So You Think You Can Finance? The Pros and Cons Retail in the US

Retail sales in the US top four billion dollars each year, so there’s clearly a piece of the pie out there for burgeoning entrepreneurs. Although many starry-eyed would-be Richard Branson’s forget to ask themselves a simple question before they embark on the road to their billions, and it’s “what am I up against?” Understanding different types of retail and business models is integral to understanding where your business will fit on the spectrum of retail success.

How The Business Operates

Obviously, running a brick-and-mortar business is going to have completely different overhead from a simple website, but understand overhead, cost and associate risks helps you anticipate what you’ll need to get started. Dunn and Bradstreet, a notable firm, conducted a study that revealed that 90 percent of small businesses fail because of “a lack of skills and knowledge of the owner.” Say, for example, you’re an excellent yoga instructor with enough capital to start a small studio, it doesn’t matter how good you are at the “lotus” pose if you don’t understand and master the art of bookkeeping– or hire someone who does. Great customer service, smart inventory or service management, effective staff training, strategic merchandising, long-range planning and disciplined leadership are uncompromising pieces to any business that wants to stay successful for the long-haul.

The Strategy Behind The Success

The best product or service in the world will fail unless it begins with a solid, well researched and creative marketing strategy, which includes understanding of your competition. All sales techniques, networking initiatives, advertising, PR and media campaigns fall under the umbrella of marketing. According to Marketing Made Simple, this begins with understanding your customer, and understanding you may not be the best proxy for your customer. Do your research and get into the mind of the demographic you are looking to penetrate, and design your mission statement and value proposition around them. Then, write a marketing plan that’s built to evolve with the changing marketplace. You’re marketing plan could be simple or have hundreds of moving pieces; The American Marketing Association offers excellent, and in-depth tips on creating the best plan for your business.

Ensure Legal Compliance

Some of the biggest and best brands have been brought down by skirting, or simply failing to understand all of the legal risks involved. Most of us have a general understanding that discrimination, tax evasion and embezzlement are a bad idea, but they may not know the intricacies or risk factors involved with the subtle rules of workers compensation or the ins and outs of what at-will termination really means. Protecting your personal assets is also an essential part of successful business operation. There are unique and complex legal hoops for just about every industry, as the law is never a “one size fits all” entity. Food labeling is much different than food preparation for example; every genre of product has its own legal book of rules to follow, so it’s essential to find a knowledgeable attorney, no matter what industry you seek to make a mark in.

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