the idea

Once you have achieved all of the above, you need to write the business plan. This will sum up the customer need you are meeting while also making a profit in the process; the idea becomes a viable business model. Include all aspects of research and funding here.

This plan will be useful to convince partners and suppliers to get involved. A partner may be able to help with a different skillset, enabling you to share responsibility, expertise, contacts and even finances. When finding suppliers, search online and talk to other similar businesses. Get estimates from each company and then you can start negotiating, developing relationships and getting a sense of which suppliers you can trust.

Idea put in practice

Once everything is put in place, the next step is finding an appropriate retail property. Manage your budget carefully here and look for the best location that will offer good customer traffic. Focus the interior design on attracting customers, so signage, promotions, bold colours and vivid images are key techniques to utilise.

If you need the extra help, you may start employing people, but you need to be savvy with your employer legal responsibilities such as paying tax and insurance. You will also need to register with HMRC as an employer. Other responsibilities will include getting insurance for your business and various licences or permits if necessary.

The retail world does not have to be a chore. Follow these steps and you too could be the next Philip Green.