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Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and independently-owned retailers are one of the most common and popular small business types around today.


From clothing retail to sporting goods and everything in between, locally owned small business retailers are a vital part of the business landscape – but just like any other business, they have a number of unique challenges and issues they have to face down. If you’re an established retailer and need a fresh perspective, or if you’re considering entering the retail game, here’s five of the biggest and most common retail challenges you’ll encounter:


Available Finances: Sounds pretty obvious, but as this is the most common problem a business will encounter it’s important to always bear in mind. Even the most successful business is going to run into cash management problems, and the best solution is to plan ahead. Try to always keep decent cash reserves and savings on hand to get through the slower seasons, and if your bookkeeping is getting a little too complicated there’s no harm in calling in some outside help like an accountant or anything.


Managing Inventory: A retail location lives and dies on its inventory – you won’t get customers if you don’t stock items they want, but there’s the ever-present risk of over- or under-stocking on popular items. Even if you’re just a small storefront, you’ll frequently want to do some careful review of your previous sales and current inventory levels to make sure you’ve got the items you need and the items that will sell.


Equipping (…and Outgrowing) Your Storefront: Even if you’re happy with your location, there’s always issues with stocking items and displaying them properly. The need for things like wire shelving and retail displays will lead to constant reorganization and potential expansion – it’s important to always keep the layout and design of your store in mind when choosing what items to stock and what items to display, not to mention the potential need to move or expand to a second storefront.


Marketing: In a similar vein, getting the word out and displaying your wares is one of the biggest hurdles any retail store has to get over. It isn’t enough to simply set up an attractive product display and let the customers find you – you need to both identify your customers and the best way to reach them. Look into social media, local publications (newspapers, weekly magazines, etc), email campaigns, or any method your customers will respond best to.


Finding The Right Staff: As much as you’d like to, you can’t do it all yourself. If your store starts getting more customers and expanding in business, you’ll eventually get to the point where you need to bring in some help around the shop. As much as you might want to hire your friends, the unfortunate truth is they might not be the most qualified for your business. Give some thought to what you’d want in an ideal staff member, and get out there and find them!

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