The Complete Small Shop Starting List

Opening a small shop that features products you love to use or even your products can be a great way to earn a living that feels exciting and authentic to your values in life. Walking through your favorite city, you probably appreciate the little stores that rely on their communities to survive and enjoy finding unexpected items in their carefully curated selections. If that’s your idea of a good time, you can give others that wonderful experience in a small shop of your own.

While you might not know the first thing about opening a store with a limited selection or low square footage in a storefront, you can rely on us to give you the complete small shop guide with everything you need to get started. Whether you’ve already got an idea for a concept for your small business or you’re simply toying around with the idea of opening a small store sometime in the distant future, it’s never too early to start researching what it takes to make a store of this scale succeed. Even if you never end up making your dream store a reality, taking the time to look into everything that goes into local independent retail won’t be a waste of time since you can use these tips and skills in other fields or settings for years to come after you go through the complete small shop guide below.

Know Your “Why”

Before you can dive into the nitty gritty details of how to physically open a small store in the complete small shop starting list, you need to get to the heart of the matter and outline what makes you passionate enough about this dream to see it through to the end. One day, you’ll get to a point in your business where the pressure will seem impossibly high and the rewards for continuing to keep your store doors open will seem abysmally low. When this happens, you’ll want to dig deep and remember what got you into this business in the first place so you can push beyond the challenges to the other side of them.

There are as many reasons and motivations for opening a small shop as there are small business owners in existence. If you build a network of other small shop owners and ask them what their “whys” are for opening a small business, you’ll get a variety of answers ranging from “I love these products” to “I want to make the shopping experience I wish I had” to “I need flexibility in my work schedule to care for other obligations like family and school.” Although some shop owners may seem to have simple motivations for having their stores like earning money, these driving forces behind maintaining a small shop have a big impact on how long business owners can last in this industry that can seem thankless and unforgiving at times.

To figure out your motivation for opening a small shop, you can rely on a few different methods to get the inspiration flowing. If you love writing or art, you can journal about it using words, collages, or even painting to express yourself. If you’re interested in spreadsheets, you can make one that lists out the reasons behind your shifting your career to open a small store. You can also think on this subject for a few minutes, but we recommend creating something tangible that you can physically see when your business faces challenges and you feel like giving up in the future.

Consider E-Commerce

If you are still deciding whether to take the plunge and sign a lease on a brick-and-mortar location, the information on the complete small shop starting list still applies even if you decide to begin your shop on an e-commerce platform. Some e-commerce shop owners use it as an opportunity to figure out what works and what doesn’t work while others might make e-commerce their only platform for hosting their shop. There’s no right way or wrong way to use the e-commerce tools at your disposal to build the business of your dreams one brick–or pixel–at a time!

To create an e-commerce shop, you can either build a website on your own, hire a website developer to make a website with everything you need to list products and process financial transactions securely, or choose an existing e-commerce platform to host your shop like eBay or Etsy.

Assemble Your Inventory

Depending on what you sell, your inventory may have different items and you might need to consider different options for storing your surplus of stock. For example, if you have hearing aids for sale, you may need to store them in ways that ensure that their technology won’t malfunction due to improper storage once they reach the hands of a customer so you should look into climate-controlled storage options that are weather-proofed. For smaller items, you might not need a large storage unit or backroom to store extra items. Bigger pieces such as large pieces of furniture may be wise to store in a storage unit with a higher square footage or it might be smart to order them for customers and keep a display piece in your shop if space is limited.

While you may have a small storefront, it doesn’t mean that you can’t sell bigger pieces of merchandise. Even small RV shops can make a decent living by selling RV accessories in addition to selling RVs to customers who want to hit the road and enjoy a life of travel.

While we don’t have the space to list out every possible inventory management technique here in the complete small shop starter list, we can acknowledge that there are different ways to manage inventory. You can either have analog paperwork that keeps track of your inventory or you can use an online or digital inventory management system that does the hard work for you after you fill out the necessary information in it. You can also choose when you want to take stock of your inventory and do it every quarter or every month depending on how often your business needs to account for inventory.

