Many people harbor dreams of starting and running a successful business. If you have a knack for knowing what’s hot and what’s not, coupled with a talent for customer service, a retail store is for you. Retail is a quickly growing segment of the economy. Follow these steps to get your business up and running.
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Choose a type of legal organization for your business. You must do this before anything else, as it affects how all further business will be conducted. Will you be running the business as a sole proprietor, partner or corporation? Each type is distinct when it comes to taxes and other dealings with the government, as well as funding and any legal issues. You can change your organizational structure later on, but it is costly and time-consuming.
Pick the perfect name for your retail business. Some entrepreneurs have had the perfect name in mind since they were young. Others may take some time deciding. Do not choose your name haphazardly. A name tells a great deal about a business and is a very real part of its identity. Consider all the words that describe the product you are selling. Consider different phrases and terminology associated with your business. Think about what you are selling and to whom you are selling specifically. Instead of “selling furnishings to locals,” you’re “selling glass shabby-chic home decor to 30-something homeowners.” This kind of brainstorming can lead to excellent name ideas. Naming is a word game, so play around.
Apply for your tax identification number (or EIN: Employer Identification Number). The federal government uses this number to identify a business. You must have this number before conducting any business. It is required for any bank accounts or to apply for credit. Once you have a name for your business, you can apply for the EIN. Begin obtaining all your permits. Inform your local city government office about what type of business you will be opening. The city representative will be able to tell you what type of permits you need. Each state is different. Even towns and cities’ requirements vary. Retain the services of a business attorney and an accountant with whom you will regularly confer.
Decide what you will be selling. Consider these questions when deciding what to put on your shelves. Is it a marketable product or category of products? Do people in your area have a need for it? Can you find a way to fill this need profitably? If you can answer “Yes” to all these questions, you have found what you will be selling.
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Write a business plan. Important for many reasons, a business plan is an integral part of the start-up process. This plan is also a must if you will be calling on the assistance of a lender. Banks, investors and venture capitalists will all want a look at your business plan before loaning you any money. It also functions as a time line for the progression of your business. Your business plan outlines your goals for the future of your business and how you plan to achieve them. Refer to it often for guidance.
Find the perfect location. Your retail store’s location can make or break its success. Consider how much space you need for storage, sales and administrative functions, and whether your merchandise requires special storage. Before you make your final decision, check out other businesses in the area. Do not set up shop too near a similar business, unless you are in a very high-traffic area. Usually, you need a location where your business will be the only one of its kind. Consider parking options as well. If you expect to have many customers at once, ensure you have ample parking space.
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Stock your shelves. To sell retail, you will have to buy wholesale. Finding wholesalers of the products you want to sell takes a little work. Attend trade shows for local wholesalers and search online for wholesalers in your state. Look in the phone book and check your local library for resources. Check out retailers that sell similar products and ask about their wholesalers.
Hire your employees. Run an ad in the employment section of your local paper and put a “Help Wanted” sign in the window. Take your time hiring your employees. You will need to hire people who are friendly and have some experience in retail sales jobs in the past. Take a close look at employee applications and resumes. Call past employers and listed references. Conduct background checks, drug screenings and criminal records checks.
Open for business. Schedule a grand opening so your customers will become familiar with your store and the merchandise you carry. Adhere closely to your business plan, including the marketing strategy laid out therein, for the best chances of success.