Owning and Running a Shop
Is a shop on the high street right for you?
Many of us want to give up the drudgery of a commute to a gray office in the city. Running one's own business is a surprisingly popular goal - or sometimes just a dream. A shop is always seen as the most obvious choice - it is a business that everybody sees on a daily basis, and the concept of buying goods to resell is readily understood. It can't be that hard can it?
But is the business opportunity of owning and running a retail shop in the high street the right decision? You have to choose the line of goods you want to sell, decide on the location of the shop and ensure that it is made suitable for the business you have selected. At each step of the way your decisions will involve investment in both time and money.
You must also consider all the pitfalls - and the benefits - of going into business yourself. Are you suited to working for yourself?
There are many questions that you should consider before making the decision to start and before incurring substantial expenditure. However, a proportionate amount of time and money spent on your business plan before deciding to go ahead can safe you anguish in the future.
Looking to buy a shop?
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Retail management - or retail drudgery?
I often think about buying a shop in a small town center, away from the hustle of the city, selling the sort of goods I like. Fishing tackle or diving equipment, tools, books, sparkling gadgets...
This means that my reason for wanting to buy a shop might not be good enough to go ahead with such a business opportunity! Do I simply want to escape my day job and run away to a shop full of toys? By toys I mean the sort of things I like. It is absolutely essential that I look further than this, and ask two main questions:
1. Is running the sort of shop I have in mind going to be right for me, keep me interested and give me the sort of job satisfaction that I am looking for?
2. Is the business plan economically viable? Does the town where I live need another fishing tackle shop?
The first question will require a lot of soul searching, a look at the different options and discussions with family and friends. Very often it is someone who is close to you that will need to say "You would only last five minutes behind a shop counter...you would be so bored!" You may have considered this, and be planning a shop with staff and a manager to run it. You might want to be involved in the strategic management, searching for new lines to sell, opening another branch. The important point is that whatever framework for the business opportunity that you are envisaging - you feel that it is right for your personality, ability and aspirations.
The second question is the nuts and bolts of the venture. You have to determine if your business is viable before risking your savings or taking out an expensive loan. This requires a lot of research and preferably an ability to knock up a comprehensive spreadsheet of likely trading and other financial considerations.
As an accountant I have no problem in writing detailed business plans, together with financial projections of trading, balance sheets and cash flow. If you have difficulty with spreadsheets then you need to seek assistance, perhaps from an accountant. Just make sure you research and communicate all the likely costs and variables to him or her.
"Failing to plan" is "planning to fail". You must do this and hopefully the resulting detailed examination of the numbers, the market, the finance needed, the staffing availability etc will tell you that you have a chance and how much it is likely to cost you. Even then you should add a healthy extra provision as a contingency for unseen things. What if your supplier suddenly turns round and changes his mind about giving you credit - he now wants payment in advance. You need a contingency for unforeseen cash-flow. Many otherwise successful businesses fail owing to poor control over their cash flow and failing to plan for unforeseen circumstances.
Get a retail shop right and it can provide a rewarding, expandable and interesting career. As a business opportunity it must be planned and thought out in the same way as any costly financial venture.