Tips For Retail Success

What does it take to open a successful storefront? According to recent surveys and expert advice, it takes a business plan and the right attitude, and some help getting started, such as an incubator program. According to a survey reported on the Small Business Trends website, having a business plan makes a startup twice as likely to succeed. The survey polled almost 3,000 founders of small businesses. For success metrics such as acquiring capital, obtaining loans, and growing their business, the entrepreneurs who had business plans were much more likely to report success. Almost 65 percent of those with plans saw their business grow, while only 43 percent of those who did not complete a plan reported growth. The poll, though conducted by a maker of business plan software, was endorsed by the University of Oregon Department of Economics.

That research result is echoed by Candace Macalino, communications manager of Small Business B.C., The Canadian non-profit agency, which serves 55,000 businesses a year and offers free business plan vetting. According to Macalino, if a business founder doesn’t carry out the research into company activities, goals, and general raison d’être, then it is much harder to succeed.

But a plan is not enough. A new report from The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute reveals that successful entrepreneurs all share common attitude qualities. The research surveyed owners of 1,100 small businesses with two to 99 employees. Based on a 21 point scale, it measured the positive and negative intensity of responses to a vast range of issues. The results found that success oriented small business owners were characterized by, “being able to create opportunities for others,” “doing something for a living that I love to do,” “being able to decide how much money I make,” and, “taking the business to the next level.” In summary, the research found that successful business owners were, “collaborative, self-fulfilled, future focused, curious, tech savvy, and action oriented.”

While would-be retailers with a great business plan and a perfect attitude certainly have a leg up, a little extra help starting out can make a big difference. Business incubators, for example, give start-ups a greater shot at survival. A frequently repeated but poorly sourced Internet factoid claims that 90 percent of startups fail within ten years, while incubated businesses have a 70 percent success rate. Be that as it may, there are a number of good incubator programs that can help a fledgling business. For example, in Connecticut, the Norwalk Redevelopment Commission is planning a retail incubator not unlike a mini-mall, and in Kalamazoo, MI, a retail incubator program is giving new life to empty storefronts.

For those without formal programs, flea markets can act as retail incubators, as Inc. Magazine reported recently. According to the Inc. article, many entrepreneurs start with a passion, give up the day job, and take the leap. Starting up at an incubator, even at a local market, can help independent retailers realize a dream.