There are three main camps that independent retailers fall into when we think about growth: those who are afraid to grow, those who are excited to grow, and those who are a mix of both.
I recently ran a poll in the Shopkeepers Lab group, along with the 2021 Savvy Shopkeeper Survey. Thanks to these polls and surveys, I know most shopkeepers in the Savvy Shopkeeper community are excited at the idea of growth!
That’s incredible—growth excites me, too! I’m currently experiencing a growth spurt in the retail business I co-own with my sister, The Salvaged Boutique. It’s rewarding to see our hard work, research, reading, and hours spent learning how to run an independent retail business all pay off.
I often teach what I can prove through my own business. I’m not teaching random concepts, antiquated business practices, or myths. I’m living the retail business life myself and teaching it to you (in 2021 and the middle of a pandemic, no less!).
Growth doesn’t necessarily mean opening a second location or expanding your current square footage. You MUST have your existing business in order and know how to grow right now before considering a big growth move like a second location.
Here are my top three reasons why growth matters—and why you should continue to strive for growth in your business.
1. Your Personal Growth is Tied to Your Business Growth.
We build our businesses to support us financially, but they end up fulfilling us in other ways, too. Whether it’s the excitement of learning new skills, the joy of connecting with customers, or the fulfillment of solving daily challenges, our businesses provide for us in so many ways.
But if you don’t grow, your business will stop fulfilling these needs. Here’s how:
If you don’t grow…you might get bored.
We learn so much through our businesses. Doing the same ol’, same ol’ day in and day out with no push for growth will lead to a stagnant business and a lack of motivation for you as the owner.
Your contribution to your community may not be as impactful as you’d like.
Whether you give back to your community by sponsoring little league teams or by upcycling furniture that would have gone to the landfill, your business has an impact. Often, that impact is part of the core mission of our businesses and our lives! If you aren’t growing, you can’t continue to make an impact and fulfill your mission.
Your personal earnings won’t grow.
We must pay ourselves, especially if our business is meant to support us. It’s hard to pay yourself more if your business isn’t growing in tandem.
You won’t be able to invest in your personal development.
Retail business owners who are afraid of growth don’t invest in their personal development. That means that some of them never learn the fundamental concepts, metrics, and benchmarks that will help them grow their businesses. Investing in your personal growth as a business owner is critical to your success.
2. You Need to Understand Your Numbers to Grow.
If you don’t grow in this area, growth (or lack of growth) will certainly matter because…
- You won’t identify what’s hurting your profit margin or your net profit
- You won’t know what to do to increase profit margin
- Your profit may not increase
- You won’t be able to pay your employees more
A substantial part of running a small business is just MATH. When it comes to making decisions and strategizing, understanding the math makes it so much easier!
When I work with 1:1 coaching clients, sometimes they don’t realize that if they simply look at their data, the answers to many of their questions are right there.
For example, a recent client and I were talking about her loyalty program. She was paying $60 a month for the loyalty program, and she thought it was too much. When we dug deep into her financials, though, we found it was well worth the sixty dollars!
In her mind, it was an additional expense. She was struggling in some areas, so she thought she’d cut it. But there’s a difference between the math and the drama we create in our minds. The math told us that the return on investment was already there.
Here are some of the questions that we can find answers to in your data, using my new Work Less, Profit More, and Grow! framework:
- Am I overbuying?
- Am I underbuying?
- Why can’t I pay myself more?
- Why can’t I show a profit?
- Am I effectively running my eCommerce shop?
- Will I ever hit my personal pay goal?
- Why am I working so many hours each week?
- Why do I feel burned out?
- I need help—can I hire employees?
- Can I spend more on marketing?
- Am I overspending on operating expenses?
- Am I paying too much in rent?
- Am I underpricing my products or a category of products?
- Am I turning a category of inventory faster than what’s recommended?
- Am I correctly utilizing the square footage of my store?
These are all questions that you can answer for yourself once you know how to look at the information in your business.
3. Your Professional Growth and Your Business Growth Go Hand in Hand.
Along with personal and financial growth, professional growth is significant for shopkeepers. Growing in your industry, niche, and community is personally fulfilling AND helps you be a better leader for your employees.
If you don’t grow as a professional in your industry…you won’t take the time to find and offer new products, designs, or product lines.
From learning to work with vendors to staying on top of trends, you have to grow to continue to offer products that your customers will love.
You won’t create additional jobs.
We all know how important this is for our local economy. But if you aren’t growing, you can’t hire more people.
You’ll limit the potential of your current employees.
Your employees may not be business owners, but they want to grow, too! They have goals and dreams, just like you.
You’ll lose great employees.
If you aren’t growing and they can’t grow with you, they’ll find another place that allows them to develop more.
Your competition will grow.
If you arent’ growing, your competition certainly will.
You might be left behind in your industry.
For example, if you’re a plant retailer who doesn’t spend time educating yourself on trends and connecting with similar business owners, you’re only going to stifle your own growth.
If I walk into your plant store, I want you to educate me on why I keep killing my plants. Other customers might want to talk with you about the prettiest type of monstera plant. Your ability to connect with your customers and serve them depends on your professional growth.
If You Want Your Business to Grow, You Must Grow With it
I hear so many comments from shopkeepers who say they don’t have a business degree. They didn’t previously own a business or had no business knowledge before opening their stores or online shops.
And heck, neither did I! I had a 22-year-old marketing degree before I started our DIY-blog-turned-retail-store, but I’m not sure how much of that education I retained over 20 years.
The truth is, we don’t need business degrees. All we need to do is grow with our businesses—personally, financially, and professionally.
So many Independent Retailers are great at the FRONT END of our businesses. We know how to serve our customers, and we do it really well. We know what they like, how to take care of them, sell to them, and give them a unique and great place to shop. And we certainly love to give back to our communities.
Where micro-retail store owners seem to struggle is in the BACK END.
Want more revenue, want a second location, want to expand? Then start to GROW as a BUSINESS OWNER.
We can kick the excuses to the curb, we can push through fear, we can stop seeking approval from others, and more importantly, we can stop letting others run our businesses for us.
Grow Alongside Other Independent Retailers in Work Less, Profit More, and Grow!
The foundation for my new group coaching program is growing, too! If you’re ready to grow your business, I highly encourage you to apply for a place in Work Less, Profit More, and Grow! Enrollment closes on Friday, April 23, 2021.
This 12-week program has weekly calls on Mondays (with replays available). You’ll also get a 1:1 60-minute call with me and access to hot-seat coaching calls.
You’ll walk away with the knowledge to answer all those questions from the financial section above and the confidence to continue growing your independent retail business. I hope you’ll join me in Work Less, Profit More, and Grow!
- Shopkeeper Shoutout: Debra Miller of Main Street Roasters
- Cassandra Graber, window painter for Main Street Roasters
- Ep. 65: Stop Believing These Independent Retail Business Myths (Part 1)
- Ep. 66: 6 More Independent Retail Business Myths to Stop Believing (Part 2)
- Apply for a spot in Work Less, Profit More, and Grow! — enrollment closes on Friday, April 23, 2021.
- [01:26] Shopkeeper Shoutout
- [07:58] Your Personal Growth is Tied to Your Business Growth
- [09:42] You Need to Understand Your Numbers to Grow
- [14:40] Your Professional Growth and Your Business Growth Go Hand in Hand
- [18:05] If You Want Your Business to Grow, You Must Grow With it
- [20:40] Grow Alongside Other Independent Retailers in Work Less, Profit More, and Grow!