10 things for new shop owners to take into consideration

Guest post outlining 10 things for new shop owners should take into consideration.

With the current state of the British high street one of abject decline, is it really the right time to buck the trend and open a new shop? Well, actually, there’s never been a better time to do exactly that. The focus is now shifting on to how to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets and bring new life back into them, so the opportunities for low rents, prime locations and start-up packages from the banks are all there to be grabbed firmly by anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and a great idea.

But if you’re about to set up shop on the high street, there are a few things you need to take into consideration before you throw open the doors and invite the masses in:

#1 – What do you bring to the table?

The way we shop has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, so any high street store needs to have a USP that will grab the attention of even the most reticent high street shopper. Make sure you bring something new and exciting to the table, and are not just a carbon copy of a rival shopping experience that’s already well established.

#2 – Supplementing in-store with online

The high street shops that are succeeding are the ones that are literally ‘covering all the bases’ by having a strong online presence too. Remember to ensure that your branding is tied in across every platform, both in the real world and online.

#3 – Long lease or pop-up?

The type of lease you go for will entirely depend on your business plan. A long-term plan needs a stable base to build customer loyalty, whereas pop-up shops are great for dash-for-cash marketing ideas, especially seasonal ones.

#4 – Get your paperwork in order

Even pop-up shops need to be registered as a business, so no matter what your plan, check with your legal representative that every piece of paperwork is in order. Business registration, shop insurance, trading licences and ensuring you conform to H&S legislation should all be checked by a legal professional before you open the doors.

#5 – Insurance

It’s the dullest topic in the world, but it’s also essential if you’re opening a business to the public. Shops insurance packages that include public liability will cover you and your stock, as well as protecting you against claims made by the public.

#6 – Your vital support team

You need three key external partners when you set up in business – your insurance broker, your accountant and your legal representative. Make sure you have this vital support team in place before going into business so that you can focus your efforts on driving the business forward.

#7 – Legal cover

Shops insurance will cover just about every eventuality, from accidents suffered by the public whilst on your premises to interruption of business due to fire damage, for example. But you will also need to ensure that you have the right employer’s insurance if you have other people working for you so that you comply with employment law. This is a complex aspect of the law, so again if you’re going to be hiring (and even firing) then you’ll need a legal representative who’s well versed in employment law to make sure you stick to the rules.

#8 – Who are your rivals?

Once the legal and insurance stuff is sorted out, it’s time to look at on-the-ground considerations. Before you set up, check that you’re not in direct competition with existing operations or rival companies that already have a loyal customer base. It will be hard to draw those customers over to your shop unless you have a pretty impressive USP.

#9 – Building the brand

It’s actually easier to build a brand online than it is to develop a strong customer base in the ‘real’ world. Most high street shops rely on passing trade, so ensuring you’re in a prime location to attract that trade is key. But you will also need to develop an inclusive marketing strategy that involves every aspect of your business, from online sales to advertising campaigns.

#10 – Have a plan

You’ll be hard pushed to get a business loan without a comprehensive and very detailed 5-year business plan. But even if you don’t need to apply for a loan from the bank, still have that plan. It helps to have a roadmap of your ambitions, aspirations and developmental process so that your business has a sustainable growth structure for the foreseeable future.

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