I call this a short guide because in the grand scheme of things there is so so so much you should know before opening a store but sometimes when you are in the thick of it you just don’t have time research every last detail. i am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but i do have a bit of retail experience. i worked at a local boutique in college for about 5 years which helped me get the confidence to make sales, learn product and how to relate to woman you just met 5 seconds ago. first tip STOP asking customers if they are “shopping for anything particular today” because if they are they will find (or not find) that one thing and leave. after college i started making necklaces out of old keys and broken bits of jewelry and ended up going to the merchandise mart in chicago and wholesaling my necklaces to boutiques all around the united states. i made enough money to then buy more inventory and product and join a small shop in holland. i was there for a few years until our lease ran out and my partner wanted to pursue other interests. from there i built up a few booth spaces around town. from there i joined a team that put on a large flea market in hudsonville but decided that wasn’t for me. after a few barn sales and more booth spaces i decided it was time to open my own shop. luckily two lovely women had been brought into my life at that time and we had the same visions and dreams and decided to move forward and open our own shop and then decided to move that shop to a new bigger location. that shop, the found cottage re opens saturday and we are so excited to share it with everyone!
the found cottage opening day January 2016
so while moving the store and getting it ready to open again i’ve been really think about what is the most important things to have in place before opening a store. here is my list which is strictly based off of my experience.
1.) A lawyer. i know they are all expensive no matter which one you decide to go with but it could be one of the best investments you make. you should have a lawyer for two reasons. 1.) to review your lease or purchase agreement 2.) to draft up a partnership agreement. it is so important to have a partnership agreement in place. i have had many businesses and projects get messy because there was nothing in writing. a partnership agreement will clear up so much ambiguity and save you from arguments. it also provides you and your partners with an exit strategy that you all agree on while things are good (and hopefully stay good). but sometimes life happens and you just never know what might happen. that is why it’s always good to have it in writing before diving in. do not skip this.
2.) An Accountant. when
starting owning a business it will feel like uncle same is always knocking on your door with his hand open asking for more money. a good accountant will keep you on track, on budget and will make sure you get your taxes paid so the IRS doesn’t come hunt you down. Our accountant also helped us figure out business insurance. (get that)
3.) A safety net of money and a budget. i’m not talking millions of dollars. but you should have enough in your account for at least three months rent and budget for your inventory costs. when looking at buildings not only look at location (which is one of the most important things) but look at the size of the building. how much money is it going to cost me to FILL this place? some people i know have taken on business loans to buy product and while that may work for some i have never wanted to utilize that option. start small, start low risk and work your way up. warning: you will spend a lot more money than you think you will getting started. trust me. (cash register system, music, cash drawer, display fixtures)
4.) Time. a shop is going to take up a lot more time than you think. it’s great and it’s magical but it is WORK. if you are not there, things will not get done. we have fantastic employees at our shop but you as an owner still need to be present and in tune to what your customers needs and wants are. not to mention nobody will know or take care of your store like you would. you will need to be present.
5.) PLAN. this is one thing that took us a little time to catch on to. sit down with an actual paper calendar and figure out your year. when you are going to have your spring event, when you are going to set for christmas, when you need to get your holiday orders in. PLAN PLAN PLAN. the first few months of our business we did not plan and flew by the seat of our pants (which let’s be honest is just going to happen sometimes). but your life is going to be so much easier if you plan.
6.) enjoy the ride. this is a journey. your business is not going to be what it was the day you opened. that is GOOD. have a vision, have a dream but enjoy the ride. you will never open your first store again. you need to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on them, grow and expand. enjoy it!
i hope these help all you entrepreneurs out there. like i said at the beginning there is so much more to opening a shop than the 6 above but i felt these were the MOST important to get started. go get em!