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Starting a new career as a retail shop owner

29 March 2023

Working in retail may be an exciting, lucrative, and fulfilling new career path. However, just as with any other career, it takes time to work your way up into the sections of retail where you may earn the most money while also assuming a substantial amount of responsibility. The most effective strategy for preparing to set up shop is to set goals for yourself and then get yourself mentally and physically ready to tackle any obstacles that may stand in your way.

Retailers have the option of operating either standalone stores or franchises that are part of larger national chains. Additionally, they can choose to sell their wares from a storefront on the main street of their community or solely online. Retailing can allow you to work for yourself while engaging in activities you enjoy and fostering relationships with the people who shop at your establishment. In this article, we will discuss the things you should consider when starting a new career as a retail business owner.

Clara Jammes

Why Choose a Retail Business as Your Career Switch  

Running a retail business can be a great career switch for those looking for a dynamic, customer-facing role offering plenty of growth and development opportunities. Retail is a vast and diverse industry that spans everything from fashion to food, technology to home goods. It is also a constantly evolving industry, providing opportunities to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.

Benefits of Opening a Shop in the UK 

There are several benefits to having your own retail shop, including:

  • Control: As a retail shop owner, you have full control over your business. You can set your hours, choose which products to sell, and create marketing strategies.
  • Financial benefits: Owning a successful retail shop can be financially rewarding. You have the potential to earn a good income and build long-term wealth.
  • Personal fulfilment: Many people find personal fulfilment in owning and operating their own business. As a shop owner, you can create a unique shopping experience for your customers and build a loyal customer base.
  • Creative expression: Owning a retail shop allows you to express your creativity and passion for a particular product or niche. You can curate a unique selection of products and create a brand that represents your personal style and vision.
  • Community engagement: A retail shop can be a community engagement and connection hub. You can create events and promotions that unite people and build a sense of community around your business.

Overall, owning a retail shop can be a fulfilling and rewarding new career path for those who are passionate about entrepreneurship, customer service, and creating a unique shopping experience.

Making a Career Change 

Changing careers at any age can seem overwhelming, but it is achievable with the right planning and preparation. If you are interested in starting a new career as a retail shop owner, here are some steps you can take:

  • Research the retail industry: Before jumping in and opening a shop, it is important to research the industry to understand the trends, challenges, and opportunities. Look for industry reports and news articles to gain insights into the retail sector.
  • Identify your transferable skills: Consider the skills and experience you have acquired in your current or past jobs that can be applied to set up a shop. Some transferable skills may include customer service, sales, marketing, merchandising, setting inventory, and financial management.
  • Gain retail experience: Consider taking on part-time or temporary work in a retail setting to gain experience and insight into the industry. This will also help you build your network and make valuable connections in the retail community.
  • Network with industry professionals: Find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, and join retail associations to build your network and gain insights into the industry.

Consider additional training or education: If you want to gain a deep understanding of how to start a retail business, you may need additional training or education. Consider enrolling in courses or certification programmes to gain the necessary skills and knowledge.

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How to Start a Retail Business 

When it comes to distributing manufactured goods to end customers, a retailer is one of the most important links in the supply chain. Opening a store can be a guaranteed approach to developing a steady cash flow and establishing credible relationships with other people. Before you start a new career, it’s essential that you have a solid understanding of how to start a shop in the UK.

Understand the industry 

Before making any major career changes, it’s important to understand the industry you’re interested in. Research the retail industry to learn about trends, challenges, and opportunities. Consider taking a course or attending a seminar on retail management or small business ownership.

Develop a business plan

A business plan is essential for any new business. It will help you clarify your vision, identify your target market, develop a marketing strategy, and determine your financial needs. You may want to consider working with a business advisor or consultant to help you create a solid plan.

Consider your financial situation 

Starting a new business can be expensive, and it may take some time before you start seeing profits. Consider your current financial situation and determine whether you have the resources to start a new business. You may need to save money or seek out investors to help you get started.

If you’re asking yourself, “How much does it cost to open a shop in the UK?” The following are considerations to keep in mind regarding startup costs:

  • Buying and managing inventory
  • Paying employees
  • Rent for storefronts or warehouses
  • Funding costs of technology
  • Web hosting and design
  • Marketing and advertising

Set up your inventory 

Setting up inventory is an essential part of running a successful retail business. Here are some steps to follow to ensure you have everything your shop requires:

  • Define your inventory needs: Determine the types of products you want to sell and the quantity you need to stock to meet customer demand.
  • Choose an inventory management system: An inventory management system can help you keep track of your inventory levels, sales, and orders. Choose a user-friendly, reliable system that integrates with your point-of-sale system.
  • Set up a storage system: Choose a storage system that suits the size and type of products you are selling. Label and organise your inventory in a logical and easy-to-use manner.
  • Determine reorder points: Set up minimum and maximum inventory levels for each product, and establish reorder points to ensure you don’t run out of stock.

