5 Things I Wish I knew about Retail… Before I got into Retail

Clothing Retail?  Sure, I lovvvvve clothes…

Retail is a fickle beast.  It can suck the life out of you, or invigorate and inspire you.  It’s really about your perspective on any given day.  Tomorrow is a whole new day with a whole new perspective. Here’s five things I wish I knew about retail before I became a retailer.

  1. If you’re not already married before getting into retail, prepare for your first marriage.

Retail is an all-consuming business.  It’s a 24/7 365 gig.  It’s pretty rare for any independent retail operation to begin with the owner able to wear only one hat. Specially on the first go around.  Wearing only one hat is an earned privilege.  If you own your own retail business, you wear all the hats. You had better make sure that you’re passionate about it!  Hate accounting?  Be prepared to learn to love it.  Suck at marketing?  Find a way to learn.  If you don’t, you better have deep pockets cause those professionals cost major moola. 

  1. Retail is almost as far from a Monday to Friday 9-5 gig as restaurants and bars.

Your hours per week will range anywhere from 20-80 hours per week.  Many, many, many, times you’ll find yourself taking a quick break for meals and heading right back to finish setting up for that big sale, special promotion or event. Or even heading back simply to finish that social media post without any distractions or perhaps to tidy up month end paperwork.  The point is you’ll often go back and log untold and uncounted hours to get the job done.  Nobody will do it for you. 

  1. At times the pay is atrocious.

Things change, best laid plans sometimes never come to fruition.  Economies fluctuate.  Your staff become like family and often times, the first person to go without is you.  Be prepared.  Be properly financed and most importantly, when things are good, don’t live like a rock star.  Just because this month, you may be able to afford the lease payment on that new beamer you’ve eyed up for years, doesn’t mean that next month you will. 

  1. Buying shows sound like a true glamour and glitz experience.  Key words “Sound like”

Big cities, fancy meals out and wining and dining all sound like a grandiose time, but the reality is that it’s serious business.  Or at least it should be.  Major Wall street investors will take more time to decide where and how to invest vast sums of money than you will trying to decide how best to invest in your new inventory.  It’s exhausting.  It’s exhilarating and it’s super easy to make big mistakes.  Pay attention. 

  1. It may well be the most stressful, difficult, tedious and all-encompassing job but can also provide you with the most rewarding lifestyle.

A retail life can enable you to take time when you need it, sneak away to watch the concerts, basketball games and dance recitals, and to attend every single parent-teacher interview.  However, it can also be the thing that forces you to miss all those things.  It can help you to celebrate the most lavish wedding anniversary or can cause you to miss it completely.  Don’t sweat it, I mean it sucks, but there’s focus and drive behind that reason to have to miss something, it’s because you’ve decided to not compromise your dedication to your customers because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.  Every retailer knows deep down, that fulfilling that customer’s needs, and locking down the big sale is rewarding to the max.  We all build stores and offerings that are a reflection of ourselves and our interests, and it is extremely satisfying to know that others support you and your vision.
I wish someone had taken the time to tell me these things before I decided to jump on the clothing retailer #millionairemaker #supereasymoney #neverworkanotherdayinyourlife bandwagon!  It wouldn’t have changed my mind or anything, but as a good friend once said, at least we could have been a little better prepared for the agonizing, astonishing, wake up in the middle of the night, super stressful, most fun, and rewarding entrepreneurship path ever!

Marc Beerling
Marc has worn every hat a retailer can wear and now puts his experience and expertise to work helping other retailers increase sales, improve cash flow and ultimately improve profitability. He often says with a grin that he’s “Proudly made every mistake you can possibly make in retail and business ownership. Thankfully, I’ve learned from every single one of them.” Marc began as a Canadian Retail Solutions client in 2012. He saw the science behind it work so well as a tool in his business, that it was soon apparent that he needed to learn how to help other retailers, whether large or small, turn their business around, become profitable, improve cash flow and more importantly help retailers sleep at night!