Remodel Your Amenities

When you own a small business that provides experiences for customers, the complete small shop starter list still applies to your situation. If your small business gives customers a service like myofascial release or acupuncture, you can make the setting where your business provides these services feel as updated and comfortable as possible to keep customers coming back. If your company has plenty to offer in terms of amenities, it will make customers feel welcome and also show them that you use their money to invest back into your business.

If you need to accomplish tasks like remodeling repiping, you can schedule them during seasons that are less busy for your business or rent an alternative location to ensure that business proceeds as usual while the renovations are taking place. While you might think that it’s unnecessary to upgrade your facilities regularly, customers will notice if it seems like your business hasn’t replaced their carpet in decades or if it seems like the pipes are constantly leaking in your facilities. Even if the state of the building is beyond your control because you rent your store or business location, you can speak with your building manager or landlord to ensure that maintenance tasks are completed in a timely fashion and ask if you can do some renovations yourself like giving the walls a fresh coat of paint as long as you restore the space to what it looked like at the beginning of your lease once you reach the end of your lease.

Maintain Your Roof

Our list for starting the complete small shop wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that you need to make sure that your roof is in top condition for your business. A roof protects you, your customers, and your merchandise from the elements so you’ll want to treat your roof well and patch up any missing shingles as soon as you notice their absence. You should also hire a roofing service to inspect your roof regularly and follow their recommendations for maintaining your roof.

If you don’t know any roofing companies in your area, you can start by looking them up on the internet or ask other business owners in your region for a referral. If you know a real estate agent in your area, you may be able to ask them to refer you to a roofing company since they have plenty of contractors in their contacts. Once you’ve contacted a roofing contractor, you can get to work on scheduling maintenance at your convenience and make your business look as professional as possible.

Have Your Space Insulated

If you don’t want to freeze throughout the winter and swelter in the summer, you should make sure that the complete small shop starting list you make includes insulating your shop’s space. Even if you have a small shop, it’s still important to make sure that you don’t waste money on heating or cooling due to drafty, poor insulation. If you’re building your shop from scratch, you can rely on a foam insulation business to make your space better insulated.

Beyond keeping your place comfortable in extreme temperatures, insulation also keeps out water from precipitation and other events. When your business isn’t waterproof, it can lead to damaged merchandise and dissatisfied customers who will leave poor reviews on the internet if you don’t address the problem promptly. To waterproof your business, you can contact a business waterproofing company and ask them for a quote so you know how much money you can plan to spend on this service before you schedule it.

Secure Your Financing

While businesses make money, they also cost money. Unless you have a large amount of savings or you’re independently wealthy, you’ll probably need to resort to looking into options for business loaning from credit unions and banks to support your business before you’re making a large revenue. Since everyone has a different financial situation, the complete small shop starter list can’t give blanket advice about finances but we can suggest that you explore all of your financial options from business loans to small business grants to scholarships for extending your education so you can be a savvy business owner before your small shop’s doors even open for business.

Invest in the Necessary Technology

These days, it’s tough to run a business without keeping up with advancements in technology so you’ll want to look into how business IT companies can help you manage information and technology systems if you’re not a tech expert. Running a small business requires many hats as you’ll know from reading the complete small shop starter list. As a result, you might need to learn about technology that could help your business while also knowing your limits for what you can do to keep your business’ technology secure and functional.

Renovate Your Parking Lot

A parking lot line stripe might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of owning a business, but your parking lot is the place where many customers will make their first impressions. Additionally, a parking lot that has lines that are difficult to see or many potholes can be an accident waiting to happen so it’s a good idea to make sure that your parking lot is maintained to avoid unpleasant or unsafe incidents from occurring there. As you review the complete small shop starter list, you should consider how every aspect from the parking lot to the windows tells customers about your dedication to quality service.

Now that you’ve read through the complete small shop starting list, you’ll have everything you need to begin creating a business plan and executing it for your little store. Of course, just because you have all of this information doesn’t mean that owning a small business is guaranteed to be smooth sailing for you. Businesses and organizations of all sizes go through ups and downs so it’s important to stay realistic about the uphill battle that opening and maintaining a business can be while also remembering that it’s worth it if it means that you’ll never work another day in your life by doing what you love.



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