Being a brick and mortar store owner can be challenging. I know! I run a home decor boutique with my sister.
When you’re running a store solo, or maybe with just one employee, the weight of being open is on YOU.
You set your store hours and know you should stick with them, but it’s tough.
It’s great when you’re busy, the customers are shopping and sales are high. But, when the slow season comes it can be downright disheartening and frustrating. Plus, we tend to work so hard that we often wipe ourselves out. Our immune systems get drained and we get sick. Tis life, right?
BUT. You knew a “but” was coming.
But, we are business owners. Yes, you built your business so you can work it around your life and dreams. But in the end, we all want our customers, our family, our friends to respect us and our business. We are professionals. And, if you want to be treated that way, we need to respect our customers and our businesses in return.
A little tough love here.
If this isn’t how you view your business, then maybe it’s a hobby.
If you agree that you are a professional, deserve respect as a business owner, and want a path to success, then I want to help you be prepared for when times get tough! Here are 5 tips to help you keep consistent store hours:
Hire an Intern or Employee
Yep, I said an intern. When you’re first starting your business, especially if you’re bootstrapping, bringing someone on as an intern for a 90-day trial run, is ideal. After the 90-day period you can hire them or let them go, but they know from the beginning that this is a learning experience to start and not a job. You can use the 90 days to both determine if you’re a good fit for each other. You never know, you might find that one person who is a great fit and doesn’t expect a lot of pay but the job gives him/her a sense of purpose.
Train a Reliable Friend or Family Member
Who says you have to go through the whole hiring process? You might have a sister, cousin, or bestie who would jump at the chance to help you out. Start asking around and you might be surprised who is willing to be your “back up”. Just set up clear expectations ahead of time to avoid conflict.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re going into a brick and mortar business solo, please don’t set your hours to match those of your established neighbors. There is no shame in starting off with shorter hours and fewer days and adding more. You’ll set lower expectations with your customers and anything you add to it, later on, will just be a bonus.
Use the Time to Your Advantage
The going will get tough and you better get going! January’s can suck for most retail store owners. It’s a reality. Be prepared for this. No matter how slow the season is, get up out of bed and GO. Use January (or whatever your slow time might be) to catch up, to work on overdue projects, to design an amazing window display. If you find slow times makes you sad, do something with the time at the shop that makes you happy.
Set Expectations for Family and Friends
We often hear “that’s the benefit or joy of owning your own business, right?” But non-shopkeepers just don’t understand how hard and demanding it is or that we NEED to be consistent and dedicated to those hours posted on our front doors. Before you open, or even if you’ve been open for years, sit down and have a talk with your loved ones about how staying consistent is extremely important to you and your business.
Will these 5 tips guarantee you stay open all year long? Maybe not, but you can’t say you didn’t make the effort to be prepared!
If anyone knows there are emergencies in life that will result in closing, it’s me. Our brother suffered a heart attack years ago, my sister and I were both new at the shopkeeper thing and we weren’t prepared and had to close for a day. Worth it? Absolutely? We needed to be by our brother’s side. But, I wish someone would have written this article for me so I was more prepared.
DISCLAIMER: When you read this post, know that I understand %$&# happens! I know blizzards or tornadoes will strike, roads may not be drivable, etc. This post is NOT referring to these types of situations.
What I am asking you to do, is to take some time to implement plan B and maybe even a plan C. Even then, we know there are no guarantees but it won’t hurt. It might even take a little bit of time and effort, but in the end, it can only HELP and you can proudly say you made the effort. No shame in that game!
And who knows, that one day you begrudgingly go in… might, just might be a great sales day!