The 2023-2024 Savvy Shopkeeper Digital Planner is launching soon! That means it’s the perfect time to revisit the five things I wish I’d known about planning for my retail business early on and about planning for independent retailers in general.

When your store is brand new (or still just a dream!), it’s challenging to think about the future because you’re focused on the NOW. So many Aspiring Retailers and Savvy Starters don’t even consider planning. Not only is there not a great source of information on how to plan, but shopkeepers in these stages are just worried about getting their stores started. 

Not sure what stage of your retail journey you’re in? Take the simple, 8-question quiz to find out. Not only will you learn where you’re at, but you’ll also get access to two free resources and a curated list of podcast episodes. 

Commit to LEARN

For those of you that think I’m a natural planner, you’re mistaken. This was a LEARNED SKILL. In my former 12-year career as a detective, my work was very reactive. But as an entrepreneur, I had to learn how to be proactive! 

Thankfully, I’ve come a long way, especially while running two businesses. I HAD to get better at planning for my sake, my team’s sake, my family’s sake, and for life in general.

All of this to say, don’t beat yourself up if planning doesn’t come naturally to you. I promise it can be learned! 

With planning, you have to commit to YOU and your business so you can get yourself out of overwhelm. And this means you have to kick the primitive brain to the curb—you know, the part of your brain that says to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them so you can stay comfortable. 

You’ll also need to set a date with yourself to PLAN. For some, that might be a daily planning moment, for others, you might need to plan once a week, two times a week, or just biweekly. Whatever schedule works for you, the goal is to use your planner and stop wasting time on nonsense. You know what I’m talking about! 

You CAN stop floundering, stop doing things at the last second, and get out of overwhelm. Once you commit to yourself and to this practice, there’s no stopping you!

Because once you realize you can overcome your old ways of thinking, you become empowered. 

Let’s dive into what all shopkeepers—but especially new and aspiring store owners—should know about planning for independent retailers.

planning for independent retailers

You Need to Allow for CEO Time

Have you heard the classic, “You need to work ON your business, not just IN your business?” Well, it’s true! As retailers, we get wrapped up in doing all the tasks IN our stores and neglect the behind-the-scenes. Prioritizing bookkeeping, planning, strategizing, analyzing, and visioning is vital! 

It’s hard to create the time we need on our calendars for the behind-the-scenes work, especially when there are customers to serve and a physical store space to take care of. 

But those higher-level CEO time tasks are what will help you work less, profit more, and GROW! Blocking out that time has to be a priority for you, too.

Journaling IS Helpful (and it Doesn’t Have to Mean “Keeping a Diary”)

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard, “I hate journaling” or “I’m not good at journaling.” My guess is that these sentiments come from the internal pressure to write a perfect recap of everything that happens in our lives.

But journaling doesn’t mean writing a novel each day. It also doesn’t require tons of time or have to be seen by anyone else. For me, journaling means having a place to dump your thoughts and ideas.

Sometimes you’ll write down your thoughts and ideas in the form of strategizing. Other times, it’s more mindset work. 

For example, I dumped all my thoughts around money into my journal while working on my money mindset. Seeing it all laid out showed me that I had a lot of programmed thinking to work through. At the time, I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH this topic consumed my thoughts—until I WROTE IT DOWN.  

In the end, it doesn’t matter WHAT you call it. The point is, we as entrepreneurs tend to have so much in our brains, and releasing it is liberating! Journaling is where you accomplish that.

planning for independent retailers

We Should Work Further Ahead Than We Think

Planning for retailers should happen AT LEAST one quarter ahead. And planning for seasonal products—particularly the Q4 holiday season—is a year-round effort!

Buyers, you know what I’m talking about. We go to AmericasMart in January and find out half the spring items are sold out because other retailers who attended the market LAST YEAR in JULY ordered everything up. 

Newbie retailers often try to order Fall and Christmas items in the summer and think they are ahead of the game, only to find out the same—SO many items are sold out. 

This particular one on the list is probably the one I WISH someone would have taught me sooner. It took years to figure some of these things out. 

Unfortunately, like many of my group members and 1:1 clients tell me, there is no degree in shopkeeping. But that’s precisely why I created Master Shopkeepers. It’s not a certification, you won’t get a fancy degree, but it’s certainly an educational resource for indie retailers.

Debriefing is Important 

After putting all that time into planning ahead, you need to do some work afterward to track, summarize, and document your wins! The pre- and post-work go hand in hand.

Too often, we are so focused on getting things DONE. However, we forget to analyze, review, document, and strategize after the fact. Doing a debrief shows you what you did well and helps you make better planning decisions going forward. 

Planning is a Commitment to YOU

If you’ve listened to any other episodes of the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast, you’ve probably heard me say this before. Independent retailers are really good at wearing 100 hats, people-pleasing, and doing everything for everyone else. We’re creatives, we’re multitaskers, and we’re hustlers.

Although I can sometimes appreciate those traits, the unfortunate and sad result is that we can neglect ourselves. In the end, that sometimes means ignoring some parts of our businesses. 

But your business doesn’t exist without YOU. Planning is a commitment to YOU and the life YOU want to live.

Resources

Timestamps

  • [08:43] You Need to Allow for CEO Time
  • [10:24] Journaling IS Helpful (and it Doesn’t Have to Mean “Keeping a Diary”)
  • [12:14] We Should Work Further Ahead Than We Think
  • [15:09] Debriefing is Important
  • [16:12] Planning is a Commitment to YOU

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