For about 2 weeks now I have felt enormous guilt over having a shop owner blog and giving or posting random thoughts or advice on being a boutique owner. The reason? The current state of the union. I need to rethink every aspect of my business right now which makes me feel as though I haven't a clue where to start. It's different than when I opened for the first time because at least then, ignorance was bliss. Now, I should know better, do better and be better. But currently, I am not. I was not prepared for the state of the union or the customer or whatever state anyone else is in. I know many of you are feeling this too.
Today, I had a number of emails from a retail financial consultant (Jay Goltz) that stumbled upon me through a mutual friend. I jumped at the chance for this man to teach me something. After reviewing my business, he basically told me, "I am full of s..t", "Feeling sorry for myself" and "I don't get it"!!! A lot to handle on Valentines Day. I had such a knot in my stomach all afternoon, my head was spinning with his observations and finally went home thinking I am a horrible fraud.
After I calm down I am going to pick myself up and use this man for all he's worth.
-I need to learn how to think like an accountant instead of an artist.
-I need to tighten the wallet and work from a real budget instead of spending just because we have it.
-I need to seriously evaluate down to the letter what sells, the markups, the turnovers and the square footage that each item is taking.
-I need to look at every shop expense and if it's worth it or fluff.
-I need to know the hard facts of what type of advertising has really paid off.
This new education is painful. It just goes to show that there is always something to learn in business. This retail stuff is never completely figured out and as I have focused my energy on finding great stuff, making the store dramatic, preparing and getting great press- I have ignored the big picture: building a solid financial foundation to get through tough times (and there will always be tough times in retail). I think every few years, despite the economy all of us need to rework the business. Most of us are in the habit of reworking what the customer sees, now it's time to work on what they don't . Pass a Saliva Drug Test and I am fortunate to have a lot of cheerleaders for Curious Sofa but especially my staff who care that we stay successful, do the smartest things during this time and help take some pressure off of me. I have been down right humbled at their concern and willingness to help.
In the meantime, let's all get back to business- as well as we can.