Part 22: Critical Success Factors: The Retail Business

Starting your own retail business can be really exciting and rewarding. Retail business with the right strategies and concept, could take you a height of success not just locally but may even be a global possibility, as long as you dare to dream.

We heard of giant retail names such as Apple, Nike, IKEA, The Body Shop, Giordano and dozens of others where its presence are recognized all across the globe. What is it that they have that makes them so distinctive and wildly successful through the years where their competitors struggles to overtake them?

Is it possible for you to build your retail business in such a way where you can be as unique and successful as those big names that attracts an extremely loyal customer base? Nothing is impossible when your passion is on fire, your determination is unbreakable, and you are ready to do what it takes. You may just be at the stage of thinking to start your own retail business. Or you are waiting to bring current business to another level. Whatever stage you are, you want to do it right.

We talk to JASON TEH, a business coach specializing in retail management with a solid portfolio of retail success stories, both from personal experiences as well as from aiding others in achieving their successes.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself on how you started into the retail business.
A: I started my working life in my teens being a promoter. I was promoted to a supervisor, to a leader, then a manager, being in charge of both sales and the operations aspect of a retail business for an international brand name. With 18 years of experience building a retail business and creating the fastest growing retail outlet which won itself several awards in retail business category for my company, I was offered an opportunity in 2008 to become a consultant in retail management. It was a turning point for me as I realized I can continue my practices and even contribute more into building up the retail business industry in the region.

Q: What do you currently do now?
A: I now run a retail business with over 30 outlets across Malaysia as well as manage a human resource business. Being a retail business coach for the MasteryAsia Group at the same time, I’m glad to be able to help others build and grow their business too.

Q: As a retail business coach, what do you have to say about our current retail industry?
A: There is much growing space in our local retail culture and I hope to show a different but better example to the market on how our retail industry can grow and evolve to a more professional and sophisticated level especially in the SME sector.
The current retail business is very tough with the global recession subsequently affecting us. Compare to 5-10 years ago, the operating cost has sky-rocket including rental, electrical bill, transportation and etc. This operating expenditure will continue to increase 5-10% every year.
Rental of retail space is going up and this has increase capital requirements for new retail businesses. Thus to stay ahead in the retail world, any business will need to invest in research and development to be able to evolve and revise its business model to maintain or push for bigger profits.

Q: How do you describe a successful retail business?
A: I define a successful retail business as one that is commercial, enterprising, profitable and able to commit to social responsibility. Having a loyal customer base would say a lot about your business too.

Q: What are the success factors in starting a retail business?
A: To be successful in starting a business, you would need two key factors – a brilliant idea and be very clear on your business purpose. When you find a brilliant idea where it fulfills a need, you can easily sell your idea and joint venture with someone who has the funding. This is perfect leveraging. You need to be self-driven and have that passion and motivation to work hard even in tough times. When you know the reason and purpose on why you’re running a retail business, you will always be willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to make your business successful.

Q: Is there a key attitude that one must have to run a successful business?
A: I believe it would be ‘discipline’. No matter what business you’re in, discipline is the key to success.

Q: What are some common pitfalls to avoid when one venture into retail business?
A: There are many people who start a business just to get out of the rat race, thinking it would be easy. However, without knowing the true purpose of your business and not having passion in what you do, it would be the recipe for failure in business. Another common pitfall for business starters is getting the wrong business partner. Most people team up with their best friend but end up as enemies because of the business. When choosing business partners, you need to understand the law of leveraging. The elements to look out for in finding your business partners should leverage on resources, ideas, contacts and expertise.

Q: Why do some retail business fail?
A: I have TEN reasons. All of them are vital for a successful retail business.
1.    No Business Plan
2.    No Merchandising Plan
3.    No Marketing Plan
4.    No Social Presence
5.    No Cash Reserve
6.    No Financial Indicators
7.    No Customer Relationship Management
8.    Not Having a WOW Item
9.    Not Consistently Scouting your Competition
10.  No Add-On Sale Opportunities

Q: Any final advice for retail business wannabes?
A: If you want to grow your business to last for decades, you need to start to think like a new generation consumer and employee. Learn and understand what they want. Once you take care of them, they will take care of your business. For new retail start-ups, you need to equip yourself with knowledge and be flexible to make changes according to circumstances. Always carry out surveys and researches before you venture into the business.


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