Before taking the leap to start a boutique, it’s important that you take the time to analyze what owning a business will look like in your life. Whether it’s a brick and mortar store or an online boutique, owning a business is a big (yet awesome) responsibility.
Do you have what it takes to start a boutique?
Maybe it’s because you have an eye for fashion, or you see a need in your city that your boutique can fill (that’s why I started my baby boutique), or perhaps you have a brand new idea that is fresh and unexpected. Whatever the reason, you’ve got the passion in your heart for opening a boutique and it’s time to find out if you’ve got what it takes!
You might be asking yourself: Am I qualified?
To tell you the truth, it’s really not about having a certain amount of job experience, retail knowledge or even business skills. If you’ve got the passion and vision to jump in, you’re already part way there. But before you go further, take a moment to do a reality check and make sure you’re going to be able to stick with it through the long haul. As I said, business ownership is a huge responsibility, and while you may be in the “what if” stage now, asking yourself these questions will help you determine whether or not you’ll move into the “I’m really doing it” stage.
Here are some important questions that you need to ask yourself as you walk down the road towards opening a boutique. So grab a pen and paper and take at least 30 minutes to answer these questions with an open heart and mind.
5 Self-Evaluation Questions Before You Start a Boutique:
1. Do I need a regular paycheck?
There are no guarantees that you will make a profit your first year. You’ll need to evaluate your living expenses and determine how much, if any, of your current paycheck you can afford to lose. If you’re not prepared to live on personal savings or having a side income until you become profitable, do you have support from a spouse, parent or close friend that you can rely on?
2. What kind of hours am I prepared to work?
Running a brick and mortar business means being present in the store during the hours that it’s open. Will the hours that you put on the front door be staffed primarily by you, or do you plan to hire staff right away? I know this fact seems obvious, but this is something that we often forget in the beginning stages of our business planning. Hiring employees adds another layer of complexity to running a business, and in the early days you may not have the funds to pay someone to help you out. It’s entirely possible to work the hours yourself, but at least for the first several months you’ll need to prepare your life (and those in it) for a lot of time in your awesome new shop.
3. How much of my personal savings am I willing to invest?
There’s no better way to start a business than to bootstrap it yourself. (Bootstrapping is when you use personal funds to start and grow your business). You’ll need money for start-up costs including inventory to sell, fixtures, office equipment (such as a cash register, scanner and a computer and printer), but also for over-looked expenses like trips to market to purchase inventory, store build out or construction costs, and signage, bags and product tags.
4. Am I willing to ask family and friends for support?
In business and in life, there are always unforeseen circumstances that pop up, and when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s not as simple as taking the day off to tend to things. Taking a day off means closing the store, disappointing your customers and losing profits for the day. It’s smart to start thinking through your friends list and asking those closest to you if they would be willing to help in times of need. This can also apply to financial situations if cash flow becomes an issue while your money is tied up in inventory.
5. What are my weaknesses?
This one may be the most important question you’ll ask yourself. Go deep. What is it that you hate doing the most? Balancing a checkbook? Working alone? Managing finances? Figuring out marketing? It’s impossible to be awesome at everything – so give yourself slack if you have more than one area of weakness…we’re all human! The trick is identifying those weaknesses or huge pain points for you, and writing them down NOW. Don’t hide behind the excuse “I’ll figure it out later,” because later will be here before you even open the doors your first day, and you need to find resources to help you learn or outsource these areas.
For me, it was book work. Ugh, even saying the word makes me uneasy. I’m not into the numbers and ledgers game, it’s boring and redundant to me. But I convinced myself that by purchasing QuickBooks when I opened my boutique that I would be fine, it would all work itself out. But guess what, it didn’t! Three months into owning my shop, I paid a friend to come in and help me make sense of everything, but she only had one day to help. So I then took a referral from a friend for a local accounting firm, but that backfired when I found out they charged $140 an hour! I later was referred to a bookkeeper who was a dream come true. She was neat and tidy, charged only $40 an hour, and also reminded me of when I owed the government money and how to stay on top of things myself.
Take the time to thoroughly think through your answers to each of these important questions, and then share your answers in the comments below.
Were you surprised by any of your answers? What did you learn anything about yourself?
Your Boutique Success Coach