Are you ready to jump into the deep end of the entrepreneurial pool? The idea of starting a new retail shop is both exciting and scary. There are so many things to learn. Where do you even start when it comes to opening a new woman-owned business?
According to the latest information from the United States Census Bureau, approximately 19.1% of businesses were owned by women. While the numbers still lag a bit behind, there has been study growth in the number of female entrepreneurs in America in the last few years.
Keep in mind you can learn from anyone who has taken a company from a small startup to success. While other women will have unique insights into what it takes to be a woman entrepreneur, you can learn from anyone in your industry and should seek out mentors willing ot help you grow.
There are a few things every female entrepreneur should focus on before opening a store. Here are our top pieces of advice.
1. Create a Business Plan
When you open a new shop, there are dozens of moving parts you must juggle at one time. It’s easy to forget important elements. However, if you sit down and create a blueprint for your first few years in business, you’ll at least know where you’re going and how to get there.
Lay out your plan for revenue, promotion and how you’ll handle the competition. Project revenue, but do so conservatively at first. Get as detailed as possible so you know the steps from your idea to opening your shop doors.
2. Consider Online Shopping Options
Should you also offer your goods online? The pandemic created a virtual economy where many people prefer to shop online and have items delivered directly to their doorstep. Adding an e-commerce store will help you reach customers who might not come into your physical store. Family and friends in other states can support your endeavor as well.
Make sure you have your logistics in place before selling online. Experts predict holiday shipping will increase 12% to about 260 million packages. Make sure you have your packaging and providers in place before the holiday shopping season arrives. You’ll want to take advantage of every possible sell your first year in business.
3. Find Your Cheerleaders
How much your business grows in the first year is a direct reflection of how much others advocate for you. Perhaps your retail shop is based on a small gig you’ve done on the side for years, such as making pottery or reselling furniture. If so, you probably already have a few loyal fans who will sing your praises.
Your family and friends are a good source of word-of-mouth marketing. Make a list of the people who love what you do and might be willing to share your grand opening news with others. Create a street team of everyday people to tell others about your shop.
Ask your cheerleaders to share what you post on social media, tell their family and friends, pass out flyers and coupons. Reward them with freebies, special events and encourage them to keep sharing.
4. Tap Into Mobile Devices
According to Statista, 298 million people in the United States own a smartphone. Experts predict the number will reach 311.53 million by 2025. Before you open your retail shop, spend time learning how to create an app for your customers.
Some ideas for a valuable app include something that pings them as they near your store, a notification about new arrivals or a coupon offer. Keep your app simple and easy to use. Make sure you add value for the customer.
Figuring out how to make an app is fairly simple with some of the third-party software available. However, if you have trouble, you can always hire someone to create the app for you based on your specifications.
5. Study Marketing
In the first year of your business, you’ll likely do almost everything. You’ll need to know how to market your business and bring in new customers. Spend time taking free and inexpensive online courses about social media marketing, how to run ads, ways to create excitement around your brand.
Pay attention to what the competition does. How do they drive traffic to their store? Can you do something similar without copying them? Who is their target audience and is yours a bit different?
6. Understand Safeguards
For most small businesses, the first year is a time without much revenue and a lot of minor mistakes that cost money. Look for ways to safeguard your reputation and your assets during this tumultuous time.
Take out enough insurance to cover your costs if a natural disaster strikes. Set aside some funds for when you have a major mishap or funds are slow to come in. Make cybersecurity a top priority to protect your customers’ information and keep hackers from attacking your site.
7. Learn Finances
Take the time to learn about basic bookkeeping. You can’t stay on top of cash flow if you don’t understand your books.
You should also figure out what financing is available to female entrepreneurs. You may have access to low interest loans and grants through the Small Business Administration or local organizations.
Understand how crowdfunding and investors work to bring cash flow into your business when money is tight. However, make sure you also get the commitment this adds to what you already do.
As a female entrepreneur, you’re entering an elite class of women business owners who’ve gone before you. Take the time to network with other women. Be transparent with yourself and take constructive criticism when it helps you grow. Congratulations! You’re ready to open your retail shop and make it a raging success!
About the Author
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.