How To Start a Successful Retail Business

How to start a successful retail business

Have you wondered how to start a successful retail business? If you’re thinking of starting a retail business, keep reading! I 100% believe that the future of retail is bright – but no one dreams of starting or running a struggling business so read on as I tell you what it will take to have a successful retail start up right now!

There is no doubt that retail can be a big challenge. I learned that firsthand with my own three stores. I was almost bankrupt twice! So I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be successful.

And it’s especially hard if you don’t have the specific skills that you need to succeed. So let’s dig into what you need to know to have a successful retail business in today’s climate!

#1: Know Your Why

The first most important thing to identify when you want to start a successful retail business, is your why: Why are you opening this store? What is it you really want? Do you want freedom? Money? Do you want to impact change? Do you want to take what you’re passionate about and share it with other people and impact their lives and create this ripple effect? Be very clear on what it is that you want to achieve most.

#2: Know Your Numbers

This is key when starting a successful retail business – and to being profitable. New store owners will look for their break even point – but you don’t want to just break even – you want to be profitable!

It’s a common belief that you can’t be profitable in your first year, sometimes even in your second or third year – and this does not have to be true for you (it’s not true for 99% of retailer start-ups I work with)!

For those who aren’t, it’s usually because they don’t account for paying themselves, or for their loan payments, in their sales projections. But you deserve to be paid for what you do, for all the time and energy and effort you’re going to put into this! And you deserve to make a profit from the very beginning – but you do have to pay attention to your numbers to make it happen.

#3: Know Who You and Your Customers Are

Don’t make the mistake I made – I had a kids store so I just assumed that everyone either knew a kid or had a kid – Therefore, everyone was my customer!

That’s so not true. And you’ll waste so much time, energy and money if that’s how you approach your business. To start a successful retail business it’s crucial that you know who YOU are and who your IDEAL CUSTOMER is.

I walk you through the process of discovering these two key points here. It’s so critical that you do this, because once you’ve gone through this process and determined who you are and who your ideal customer is, it makes so many decisions so much easier!

#4: Selling Online

Even if you’re planning on just being a local brick & mortar store, to start a successful retail business, you have to be willing to sell online. You need a website that looks like you, feels like you and attracts your ideal customer.

Keep in mind though that your online store is really its own business. A big mistake people make is not paying enough attention to it once they’ve published it. But you can’t do that anymore. You’ve got to set aside dedicated time every single week to re-merchandise it just like you do your brick and mortar store.

It’s an integral part of your marketing. People now go online and look at your website to determine if you’re the kind of store that they want to shop in, and you need to attract your ideal customer.

#5: Location, Location, Location!

To start a successful retail business if you’re opening a physical location, location is key. When you’re in a high traffic area, you can spend less on marketing. And vice versa. This comes back again to knowing your numbers so you can make a wise decision. Make sure that you hire a lawyer to help with the lease, don’t try to do it on your own, I’ve seen too many people make a mistake.

#6: It’s All About the Plan

Retailers wear a lot of hats! If you don’t take the time to plan (actually make time in your calendar for planning), it will quickly get out of hand – and you’ll never actually see your WHY come to fruition.

But Planning Creates Time!

When you stop and prioritize tasks, and you’re intentional about how to take action, it makes your action that much more powerful. You will grow faster by intentionally planning your time and creating intentional action moving forward.

To start a successful retail business, set up a planning routine that helps you stay focused on High Impact/High Income Producing Activities (HIPA). This is a key strategy to attaining the success you are looking for.

#7: Build a Retail Team

So often people will think they can do it all themselves. They want to save money on payroll, and they know how to do it best and it will just take time, energy and money to teach someone else how to do it. Listen – I get it! But it’s just not sustainable to do it all on your own.

To start a successful retail business, you need help. You can find my top tips for hiring well here!

#8: Learn from Your Mistakes

Along the way, you’ll have failures. You’ll make mistakes. And you have to be willing to learn from your mistakes to succeed.

Remember that truly there is no such thing as failure. Fail stands for:


Whenever you’re starting something new, you’re going to fail a lot. Let it go. Commit to keep moving forward and learn from your mistakes.

#9: Starting Inventory

There are so many variables that impact the starting amount of inventory you should have – Like your rent, how you’re financing the store, the size of your space if it’s a brick and mortar, your financial goals and the kind of merchandise you want to carry.

This is why to start a successful retail business, it’s so useful to hire a coach right from the start. Use a guide, like myself, who’s been there and made hundreds of thousands of dollars of mistakes – so you don’t have to. 

It’s what changed everything for me. I was nearly bankrupt and I resourced up, hired a coach and it allowed me to save my stores from bankruptcy and open more stores. If you’d like help getting your inventory right from the start, apply to work with us here! We’d be honored to help you achieve the success that’s possible for you.

#10: Don’t Start Too Small

The biggest mistake people make when first starting their retail business is starting too small. Thinking they’ll just dip my foot into retail. It might sound like a smart plan, but it’s actually a huge mistake. It’s not the path to start a successful retail business.

You can’t make enough money to be sustainable if your store is physically too small, or if you don’t have enough inventory. This applies to both online or brick & mortar. So if this is your plan, reach out – This is a mistake we can keep you from making.

To build a solid foundation for your retail business, go watch my free class “How to Increase Sales So You Can Pay Yourself & Your Team” here!