Ep. 139 Five Things Independent Retailers Aren’t Taught About Planning

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 this 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. 

During my Aspiring Retailer and Savvy Starter stages, knowing how to plan would have been incredibly helpful. And now that I’ve learned about planning, it’s a key part of my journey as a shopkeeper!

Let’s dive into the five things indie retailers aren’t taught—but should know!—about planning. 

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! Retailers often get wrapped up in doing all the tasks IN their 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.

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 can 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 the Shopkeeper’s Academy. 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’re so focused on getting things DONE that 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. 

On Thursday, September 22, I’ll be sharing a brand new planning solution made just for shopkeepers. Come back next week to learn more! 


Digital Note-Taking Need-To-Haves

  • iPad 10.2 64 GB, $275
  • Apple Pencil 1st Gen Apple Pencil 2nd Gen, $69-129: I got the 1st generation Apple Pencil, but if you have an iPad Pro I recommend getting the 2nd generation as there’s no cap, and it charges magnetically.
  • GoodNotes app: the free version allows you to have three workbooks, or you can pay $10.99 for unlimited workbooks.
    • Unfortunately, GoodNotes doesn’t work with Android phones or tablets. Based on my research, NoteLedge, Xodo, or Samsung Note might be good alternatives. If you know otherwise, or if you’re an Android user and know of other digital note-taking solutions and apps, please DM me on Instagram and let me know what you use!

If you’re an Android user, you can use a Samsung Tablet, Samsung stylus and an android-friendly note-taking app.


  • Cover with pencil holder, $22
  • LIKE: Paper Feel Screen Protector, $11: this is a film you place on your iPad screen that gives you the “feeling” of writing on paper. NOTE: this one is okay, but I don’t love it!
  • LOVE: Paperlike Screen Protector $49.99: This is a bit of an investment but worth it! This screen protector makes it feel like I’m writing on paper. It’s way better than other versions I’ve tested.


  • [03:12] You Need to Allow for CEO Time
  • [04:52] Journaling IS Helpful (and it Doesn’t Have to Mean “Keeping a Diary”)
  • [07:10] We Should Work Further Ahead Than We Think
  • [09:37] Debriefing is Important
  • [10:40] Planning is a Commitment to YOU

*Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links or codes, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I make recommendations because I feel they are helpful and useful to shopkeepers, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links or codes. Please do not spend money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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