How to Start Your Own Boutique: Part 2
Welcome back to the How to Start Your Own Boutique series.
This week's discussion is about opening the brick and mortar of your dreams!
Why you may wonder, would anyone want to go that route? With everyone doing almost everything online, is it wise?
To address that, I'll simply say this: a certain internet giant recently started opening brick and mortar stores across the country. Why? There's still value in a brick and mortar business! Imagine you need a cute dress for a party that your husband knew about weeks ago, and only told you six hours before it starts? The internet is fast, but, your local dress boutique is right around the corner! The owner knows you and will provide a personal service that no big box store could ever compare to.
The personal touch is still alive and kicking in 2018.
If you decide to open a Brick and Mortar, take the following steps:
Step One: Look for a Location
If you want your boutique to have a physical location, you will need to find an ideal setting that has a good flow of people all year round. Before deciding to set your business at a certain place, you should gather a lot of information about the demographic and economic attributes of the people in the areas you are interested in, research your competition, and take into account the current and future needs of your boutique. Think, "What is going to have the best traffic?"
Step Two: Sign a Rental Agreement
To rent a certain property for your boutique, the law requires you to sign a rental agreement between you and the owner. Expect to pay a deposit and first month’s rent.
Step Three: Pay Deposit for Utilities
As a new utility customer, you have to pay a deposit or get a letter from someone that has agreed to pay it on your behalf. Estimate $500-$900 just in utility deposits.
Step Four: Decide How to Display your Items
Your boutique store display is your silent salesperson. So, remember to put the newest, trendiest, and fanciest items in the most prominent place in your boutique store. If you have a handy spouse like mine, show them your Pinterest boards so they can recreate the displays.
Step Five: POS System
Your point of sale system should indicate the amount owed by the customer, prepare an invoice for him/her, and indicate the different methods of payment you accept. Your POS system should be of high quality to ensure efficient stock control. I use Shopify for both my website and POS but there are various other options.
Step Six: Pass Fire Inspection
The law requires that your facility pass a fire inspection. To make sure this happens, ensure you have a sufficient quantity of fire extinguishers, your facility has an emergency exit, you have a functional sprinkler system, and your store has no obstructed pathways.
Step Seven: Join your local Chamber
The Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest business organizations in the world, which represents different interests of business owners. You will want to be a part of this association for more exposure and support.
Step Eight: Market your Business
For you to make sales and earn profits, you will need to market your business. You can do this both online and offline. The online route will require you to have some knowledge of internet marketing or hire someone that does. On the other hand, you can market through posters, flyers, word of mouth, and many other ways for a grassroots method.
Step Nine: Learn to Pray and Show Grace
Be prepared for slow months. June, July, January, and February will make you want to cry and question your "Why." Prepare yourself and start saving money. Learn to take deep breaths, show yourself grace when you make mistakes, and pray that God shows you wisdom. Most importantly, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You will need to lean on them.
Starting and running a boutique really is not that hard. You just have to believe in yourself and have the motivation to carry through with your decision. Once you take the first step of committing to your business, then everything will soon start falling in place. Good luck!
*Please note that these are the steps that I took to open my boutique. Please consult your local small business development for advice when opening in your area. In other words, please don't sue me if it doesn't work out.