We all open our stores for a variety of reasons. For some shopkeepers, it’s because they are passionate about being their own boss. Others love WHY they have their stores—they love their products and are enthusiastic about the value they offer. But then business life happens. And suddenly, the shopkeeper is running their business for other people.
As shop owners, we need to bring in vendors. We collaborate with other businesses. Some of us work with a partner. We establish business relationships with landlords, sales reps, makers, and business neighbors.
With all of these relationships, some shopkeepers let others influence them and how their businesses are run.
To be clear, I’m not talking about family situations—I believe that family always comes first! There are stressful situations that require changing your store hours or other parts of your business to accommodate that family situation.
Real-Life Examples of Shopkeepers Running Their Businesses For Other People
Shopkeeper #1: She had a rented vendor space within a brick and mortar business that she wouldn’t let go of, even though she knew it wasn’t a good fit for her. She was afraid of affecting the store owner, who rented the larger space.
Shopkeeper #2: She was holding on to a failing brick-and-mortar business because she was afraid the commercial landlord wouldn’t let her out of the lease. She was doing well in her separate handmade business, and she knew it had so much more potential than the retail store. But she was afraid to have a conversation with the company that owned the property she was renting.
Shopkeeper #3: She wanted to close her brick-and-mortar store, but she was worried about what everyone else would think if she closed her business.
Shopkeeper #4: This one is widespread. She wanted to grow her business, but her partner was stifling the store’s growth and vision. She played small to appease the partner. She would make decisions to make the partner comfortable and avoid confrontation.
Shopkeeper #5: She was afraid to manage her team. Her employees started to take over her business, including communicating with customers directly on their personal phones regarding business transactions! She just wanted to be “the nice gal.” The situation was causing her a lot of mental stress.
Shopkeeper #6: This shopkeeper let the opinions of random shoppers get to her. They weren’t loyal customers, they didn’t spend money, but they gave their views about her business. They told her what she should do, what types of products she should bring in, what she should sell, and how she should do it. Over time, this has chipped away at the shopkeeper. She was listening to everyone BUT herself. Her store had changed—not for the better—and her vision was gone.
That’s only six of many possible examples, but I think you get the picture.
How to Reclaim Your Business
If you realize that you’re running your business for other people, it’s time to reclaim it. Here’s exactly how to do it.
First, grab your journal. If you don’t usually journal, it’s time to try it! Writing things down, like actually using a pen or pencil and paper, is one of the most effective ways to get results when you’re working through something.
Next, answer these prompts in your journal.
1. Get real with yourself
You most likely know what’s happening and to whom you are giving your control. I want you to write down all of the ways (hopefully, it’s not too many!) you’ve “lost control” to please or accommodate others.
2. Deal with the mental drama
Remember: your thoughts are not facts. Make a list of facts that could be proven in a court of law and your thoughts about those facts. It might surprise you to learn that, yep, there’s fake news in your head! Then decide what you are going to change and what you are going to chuck!
3. Take action
Write down how you will move forward and take action to start realigning things in your business. You may not be able to get a quick fix. Let me rephrase that. Most likely, it WON’T be a quick fix. But a plan of action and a timeline is a great start.
If you’re a people pleaser, this is going to be even more challenging. Your brain is going to want to go back to where it’s comfortable. Taking action will involve A LOT of discomfort.
How Our Six Example Shopkeepers Got Back On Track
All of the shopkeeper examples up above? They were one-on-one coaching clients! I walked them through the same process of recognizing the problem, dealing with their mental drama, and taking action. Here’s where they are today, after working through these problems together.
Shopkeeper #1 was incredibly uncomfortable preparing for the conversation with the brick and mortar store owner. But having the conversation allowed her to take the vendor space off of her plate! She now has the time and space to focus on what she really wants to do with her business: teach and sell online.
Shopkeeper #2 was in a ton of discomfort (and I mean a ton!) at the mere thought of asking if she could get out of the lease. But she did it, and the landlord agreed! Not only did she save over $10K, but she saw her handmade business double in 2020 without the overhead of a brick-and-mortar space.
Shopkeeper #3 sat in discomfort for nearly a year until she became honest with herself about wanting more flexibility in her life. This shopkeeper is now on a path to doing something she loves.
Shopkeeper #4 was uncomfortable preparing for the tough conversations with her business partner and the drama that ensued during their separation. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the fantastic things she’s done since she became the sole owner. Her brand, her business, her personal growth… everything grew and became more profitable.
Shopkeeper #5 sat in total discomfort because her “happy” place was being friends with everyone—and now she had to be “the boss.” This shopkeeper reclaimed her title as BOSS. She has a handbook, policies, boundaries, and all the things she needs to feel she won’t lose control again.
Shopkeeper #6 had to allow herself to be uncomfortable as she set boundaries around these “fake” customers. She had to be firm about how these conversations went. Sometimes you just have to tell people NO! She regained her store’s vision, and things are falling back into place.
Why You Should Reclaim Your Business, Starting Today
You know the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?”
I know, it’s so cliche, but our cups should be full before we even consider pouring into someone else’s. When you start running your business in a way that pleases other people, your cup drains.
You shouldn’t feel guilt over reclaiming your business. It is NOT selfish. It’s called being self-aware. And becoming self-aware is a sign of growth and maturity, as both a human being and as a business owner.
So here is your permission slip: take back control of your business. Become self-aware. It’s enlightening, liberating, and feels great!
- [03:04] Real-life examples of shopkeepers running their business for other people
- [07:26] How to reclaim your business
- [12:54] How our example shopkeepers got back on track
- [16:26] Why you should reclaim your business, starting today