Setting up a new retail or service business is an exciting proposition. The vision of a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening the doors to customers for the first time may represent the culmination of a lifelong dream or your first steps toward financial independence. But to reach your goals and make your dreams a reality, you need to plan strategically to make sure your new business is a success.
Use these 10 tips that can contribute to building a viable business:
1. Write a business plan
You are probably anxious to get started scouting locations, hiring staff, placing orders for inventory — and bringing in revenues — but smart entrepreneurs plan first. Working through questions as you create your business plan will help you develop the vision and direction you need for a setting up a new business that will grow. A well-developed business plan includes a description of your business, the products and services you will offer, a market analysis, plans to promote your business, your company’s organization and management structure, and a rundown of costs, how you will finance the business, and projections for the income you expect.
Your business plan should also explain what differentiates your business and why it will appeal to your target market. You can find guidance for writing a business plan on the Small Business Administration website.
2. Research your market
Part of a comprehensive business plan is an analysis of your market. Your business concept may be new and exciting, but you need to research whether it will be profitable. It’s smart to look at similar businesses in your market to gauge their success, what works for them, and the challenges they face. You can also talk to or poll potential customers in your market to gauge their interest.
Keep in mind that market analysis will be an ongoing part of running a successful business. Once you’ve launched your business, you can use data from your point of sale system (POS system) to track customer preferences and behaviors and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
3. Know and comply with laws
Your business will be subject to a variety of laws, regulations, and standards depending on your industry. It’s important to understand how you must register your business, how to collect and pay taxes, the types of insurance you need to carry, and how to comply with labor laws. Speak with your attorney or other professionals to help you meet all obligations.
4. Choose a great location
Your business’ physical location will play a big part in revenues. Setting up a new business in a highly visible location with easy vehicle access or in an area with a large volume of foot traffic will enhance brand awareness. The location, however, also has to meet requirements for your operation, be up to code — and be affordable.
5. Equip your business with the right tools
You need to plan for ways to operate most efficiently and cost-effectively, and a POS system can be a great asset. You can use your POS system to track inventory to help you avoid over- or under-ordering, manage schedules to optimize labor and costs, and administer a loyalty program and customer relationships. Your POS system can also integrate with your accounting system to save time and eliminate rekeying errors. Investing in a POS system can also give you an edge by providing data that helps you make smart business decisions.
6. Hire the right people
Labor costs are typically one of the largest expenses for a business, so it’s vital that you plan wisely and bring the right people onto your team. Look beyond facts on a resume to choose people who are a right fit for the brand image you want to achieve, who will help to create positive experiences for your customers, and who will help your business thrive.
7. Establish vendor relationships
You need to find the best sources for products to offer your customers the best quality at the best price. Start immediately to find and build relationships with top vendors.
8. Start small
A smart strategy for setting up a new business is to take controlled risks, limiting debt. Work toward turning a profit as soon as possible.
9. Define policies
Provide your managers with detailed policies that they can follow, such as vacation and overtime policies. Also, establish customer-facing policies, including how to handle returns or cancelations. Policies established in advance will ensure fairness and consistency.
10. Get the help and advice you need
If you are setting up a new business for the first time, you may benefit from the advice from experienced entrepreneurs. Join your local chamber of commerce or other associations that support new businesses. It may also be beneficial to find a mentor or advisor that you can turn to with questions. In addition, it’s often beneficial to work with an attorney, accountant, and other professionals.
Your POS solution provider can be another valuable resource. Their team is experienced in providing technology to businesses like yours and can help you choose and implement the best tools for your operation.
Are you starting a new business? We’d be happy to share our point of sale expertise to help you make the right choices for your new business. Contact us!