Whether you want to open up a consignment shop, a pet salon, or a coffee shop, a small town can be a great place to do so. There are many advantages to opening a store in a small town. For example, entrepreneurs can count on local support, which they are more likely to receive in a close-knit community. Additionally, there is also often less competition in a small town, which helps a new business stand out. It sounds like an ideal situation, right? Well, there are a few essentials that any entrepreneur will need to open their shop in a small town.
A new store owner will want to take steps when opening their business, including studying the market, developing a solid business plan, keeping expenses low, utilizing your existing network, and focusing on what makes your store unique.
Of course, there is much more to know than what is briefly touched on above. So, if you’re considering starting up a store in a small town, be sure to read on for eight invaluable tips to make sure your outfit is a success.
Study Your Market’s Needs
If your town already has five coffee shops for each resident, there probably isn’t much need for another one, as competition for customers is likely already fierce. This is just one example of why studying what your town’s commercial districts already offer is so important. Don’t be afraid to fill a gap that you find, even if it’s in an area you aren’t as familiar with. For example, you may want to open a cosmetology practice in the town square, but if you find that hair stylists are more in demand in your area, you may pay to consider changing your store’s focus.
Come Up with a Solid Business Plan
A business plan is the backbone of any new endeavor. Such a plan can basically function as a roadmap to help guide your operation as it begins and grows. And a good business plan will be thorough and precise regarding the store’s target audience, expenses, and more.
Creating a business plan will help business owners answer vital questions that financers will want to know, such as:
- What will your store sell?
- What is the store’s target audience? (How does this compare to the town’s demographics?)
- What are competitors already operating in your area?
- What expertise do you have in the field?
- Are you hiring experts to take care of aspects such as merchandise pricing or taxes?
Take time to consider everything when making up your business plan. For example, how will you compete with competitors? How will customers be attracted to the store, and how will you keep them returning? After all, if you don’t know how to keep your customers happy, you won’t have many after long.
Keep Cyclical Expenses Low
There will also be many routine expenses that every small business should prepare for. This can include aspects such as rent, taxes, and insurance. While there is little that can be done about the former two, business owners will have several options when looking for insurance for a small shop. Such insurance can provide peace of mind and protection from employees’ injuries, mistakes, accidents, and more. In many locations, such coverage is a requirement to obtain the proper licenses or sell on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.
Several factors can impact what price a small retailer may pay for their insurance coverage. For example, a makeup artist will have a lower monthly premium than an electrician due to their work’s differing levels of inherent risk. Other factors that can impact insurance costs include coverage limits, the location of the business, and claims history.
Utilize Your Existing Network
One of the joys of small-town life is knowing your neighbors. This feeling of congeniality and community is a vital energy source for any small-town business. Networking with others in town will help introduce your store to more people and also get the wider community excited to support you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
As with any new endeavor, you won’t know what you don’t know until you really start to dig in. Mistakes will be made, and this is okay! Sometimes a mistake can have an unexpected silver lining. Don’t believe a mistake can be a blessing in disguise? Just look at the origin of the ice cream cone.
All the way back in 1904, one of the first documented uses of an ice cream cone took place because an ice cream vendor made a mistake. He ran out of bowls to serve his product in. Usually, this would be a terrible mistake. After all, how can you sell your goods if you can’t serve them? But, as luck would have it, the next-door vendor was a Syrian baker who was able to roll up some cones and save the day quickly.
Focus On What Makes Your Business Unique
No matter the industry, there will always be competition for your store, whether it is from local competitors or online retailers. In the face of this fact, it always pays to play up what makes the experience at your store unique. This uniqueness could be stocking hard-to-find items that you can’t find anywhere else—or providing free consultations and services that customers can’t easily find online.
Want a service that you can provide that will attract customers and even bring in ancillary income? Then, consider becoming a notary public. The process isn’t too rigorous, with most states requiring notaries to submit applications, take required courses, or pass an exam. Check the National Notary Association database to see if there may be a need for a notary public in your town square.
Cultivate Your Customer Base, Keep People Coming Back!
The success of any small business will be tied to the customer base they can build. If people stop in once and never return, your business won’t be open for long. So, constantly work on improving existing customer relations while always looking to add to your client list.
Have a Grand Opening
Finally, it is time to celebrate once you’ve done all the hard work of preparing to open. And what better way to announce your entry to the community than with a grand opening! Advertise in advance and be sure to decorate so that people recognize something is going on. Make things fun with door prizes and discounts to attract curious townsfolk. The buzz that a good opening can create will provide a boost to any new business.