Starting a new business has always been a challenge but there are numerous pressures facing retail businesses today that make starting a new retail business a risky proposition. If you want your new venture to stand a chance of surviving beyond the first year, then you need to prepare properly.

Below we have gathered some simple tips that any new startup can benefit from. With the right approach, you can overcome the obstacles that any retail business launching today has to navigate. It won’t be easy, but these tips will give you the best shot possible.

Don’t Underestimate Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan isn’t just a formality, there are a number of good reasons for having a comprehensive business plan to work with. First and foremost, your business plan will set out exactly what your business aims to achieve and how you will make sure that you can achieve it. By clearly defining your goals and breaking them down into smaller steps that you can achieve on relatively short timescales, you will focus your ambitions.

One of the most important functions of your business plan is to help inform your day-to-day decision-making. For any business, irrespective of your long term goals, the way that you operate your business on a daily basis will ultimately determine your success or failure. A thoroughly written business plan will both set out the milestones that your business hopes to achieve and the path that you will take to reach them. In constructing and defining these pathways, you will focus your mind on answering some of the most critical questions facing any new business. For example, you will need to define your growth strategy and set out a general timescale for achieving growth.

Remember that you can, and should, update your business plan as time goes on. Once you know whether you have been able to achieve the goals you have set yourself or not, you should update your plan to reflect your new circumstances. There is no sense chasing after a goal that has become unachievable. Similarly, if you’re on course to sail past your objectives and achieve even more than you were initially aiming for, you can set yourself a more ambitious target.

Set Clear Goals For Yourself

Setting yourself business goals is definitely a good idea. Your long-term goals will determine your day-to-day operations, whether you plan them to or not. Once you have defined your long-term goals and broken them down into more achievable steps, you will have laid out a roadmap for your business to grow and develop. For example, once you have decided on a reasonable rate of growth to aim for, you can then decide whether you are going to drive sales primarily through a physical retail outlet or through a website.

Whenever you set goals for your business, they should always be SMART in nature. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable on a reasonable timescale. There is no point setting goals that are vague or that have no obvious end-point. Not only is this going to make things difficult for you, but it is also going to be confusing for the other workers who you are relying on to help you achieve them.

Do Your Market Research Beforehand

The more you know about your target market before you launch your business, the stronger your starting position will be. You can never have too much prior knowledge going in, everything you can learn about your audience and the industry you will be entering can prove invaluable later on. If you are planning on seeking any kind of funding for your business prior to or after launch, then you are going to need to be able to demonstrate to investors that you know what you are talking about. No one is going to seriously consider giving funding to someone who clearly doesn’t understand even the basics of the market that they are entering.

Market research isn’t just for other people’s benefit, of course. Extensive market research beforehand will also enable you to make smarter decisions once your business has launched. Marketing is absolutely essential for any new business, but it is a difficult thing to get right when you are working with the resources of a startup. Market research will tell you everything you need to know about how to efficiently target your audience with marketing that resonates with them.

Choose Your Card Machines Carefully

Cash has been on its way out for some time, consumers prefer digital payment methods. Using bank cards and smartphones is much quicker and more convenient than messing around with cash, plus they are much easier to carry around all day. The outbreak of Covid-19 has only accelerated the demise of cash payments, as everyone is trying to avoid handling cash as much as possible right now. The ability to take card payments is something that your customers will take for granted by now.

The card machine that you choose to use in your store can have a much larger impact on your customers’ experience than many people appreciate. Not only will the card reader you choose determine the experience that your customers have but it will also impact your backend operations. For example, utpgroup.co.uk offers a card reader that provides faster payment processing than usual, thanks to their partnership with Barclays bank. They also offer in-house technical support, rather than the outsourced service that many of their competitors have chosen.

Hire An Accountant

Keeping accurate business accounts isn’t just an important part of being a business manager and owner, it is also a legal requirement. When the time comes to submit your tax return, mistakes in your accounts can end up with you having to pay steep penalties. No one wants to deal with the taxman any more than they have to. Getting your taxes right the first time around means that once you have submitted them, you can forget about them again until next year.

Hiring an accountant is the best way of ensuring that your accounts are kept properly maintained and that your taxes are filed correctly. Of course, it will help your accountant a lot if you keep accurate records. Without accurate records, your accountant is going to struggle to help you.  You never know when your business is going to be audited, so it is important that you have the right paperwork on hand.

Hiring an accountant will cost you money in the short-term, but it will save you a lot of time and effort down the line. It could also save you from the financial penalties that you incur when you submit an inaccurate tax return.

Starting your business off in the right way will maximise your chances of success and help your business survive through those difficult early days. The retail market has never been more difficult to break into. Even well-established retail businesses are starting to struggle with the pressures that now afflict the high street. The decisions that you make prior to launching your business can come back to haunt you later. Don’t cut corners and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to research what you are getting into