Promote Your Business

Promoting your business is essential to building awareness in the community, attracting new customers, and maintaining customer loyalty. Here are some strategies to promote your store:

  • Social media marketing: Use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, to build your store’s online presence. Post engaging content, run social media ads, and interact with your followers. Your goal is to bring customers to your shop, so make it look like somewhere they’d want to visit and stay genuine to your business. You don’t want customers to feel like they’ve been misled when they enter your store.
  • Influencer marketing: As an extension of social media marketing, if you’ve a local celebrity who is active in your target market, try to get them to your shop. A meet and greet is a great way to get customers in the door.
  • Email marketing: Use email marketing to update your customers on new products, promotions, and events. Depending on the type of store you’re running, just letting customers know that you’ll have the newest product on launch could be a great way to increase foot traffic.
  • In-store promotions: Offer in-store promotions, such as discounts, free samples, or loyalty programmes, to encourage customers to make a purchase and return to your store.
  • Events and sponsorships: Participate in local events or sponsor relevant organisations to build your brand’s reputation and increase visibility in your community.
  • Collaborations: Collaborate with brands or businesses in your industry to expand your reach and gain credibility.

Set Realistic Goals

It’s possible that starting a new career in retail won’t result in the kind of money you want right away, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it. Setting realistic goals is crucial to achieving success in any aspect of life, including running a retail business. It’s essential to start with a clear vision of where you want your business to be in the long term. This helps you set specific and measurable objectives aligned with your overall business strategy. Setting realistic goals can motivate yourself and your team, track progress, and make necessary adjustments to succeed.

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Be prepared to work hard 

Starting a new business is a lot of work, and it may take some time before you start seeing the results of your efforts. Be prepared to put in long hours and make sacrifices in the short term in order to achieve your long-term goals.

What is the Right Profile for a Retailer 

There is no single profile that fits perfectly into the retail industry. One of the great things about being a retailer is precisely the range of opportunities that are available.

One thing that should be noted, you have to have passion for what you decide to do. Times may get tough, and having passion for your work may provide you with the additional motivation you need to push through the hard times.

On top of that, you have to be willing and able to learn. Not only will you most likely have a number of non-transferable skills earned over your professional career, but you’re likely to have requisites, as far as accounting and marketing, that are missing. Being able to learn a new skill is as important as being able to learn from your own shortcomings. If your retail store isn’t seeing the instant success you believe it should, be willing to treat that as an opportunity to test other approaches.

Other than that, try to find a way to bring your passion into your project. A fan of tabletop games? Is there a need in the market for a retail establishment that specialises in providing games and advice? Or maybe you’re absolutely into sustainable, organic fashion accessories… is there a demand in the market that isn’t being filled? Don’t stress if your profile is perfectly adapted to the retail industry, find your passion and grow accordingly.

Expert Tip: Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help 

Being open to suggestions is a crucial aspect of running a successful retail business. As a business owner, it’s important to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and to be open to feedback and advice from others. This can come in the form of suggestions from customers, employees, or industry experts. For example, you can discuss any marketing plan you have with your fellow employees and those in a similar field. You might also go out to folks in your network who can offer sound advice and viewpoints informed by relevant experience.

Additionally, being open to help means being willing to delegate tasks to your team and trusting them to deliver results. It is essential to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and asking for help when needed. This will help you improve your business, foster stronger relationships with your team, and achieve greater success in the long run.

How Ankorstart Helps Propel Your Career 

If you want proper guidance in your journey, you might want to discover more about Ankorstart. The programme has been designed to support retailers for free along their journey of launching a retail business, from the very initial stages of brainstorming to the creation of the store.

Join Ankorstart to meet our experts today!

The Bottom Line 

It takes a lot of effort to run your own business, and there will be both good times and bad times along the way. It’s important to take the time to research the industry, develop a business plan, and find expert guidance. You must never stop believing in yourself and the service or product you offer others. 

To sum it up, starting a retail business can be a challenging but rewarding career change.


What does it mean to be a retailer? 

A retailer owns and operates a store that sells goods, most of which are produced by another company. They can sell their products through a traditional storefront, an internet store, or any non-store approach, such as kiosks.

What does a retailer do? 

A retailer is responsible for managing their inventory, which includes everything from negotiating contracts with wholesalers to selling its existing stock. They might be responsible for managing staff and coordinating day-to-day operations in a brick-and-mortar location, or they might run an online business, where they would be responsible for negotiating shipping prices and maintaining their website. When it comes to their company, retailers frequently rely on successful marketing and sales strategies to help them turn a profit.

I want a career change; is retail a good career path? 

Opening a retail shop can be a good career path for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to work hard. Researching the industry and gaining relevant experience before starting a business is important.

As a retailer, where can I get products for my shop? 

Retailers can get products for their shops from wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, trade shows, local artisans, and niche suppliers. Researching potential suppliers, negotiating prices and payment terms, and establishing strong relationships are important to ensure a steady supply of quality products.

Does buying wholesale require a licence in the UK? 

Buying wholesale in the UK does not require a specific licence. However, certain products may require a licence or certifications, such as alcohol or tobacco. Retailers may need to register for a VAT number if their turnover exceeds a certain threshold, which allows them to reclaim VAT on purchases.

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